Offset Unicycle Built Mostly From A Single Bicycle


[Lou’s] friends all said that it would be impossible to build a unicycle that had offset pedals. Moving the pedals to the front of the unicycle would throw off the balance and prevent the user from being able to ride it. [Lou] proved them wrong using mostly components from a single donor bicycle.

The donor bike gets chopped up into a much smaller version of itself. The pedals stay attached in the original location and end up being out in front of the rider. The seat is moved backwards, which is the key to this build. Having the rider’s legs out in front requires that there be a counter balance in back. Moving the seat backwards gets the job done with relative ease.

To prevent the hub from free wheeling, [Lou] lashes the sprocket directly to the wheel spokes using some baling wire. He also had to remove the derailer and shorted the chain. All of this gives the pedals a direct connection to the wheel, allowing for more control. The video does a great job explaining the build quickly and efficiently. It makes it look easy enough for anyone to try. Of course, actually riding the unicycle is a different matter.

32 thoughts on “Offset Unicycle Built Mostly From A Single Bicycle

    1. ive always used 3 flat edge screwdrivers of various sizes and a hammer to break chain, and a hammer and/or channel locks to rejoin it.i got so good at the technique i could fix a too long chain in a couple of minutes.

          1. I never seen anything like that at the hardware store. Then again it’s been over 40 years since I rode a bike with any regularity, and never had kids, so my bike repairing days are way behind me. Now due to brain injury I’ll never ride on again.

          2. ive seen these things on replacement chains but never on a factory made chain or as a stand alone part.

            i never needed any fancy tools. just 3 whacks to break it (starting with the small screwdriver and working my way up) and most of the time you could just snap it back together with some pliers (it would usually make a nice little click sound). if you had a stubborn one that wouldn’t stay together then just whack the end of the peg with the hammer, this will make it flare out abit and hold on to the link better.

  1. Don’t see why anyone thought this would be impossible. It’s no different than the trick “bikes” used for some circus performances which have the rear wheel fixed to the sprocket so they can be ridden like unicycles with the front wheel in the air.

    1. But the still have two wheels, so they aren’t an unicycle. While they still have to worry about sided to side balance, they the forward and backward balance should be easier. Easier said by someone who isn’t going to ride anything on a high wire ever.

      1. I don’t think you understand. While these trick bicycles have front wheels, the whole point is that they are kicked up and ridden as unicycles to do tricks. Has nothing at all to do with the high wire.

        And yes, much younger me did ride the unicycle and this was just one of the things you learned about the skill set.

    1. Not meant to be a personal attack towards commenter “justme”, jut a bit a sarcastic commentary about “hacking”. In my world before I discovered how so many others describing hacking or hackers. In that word hack was derogatory term used even by those who performed a hack. In that world a hack was crude unrefined work to get a job done. So IN THAT WORLD this is a hack; and anyone who doesn’t like this projector isn’t a hacker and like hacking!! :)

    1. 9 times out of 10 when there is a specialty tool for something, you can get by without it. when i quit my bike job the only tool i really missed was the little spoke tool for truing rims.

      they gave me this precision cable pulling tool that i never used, i just used my needle nosed pliers and just rotate them to get the desired pull, and i think it worked better.

      the guy who i took over for had this crankset puller that was nifty, he said i should get one, but i never met a crank i couldn’t remove with a couple good whacks with a mallet.

  2. Ugly construction for sure. I surprise by the hacker unfriendly comments, guess like like-build a day, not hack a day! :;) Like how re-purposed so much of the bike however. it’s been some time since I have worked on bicycle chain so the original chains don’t have a master link anymore? Has it been eliminated due to the Walmart effect. To meet a price point the fraction of a cent for the master link has been eliminated. Yea chain breaker is the correct tool, but not one the average home shop would use that much. As a kid I used a file or bench grinder, I was well into adulthood before I had an angle grinder. I’d do the same tomorrow, I’m not going to drive fifty miles to purchase a chain breaker, a tool I may never use again before I die. 20 years post stroke I beating the odds every time I visit Hackaday.

    1. As someone without a chain breaker I went to the local bike shop last time I made a modification and ask them if they could break the chain. They did it free of charge, and I had to buy the master link or rather a quick release in my case from them anyway.

      It’s amazing what some people will do to accommodate small projects like this. Not everyone is an arse that tries to sell you a comparatively expensive tool that you will use only once.

