Best Unicycles

Updated September 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

13 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
119 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best unicycles

Last Updated September 2019

If bicycling has become a little too routine for you and you’re in the market for something different, perhaps there’s a unicycle in your future. These upright, one-wheeled wonders of the cycling world are no longer relegated to circuses and parades. Anyone can now enjoy the independence of roaming and rolling once they’ve mastered the basics.

There are unicycles for commuting to work, racing, riding mountain trails, and doing tricks in skate parks. The availability of youth unicycles means that children can start training early and develop an affinity — and skill set — for the sport. Unicycles aren’t complicated, but there are a few things to consider when shopping, from tire size to seat post to saddle.

If you’re ready to start your unicycling adventure, continue reading our shopping guide. If you’re looking to upgrade your current unicycle or try out a different type, check out a few of our favorites.

Riding a unicycle engages your core and upper body, similar to walking. Use your arms for balance and momentum to maintain a steady roll and ride.

Key considerations

Types of unicycles

  • Everyday: If you’re just starting out or simply want to ride for fun, standard outdoor unicycles are the most popular model. Commuting unicycles are also in this category because they’re a mode of regular or daily transportation for some riders.

  • Racing: Some unicycles are designed for racing. These models feature thinner tires and lightweight frames to more easily navigate tracks.

  • Street and trials: These unicycles have a stockier build with thicker tires and lower saddles. Their tough, compact design lets them tackle obstacles at skate parks, as well as street fixtures like curbs and railings.

  • Artistic freestyle: Some unicycles celebrate their performance roots and are used by well-trained professionals. You’ll see these most often in circuses and variety acts. Indoor (freestyle) unicycles have smooth tires to glide across hardwood or other smooth floors. Giraffe unicycles, often seen in parade routines or at Brazil’s famous Carnival, are known for their tall five- to seven-foot frames.

  • Muni: Muni, or mountain, unicycles are for outdoor riders who tackle steep and uneven terrain. They have design features (like longer crank arms) to facilitate leverage and large, well-defined treads for superior traction. Muni cycles are well suited for long, tough rides.

Fit

  • Size: The size of a unicycle refers to the diameter of the wheel. To find the correct size for you, measure your inseam to see which one is recommended for your height. With that said, certain types of unicycles fall within different size ranges depending on the type of riding.

    • Youth or beginner unicycles typically measure 12 to 16 inches.

    • The most popular size for adult beginners is 20 inches.

    • Competition, muni, commuter, and racing unicycles are typically 24 to 36 inches.

  • Seat post: The length of the seat post is fully adjustable on unicycles. Note the minimum and maximum length if you think you’re between sizes. Finding the optimal length for you takes a bit of trial and error, and it could take some experimentation to find the most comfortable position.

  • Crank arms: The crank arms connect the pedals to the axle. The preferred length of the crank arms is where enthusiasts differ. When it comes to everyday unicycles, some riders say the length is purely a matter of preference. Some say shorter crank arms make it harder for inexperienced riders to learn certain skills. Others say longer crank arms are better for improved control and range of motion, particularly with sharp turns. One thing many unicyclists tend to agree on is that crank arm length is also contingent on the rider’s physical size, because the proper fit of the unicycle maximizes the riding experience. Like many other parts of the unicycle, the crank arms can be replaced for ones of a different length if it’s preferred or necessary.

Rider demographics

Unicycles are enjoyed by all ages and experience levels, and these categories encompass the most popular rider demographics.

  • Youth: Early riders can start learning to ride a unicycle as early as age three. Youth unicycles come in various sizes to keep up with children as they grow. Thanks to the ability to adjust the seat post height, a well-maintained youth unicycle could last for several years.

  • Casual: Teens and adults make up most of the casual unicycle riders. They ride for enjoyment or as a means of transportation and typically focus on the quality of the ride. For most, their skills plateau at easy mounting, turning, and endurance cycling.

  • Tricks and competition: Some unicyclists learn tricks, perform, or compete. Often called street cyclers, they enjoy advanced unicycling skills when it comes to balance or aerial techniques like pops and jumps. Many take on skate parks and obstacle courses and record their performance on social media.

Store your unicycle on a freestanding rack on the floor or with a mounting system on the wall. Since many models are fairly compact, unicycles also fit nicely in closets or behind doors.

Staff
BestReviews

Unicycle features

Saddle

The saddle, or seat, is slightly different than those found on a standard bicycle. It’s much narrower and longer to accommodate the signature upright seated position. Certain saddles are crescent-shaped for a cradled fit, whereas others are shorter and straighter. There are also some saddles designed to be more comfortable. Because the saddle style plays a large role in cycling enjoyment, there are many to choose from if you’re interested in upgrading.

