When the pedal propelled velocipede was invented in the 1860s, it was seen by the general public as a ‘difficult’ machine which required great skill in order to master the balance and propulsion. Circus performers rapidly adopted the velocipede and, by 1869, there were troupes of velocipede performers in the music hall and in the circus in many countries in Europe and in the United States.
By the 1870s these acrobats found that it was possible to balance on a single wheel and performances on a unicycle were given by a circus performer, Señor Scuri, on a solid-tyres unicycle specially constructed for him by Focke of Liepzig and now in the Technisches Museum in Vienna.
– Scotford Lawrence
A ‘Giraffe’ is a generic term for a tall unicycle. The unicycle is an interesting, though generally overlooked, part of cycling history. By the 1960s, in America, Schwinn and other manufacturers made them readily available to the public and children started to master the art of unicycling. Schwinn’s ‘Giraffe’ of the 1970s was a well-constructed 6ft tall version of the unicycle, acknowledged as the best of its kind. But soon Toys R Us made a similar cheaper version and, as a result, after some years, Schwinn’s version was discontinued. These days, Schwinn’s model is considered the preferred ‘Giraffe’ model to own, and it commands the highest collector’s value.
1977 Schwinn Giraffe Unicycle
This Giraffe, the original Schwinn version, is in excellent original condition and ready to ride. I have a 1977 Schwinn Unicycle manual covering the various sizes offered by the company (seen further down the page). The illustration below is from the 1980 Schwinn general sales catalogue.
1977 SCHWINN UNICYCLE OWNERS MANUAL
Up to 6 feet tall.
Colors: Full chrome.
One on one! Unicycling affords a unique experience in cycling. A few feet off the ground or six feet, both hands free to carry books or whatever. Schwinn unicycles are a change of pace… long past the fad stage. Give it a try. It’s different and it’s fun. 20″ and 24″ wheel units equipped with chrome plated fork blades, adjustable saddle heights, steel tubular rims, three-piece crank and a specially detesigned patented padded saddle aids control and adds to ridding comfort.
Up to 6 feet tall.
The new Schwinn Giraffe gets you 6 feet off the ground… with a little practice, ofcourse. Frame is hand built by Schwinn and fully chrome plated… also diamond tread block pedals, one-piece crank, tubular steel rim, patented saddle design, all adding up to the very best in Unicycles.
Note: Prices and specifications subject to change without notice.