Building a "Universe Cycle"




While searching on-line for a unicycle, I saw something similar to this. It looked like a fun project and a good addition to our collection of dangerous toys. The kid next door came up with the name. Others called it a unicycle with training wheels.

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Step 1: Parts List

3/4" Plywood. A little more than 3 sq.ft.
2x6. About 24" long
1/2 NPT Steel Pipe. 2 pieces @ 8" long.
1/2 NPT Steel Pipe Flange qty 4
1/4-20 x 1" Flat head screws qty 16
1/4-20 Nuts (I used T-Nuts) qty 16

Cost To Build. I had everything except the plumbing parts which were about $18.
Duration: About 2 hours not including the decorating time.

Step 2: Pedal Assembly

Put one flange on each end of an 8" x 1/2 NPT steel pipe. Tighten as tight as you can.
Measure the width of the exposed pipe to determine the proper pedal width. Mine measured about 7.00"

I made each pedal out of two pieces because my drill was not long enough to go all the through and I was worried about keeping the hole straight through such a long length.

Rip the 2 x 6 to half the pedal width on a table saw. Subtract about 1/16" more for clearance.

Cut into (4) 4" long pieces.

Mark the center of each piece on the 4" x 1-1/2" face and drill through 7/8" Dia.

Glue the pedals together with the holes lined up.

Clamp and set aside to dry.

Update: OK...The squeekyness got a little old. A quick squirt of silcone lube inside of each pedal took away the squeek. It has not come back even after many days of play.

Step 3: Wheels

Cut (3) 12" diameter circles out of 3/4" plywood.

I used my homebuilt CNC router, so I added some extra details. A jigsaw or bandsaw would work just as well.

Place a flange on the wheels to to mark for drilling the attachment holes. The center of the flange is located 3.5" below the wheel center. The (2) outside wheels require (1) flange pattern and the center wheel needs it on both sides of the wheel.

Optional: Use a round over router bit around both outside edges of each wheel. This will make it look a little better and limit the chipping of the edge as it is used.

Step 4: Final Assembly

Assemble the pedals onto the pipe and attach the flanges. Tighten the flanges as tight as you can, but make sure the mounting holes are oriented correctly for the wheels.

I was worried about this coming loose so I added a few tack welds from the backs of the flanges. Epoxy would probably work as well.

Attach the pedal assemblies to the wheels using the screws and T-Nuts. You could probably use standard hex nuts or woods screws.

Step 5: Decorate

I finished mine with some cabernet stain and clear spar varnish.

I routed a diamond plate pattern into the pedals, rounded the edges and painted them black.

Step 6: Ride.

Be careful. Wear a helmet and wrist guards.

While it is quite intimidating to get on the first time, it is easier than it looks to ride. I am upper 40s and have never successfully ridden a unicycle (yet) and I was able to figure this out in about 10 minutes without a single crash to the ground.

Start along a handrail or ledge where you can steady yourself. Set the pedals with one high and one low (6 and 12 o'clock). Step on the low pedal first. Then step onto the high pedal, while keeping more weight on the low pedal to keep it from moving. Now slowly roll forward until the pedals are even (3 & 9 o'clock). Now try to pedal forward. Avoid stopping at the 6 & 12 position at first because you have the least control there. Try to keep a little pressure on the rising pedal. This will limit the speed and jerkiness.

If you feel like you are going to fall, step off with the high foot first. The lower foot will rotate the cycle a little, but it gets pretty stable. It does not turn sideways well, but you can usually get it to rotate on smooth ground.

The video is my daughter's first successful run across the garage. She is quite good at it now.

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    110 Discussions


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Cool idea! It might be easier to balance if there was a handlebar. Make it sort of like a Segway. How do you turn on this though?


    9 years ago on Introduction

    omgish add a gyroscope. then it would be awesome.. and even better if you add a T bar like the legway!

    2 replies
    pie R []edChikara

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    the concept is meant to be simple. that's why there's no t bar. I'm just guessing here but i think this is meant to be a fun little thing not hi tech. what you just described was a segway this is and the legway are meant to be simple mechanical systems if you added a gyro it would lose its charm.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    i think u could turn a whole lot easier if u make the wheel that's in the middle slightly larger than the side wheels
    * v *


    8 years ago on Step 3

    who needs a band saw when you have a... HAND SAW!!! :)


    9 years ago on Introduction

    The universe cycle was a great idea!! But I did make a few modification... Instead of cutting designs in the wheels, I went ahead and left them solid so they could support more weight. Also, next to the pedals on the steel pipe, I put metal hose clamps to keep the pedals from shifting.

    Also, I just left 2 by 6 pedal solid instead of glueing the two cut pieces together. I just wallowed the pedal out from each side with a 7/8 in. paddle bit. I think this made the pedals stronger.

    I put sand paper on the wheels facing up and it worked good on carpet but the glue I used to glue it to the wheel got a little lumpy at times so make sure you get all the lumps out. My suggestion would be to find some kind of rubber to fit around the wheels to get better traction.

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Sounds great!


    My Legway used plastic edge moulding.  It works, but degrades quickly.  My Streamroller used split rubber hose.  That has held up to a lot of riding.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I had a feeling the correct name was an "orbital cycle" The name spouting from the orbital motion... Perhaps somebody will clarify -- is this correct?

    3 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    The working name was "unicycle with training wheels" until the second grader next door coined the name "Universe Cycle" and that stuck.


    9 years ago on Step 6

    kewl. id brake it or me. lol. sounds like it could use some wd40. lol. verry cool. im sure you could make some money off that.