High Variance

Thinking About Getting a Unicycle?

Some people reach midlife and buy a fancy red sports car to recapture their youth. I bought a fancy red unicycle that was on sale for Valentine’s Day at unicycle.com. I’ve since worked my way up to comfortably riding the six blocks or so between my office and my the parking lot each day. At first, the tiniest obstacles would totally throw off my balance. My messenger bag! A crack in the sidewalk! A slight turn! A breeze! I’m better now and it’s still super fun.

Every day I get smiles, finger points, and questions. The most common are “Where did you get that thing?” and “Is it hard to learn?” This makes me think there’s a nontrivial population of folks out there that are intrigued by the idea of getting and riding a unicycle, but don’t quite know what’s involved or how to get started. Don’t worry–I’m here to help.

There are really cheap (sub $100) unicycles out there, but I had one in middle school and managed to break it in just a couple months. The cheap ones also have really uncomfortable saddles. The good news is that even really nice unicycles are relatively cheap compared to bikes. Mine is a Nimbus 26” Muni (“Mountain Unicycle”). They cost $360 and are completely bomb-proof. The knobby tires look cool and it’s fun to be able to ride on dirt roads and grass.

If you’re pretty tall, then get a 26” wheel; otherwise get one with a 24” wheel. Anything smaller and you’ll be riding slower than you walk. If money isn’t a serious issue and you want something to ride around town, get a Nimbus II ($290)–It’s pretty darned similar to my Muni but with a smooth tire. If you’re on a budget, get a Club 26” ($150). The learning curve with any unicycle is steep, but you make a little progress each day. It might take several weeks before you can ride, and that makes the per hour cost super low.

So what’s the upshot of all of this? Just go to unicycle.com, buy one, and invest some time in learning to ride. You won’t regret it.