26" or 29" schlumpf for muni?

I have a new isis schlumpf on its way to me, which I ordered from Florian Schlumpf at UNICON. I’m going to build this new hub into a MUni, but I’ve been having a hard time trying to figure out if I should get a 26" or a 29" muni. So, today I took my road 29" schlumpf, one of the original 2005 tapered hub schlumpfs, for a spin on a local trail, after I put on a maxxis ardent 2.4" tire, and some medal pedals. Unfortunately, I forgot to change the cranks to something longer (I just ordered some longer 150mm from my local unicycle dealer), and rode the trail with 125mm cranks. Those were definitely too short to ride in geared mode, but not all that bad for 1:1 mode for most of this trail… but not something I want for my muni riding. Given that I still did not have the right cranks, I could not determine whether I should go with the 26" or a 29". So, my questions for all of you riding schlumpf munis:

  • What size wheel do you ride?
  • How often and when are you geared?

PS. Is there a search function on this site? :slight_smile:

I use a geared 29er for MUni a fair bit. It really depends on your trails. For fast, swoopy singletrack, the 29er is going to be more fun than the 26. For technical, rocky trails, the 26 will be better. If you’re using the high gear to ride on roads to technical trails, go for the 26. If you want to actually use it on the trails, and the trails are relatively easy, go for the 29er.

High gear on technical stuff is difficult on any wheel. Some people (like Corbin) do impressive things on it, but most people I see wind up downshifting on technical stuff, regardless of the wheel size.


I had a 26 Guni for a little while and never really found what I was looking for in a muni. Essentially the 26" wheel is just too small for the stability and terrain gobbling needed in high gear, then in low gear it’s slow and has poor obstacle bridging, so not ideal in either gear.

I prefer a 29" for XC muni, but the problem with gearing a 29er is that you end up with a 44" virtual wheel which is really tall for anything but flats and smooth downs.

If I had to do it again, I’d probably go with the 29guni, that way at least I’d have a relatively fast and stable low gear that is rideable regardless of the terrain, then the high gear would be for access roads, smooth double track, etc…

I’m using a 36er for XC now and set up right it is an amazing ride. I rode the 29er over the weekend on some mixed gravel, double track, single track and I was wishing I had my 36er for everything but the steep climb on the gravel.

If only there was a 25% step up/step down…

^^what Tholub said:

I can do far more difficult terrain on my 36er than I could ever do on my 26er in high gear (39"), so a small wheel and a high gear, the wheel is disproportionately small relative to the gearing, which makes it harder to ride.

I’m sort of torn right now as well. I’ve been a long time KH24-Schlumpf user and have been very happy overall. True the 24" doesn’t have the “rock gobbling” ability of a larger wheel, but it does fairly well once you get used to it, i.e. if it’s all you have! This wheel size has been all I’ve known since when I got it there weren’t many 26" options (no KH or Nimbus 26ers yet) and I’m not one to blow a lot of money on every new thing that comes out, I instead to use stuff until it dies! :slight_smile:

However, as I’m making plans for a very long, multi-day all mountain MUni epic next summer I’m definitely considering upgrading to either a 26" or 29" KH unicycle.

For me the advantages of the 26" would be:

  1. Many tire choices.
  2. Compact enough to travel easily with (I have a hard shell case that will fit a 26" unicycle)
  3. In low gear will have better roll over ability than my 24" and gearing will feel similar off road; faster off road
  4. In high gear having a 39" gearing would be faster than my current 24" gearing up to 36"; faster on road.

Disadvantages of the 26":

  1. Not all TOO different than the 24" overall.
  2. Pedal strikes still probably as much an issue as with the 24".

Now looking at the 29" the advantages would be:

  1. Many tire choices.
  2. Still compact enough to throw in the backseat or trunk of a car (will still fit in my jeep).
  3. Reduced probability of pedal strikes.
  4. Low gear would have awesome rock gobbling abilities, especially with wide enough of a tire and much faster than either the 24" or 26" wheels.
  5. High gear would have a kick-ass 43" gearing which would be quite a bit faster than what I have from either my 36" or geared up 24"; awesome for road riding.

