24 vs 26 MUni?

It should really depend on the terrain you ride. I went through this same thing a few months ago. I ride single track through the woods and the 24 is a better size for me ( 5’10 210lbs ). My 29 wears me out in the sharp turns going through the woods. But the bigger wheel is better in an open terrain.

Not to be too picky, but you just brought a 29er into the discussion. 26 is much easier to manage in tight singletrack than 29. In fact if you go with a slightly narrower tire, like a 2.6/7, a 26 is only an inch taller than 24x3. I agree that on open wider trails 29 is really fun, i just start feeling too high up on my 29 to venture out into tighter quarters.

Thanks for all the responses dudes…didn’t know 26’ was the more common size. As far as the specific terrain I plan on going on…I don’t know. I’ve never ventured off the concrete with my 20’s. This will be my first time trying to ride trails/off-road.


I attended the 2015 Arizona MUni weekend and I was one of the only people with a 26". Practically all the serious riders there had 24" and very few of them were running brakes. The hills around Phoenix represent, I was told, some of the most technical MUni, hence the preponderance of 24" riders. Anyway, I was feeling pretty inadequate on my 26".

My feelings about my 26" have improved recently, after the installation of a lighter tire (replaced the Duro Leopard with a Maxxis Ardent) and the KH t-bar (the stock seat on my Oracle had lost rigidity, even after tightening).

I am a bigger rider, 6’2" and nearly 200 lb. The trails in my neighborhood aren’t as chronically technical as they were in Phoenix, and they are considerably more flowing. So, yes, maybe 26" is right for me.

But I would probably tell someone getting their first MUni to get a 24". As long as there are a few tire choices for 24", things will be all right. Yes, there’ll be more choices for 26" tires, but how many choices do we need?

One of the 24" riders talked about doing trials on the 24". That’s another reason to get a 24". Jerking around a larger uni for trials is harder.

With the exception of Uber technical trails, I would say that a 24 feels too twitchy and lacked any ‘flow’ when I tried it. My old 26 felt much better in that regard, and was still small enough for the really tech. sections.

IMHO, if I was starting someone out on a muni, I’d look a at a 26.

Btw, if you search there are tons of threads on this. There are two eternal questions in life: chicken or the egg, and what wheel size for muni.

Thanks for the input, Killian. I have searched and seen some of the other threads, just wanted to get some more personalized opinions…my biggest worry is that it’ll be more difficult for me to mount a 26’ as opposed to a 24’ (I only ride a 20’ now) because of my height.

5’5-6 is plenty tall enough to mount a 26" - how do you think people manage 36ers! :smiley:

I’m really not sure I see the need for 24" wheels except for REALLY unbelievably difficult terrain, where you’re more or less doing a trials run to overcome it as opposed to actually spinning your wheel over it.

No worries, just saying that it’s also not specific to 24 vs. 26 either. Lots of 29 vs. 36 out there and 26 vs. 29.

If you are a good rider, the 24 v 26 doesn’t matter much. If you are not a good rider, you will always think the one you don’t have will make things better.

I have both and bounce between the both of them hoping for improvement. I wonder what that means?

Nothing beats practice and testing the edges of your limits. The operative word is EDGES.


You’ve just explained why that experience is irrelevant to the OP - serious riders, tech terrain, neither of which is likely to apply to him for the immediate future. The sort of stuff he is likely to be riding on is probably no more technical than what I choose to use a 29er for - though I’m glad I went for a 26 instead when I first rode off road, I’m also happy that I wasn’t on a 24. For more moderate terrain, what you lose with the higher gearing and less agility you more than make up with the ability to roll over things.

You won’t have any problem mounting a 26 with practice.

Goldilocks sat on the 25" Unicycle: “This one is just right!”

Technical MUni may not apply to the OP, but that doesn’t imply that a 26" is a better choice than a 24".

I am suspicious of any forum-advice that is predicated on the “easier is better” principal. Being a unicyclist is a bit masochistic. We are used to struggling. Sometimes struggling makes us better.

Hypothetically, consider two beginning MUnicycling twins. One has a 26", the other has a 24". The 26" rider rolls over things that cause the 24" rider to UPD. The 24" rider will have to develop technique to ride over objects, while the 26" rider relies on a physical property of the 26" to achieve this.

