110 mm cranks + 36er = not as hard as I expected, go shorter?

I’m generally pretty lazy about swapping cranks, or maybe I’m just generally lazy. Today I finally decided to give 110 mm cranks a try on my N36, and I’m surprised at how well they climb. Granted, I only climbed about 100 m of elevation gain, but this is the same 100 m that was really hard with 127 mm cranks less than a year ago. In some ways the shorter cranks felt easier for climbing–I seemed to feel less winded throughout.

So now I’m wondering how short I can go. Switching to 110s was easy because I already had them, whereas I’d have to acquire a shorter pair to try. Is it worth trying 102s and/or 89s? Should I try both? I felt pretty comfortable on the 110s for the first ride, and nothing is really flat around here. So I don’t see any reason I can’t go shorter on flats. Anyone have any bad experiences making the jump below 110s?

I rode on 102s for several months earlier this year and adjusted to them very well. I even had 89s on my N36 for about a week while the 102s were being shipped. I’d say 102 mm is about the limit for an active 36" rider, but lower is possible.

However, after I switched back to longer cranks, I like them a lot more. Shorter cranks are great for building up a lot of muscle and endurance, but longer equals more control.

After conditioning with the shorter cranks, you’d just be unstoppable on longer ones.

I’ve used everything from 125 to 90mm cranks on my 36. I like 110s the most, they’re a great balance of control, speed, and hill climbing ability.

I found with 102s that I wasn’t really gaining much speed, but was really hurting on the hills or in windy conditions, or if I was carrying lots of weight (usually other unicycles :P)

Just recently switched back to the 110s and they feel really great.

I live in a very hilly area…110’s are perfect for general riding around here. 100’s are definitely faster on the flat, but is slower uphills. I used 110’s for about 1/3 of the Alps Unitour (www.aut.unitours.org), which was pretty hilly. Short cranks give you more control when spinning fast downhill because it keeps the wheel tracking so much straighter (as opposed to having your limbs flailing up and down with the longer cranks).

You guys with the shorter cranks, do you do rolling mounts? I went from 150 to 140s and my roll back mount suffered. I can do the rolling mount, but never use it on the road. It’s time I made use of that rolling mount, right? and shorten those cranks again.

Yep, only ever do rolling mounts. It’s worth practicing because it’s quite handy. You should still be able to do some sort of roll back mount with short cranks though, but you might have to hang on to the tyre.

the only coker I ever ride has 110s and I think they are really nice. Rolling mounts aren’t hard at all with them either, and I’m short.

I was never a fan of rolling mounts. I sort of just get on when it is idle and hop immediately after (cranks are horizontal) and then go from the idle position. Works great. Works on small cranks well and it worked on the geared 36er I tried in NYC.

Is it worth trying 102s and/or 89s? Should I try both? QUOTE]

For 10 bucks a pair for reg. steel United cranks - you should be able to justify trying both. I think that it would help you be a diversified rider anyway.

The trans. from 127 to 102 was shocking to me about 2 years ago. A few months ago I went down again to 89 with no shock whatsover. Moving in 10 mm increments really amounts to pretty subtle shifts. There are trade-offs though regarding control, top speeds, climbability (i.e. ability to spin up hills rather than horse your way up them), smoothness of line, etc.

I like my 89’s and I’m not inclined to take them off anytime soon. Haven’t hurt myself - maybe most of all, I like the line they help me roll. Come Lobster time though . . .

Rolling mounts only.

I only started rolling mounting my N36 recently, and I really like it. It’s much faster to get going than doing a static mount, and it looks impressive. :sunglasses:

I took my N36 out for a ride today, and I did notice how smooth it felt on the downhills. It seems backwards to say, but the shorter cranks do provide more of a sense of control because my legs don’t flail as much.

So I guess I’ll try both sizes eventually. I realized after posting this that I’ll also have to put a longer brake line on my Magura because I made the mistake of cutting it too short when I first installed it with 127s.

I rode with Joseppi up there a bunch this past summer and I stuck with 110mm cranks on my 36". If you’re just using the unicycle for general transportation then 110’s should be fine. Once I started riding long days (60 miles) back to back to back, my body suffered. As soon as we got back from RAGBRAI I put 125mm cranks on my unicycle and have never looked back. There’s just so much more control, the unicycle flies up hills better and there’s not a big speed cut at all.

Good to hear you’re going shorter, it’s always useful to have a full set of cranks, I have cranks from 80mm to 125mm for my coker and I can switch them whenever I want. On my new Qu-ax I only have 100mm but I have to say they’re pretty much the perfect size. You can still climb decently on them and they’re fast on flat. When you buy new cranks I also suggest getting a 90mm set, if you’re doing a pure flat race those will be nice. How does the brake work for you on downhills? Does it help much and do you use it much?

I had 102s on my modded coker which had a 40" tyre and they flew. :smiley:

Like I posted in a thread about brakes, the brake is starting to feel more like a security feature for my N36. I find that I’m pretty comfortable spinning downhill in most cases, but there still are some steep road sections I ride regularly that I wouldn’t want to be without it. The road I live on, for example, has some 10ish% grade sections of bumpy, narrow road that I go down to start many a ride.