Disadvantages of the 29":

  1. Is the high-gear too much for me on the roads or easier XC terrain where I can currently use my geared up 24"?
  2. Not nearly as nimble and light as my 24" most likely; loose a bit of “pop” that I’m used to.

So I’m sort of leaning right now towards the 29" as, for me it has a lot of aspects that make it the perfect fit for next summer’s epic. I can still keep my KH24 around (ungeared) for those technical riding sessions and heck I can just step up my skill set and learn to ride the real technical stuff on the 29"! I like riding my 29" fixed-gear mountain bike on our local “buff” trail system so I’d probably like the 29" unicycle as well… Hmmm…

Yes, but we all ignore it… :smiley:

Talk to Scott, He’ll probably let you try out his geared 26 before he takes the wheel apart.

I would go 26" Schlumpf as that’s what I have. As the MN trails aren’t that technical you should be able to ride a good chunk of them in high gear. If you had a 29" Schlumpf, as you don’t really have trail heads to ride to, I don’t think you’d be able to use the gear very much unless you are planning on riding flat dirt roads. Plus it’s smaller and easier to travel with in cars, planes, etc.

I’m with Munisano, I have some big multi day plans that involve a variety of surfaces and long distances, so I can either plug along on a 29er (slow) or take the 36er and walk some hills.

Face it, small wheels are slow, that’s why people ride 36ers and Gunis.

The 36er not only gobbles terrain, but i’s extremely stable, so great for cruising, but it can be a handful on tech terrain and when ridden for long distances on tech terrain it is more tiring than a smaller wheel. I rode our local single track area last night on the 36er and I got worked way more than if I had taken a 29er, but dang was it fast and fun; when I wasn’t drowning in my own sweat!

It’s frustrating that we only have one gear ration to choose from :frowning:

If we had gear choices, then choosing a 29 guni 1:1.25 would be a natural choice for muni and a 36 guni 1:0.75 would be a natural choice for XC touring.

Once the Surly Knard 29 x 3 is ready, I’m going to run it on my Oregon, then I am thinking about making my KH 29 into a guni.

So munisano, what multiday trip are you looking at? Pinhoti? My thoughts are more West, like CO to UT, maybe something in MT or WY.

After sleeping on it I’ve decided that I’d recommend a geared 26er over a geared 29er much for the same reasons tholub suggested. Again it really depends on how and where you ride and what your goals are. I know since I like riding my geared KH24 so much, have ridden it all kinds of ways, distances and terrains, that a 26" version will be MOSTLY the same but slightly better because of the improved roll-over ability and slight increase in speed overall in both low and high gear. I was just concerned that the 29" in high gear may be a bit too much gearing to be of much use where I ride. I can ride my KH24 in high gear on some trails and a lot of roads around where I live and just think the high gear in the 29" would be a bit too tall. In addition it will be nice to have more tire choices in the 26er versus my 24. The 26er will be far more responsive than the 29er (or 36er, sorry Nurse Ben) and lighter and easier to travel with. So when I decide to upgrade my MUni this Winter after over 5 years of using my KH24 it will be to a KH26. I think a lot of my decision comes down to my back ground and experience. I’ve never been much of a cyclist but a long time runner so the thought of trying to go fast as possible on the trails; approaching cycling speeds never crossed my mind and in truth isn’t very important. To me if I can ride, on average, faster than I can hike or sometimes even run; especially over long distances then I’m satisfied; I have no desire to be mountain bike fast.

So that’s my thoughts and what my gut says to do. Not sure if it’s of any help but there it goes.

@NurseBen: I may do a training ride on the Georgia Pinhoti next Spring but my real goal multi-day epic (actually multi-week) is out West as well next Summer. Can’t wait!

