Welcome to the wonderful world of Unicycling and Physics!

This site goes over the basics of the unicycle and some of the physics behind it. Under the link "Basics of Unicycling" are fun videos that explore some of the aspects of unicycling as well as brief descriptions of Riding, Turning and Idling on a unicycle. Under the "Stability of a Unicycle" link is a look into how it is physically possible for humans to ride the unicycle. An explanation of what a unicycle is and a brief history behind it are found below as well as a little about me!

Dad Unicycling

George Peck unicycling on the beaches of Seward, AK with Mt. Marathon in the background.

What is a Unicycle?

A Unicycle is a one wheeled cycle made up of, very simply: one wheel, a seat, two pedals, two cranks, and a fork. It has no brakes, no handlebars, and no training wheels. A detailed diagram is included below. The diagram shows a basic unicycle, however, unicycles can come in many shapes and sizes. Tall unicycles i.e. 6ft tall, are called giraffes. Unicycles can have smaller tires i.e. 1ft, bigger tires i.e. 3ft, fat tires for off roading and thinner tires for street riding. Some unicycles even come without the seat! Those without a seat are called Ultimate Wheels and are another story in themselves. The Unicycle is fun for all ages and is a good, fun, form of excersise. It is very small and light weight, so you can take it many places and more that a bike can go! You don't have to go very far to get a good work out and you can have fun with Physics too!

History of the Unicycle

    Although a little unclear, the Unicycle is believed to have come from the Penny Farthing. A Penny Farthing had a very large wheel in front with the pedals and cranks connected directly to the hub, much like the unicycle, and it had a very small tire in the back, probably for balance. Basically, the Penny Farthing was an oversized unicycle with a training wheel and handlebars. The unicycle was born when riders took off the back wheel and just rode the big wheel. Yet another interesting fact about the unicycle is that it predates the bicycle, although some may argue that the Penny Farthing was a bicycle because it had two wheels. Today, unicycles are smaller and come in many diameters and seat post length and tire grip, usually they're specified to their use. For example: for doing tricks you would want your unicycle to be very sturdy, have a fat tire and be a smaller than average (an average wheel is about 28 inches). As illustrated above in the diagram, there are many components to a unicycle. The sturdier the components, the heavier the unicycle. Anything and everything can be beefed up or made slimmer on a unicycle and has. If you were touring with your unicycle you would want lighter components and a bigger wheel for riding across those long distances. In the above picture, George Peck is demonstrating MUNI (Mountain UNIcycling) or Rough Terrain Unicycling. As the founder of the sport, Peck started out with an average unicycle but has gradually improved it and now most people use an average or a little larger than average size tire, sturdy components and sometimes a handbrake. Handbrakes on unicycles are fairly new and are often placed just below the seat for ease of use. Brakes are useful for when balancing on rocks and roots and basically anytime you want minimal slippage like when you have a very small landing area.

About Me

I learned how to ride the unicycle at a very young age (7 or 8?). Since then I have taken much joy in teaching people how to ride as well. Researching the physics of unicycling has been very interesting. I learned that it is very hard to make a robot ride a unicycle and that unicycling is very complex although it looks so simple in appearance. I really have a love for unicycling and I love sharing it with people. I hope what you take away from this website a little less scared of the idea of riding a unicycle armed with your new knowledge of the physics behind the unicycle.