  3. Wow, I guess I now know where all of the bike nerds are hanging out. “Oh, no! He’s not using a chain tool!” “Get a welder!” It’s going to fall apart because it’s bolted!” Some people really get their panties in a knot when they see an actual hack on this site.

    Sheesh, when did Hack-A-Day turn into Professional-Build-A-Day?

    1. Helll i couldnt find my chain tool/figured out that finding it would take klonger sso i took my vide grips nut on one side of the chain little screw on the othher and just pushed it in … orks fine … then i put it back with quick link …

      So you can have tools and use ghetto methods … whatever works.

  4. Looks like it’s stuck in a very low gear.
    Master links went out with single gear coaster brake. I would be wary of the Sram link shown above. If no tools are needed… Murphy will find a way.

    1. And you’d be wrong. Those are incredibly strong, and once they snap together, the tension of being part of the chain keeps them from coming apart. Heck, even when you try to get them apart it usually takes a pair of pliers on opposite corners to get them to snap loose. And yeah, it’s in a low gear. My guess is the front ring is a 28 and the rear cog is probably also a 26 or a 28. You want as close to 1:1 ratio as possible, since you’re mimicking the pedals being attached directly to the wheel.

  5. Ex-shop mechanic/manager…
    There’s a reason people are mentioning the master link.

    Master links are fine if your bike is merely a commuter bike or an experiment. If you take riding seriously though, don’t use a master link. Master links were not eliminated due to the “Walmart effect”, in fact many Walmart grade bikes still have them. They were eliminated on performance bikes because riders got tired of bashing knees and trips to the emergency room. I refuse to use them these days or use a chain put together without a proper tool, I’ve been stranded and hurt way too many times by it. Chain tools can be had for under $5, you may only use it once or twice, but I’ve seen people seriously hurt and scarred for life due to broken chains.

    Oh, and the Sram link very well may be stronger than the stock chain, however, don’t think for a minute that it’s as strong as a high end chain that’s been properly pinned.

    As for the welder, this was an experiment and the rider wasn’t going out and jumping a car with it. It was a unicycle to go down the street. I’m sure if he planned to do something more extreme, he would have done something more solid, at least I hope he would.

    1. Mechanical engeneer/Every day rider here. I use wippermann connex chains one of the most durable chains i’ve had . haven’t broke one yet (i cant say the same thing bout higher end shimano 9 speed ones ) and … surprise they use connector link. And just to say mose of your pins in high end chains are being hollowed out for weight reduction (not the manually joining one) and cross cut area of the link is larger than regular link. So the connector is in fact stronger than any other link in that chain. The issue was (with the older links) smoothnes with multiple gears, and futher narrowing of spaces between gears and requiring a bit more sideways play in geared bikes.

      Please inform yourself about current state before voicing opinin based on experiances from years ago.

    2. Master links didn’t go away because they fail. They were eliminated because early versions weren’t compatible with shifting systems. They worked (and continue to work) just fine on singlespeeds, including BMX bikes which see remarkable stress on their chains.

      And no, a high end chain will not be stronger if you try to push the pin back in old school. That’s because on modern chains the pins are peened; pushing them out opens the holes in the plates. That’s why Shimano chains use replacement pins for reconnecting, while SRAM and others use reusable (or replaceable) links.

      I have one customer who steadfastly refuses to believe this, insisting on using the old technique of pushing a pin out until it’s only engaged in one outer plate, then pushing that same pin back in when he’s ready to replace the chain. He also refuses to believe me when I explain (again and again) why he keeps breaking chains. He thinks it’s because he lays down so much power with his feeble old legs, no matter how many racers manage to jump on the pedals without snapping chains.

      And I don’t know any mechanics who regularly–if ever–break chains. If you’ve been hurt way too many times by broken chains, while others don’t seem to be experiencing this problem, you might want to consider your theories on chain repair.

  6. hell yeh, proof positive!!!
    it can be done.

    PS: have we offended you with an excessivly hack-ish project that was not done to your code of quality or robustness?
    NO REFUND FOR YOU! (lolz)
    we wont stop either
    because this is HACK-A-DAY
    we will keep pumping out ugly hacks daily,
    cuz its what we love and love reading about.

    if this offendes you, i recomend you update your favourites list(s) with a deletion, ASAP

  7. This would also be a simple solution of the problems of needing a stupidly big wheel to get decent top speed. It looks like this one has 1:1 ratio (or close to), but just using a different pair of sprockets already there could simulate one of the big wheelers without the extra height to fall from.

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