24 inch freestyle catagory

is there a 24inch freestyle catagory of competition?if there is,howcome i never see or here about it?

if there isnt,then why not?

Re: 24 inch freestyle catagory

Freestyle is not divided into wheel sizes. Though, most freestyle riders use 20" unis.

  • Gilby

Once upon a time, everybody pretty much brought a 24" Schwinn to the unicycle conventions, and that was that. I’m over simplifying here, but for many, that’s all they needed. Add the occasional giraffe, ultimate wheel, and other specialty cycles to fill things out, but for the main competitive events, a 24" Schwinn was it.

Sure they were tanks, with seats that could only be adjusted in 1" increments and covers that usually ended up being masses of duct tape. But that’s what was most easily available, and that’s what people rode.

But then, in 1981, three guys from Sweden came to the USA Nationals and made a big impression. They coasted. They glided. They did seat drag and bounced their seats off the floor while riding. They did lots of quick little tricks that benefitted from their lightweight 20" Miyata Deluxe wheels.

I believe it was them; Joakim Malm, Peter Holmgren, and Hakan Frusukar (spelling approximate) who triggered the US trend toward 20" wheels for Freestyle. Joakim is the first known member of the unicycling community to do coasting. Their group also developed gliding, though others worked it out at the same time. Seat drag and several other tricks originated with these guys from Sweden.

I too started with a 24" Schwinn for nearly everything, but I saw Miyatas at the 1980 USA Nationals (ridden by the Japan team), and later got my hands on the first one that was sold in a bike shop in Michigan. It was also a 24". Still large, but quite a bit lighter than the Schwinn.

In 1984 I made the transition to 20" for Freestyle. It was a long and frustrating process getting used to the new wheel size for tricks. Lots of things no longer worked the way I was used to them working. The amount of movement you got per wheel turn was different, which is a big thing in Freestyle.

But a 20" wheel can do more stuff in a given amount of floor space than a 24", making it better suited to performing, especially if you’re working on elementary school stages and similar small spaces. You simply get more wheel turns within the space.

So a 20" is lighter and more responsive. Those are the advantages. But a 24" has some advantages too. Visually, it shows up better. A tall person on a little 20" wheel looks a little silly to a non-unicycling audience. A bigger wheel is more visual. This is why you often see professional performers on larger wheels. Teresa and Sem have always used 24" wheels.

Also, the speed of a 24" wheel can make some tricks look better, and in some cases make them easier. I do a trick I call a Cyclone Spin, which is actually a series of backspins and frontspins strung together. This type of move is made easier when the cycle covers more ground per pedal revolution.

A harder variation, which I call an Idling Spin, has you switching from backward to forward with each half-turn of the wheel, essentially an idling motion with your feet as you spin around. This is much easier on a 24" wheel.

Just a little background on the whys of 20" wheels for Freestyle :slight_smile:

Great post John (typical quality of your cycling posts). A book out of you would be nifty.

It’s reassuring to hear that the transition to the smaller cycle was a pain- I feel so out of place on the 20", I wonder if I’ll ever be comfortable. I’d like to blame some of the discomfort on my size- but Greg is taller still, and seems at home blasting around on his 20. How tall are you, John? Do you think that height has any bearing? Were the Swedes vertically challanged?

(No, Greg, you are not Swiss- so if you announce that you were one of the 3, there may be charges for impersonating a Swede- barring no limiting statute.)


I was the first Swiss king of Sweden and will probably remain as such. I abdicated the throne in 1968 to pursue a career in swimsuit modeling as has been brought to the attention (and alarm) of many in this newsgroup.

My first unicycle was a 20" which I owned for a year. I then bought a 24" which I used exclusively for 32 years. Then I bought another 24" because I liked the speed compared to the 20". I used it for errands alot. Four years later, I went nuts and now I own 8 unicycles. I found it to be great fun to ride a Coker for 10 miles and then try to get on a 20". I have switched back and forth alot and now am kind of used to it.

The SH Muni has 170mm cranks with a 24" wheel. The three 20" uni’s all have 140mm cranks. The Blue Shift has 145mm and the Coker has 150mm. Lots of different wheel sizes, crank lengths, and torque ratios to choose from. This is the kind of thing that makes getting on Steve DeKoekkoek’s geared up giraffe not so hard. It’s also the reason John Foss could mount the uni.5 six ways from Friday; he’s been on every imaginable combination of wheel and crank.

Hey Greg, just curious why you have 140’s on the 20 inch wheels of yours?

I’m getting into crank tweaking these days, as you know and have helped me with. Sounds sort of intriguing to have 140’s on the small wheel… I now am trying out 140’s on my 24 inch Sem XL but still have the original 127’s on my 20 inch and am having good fun with the 150’s on my new MUni.


any chance you could post a topic describing some of these freestyle tricks further, these two sound pretty interesting.


Because when I’m not exaggerating wildly I’m bald-faced lying. I miswrote the crank lengths. I have 125mm cranks on all of my 20" unicycles and 140mm cranks on Blue Shift. The 24" has 150mm cranks which I failed to mention. I’ve never heard of the 145mm cranks which I so dutifully reported last night but it’s easy to make up that length when converting from inches to mm in my head at midnight.

A skill sure to impress the ladies, yes?


I convert to angstroms in these particular cases.

Profiles, had them on my trials uni, 145mm.

A quick search found this film still from the soon-to-be-released “Return of the King”, in which David, playing a young Greg Harper, is depicted scailing the Swiss Alps with his loyal sheep herder Sven (played by Keven Costner), on their way to do battle with the Arch Witch Lutkus in that epic struggle for the Swiss Crown, immortalized in the classic oppera De Harpermandistron.


If I can discipline myself to stop writing here, and start writing there, maybe someday… :slight_smile:

The Swedes were not particularly tall, but I don’t think that’s a factor. Only in the proportion of your height that is covered by the wheel when your body is tilted at an angle. But if you get that much angle, you’re probably on your way down anyway.

Yes, you have to get used to the fact that you get less ground coverage with each pedal stroke. In fact, once you’ve done that, you’re basically converted.

I am 6’ 0" tall.