by John Foss
For basic unicycling, this is the place to be. Not too long ago, all mass-produced unicycles were in this category. Anything else required an expensive custom order, assuming the rider knew where to order it from.
Today, with all the brands and models available from the Unicycle.com online catalog, riders have an enormous selection of size, price, and features. For proper sizing, see our sizing chart. To select the proper wheel size, read on.
- 16-inch - This size is mostly used for children who are too small to ride the larger wheel sizes comfortably. A 16-inch wheel is also popular for comedic effect (it looks funny with a big adult on one), and it fits a small storage space. Some entertainers use small wheels because they can be carried in a suitcase.
- 20-inch - This is a very common size for learning. Thanks to our bicycle brethren who made BMX and flatland freestyle riding popular, a wide range of 20-inch tires are available. 20-inch is also the preferred wheel size for stunt riding on a unicycle. If your main interest is there, stop at 20".
- 24-inch - This is the upper size end for the traditional basic unicycle. Years ago it was the largest wheel size available in a mass-produced unicycle, but not anymore. 24-inch is good for cruising the neighborhood, and as a larger wheel it will get you there with fewer wheel turns than the smaller 16- or 20-inch wheels. 24-inch is also the traditional size for unicycle racing at USA-sanctioned (Unicycling Society of America) competition meets, so if you want to compete with other racers, get a 24-inch unicycle with 5-inch crank arms. Riders can also perform stunts on a 24-inch, and it has advantages for certain stunts such as spins, or any stunts that are better performed with the longer distance covered by a turn of the wheel. Both 20-inch and 24-inch are fine to learn on, as long as they properly fit the rider.
Once you've chosen your wheel size, it's time to look at the other available features. As with anything, if you buy the cheapest one, you will be making compromises. In unicycling, this generally means you are compromising on comfort and durability.