Learning to ride a unicycle can be a fun and challenging experience. Some people may want to learn so that they can perform. Others may enjoy riding to get in shape. Whatever your reason for learning to ride a unicycle, you will need to know which one to buy and how it works.
In this unicycle buyer’s guide, I will give you the top five unicycles on the market and what you should be looking for when purchasing one.
Quick Guide – Editors Top Picks
A unicycle, as the name suggests, is like a bicycle, but with only one wheel. It takes incredible balance and skill to ride one, but it is a fun and enjoyable activity.
There are many different types of unicycles, which means there are many factors to consider when buying one. It depends on what you want to do with it and how you will be riding it in the future. These factors include type, road, size, maintenance, and assembly.
Types of Unicycles
The kind that you want depends on where and how you plan to ride. Believe it or not, you can ride a unicycle anywhere that you would ride a regular bicycle.
Consider beginner unicycles as they are explicitly designed for someone who is just learning or has not developed advanced skills yet. Some beginner models are suited for children. They are typically shorter and can only hold a specific amount of weight.
The beginner models that are suited for adults are generally simple in design. In my opinion, if you have never been on a unicycle before, then you should start with a simple beginner model that requires little upkeep.
The phrase ‘freestyle unicycles’ refers to the models used in a freestyle competition. Freestyle unicycling is much like other extreme competitive sports, such as skateboarding. These models generally have 20-inch wheels and are relatively lightweight. This makes tricks much more manageable.
Freestyle models also have slick tires, which help grip the street and make quick turns easier. They also have slightly less inflated tires than standard models to make bouncing and grip easier for freestylers.
This category of unicycling is reasonably new but is gaining in popularity around the world. Trial unicycling is similar to freestyle in that performers will complete tricks, or an obstacle course, in a certain amount of time. It involves jumping over park benches, rails, and many other obstacles.
For this category, models tend to have 19-inch wheels and large 2.5-inch tires to help soften the impact of landing and jumping. These wide tires also help with stability and balance. Many of these models also come standard with ISIS style hubs/cranks, which are strong and durable to keep up with the rigorous bouncing technique.
These models tend to have large wheels to help with comfort during long rides. It would not be very sensible to use a unicycle with smaller wheels to commute to work or school. They also have shorter cranks.
The tire size can range from 29 to 36 inches. With an experienced rider, these units can exceed speeds over 20 mph. These models are for more experienced riders and should not be considered for beginners.
I believe mountain unicycling is one of the most challenging and advanced types of riding. It can take years of practice to master the techniques that are required to excel in this arena.
Mountain unicycles are used to compete in this extreme sport that is much like regular two-wheeled mountain biking. These models have to be strong enough to withstand the impact of off-road use. The wheel size can vary from 24 to 29 inches, and they have longer cranks. They also have tires with a lot of treads to allow for grip in mountainous, or rocky, conditions.
As the name suggests, Giraffe models are typically taller unicycles. These are usually used in circus performances. It is driven by a chain and has a smaller wheelbase. It can be challenging to get up on a giraffe model. They are generally more comfortable to ride once mastered, but the height can be dangerous for a beginner, since they may be prone to falling.
Here are some of the best unicycles available on the market at decent prices.
The Sun classic unicycle is an excellent product for beginners and intermediate riders. It comes with a standard 20-inch wheelbase, which gives you tremendous versatility. I enjoyed the quick release seat clamp. It allowed me to adjust the seat height on the go. In having that option, it increased my overall comfort.
I also liked that this unit had a long-lasting sealed bearing hub, which allows for low maintenance riding. It also comes with a classic saddle that included scuff guards to protect the seat in case of falls.
Includes scuff guards to protect the seat
Adjustable seat clamp for making quick changes
May not be suitable for larger riders
Not the right choice for mountain unicycling
The Fun unicycle is a standard beginner size model, which will aid in assisting new riders in becoming comfortable on one wheel. I enjoyed the inclusion of cartridge bearings to make for easy and smooth pedaling. I loved that it also included a quality Kenda tire and aluminum alloy wheel. The alloy wheel is exceptionally durable, but still lightweight enough to practice your skills.
It also comes with a comfortable saddle that can be adjusted on the fly with an adjustable seat clamp. Overall, this is a quality product that can be used by beginners and intermediate riders of most sizes.
Aluminum alloy wheel for lightweight strength
Easy to adjust the seat
Quality Kenda tire
Assembly isn’t straightforward
- 20" UNICYCLE
- skidproof tire
FantasyCart did a great job at creating a beginner 20-inch unicycle that is perfect for street use. I enjoyed the addition of a skidproof tire. It allowed for usage on different surfaces, so this model is excellent for freestyle use. The tire allowed for consistent grip and quick turns.