  • Saddle handle: Some saddles are equipped with a handle at the front or back. These sturdy accessories are usually three to four inches long and come in a variety of ergonomic shapes. Some riders simply like the added surface area on the seat, while competitive riders use a handle to execute tricks and jumps. Saddle handles are detachable, so if you decide you no longer want to use it, you can still use the saddle without it.

Handbrake

Only some unicycles are equipped with a handbrake, because the braking mechanism of a unicycle is essentially the rider’s legs. It is more common to see handbrakes on muni and commuter bikes, since these riders tend to encounter more situations where the ability to stop quickly is important. Some parks have rules that prohibit cycling (with any number of wheels) without at least one brake.

Unicycle prices

Unicycles are generally quite affordable and in some cases less expensive than regular bicycles. The average models cost between $35 and $150.

Inexpensive: Unicycles in the low range, between $35 and $70, are either children’s or lightweight practice models for adults.

Mid-range: These models, with better construction and materials, cost around $80 to $150 and are generally geared toward intermediate to advanced unicyclists.

Expensive: Competition-level unicycles range from $300 to $1,000.

EXPERT TIP

If you don’t already have them, invest in tools for unicycle repairs and maintenance. Multi-tools, wrenches, and crank extractors are among the most popular tools for cyclists of all kinds.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Not every puncture means you need to replace the tire. A puncture kit comes with the materials to patch the hole so you can continue riding. If you continue to notice a leak or get a flat tire, replace it immediately so you don’t damage the rest of the unicycle.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Wear the right clothing. Padded bicycle shorts add an extra layer of comfort to the saddle. Some have moisture-wicking material, vented panels, and a wide waistband for even more comfort.

  • Upgrade your saddle. The saddle that comes with your unicycle may not be an ideal fit. If you upgrade, make sure the new saddle is compatible with the unicycle and comes with all the necessary installation components.

  • Improve your posture. If you’re having difficulty learning to ride your unicycle, you could be hunching over or leaning back too much. Make sure your spine is upright and centered over the frame.

  • Check the treads. Like any tires, unicycle tire treads sustain wear. If they get too worn, they won’t grip the pavement and you could slip.

  • Use a wall as you learn. Steady yourself with one hand on a wall or railing while you learn to ride your unicycle. You’ll eventually gain the confidence to venture away from the wall and cycle independently.

  • Find your preferred foot position. While largely a matter of preference, there are a few foot positions for the pedals. Some unicyclists prefer the toes, while others gravitate toward the ball or the middle of the foot.

  • Use a backpack. If you want to carry things while you ride, invest in a backpack that can be adjusted and secured tightly to your body. Depending on your preference, you can wear it on your back or as a front-facing bag.

  • Pay attention to areas of wear. Some parts of your unicycle could sustain more wear than others. Depending on whether you’re right- or left-handed, you could notice that parts on one side of your unicycle loosen or need repairs more often.

  • Don’t text and ride. Keep your line of vision clear and focused on the space in front of you at all times.

Other products we considered

Our top picks might be too large for younger riders, so we also found a unicycle for them. The Hoppley 12” Unicycle has a thick, stocky tire to keep its center of gravity low for young learners ages three to five. As the ultimate beginner model, this unicycle also has a thick frame so children can get used to the weight of the cycle while learning to balance. Some customers report that it’s also a decent training model for children up to age nine, depending on their size. For adults who are getting into unicycling for the first time, the RALEIGH Bikes Unistar SE 24” Unicycle is an ideal pick. It’s a sturdy yet lightweight model that holds up to being dropped and falling over during practice. It also comes in four colors.

Some unicycle experts or specialty bicycle shops offer classes to help improve your riding skills, as well as teach you the basics of unicycle repair and maintenance.

FAQ

Q. Do I have to wear a helmet when riding my unicycle?

A.  Helmet laws vary between states, but it’s always recommended that you wear one when doing any kind of cycling. While laws may not specifically mention unicycles, they will have clear language regarding children wearing helmets.

Q. Is is okay to ride my unicycle in the bike lane with other cyclists?

A. Unless local laws stipulate otherwise, it’s generally acceptable. Be sure to practice safe cycling by wearing a helmet, obeying traffic laws, and respecting the space of fellow cyclists.

Q. Can I mount a water bottle holder to the frame of my unicycle?

A. Yes, but it could affect your riding experience. For one, it could throw off your balance due to uneven weight distribution. It could also fall off and hit your spokes, causing you to fall off the unicycle. And the water bottle might not even fit, especially on a shorter frame.

Q. Some sources say it’s better to mount a unicycle with a retractable walking stick instead of using a wall. Which way is better?

A. While you can learn to ride a unicycle either way, some people find a walking stick helpful since you can mount without a wall. Others feel it could be unreliable and potentially dangerous, so they recommend practicing against a wall and other secure surfaces.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Peter
    Peter
    Writer
  • Sian
    Sian
    Writer

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