The primary thing most buyers are probably concerned with when choosing a unicycle is if it can be used for their intended purposes. For example, touring or commuting unicycles typically have larger diameter wheels, some of them up to 36 inches. This increases the speed and efficiency of the unicycle. Sometimes they even have touring handles and bars for greater control and comfort. By contrast, some Muni one-wheelers have smaller wheel diameters and wider tires; these enable greater agility, control, and traction on unforgiving surfaces.
However, there’s no sense in buying a unicycle that’s too large (or too uncomfortably small) for your personal dimensions. In addition to choosing a unicycle based on intended discipline, you need to make sure you choose one that you can actually ride!
Choosing Based on Inseam Length
One of the main ways you can assess whether or not a unicycle will be a “good fit” for you is by taking your inseam measurements. While you can slightly adjust a unicycle by moving the seat post up and down and securing it with the unicycle seat post clamp (A.K.A. bike seatpost clamp), the best thing to do is to start with taking your inseam measurement.
Because most unicycles lack a chain drive, and the crank arms are connected directly to the hub axle, this requires the saddle to be located directly above the wheel. This also means that a person’s inseam measurement is one of the primary limiting factors in the size of the unicycle that he or she can ride.
To take your inseam length, stand upright and place a book between your legs; this will simulate the effect of being in the saddle of a unicycle. Squeeze the book between your legs, and with a measuring tape, measure from the ground to the upper edge of the book. Make sure you wear shoes when you do this, since you’ll be wearing shoes when riding a unicycle. This is your inseam length.
One of the most popular sizes of unicycle is a 20 inch unicycle. Most adult riders can learn on a 20 inch model because it is agile and versatile, and isn’t too large to be unwieldy. If your inseam length falls between 25 and 33 inches, you can probably comfortably ride a 20 inch unicycle. Some adults also choose to learn on 24 inch unicycles for the same reason, but these are more suitable for taller riders. If your inseam measurements are between 28 and 36.6 inches, a 24 inch unicycle should be fairly comfortable for you to ride.
However, here’s a basic breakdown of the more common sizes of unicycle and the generally accepted minimum and maximum inseam sizes:
12 inch unicycles: With a 18.5” cut down seatpost, minimum inseam of 19.5” and maximum inseam of 24”
16 inch unicycles: With a 20” cut down seatpost, minimum inseam of 23.5” and maximum inseam of 29”
20 inch unicycles: With a 24” cut down seatpost, minimum inseam of 28” and maximum inseam of 33”
24 inch unicycles: With a 27” cut down seatpost, minimum inseam of 31” and maximum inseam of 36.6”
26 inch unicycles: With a 29” cut down seatpost, minimum inseam of 32” and maximum inseam of 36”
27.5 inch unicycles: With a 29” cut down seatpost, minimum inseam of 33” and maximum inseam of 38”
29 inch unicycles: With a 30” cut down seatpost, minimum inseam of 34” and maximum inseam of 39”
32 inch unicycles: With a 30” cut down seatpost, minimum inseam of 33.5” and maximum inseam of 38”
36 inch unicycles: With a 30” cut down seatpost, minimum inseam of 29.5” and maximum inseam of 45”
Also, once you have your inseam length, you can get recommendations and suggestions from our product listings themselves. Our unicycle listings all have recommended minimum inseam lengths, which should give you basic guidelines in order to choose a unicycle that actually fits you.
Cutting Down a Seatpost
You will also notice that in the listing above we mentioned that the recommended inseam measurements correspond to unicycle seatposts that have been cut down to a certain length. It is actually common practice to cut down a seat post after you get a unicycle so that it fits you more comfortably. You can either cut your seat post down using a hacksaw or a pipe cutter.
If you’re using a hacksaw, measure how much you need to cut off and keep this figure to a minimum (you can always cut off more). Mark the spot, and then set the blade on the spot you marked. Using a guide can help you prevent the saw blade from migrating during the cut. After you’re through, use a file to remove any burrs or sharp edges.
You can also use a pipe cutter to cut down your seatpost. Measure how much you want to remove, clamp the pipe cutter in place and rotate the seat post. Hold the handle of the cutter and turn the seat post towards you to prevent it from spiraling. Tighten the cutter with every rotation.
Choosing a Better (Unicycle or Bike) Seatpost Clamp
Even if you don’t cut down your seat post, seat posts can be adjusted up or down by about 100mm and secured via a (unicycle or bike) seatpost clamp. The seat post clamp, which sits on the frame of the unicycle, can be loosened to most the seat up up and down, thereby adjusting the height. Seatpost clamps secure your seatpost according to one of two main measures, bolts or quick release clamps.
Bolt seatpost clamps tighten via a bolt (which typically receives a hex wrench) in order to provide a secure fit. Some unicycle and bike seatpost clamps have two bolts for extra strength. Others are called single or double quick release seatpost clamps which tighten via a clamp that can be engaged and disengaged for quick adjustments without the need for tools.
Most unicycle seat post clamps are either 28.6mm or 31.8mm models, and are only compatible with seat posts of certain sizes. Please see the product specifics or contact us directly for more information if you have any questions.
Whether you have questions about inseam length recommendations or have questions about unicycle seatpost clamp sizing, feel free to reach out to us at 678-494-4962 and we’d be happy to help.