Although this cycle is suitable for street use, I did have some issues with the assembly. Some of the pieces also seemed slightly inadequate.
Includes a how-to book
Has a skidproof tire for maximum grip
Some of the parts were inadequate
Difficult to ride if the parts are not well maintained
- 16" wheel (16" x 2.125" Tire); Color: Silver
- Weight limit: 110Lbs, fits to applicable height from 45" to 61"
- Outer Tire: Excelletn Skid Proof Mountain Tire; Inner Tire: Leakage Protection Butyl tire, No second Inflation for 3 Months
- Rational designed according to somatology and movement features
- Great for both Novices and Professionals, Men and Women
This unicycle is a great option for young beginners. It comes with a 16-inch wheelbase, which is great for younger learners. A 16-inch wheel is not suitable for adult learners, however, as it has a weight limit of 110 pounds.
It comes with a high skid proof tire that is perfect for freestyle and street tricks. It also comes with a butyl tire for leakage protection so that you won’t get a flat tire, too soon, with this product.
One issue with this model is that it is only suitable for young learners under the age of 12. It may work for slightly older kids if they do not exceed 110 pounds. It is not ideal for adults, so if you are looking to purchase for someone older, then you may want to go with another option.
Includes a skidproof tire for grip in any condition
It is suitable for children
It is not suitable for adults
- Frame : Excellent Manganese Steel, Standard Frame of Unicycle
- Crank arms : WHEEL TOP Crank, International Quality
- Outer Tire : Excellent Skid Proof Mountain Tire
- Inner Tire : Leakage Protection Butyl tire, No second Inflation for 3 Months
- Saddle : Large Saddle with Removable Poly-nylon Guarded Rails
An excellent performance cycle by Triprel comes in this small package. I enjoyed the full steel construction, which made it feel like a very sturdy and durable cycle. It comes with a nice skidproof tire that won’t slip while you are learning how to get your balance on one wheel.
It also features a butyl tire, like its competitors, that will not need inflation for quite some time. It also comes with a large saddle with removable poly-nylon guards to protect the seat from any possible falls.
Full steel construction for ultimate durability
Skidproof tire to increase grip
Features Yong Hua pedals for stability
Not suitable for use in all terrains
Unicyle Buying Guide – What to Consider
Choosing the right Size
There are many different wheel sizes to accommodate all diverse learners from young children to adults.
For adults, and children 12 years of age and over, I recommend choosing a cycle that is between 20 and 24 inches. Depending on the style that you want to learn, I advise a 20-inch wheelbase for people who want to learn to ride on a flat, smooth surface and do tricks.
For rough surfaces or mountain riding, I recommend choosing a 24-inch wheelbase. This will increase stability and strength. Next is the 26-inch model. This model is slightly larger. The most common sizes are between 20 and 24 inches. It is a versatile model and is suited to taller adults.
The next range is from 29 to 36 inches. They are excellent for long distances or paved roads, with a 36-inch wheel being the fastest of all models. It is suitable for riders who want to use their unicycle to commute.
For children under 12 years of age, I think you should choose the largest model that they can ride, up to 20 inches. It will ensure that they are capable of moving up in size as they grow older.
The smallest wheel size is a 12-inch unit. It should only be used for young learners up to age 5. It is also not suitable for rough surfaces.
One factor that I think is often overlooked when purchasing a unicycle is maintenance. It can take time and effort to ensure that the unit lasts for a long time. Many people may not have the skills to complete many maintenance tasks on their own.
Some unicycle models may be more challenging to maintain than others. Generally, cranks, hubs, and tires are the items that require the most maintenance. If you choose to buy a unicycle with special hubs and cranks, like for mountain cycling, then you will have to be ready to tighten and adjust them when necessary.
When making a big purchase online, especially in this case, you need to check if you will have to assemble the product. In most cases, you must put the unicycle together yourself. Many of the unicycles that we reviewed did not come with instructions or any tools to use.
This may be a concern for someone who doesn’t know how to assemble bikes and other mechanical things. I recommend searching for a pre-assembled product, which may be hard to find since unicycles are quite large. If you cannot find one, then make sure you have the right tools with you, including the internet, for finding instructions.
After careful consideration and discussion, I think the clear winner of this roundup is the Sun 20 Inch Classic Black Unicycle. The reason I chose this model over the others is because of its simplistic and timeless design. It comes with everything that you need to become a great rider.
It is also extremely durable. Even after a few falls, you will not have to worry about it falling apart. The sealed bearing hub is also long-lasting and will not need as much maintenance. This item was better than the others in its durability, type, and construction. I enjoyed the overall feel of this cycle, and it allowed me to make quick turns.