I’m doing this same exercise and keep going back and forth. Here are the points I’m considering in addition to the pros/cons listed by others:

  • I’m pretty sure all my high gear riding would be on paved roads that get me to and between trails. I think either option would be fine for this but the 29" might have a slight advantage.

  • For really steep trail climbs the 26" seems to have an advantage but lately I surprise myself on climbs every time I go out on the 29".

  • I like having the 26" as a bash-about muni for playing around and would be disinclined to treat it this way with an expensive hub in the wheel.

  • Unlike Ben, I don’t feel an ungeared 26" with 150mm cranks is too slow on trails. But I do agree with him about the 29" rolling obstacles more easily.

  • My 36" with 137mm cranks is great on fire roads and smoother trails. According to Eric’s chart a geared up 26" wheel with 150s would give about the same gain ratio. Despite that, I’ve read enough Schlumpf threads to know better than to expect that the 26" in high gear will ride as easily the 36". Still, I’d like to think that some day I’d have the skill to ride these areas in high gear on the 26" but it would be tougher on the 29".

I started with a 29" guni, then pretty quickly switched it to 26". High gear on the 29 is pretty good on the road, but not as good as ungeared 36. Off road, high gear on the 29 is generally too high, IMO. I think the 26 is a better size for a guni overall, and I was able to use high gear quite a bit for xc trails. The one situation that a 29 guni might be better is for touring with air travel; but not for muni.

All that said, in the end I sold my hub and am now focusing on ungeared 29 and 36 riding. I used to live in MN, and personally I’d go with ungeared 36 for most of those trails over either geared size. I’d fear accusations of becoming a Disciple Of Ben, but I note that I sold my hub before he did. :wink:

I think all unis should be considered bash-about unis. If you’re not going to push yourself and be willing to let the thing drop and bounce when you fall, then what’s the point? Yeah, it’s a lot of money in the hub, but really it should be able to take it.

I don’t think the Schlumpf really has problems with being beat up; I bought my 29er in 2008 (shortly after Ride the Lobster) and have used it extensively on some pretty serious MUni rides, including at least two California MUni Weekends where almost everyone else was on ungeared 24/26. The failures seem to be material and manufacturing related; I haven’t seen anyone break a Schlumpf by doing a drop or hitting it on a rock or anything like that. (And I’ve seen a lot of people with broken Schlumpfs).

I’m also planning to get a Schlumpf hub, probably sometime the next year. Are there any news on when the next generation of hubs mentioned in this thread will be available?

It’s a bit early to decide, but I guess I will go with a 26er. For me it’s not so important going faster on streets or dirt roads (with a 29er) but to be able to ride more of the easier single trails in high gear (more likely with a 26er). Additionally, I really love riding my 24x3 muni and would really like to be able to ride the same uphills and technical downhills with my future guni.

What I want to hear about is a smaller step up (25-30%) and a step down.

If I had a step down on my 36er, for long/steep climbing and steep/tight tech descents, there would be no reason to get a smaller wheeled guni.

2.5 extra pounds of rotating weight are a great reason to get a smaller wheeled guni. If we had reasonable gearing no one would ever ride a 36".

That’s only because you don’t spend enough time riding a 36er off road :wink:

I have no need for anything smaller than a 29er unless I do trials.

Look, I ride long distances off-road with 36er riders all the time, and I can tell you with no hesitation that they are at a significant disadvantage in pretty much every off-road situation except completely smooth fire road–and there they only have an advantage if they’re also geared. A bike-sized wheel with bike-range gearing would represent the end of the 36, for the same reasons it did for bicycles.

People would still ride 36ers, just because they are fun.

It could be logically argued that a more stable cycle, that’s easier to learn to ride, with a more efficient drivetrain, and the ability to carry more gear without balance issues, would put an end to the unicycle as we know it. But bicycles haven’t put unis out of existence yet.