Have you ever wondered how to avoid breaking your electric unicycle rim? You are not alone! Some of the most common reasons for an electric unicycle wheel rim break include overweight riders, aggressive off-road riding, and tire pressure. Other reasons may be due to poor quality materials used in the construction of the wheel. Though debatable, some EUC riders have reported broken rims on their Veteran Sherman electric unicycles.
Here are 3 tips for how to prevent damaging your electric unicycle wheels:
- Do not ride aggressively off-road if you do not know how to handle your electric unicycle.
- Avoid carrying heavy loads when possible. This includes your bodyweight and gear.
- Check and adjust tire pressure regularly.
The electric unicycle rim may break during riding for various reasons. The three common reasons your electric unicycle rim may break while you are riding include overweight riders, aggressive off-road riding, and tire pressure. Other causes include using poor quality materials in the construction of the wheel. Though debatable, some electric unicycle riders have reported broken rims on their Veteran Sherman electric unicycles, especially the more recent iterations of the wider rim (noted as the 60mm wide V2 rims).
3 Reasons Why Your Electric Unicycle Rim May Break
In general, one of the simplest ways to avoid breaking your electric unicycle rim is by making sure you are not overweight when riding. Of course this is much harder said than done. In the United States, according to the body mass index (BMI) scale, a male person of average height around 5’7″ to 5’10” is considered overweight if they weigh more than 158-170lbs (source).
I would venture to guess that most riders in Western countries are much heavier than this. Remember, that your rider weight also includes the protective gear you wear and what ever else you’re carrying with you, e.g., backpack with snacks, books, whatever.
I understand this is could be a sensitive topic, but the reality is that the majority of riders who break their electric unicycle rims are likely overweight. You should note that most test riders who help prototype electric unicycles are likely from a country, i.e., China, where the average weight of a male adult is closer to 140 lbs.
As European and American riders (not forgetting Aussies) are much heavier in the realm of 170lbs and up, the electric unicycle is not truly designed to carry this extra weight. Though they have powerful motors that have plenty of power to drive the wheel forward and balance a rider, the components that make up an electric unicycle chassis are often made of cheaper, die cast aluminum alloys (which is certainly not as durable as CNC or cut aluminum).
These “chinesium” (jargon for cheap materials that break easily) components in electric unicycles are not unique to these devices of course. However, their inclusion is more apparent as an electric unicycle undergoes more constant stress and abuse than other products that use cheap die cast metals, such as furniture, shell housing for electronics like laptops, and children toys.
Aggressive off-road or stunt riding
Almost all modern electric unicycles will fail at a some point. As with any machine, parts wear out and fail. An electric unicycle is no different. But, the process of breakage and reduced service life an electric unicycle speeds up when you take it off-road.
This is especially true with the service life of components made of aluminum. Aluminum is strong, stiff, and lightweight. But, the cost of using any aluminum, such as in the construction of EUC rims, is that the metal suffers from metal fatigue memory. Every time aluminum is stressed to a specific threshold, it develops microcracks, which slowly grow over time. Unlike steel, when stressed aluminum doesn’t bend. It breaks. And slowly, it will fail.
This is why commercial airplanes undergo routine and frequent checks for stress fractures on vital structural components. Almost all airplanes are made of aluminum and must undergo these inspections at regular intervals, because at some point, the airplane’s aluminum super structure will catastrophically fail.
When a rider pushes their electric unicycle beyond its underlying chassis’ limits, putting undo stress on the rim, for example, at some point that part will break or bend. Jumping, hopping, curb bumping and technical riding on uneven terrain will drive an electric unicycle’s rim to failure.
This one is a bit of an obvious. Under-inflated tires will break your electric unicycle rim at some point, if you ride long enough. When the metal rim of your tire hits a hard object, such as a concrete parking curb, or a particularly big tree root, especially when you’re riding fast, it will bend or break.
The best way to avoid this problem is by checking how much air pressure left in your tire at regular intervals before riding. Road cyclists do this to avoid pinch flats (which is another issue proper tire pressure can solve). The proper tire pressure for your electric unicycle model depends a lot on what kind of EUC you’re riding, how big your tire and rim are, and whether you’re looking to ride off road on on-pavement.
The basic guideline here is to use the highest air pressure you can in your tire while still feeling in control over your electric unicycle and comfortable (e.g., you’re not bouncing around and ergonomically thrown about your pedals).
You should consult with your vendor or manufacturer for recommend tire pressures for your electric unicycle. Be wary of riding aggressively over rough terrain at low tire pressures.
For example, in my 16″ wheeled KingSong electric unicycle, I ride with tire air pressure around 25psi. I have a fully geared rider weight of around 170lbs. With this tire pressure, I am comfortable taking my electric unicycle off road onto mountain bike single track with some technical challenges. If I weighed more, I’d probably have to increase my tire pressure to avoid rim strike on obstacles.
Ultimately, the correct tire pressure will depend on your weight, type of riding, and comfort and control preferences for your electric unicycle.
The best way to avoid damaging your electric unicycle rim is by lowering your riding weight, mindfully adjusting how and where you ride, and how well you maintain your tire pressure.
At some point, an electric unicycle’s vital structure will fail with almost any riding style simply due to the material construction. But, my hope one days is that the strength of an electric unicycle rim will match that of the modern rider, who is looking for bold adventures beyond the paved bike trail or open road.