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From my experience riding a bicycle the fact that a bicycle has two wheels makes it rather easy to ride over minor obstacles like minor cracks in the road. Segway also looks promising in this aspect although it's rider's guide is full of "don't do this [usually refers to trying to ride over an obstacle in wrong way] otherwise your Segway looses grip of the terrain and you fall big time" phrases.

Now a unicycle has only one very tiny spot of contact with the road. How does one ride over obstacles on a unicycle?

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A pedestrian has only two tiny points of contact with the ground, how could one ever move over obstacles? –  Мסž May 10 '11 at 22:13
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@moz: Well, a pedestrian can step over obstacles, while the unicycle has to roll over them. –  sharptooth May 11 '11 at 6:15
    
A better alternative to the segway exists in the self balancing unicycle. youtube.com/watch?v=Kzy1uqFDeqo&feature=related –  Kibbee Nov 12 '12 at 13:51
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3 Answers 3

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I suppose one could legitimately ask how "practical" a unicycle is, since only a very small number of people can be said to have actually mastered riding the things....

However, I have seen folks with amazing skill, and even off-road unicycles equipped with knobby tires...The riders negotiating rocks, logs, and typical off-road obstacles. So...Rider skill obviously a big part of this.

I think the unicycle in motion would be reasonably stable over most "pavement"-type obstacles; cracks, seams, that sort of thing.

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Agreed, I've seen a few kids on mountain unicycles that are better riders than others with 2 wheels! –  Aaron May 13 at 3:29
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Mountain Unicycling (MUni) has become increasingly popular since it came on the scene in the early 1990s. To cope with the terrain, MUni unicycles are better built than regular unicycles often with double-bolted seat-post clamps and a brake. Riders usually wear helmets and shin/wrist guards due to the high likelihood of a UPD (unplanned dismount).

The most famous MUni rider has to be Kris Holm who nowadays has his own range of unicycles and equipment.

Here is an example of what is possible.

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If the word "practical" ever enters your vocabulary, then you really have no business messing around with unicycles.

Unicycling over rough terrain can definitely be done, but it ain't easy.

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Oi! Unicycles are eminently practical. For a fairly narrow range of tasks, but very suitable for those. Compared to similar-sized folding bikes (the Strida, say) they're more robust, at least as fast and can carry more weight. –  Мסž May 10 '11 at 23:17
    
How exactly do you propose unicycles can be faster than geared bikes? To hit 25 km/h on a large 28 inch wheel unicycle you'd have to pedal with cadence of about 180. –  ttarchala May 11 '11 at 12:44
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A folding bike is, in fact, much slower than a unicycle. Unless you unfold it before riding. –  Mike Baranczak May 11 '11 at 20:30
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@ttarchala: a bike like the strida is definitely faster downhill, if you are a light person and the road is smooth. But the frame is very flexible and the gearing is very low, and it is almost impossible to ride one uphill. But it does fold to the size of a unicycle, where something more rideable does not. To hit 25km/h on a strida you'd need protective clothing and no sense of fear. –  Мסž May 11 '11 at 22:05
    
Of course, with a unicycle when you want to get on the bus you simply step off the uni and onto the bus, while the folding bike rider is still trying to untangle themselves from the bike prior to folding it. –  Мסž May 11 '11 at 22:07
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