I don't own one myself but learned how to ride one a couple of years ago. It takes a lot of patience but usually when you fall, you land on your feet. I only went down once and didn't land on my feet (my feet got caught on the pedals and I went down hard...). So many can't get up without holding onto something though. I was taught how to do it without support and I personally feel that it is pretty awesome. Anyway, I would say pick one up and have fun.
neat. I don't expect to be doing anything like that, though. Does anyone have any recommendations for cycles? I was thinking getting a used one would be the best bet, but I don't know anything about make or quality, so I wouldn't know what to pick up.
my short advice would be a used torker lx. i really prefer the handle and seat on the LX model for learning, but whatever you can find in your budget should work fine. the unicyclist forums are a great source of info too. i learned in college and used to ride off road and do trials/urban on one. i should probably do more of it, as it teaches balance and really works your core.
I've been riding mountain unicycle (MUni) for the past few years. It's a great workout, and like you said the machine is as simple as it gets.
For learning I would recommend a cheap used uni. Torker LX's seem to show used quite often, and you could probably pick one up for $50 in decent shape. I learned on an old Schwinn that I got for $10. I had MUni in mind from the beginning, and so my next ride was a 24" Onza MUni. I guess it's the ultimate fixie single.
To bad your in WI. If you were in Colorado I'd lend you a uni to learn on. It seems like there are a lot of poor quality uni's in fair to poor condition out there. On top of that it seems like people think they have a gem worth a lot of money just because it's a uni.
Brands to look at in the $50 used price range would be:
Torker LX, DX (older black and red ones)
If you find one of these in the $30 range:
If you go new you can find most of the ones in the second list for between $50-$80. The ones in the first list go for between $90-$250.
If you happen to find a Nimbus, Koxx 1, Kris Holm, or Qu-Ax in your price range it will be a very nice uni that you will be able to ride for a very long time, if not forever. They are the premium brands with the higher end Torker's (LX Pro, DX) coming in close behind.
I've seen Nimbus uni's show up on CL for $65. So you can get them occasionally, but I wouldn't hold my breath,
20 and 24 are both considered good learners. The smaller wheel is a little easier to learn on, but once you have the basics it's not as versatile. I'd say a 24 is a good general starter unless your on the small side. If you see yourself doing trials, or street you may want a smaller wheel, but if you see yourself eventually hitting the trails the 24 will be better suited.
5'4" is not that short. Either one should work for you. The seat should fit like a bike, so don't make the mistake of fitting it too low. You want your leg to have good extension. Most beginners ride with the saddle too low, and it slows down the learning curve.
Both of those seem like good starters. The cyclepro looks like it has platform pedals, so that's a nice upgrade. The Torker is a CX, and a great price. Between them I'd probably go for the Torker as long as the cranks are straight, and the wheel spins freely. With the exception of the platform pedals on the cyclepro they are pretty much the same.
I don't know if you'll need it, but the Torker looks like the seatpost has been cut down quite a bit. If you need a longer one the Cyclepro may be a better option. Little parts can start to add up quickly, and before long the ten dollar starter becomes a $50 starter.
It can be painful on your shins when you're just learning, so i'd recommend a pair of soccer shin guards at least in the beginning.
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