I read the original question and all the responses so far. Great information
and advice! But nobody mentioned what I consider the main problem with the
lollypop bearing holders on cheap Taiwan and China unicycles.
The problem is not at the bearing. Cheap Lollypop bearing holders are
probably much better on bearings than the pressed steel main cap type. But
if they cause your unicycle *frame* to fail, they can't be recommended. And
I have heard of many cases of the side-bolted lollypop bearing holders
over-stressing and breaking the metal between the two bolt holes, killing
the fork. This is due to what can most quickly be summed up as retarded
engineering. If you look at automobile and bicycle design, you will never,
ever see flat-headed bolts screwed into non-flat surfaces. At least not
without a specially shaped washer to fit between them. Instead, the force is
concentrated over a narrow, straight line up the side of the fork.
If you don't keep the bolts tight enough, they will come loose because the
bearing holder is not a precise fit into the fork. If you keep the bolts too
tight, eventually the cracking and failure can happen. I imagine the
cracking can also happen from riding with a loose bearing holder, causing it
to jiggle around in there.
The problem can be solved on unicycles with this design with the addition of
washers that are round on one side to match the fork, and flat on the other
side to match the bolt. The reason the cycles don't come with this is
because the manufacturers are working hard to keep costs as low as possible
and keep the unicycles' price down. Buyers don't know (unless we keep
speaking up), until much later if the thing fails. The manufacturers are
*** on a low percentage of these unicycles being actually ridden, and
an even lower percentage of them being ridden enough to lead to these kinds
But it's not a total disaster, even if your frame fails. I met a guy this
Spring at Paramount's Great America theme park in Santa Clara. He was a
juggling performer with a unicycle. I checked out his unicycle, and it was
one of the Taiwan models with the lollypops. I was reluctant to tell him the
bad news after riding his cycle around for a few seconds. The frame was
already cracking apart between the bolts, and the bearing holders were
moving around freely in the non-fitting fork ends. It looked like he would
need a new unicycle.
But then I met the guy again this Fall at the Lodi Juggling Festival (sorry
I can't remember his name). He still had the same unicycle. "Why did you buy
another one of those?" I asked him, assuming it was because he couldn't
afford a more expensive one. He replied "I didn't. My bike shop replaced the
fork at no cost." Very cool!
I don't assume all bike shops would do that, but I recommend you try it if
you have the same problem. If lots of returns start being made, the effect
will eventually be felt back at the factory. Then maybe they will consider a
less stupid design.
Until then, I'll have to keep recommending other bearing attachment methods.
Note: The above does *not* apply to Pashleys. I have never heard of a frame
failure on one of those, and the bolt presses on both sides of the fork, not
In summary, lollypop bearing holders are a great way to hold a bearing, but
if they're not attached to the unicycle fork in such a potentially damaging
way, I can't recommend them.
> I do agree that many riders who are unfamiliar with bicycle
> maintenance probably over tighten the bolts on the main cap
> style bearing holders. A little note about that problem of
> over tightening should be in the owners manual for the
> unicycle, but I have not seen that type of info in any
> owners manual for any unicycle.
You've seen owners manuals for unicycles? I think I have only seen them for
Schwinn and Miyata. In other cases I have sometimes seen poorly translated
assembly instructions (if they used any words at all). And these are aimed
at bike shop mechanics, not consumers at home. No instructions are given on
bearings, or any other part of the unicycles we're talking about, other than
which piece attaches to which other one, and where.
MAIN CAP BEARINGS:
Follow the suggestions the guys have made. Turn the unicycle upside down and
spin the wheel slowly. It should keep spinning for a while. If there is
obvious binding or the wheel stops after a turn or two, loosen the bolts a
quarter turn, as Roger Davies suggested.
Also, make sure you have something in place to keep you from losing your
bolts if they come loose. Lock washers, or those nuts with the nylon inside
to keep them from unscrewing are even better.
TAIWAN/CHINA LOLLYPOP BEARINGS:
Short term: Check the tightness of the bolts and check for movement of the
bearing holder in the frame. I can't recommend a torque setting, but you
also don't want it too tight. Lock washers won't work on the non-flat
surface. Check tightness frequently.
Long term: Find yourself some washers, as described above, that are flat on
one side and round (to fit the fork) on the other side. Brett Bymaster had a
set of these made for his Pashley when it was new, and he's never had any
problems. I have mentioned the idea to John Drummond at Unicycle Source, and
I think he will have a big batch made so they will be very cheap.
Stay on top,
John Foss, the Uni-Cyclone
"Sometimes there just aren't enough rocks." -- Forrest Gump