Focusing on outcomes, the 26" rider appears better. Focusing on process rather than outcome, the 24" rider may have to develop more technique to overcome the unevenness of the trail.

Imagine, for the sake of simplicity, that beginning riders ride with both hands in the air, intermediate riders ride with one hand on the seat, and advanced riders ride with both hands on the seat (or applicable bar-end).

The beginner rider maintains a loose coupling with the unicycle, and is more easily knocked off when riding over an obstacle. A bigger tire, which creates less resistance when rolling over objects, and which has more momentum, will help the beginner overcome obstacles.

The more advanced rider, hands on the seat/bar, creates a stiffness between their body and the unicycle; their mass and the mass of the unicycle are more coupled; that unicyclist can “power” over obstacles, using the combined mass of their body and the uni, rather than just the momentum of the unicycle.

The above example is a pretty gross simplification; many of the same techniques and properties of matter apply to both the 24" and 26". But, I wonder if, to the extent that my attempt at logic is successful, beginner MUnicyclists might find a 26" MUni more gratifying than a 24".

No, it simply provides no evidence one way or the other - plenty of other reasons presented in favour of 26.

Ah, so on that basis, if he is going to be doing tech muni he should get a 29er (or maybe even a 36er), probably a geared one? :wink:

Different kinds of struggles

Sorry, I should have clarified what I meant by ‘struggle’. Your quote above refers to the struggle to muscle a big wheel. My previous post referred more to the struggle to learn to roll over objects with a smaller wheel.

I am not advocating struggling in every sense of the word. I put a lighter, thinner tire on my MUni because I did not appreciate struggling with the big, heavy tire. I don’t think a struggle is worthy if you’re too sore to ride the next day, or if you injure yourself in the process of struggling.

The struggle I was trying to articulate…is the struggle to implement the best possible technique while riding. A more experienced rider encouraged me to get the T-bar for my MUni, then practice riding with both hands on the bar ends. He said I’d be a “climbing machine” when I effectively learned to do this. Learning to ride this way was a struggle, but not in the strap-on-the-hernia-belt sense of the word. I was starting to feel the pain of over-use from pulling in my forearms, prior to installing the bar ends (particularly from hill climbing). Now that pain is subsiding, and I am a better climber.

‘Struggle’ is a problematic word…I should have thought of a different word.

Just out of curiosity, what is your thought on brakes? You mentioned earlier that the majority of riders at the ride in Arizona didn’t have brakes on their unis. Would using a brake be staying in the “comfort zone” or not allowing yourself to struggle in a constructive way, such as stopping with just your legs, in your opinion?

Some more experienced riders have more to say on the subject, but I will sum up whatI’ve read from other posters. Brakes:

-Save your knees
-Allow you to ride down hills faster and with more control.
-Help you conserve energy by doing the job your legs would otherwise do…going down hills. The energy savings will allow you to go on longer rides.

I found a good, old thread on brakes:

The thread is kind of funny, because some of the posters end up getting in a pissing war about the topic.

Regarding the Arizona MUni weekend, I didn’t talk to the riders about why they were lacking brakes, but I can guess some of the reasons:

-Downhills were more terraced in the AZ hills, and there were not long patches of steady downhills.
-24" MUni is less in need of a brake than a larger wheel.
-A brake adds weight.
-A brake can be damaged on rocky terrain.

I would have to ride the trails in your neighborhood to know if a brake is necessary for you. I rode MUni two days ago, and there were long stretches of sustained downhill; I applied the brake on the downhills. I have the brake installed on the KH t-bar.

IMHO, get a brake, because then you can learn how to use a brake. Maybe it is less critical on the 24" MUni, but why miss the opportunity to learn how to brake? The Oracle comes stock with a disk brake. My 26" Oracle’s brake was not working optimally for the first few months, the LBS adjusted it, then it worked better. I am still not totally satisfied with the braking power, and I will have to research a more aggressive brake pad.

So, yes, get a brake, but it’s going to take practice learning how to use it.

Hear is my two cents worth. With a conventional mountain bike you have unlimited gear ratios to get you up and down your mountain trails. Thus only need one good MTB. With muni/uni’s you just have your wheel and size cranks to dictate your ratio. This is why most muni riders end up with two to three or more unicycles. Depending on where I’m going I pick my trials uni for the every ten foot steep switch backs with rock drop off turn type DH trails. My 26 oregon for cruisers and snow/ice winter riding. Now I’m in the process of a 24 for middle ground semi technical muni trails and still have fun hopping and jumping around. Just like most riders on this forum you will pick one wheel size and eventually want another. Lol.

