Unicycling - Thrills on the wheel
modes of transportation are concerned, the simplest and most natural way
is to walk. After the invention of the wheel, there came a host of modes
If the simplicity of a particular vehicle was to be measured, in
terms of the number of wheels, the simplest vehicle would be the vehicle
with just one wheel. Therefore, that honour would go to the 'unicycle'
which has been catching up a certain level of attention lately in some
countries of the world, although not in Sri Lanka.
Let's look at this interesting contraption (machine or device) which
would seem a new experience to you children.
A unicycle is a wonderful creation, which is a one-wheeled
human-powered vehicle. Unicycles are similar to, but less complex than,
bicycles. Unicycles are composed of a few key parts: the wheel which
includes the tire, tube, rim, spokes, hub and axle, the cranks, pedals,
fork-style frame, seatpost, and the seat of the unicycle.
The wheel is usually similar to a bicycle wheel, with a special hub
designed, so the axle is a fixed part of the hub.
Surely you would have seen this sort of unicycles used in circuses by
the stuntmen and clowns.
However, due to the challenging nature and simplicity of the
unicycle, it has become an area of interest as a sport for many active
youth around the world, and it has also been identified as a general
means of transport. In the last 10 years, unicyclists have taken
unicycles out of the traditional parade, gym, or circus setting and have
created new forms of unicycling. These forms can be described broadly as
Although under human evolution, the concept of one wheel came first,
the design of the unicycle has begun after the invention of the bicycle.
About halfway down the evolution of the bicycle, in 1866, James Starley
developed the penny-farthing, a bicycle with a very large front wheel
and a small rear wheel.
The unicycle is believed to have evolved from the penny-farthing
during the late 19th century. Since its pedal cranks were connected
directly to the front axle, the rear wheel would go up in the air and
the rider would be moved slightly forward.
This made riders test how long they could ride with the back wheel in
the air, and from that the unicycle was born.
Types of unicycles
These are generally used on flatlands. These unicycles are used
similarly to flatland bicycles.
Wheel size is usually 20 inches, but smaller riders may use 16-inch
unicycles. Some people prefer 24-inch wheels. Freestyle unicycles are
considered stronger than most other types of unicycles.
These are designed for unicycle trials, which are stronger than
standard unicycles , since they should survive the stresses caused by
jumping, dropping, and supporting the weight of the unicycle and rider
on components such as the pedals and cranks. Many trials unicycles also
have wide, 19 or 20 inch knobby tires to absorb some of the impact on
'Muni' is an abbreviation for mountain unicycling. Munis have many of
the same components as trials unicycles, but have a few key differences.
Usually, the tire diameters on mountain unicycles are either 24 or 26
inches, allowing the rider to more easily and roll over obstacles such
as roots and rocks.
The seat is also thicker and more comfortable on Munis to provide a
less bumpy ride for the rider on a rough terrain. Brakes are sometimes
used when going down steep slopes.
This type of unicycles is used for long distance travel. They have a
large wheel diameter, between 26 and 36 inches, so that more distance is
covered in few rotations of the pedals.
International Unicycling Convention
The International Unicycling Convention (UNICON) which takes place
once every two years is the main event for unicycling.
This consists of unicycle track and field events such as high jump,
long jump, novelty racing which is a collection of, wheelwalk, coasting,
juggling, slowboard, and the obstacle course. Freestyle events include
pairs, individual, club, group, and standard skills. The 2006 UNICON was
held in Langenthal, Switzerland.