Complete guide to Hong Kong unicycle hockey
The unicycle hockey action was fast and furious on a Hong Kong Friday night.
“We play five-a-side hockey here,” explains Martin Turner, head of the Hong Kong Critical Mass Ride group. “Aside from the fact that we’re on a unicycle, it’s basically hockey. Rules are mostly the same as regular hockey.”
Originating in Germany in 1920s, unicycle hockey is enjoying a small but intense following in Hong Kong. About 10 years ago Robert Rogers and Roz Beste decided to give the sport a try at a North Point park. Their unicycle hockey group now practices at the YMCA Kings Park Roller Hockey ring and hundreds of players of all ages and from all walks of life have come and played over the years.
15 year-old Brian Lam, who has been playing since he was in 4th grade, says the club has a good mix of serious and casual players.
“We have some players who come every now and then and use our public unicycles, while others have their own and participate in Asian tournaments,” Lam says.
These tournaments are held in Singapore, Korea, or Hong Kong, and Turner, who participated in last year’s Unicycle Asia Pacific tournament in Hong Kong, will also be flying out to Korea to participate in this year’s event. But despite the die-hard nature of some players, Turner says it’s always a casual atmosphere on Friday night and anyone is welcome to join.
Uni Hong Kong meets every Friday night at 8pm at YMCA King's Park Centenary Centre
Ride a unicycle
1. First of all, tell yourself that riding a unicycle isn’t as hard as it looks. “Half the battle is mental”, explains long time unicycle rider Jimmy Lee. “Really, it’s no harder than a bicycle and most will at least be able to ride with minimal to no support after an hour.”
2. Start by getting two friends to stand by your side and hold your hands as you mount on the unicycle. If you don’t have friends (aww), try using two chairs.
3. Sit up straight, look straight ahead, and according to Lee, “you must keep your weight on the seat, not the pedals”.
4. Start by pedaling half circle forward, then half circle backwards. That way you’re learning to balance while going back and forth on the same spot.
5. When ready to ride, remember forward momentum is key! Lean slightly forward and pedal. Hold on to your friends’ hands if possible.
6. Then, when you’re ready to ride on your own, use your arms as balance. “Some people flail their arms wildly while others keep it up as if they’re making a T shape,” says Lee. “Whatever works. If you lose your balance and you feel like you’re about to fall, simply step forward or back and let the cycle drop.”
7. “To turn, you have to shift your balance with your arm and hip,” says Lee. “It’s hard to put into words, you must try it to understand. But once you get the hang of it, it comes natural.”
Get a unicycle
A unicycle with a 24" wheel is the easiest to learn on. The Japanese Miyata brand are recommended but are also the most expensive at around HK$1,800. You can buy a cheaper brand from about HK$350. A unicycle with a 20" wheel is supposed to be easier to maneuver to play hockey and learn tricks.
Tung Tat Company Bicycle: This small bike shop here imports Miyatas and has other brands too.
Shop 42-44, Tung Lo Wan Road, Causeway Bay, tel +852 2576 1720
Flying Ball Bicycle Shop: The most well-known bicycle shops in Hong Kong are located here and usually have unicycles as well.
G/F, 478 Castle Peak Road, Cheung Sha Wan, MTR Exit C2, tel +852 2381 3661
Chat Kee Bicycle Company: Chat Kee Bicycle Co usually has unicycles for an average price of $550.
185 Wanchai Road, tel +852 2573 2620