How to Make Unicycle Snow Chains
I've been riding my bicycle to school every day this year
but then the snow came... A racing bike just didn't cut it.
It was time to throw the snow chains back on the unicycle.
I first made the chains a few years ago and have since
seen similar pictures online. Surprisingly It is pretty easy
to ride under the right snow conditions and at least ridable
in almost anything. If you too want to give it a try, here's
all you need to do:
- First, learn to ride a unicycle. (If it's not completely obvious,
it's hard to learn in the snow.)
- Next, go to the hardware store and pick up some raw materials.
You will need a surprising amount of chin (I used .77"/link chain).
You will also need two clips
Fortunately it's all pretty cheap stuff. Take your wheel diameter
(likely 20" or 24") and call that d. If you use the same chain size
as I did, you'll need (d - 6") x 4.25
inches of chain. (That's 15.58' for a 20" wheel or 20.1' for a 24" wheel.)
The chain will form a d - 6" dimater circle on each side of the
wheel with a 9 link cross chain every 4 links. (I originally made it with
a cross chain every 9 links but found I didn't have the traction I wanted.)
Here's what I used:
- The tools I used were a pair of regular pliers and a pair of needle nosed
pliers. There are two loops of chain, one on each side of the wheel,
attached by cross members.
Here's what I found worked best:
Laid flat the chains will form a ladder shape. (You want to make sure that
the side chains are lying flat so that you don't have kinks once
you finish.) break apart the chain so that you have two lengths that are
just over (d - 6") long each
- Lay the two chains next to each other and make sure they are free of kinks.
- Take the remaining chain and break it into 9 link lengths. Now attach
those 9 link sections to each side of the two long chains.
Here's the effect you should get:
Be sure that there are no kinks and that every cross member attaches
at exactly the same spacing. It's not crucial to the chain's performance
but the chains will look much better and fit more snugly to the wheel
- Once you have put on all of the "rungs" of the ladder shape, you need to attach
The clips. (You may be able to get away with not using clips and just
leaving a link open at the end to act as a hook but I have't tried.)
- Now you can get the chains on the wheel. This might be easier with two people
but it's not that hard. This is the point where you'll see if you made
the chains long enough. (If they aren't, just add more chain an no one
will know the difference.) At first the chains will be very tight but
after a few minutes of lining things up you should be able to tighten
things up by a link or two.
- Finally, the fun part. Can you ride it?
I've found the chains work fine on pavement and cement as well as industrial
indoor carpet. Watch out for things like marble flooring. Although the chains grip
well in ice, on hard, smooth surfaces you are riding on just chain and have almost
no grip. Ideal surfaces are packed snow and fresh snow on cement and asphalt
(like a sidewalk or parking lot).
Obviously riding in the snow is stupid and dangerous. The chains do help but if you hurt
yourself it's your fault.