That’s it! And to add: it makes some trail easier.
Imagine a flat way. You allways pedal forward, your pedaling force goes forward. When you hit a root, you just put a bit of more force on the pedal and go over it.
Now imagine the same thing going downhill. You allways pedal forward, but your pedaling force goes backward to brake and not going faster. When you hit a root, you have to change the direction of your pedaling force from backward to forward to go over it, just to change again to backward shortly after. If you have a brake, you can avoid this by “flattening” the downhill with the brake.

Hand Position Using Brakes

Here’s the link to a previous, good thread on using brakes:

I am still searching for more information on hand position while applying brakes. I have been experimenting with this, and have not yet settled in on a particular way of holding the brakes. I have two brake setups:

  1. Magura rim on my 29" road with Shadow Handle
  2. Disk Brake on 26" Oracle with KH T-bar.

I have been making various adjustments to the bar setups, and this has affected my hand position on the brakes.

The brake has the effect of making the frame move forward and down (the beginning of a face-plant), so an equal but opposing force must be applied to the handle/bar-ends, pulling back. Add to that, riding down technical, bumpy terrain during which time you must maintain this hand hold. Also add hills that require sustained braking for long periods of time, and trying not to lose strength/control/cramp-up in your hand…in other words, a sustainable hand position.

I have really big hands, so I have more options for braking. I think I should post some pictures of my hands on the bar ends, rather than going into a long-winded discussion of hand-position. I will sum up by current position on both the MUni and the Road unicycle.

MUni: typical close T-bar setup; the brake lever is loosely attached to the t-bar, and can be pushed left or right (good for UPDs). If I’m planning on braking with my right hand, I push the brake lever to the left, then reach under the handle and pull to the right with all four fingers of my right hand. The crook of my right wrist is hooked around the outside of the right bar end. This hand position allows me to pull hard on the brake, while cradling, firmly, the bar ends.

Road: I am not yet ready to cut down my upwardly-curving shadow handle to have a closer hand-hold; so, instead I turned the bar-ends around so they are now pointing back at the unicycle. I noticed that the palms of my hands are now facing more toward the sky; my understanding is that this is a better ergonomic hand-position. Anyway, changing the bar-ends changed the braking technique. The Magura brake is more prone to seizing-up than the disk brake, so a reliable braking technique is going to be important to help me avoid eating the pavement. If I am braking with my right hand: I start with my left hand in it’s normal bar-end position. Then I reach over with my right hand and grab the crook of the left bar end. So, my right hand has crossed over to the left side of the bar setup, with the right hand wrist facing the ground, and my right hand is covering the brake. I can hook the thumb and first couple fingers of my right hand around the crook of the left bar, using the middle-ring-pinkie to operate the brake. Once the braking hand is in place and correctly feathering the brake, I can take the left hand off the bar end. For the road unicycle, ‘relieving’ brake pressure can be more scary than applying it.

Prior to unicycling, my main form of exercise was playing kendama (Japanese traditional ball and cup game). The Japanese have a trick, ‘moshikame’, involving juggling the ball between two of the cups at a sustained rate of at least 130 BPM. Expert level players must sustain ‘moshikame’ for 1000 cycles or more. Any excess hand-tension is going to limit how many cycles a player is able to achieve. My experiments with braking hopefully will result in a hand-position where I can brake comfortably and safely for long periods of time.

I will work on the pictures…

The site administrator at my school blocked unicyclist.com with their firewall. This is after months of being able to access it. Jeez, it’s like they expect me to work, or something!

If deciding between an Oracle 24 vs Oracle 26, I’d say the 26 hands down. If I were to get a 24 (and its the only size I don’t have, and I own two 26ers) I would get the cheaper Nimbus without a brake. I took the brake off my 26 and ride without one because I like the simplicity, connection to the trail, and feelin’ the burn on the ups and the downs.

That being said, I saw an interview where someone said that the energy savings of a brake means the difference between just riding today and riding today and tomorrow. So when you get your 29er too, get a brake on that one :wink: