26x3"/29-er comparison.

Recently someone posted in a thread that a 26x3 was pretty similar to a 29-er, as it’s diameter was almost the3 same; someone else disagreed, saying that they handle completely different.

In the past I rode a fair bit with a 29-er (2"-ish tyre, not a ‘Big Apple’) uhtil I started getting a lot of punctures; never fully solved the problem and ended up trashing the tyre and inner tube.

That left me without a 29-er, and I continued unicycling using my trusty 24x3 muni.

A bit later I acquired a pair of cut-price 26x3 Gazz’s, and decided to build a 26" rim up to take them.

The resulting 26x3 muni became my main (in fact, only) ride for the past few months, and I sometimes tried to compare it to the old 29-er, but, with it being so long since I’d used it, direct comparison was difficult.

However, I’ve now got a new 29-er tyre and tube, and went out on it today, so I thought I’d post some comments.

The 29-er is a Nimbus, with a ‘Big Apple’ slick (2.35") tyre; from other peoples posts I had high expectations of this tyre.

The 26x3 is a Nimbus with a 26"x3 Gazz knobbly tyre.

Unlike most 29-er riders who seem to prefer 125mm cranks, I use 150mm- the same as on the 26x3, so the comparison is a direct one based on tyre/wheel size only.

The 26x3 is heavy- it’s a pain to carry it around, and I expect that it uses more energy to go up hills etc.

The 29-er is a bit lighter to pick up.

For the first few minutes I found the new 29-er to be tricky- I suspect that I was overcompensating being used to the mass of the 26x3- turning was tricky, and the little micro-turns that are a part of uni riding, made me feel as though I was falling off.

The feeling reminded me of times when, due to slow punctures, the tyre lost air and imperceptably became unrideable due to low pressure.

So I pumped up the tyre and it felt a bit better.

(I’ll mention here that I don’t know what tyre pressure I had as the tube was a ‘Presta’ valve, which doesn’t work with my track pump/pressure guage).

I rode for about an hour; here’s my observations: -

(bear in mind that I’ve ridden the 26x3 a lot, and this was the first time I’d ridden a 29-er for some time)

  1. The 26x3 feels very, very solid; the lighter 29-er felt less so. I don’t expect to UPD at all on normal terrain on the 26x3, I was more wary with the 29-er. This could well change with more riding.

  2. In terms of speed, there didn’t seem to be much difference, which seems reasonable given the similar diameters of the wheel/tyres; I suspect that, with more riding and therefore confidence with the 29-er, I should get more speed due to the lighter wheel/tyre.

  3. On a very short, but extremely steep concrete decline, that I’m totally confident (with concentration) on the 26x3, which today was wet due to rain; I expected no problems with the 29-er slick, and was surprised when the wheel slipped out from under me.

In fairness to the 29-er though, I did approach it much slower than I would on the 26x3, and afterwards, I realised that I’d probably never ridden it on the 26x3 when it was wet.

  1. The 26x3 goes pretty much anywhere; primarily I ride on roads/concrete, but wet grassy slopes/off-road are no problem with the knobbled Gazz. With the 29-er Big Apple, at this point, I had no intention of riding on wet grassy slopes, or expectations that it could handle such terrain without slipping.


So, conclusions on day 1 are that the 29-er and 26x3 are fairly similar in terms of effective wheel size/speed etc. It will be interesting to see how I feel after a couple of weeks of ridng the 29-er.

Haha I win!

How’s that? It’s obvious that the two are about the same in terms of effective wheel size; the author above notes a number of significant differences in ride characteristics, which was my point.

Re: 26x3"/29-er comparison.

Onewheeldave-- I enjoyed reading your comparison!

I’ve been riding 26 and 29 inch wheels these last few weeks, and I’m
compelled to share my perceptions of both unicycles. My 26er is a 15
pound Semcycle setup with a 2.6" Gazz tire. The 29er is a 13 pound
Yuni with the 2.1" Nanoraptor tire. (I logged nearly 150 miles on the
Schwalbe Big Apple [2.35"] on the 29er last Fall. It’s a quiet, smooth
tire, but I prefer the Nanoraptor over the BA for the sort of riding I
do, which is mostly residential streets and bike paths. I have much
more control using the Nanoraptor tire…the BA tends to wander around
more than I like, especially on slanted, sloped surfaces.) Both
unicycles are equipped with 140mm cranks, and both have Cateye Enduro

I prefer the 29er for paved roads, both wet and dry. The 26er is used
mostly for riding on packed snow and ice, roads that are wildly
grooved, rutted, and/or uneven. I don’t much like the feel of the Gazz
tire on pavement, and so I incline to use the 29er when the roads are
free of snow. The Gazz is a hands-down winner on packed snow! A great
winter tire! I’m a pokey unicycler (age 52)–the urge to go fast began
to vanished some 30 years ago. A UPD-faceplant on my Coker last
September–at 12 mph–extinguished all residual urges to go faster than
8-9 mph on a unicycle!

Looking over the records of my last eight rides (I’m utterly anal about
keeping notes), I note that I logged 19.9 miles (in 3 hours and 45
minutes) on the 26er and 19.9 miles (in 3 hours and 30 minutes) on the
29er. If I’ve done the division correctly, that calculates to an
average speed of 5.3 mph and 5.7 mph for the 26er and 29er
respectively. My sense is that the 0.4 mph difference probably results
from using more caution when riding on snow and ice-packed roads, and
so the difference in speed between the 26er and 29er is negliable for
my kind of unicycling. --Carl (Grand Forks, North Dakota)

Ultimately, both points of view are correct.
For less-skilled riders every aspect counts.
For better riders the differences seem to be reduced.

An observation?
The highly skilled riders - those that can really ride, haven’t posted to either one of these threads.

Reminds me of a saying:

You can scratch with the chickens or soar with the eagles.

EXAMPLE: my unicycle idol is Patrick.
He rode across the country on a 24" on somewhat “outdated” equipment. His attitude is faaar from the attitudes of those where an inch or an ounce matters.

EXAMPLE: I noticed that better riders like Ryan Atkins can change what they ride. Notice how he won second place in the bike trials competition on a KH 2005? I’d almost bet it was stock - whereas he could have whined about the weight of the KH seat - or that it’s not the same unicycle as the one he uses in the videos.

EXAMPLE: Dan Heaton had Primo Tenderizers on his uni. I know that they are 1/2 pound heavier - too much weight for the lesser rider. Not only was he using the pedals, but there was EXTRA metal welded to them!

EXAMPLE: I’ve seen vids of Kris Holm doing extreme trials and urban riding on what looks like a 26". I saw a six-foot seat out downward gap to the edge of a wall! Did he chose the wrong tool for the job?: I know I would have used my feet.

EXAMPLE: Justin Koshe busts out moves on a 24" that I have only seen done elsewhere on a 20" trials. Dude soars! He could complain that the wheel is too big and heavy.

EXAMPLE: jsm is riding a stock 24" nimbus (last I checked). He could whine about how the 24" wheel is sooo different from the 20" that it impairs his ability. Last I heard, he was picking up level 10 skills!

EXAMPLE: If I recall correctly, the 24" unicycles were keeping up with and exceeding the speeds of Cokers in the unlimited NAUCC 10k race. Those 8 riders could have written volumes of books on the differences between the 24 and 36 inch wheel - and how they were at a severe “disadvantage.”

EXAMPLE: If I recall correctly, the cross-country off-road, down and uphill races of the last NAUCC were all won buy someone on a 20". He could have complained about pedal strikes or how his uni was vastly different than the competing 24"

EXAMPLE: I could sit here and post examples all day. I’ve already posted more than I started out to.
My bet is that the whiners will disagree
and come up with some other excuse why they act like the “Princess and the Pea.”

Me personally?
When the roll is called, I want to be amoung those that wheeled instead of whined.

I see only one person whining in this thread.

I misspoke . . .
Unless there’s a relationship between nit-picking and whining.
I described nit-picking - please strike “whining” and replace with nit-picking.

Um . . . . thanks for pointing that out.

The fact that Kris or Ryan can do amazing things is just not relevant to the conversation; my point is that, for a given rider, a 24x3 and a 26x3 are basically interchangable, and a 26x3 and a 29er are not. In fact, while I’m sure there are things Ryan could do on my 29er that I can’t, I’m sure that he would be able to do much more on a 24x3 or 26x3 than he can on a 29er.

In any case, I was not trying to give advice to Ryan (except, perhaps, to put more air in his tires when he’s doing big gaps so I don’t have to fix his flats anymore). I was trying to give advice to a presumably average rider who wanted useful information. “If you were Kris Holm, it wouldn’t matter” is not useful information.

Correct. That wasn’t my point.
The useful information here is that the presumably average rider can take various unicycles,
(combine them with a good attitude) and “move over mountains.”

Some riders make mountains out of molehills.

Ultimately, the size difference (like the other examples I listed) DOES NOT MATTER:
It’s the rider’s attitude that determines whether they will be a mountain . . . or a molehill.


Re: 26x3"/29-er comparison.

On Sat, 26 Mar 2005 16:04:08 -0600, “onewheeldave” wrote:

>I thought I’d post some comments.

Thanks for posting those. I run a Big Apple 28 (29) x 2.35 on my road
uni, and a (Duro) 24 x 3 on my main MUni. I do little offroad on the
Big Apple, but people who have done more have commented that the Big
Apple is not very suited for that. Your comments seem to confirm that.
Especially on slanting surfaces and lengthwise ruts, the BA tends to
drift sideways significantly, something which I also notice on
sideways slanting roads. Higher pressure helps but that moves it even
further from the 26 x 3 offroad realm.

So while diameter-wise the comparison between 26 x 3 and Big Apple is
not difficult, otherwise they seem to ‘desire’ different
circumstances. E.g. I think that most people would agree that the BA
comes more into its own with shorter cranks.

It seems as if you subjected both tyres to conditions that favoured
the 26 x 3 more. For a fair comparison, you should also do a road ride
on both, pumped up a lot harder and with 125 mm cranks.

Klaas Bil - Newsgroup Addict

people who unicycle are shyly exhibitionistic - GILD

Concerning the ‘whining/nit-picking’ issue; I think that some unicyclists don’t particularly care about the differences between 24x3/24x2.6, 26" vs 24" etc, while some do.

The comparison between 26x3 and 29-er I posted was basically for those who are interested in the differences/similarities, and I know from previous posts that many are interested.

I’ve just seen john_childs comparison of the 29-er and 26x3 which is here:-


and it’s an excellent post which goes into a lot of detail and is perhaps more relevant than mine as it addresses off-road terrain, which is what the 26x3 is designed for; it also covers other tyre sizes like 2.1 and 2.6".

Klaas bils point about a full comparison requiring riding both with 125 mm cranks etc, is true; for me I’m not into that full a comparison as I spend a limited amount of time riding, and want to stick to equipment that I’m used to so I can enjoy those rides.

The type of riding I do seems to be different to many here- I don’t do tricks, my off-roading is limited and is all pretty much mild XC; I ride mainly on roads/pavements, purely for the joy of riding on one wheel.

A further complication is that where I live, the road hills are very extreme in terms of steepness, this is why I often ride munis (24x3/26x3) on roads and have 150mm cranks on my 29-er (rather than the more usual 125s, which I tried but found were not much fun on the hills).

So the comparison was posted with all that in mind, and on the understanding that much of it won’t be relevant to many who ride in different circumstances.


Took the Big Apple 29-er out for a night ride, again on the streets.

Found myself riding very fast, but that’s usual for me on a night ride. Felt more in control, though still a little awkward, again probably due to me over-correcting due to the lower wheel mass of the 29-er.

I fluffed a free-mount and had to save myself by reaching for a wall, which I’m not used to having to do.

I did see glimmers of the 29-ers potential shining through though, feeling that its lighter weight will be an aid on steep climbs and also that, once I’ve got used to not over correcting, what I see now as it’s ‘twitchiness’ will soon translate into reponsiveness.

Done a couple more rides with the BA 29-er, and, today, a run on the 26x3.

The 29-er is getting more stable now; it also seems to be suited to going faster than I’m used to- I found myself pedalling a quite a rate and, on the flats, the thought of giving the shorter 125mm cranks another go kept popping into my mind.

Had a UPD when rolling off a curb, on reflection I think it was due to me expecting the 29-er to behave in the same way as the 26x3 on landing- it doesn’t have the same kind of absorbancy as the fat 3" tyre. That’s no big problem, it’s not a massive difference, and, now I’m aware of it, I don’t expect it will happen again.

The BA 29-er is super smooth- even when just pushing the uni along before riding it, it’s obvious that the rolling resistance is very low.

I’d say that there are plenty of similaqrities between the 29-er and 26x3; certainly, in the urban environment, two friends with one of each would find them fairly compatible to ride with, in terms of speed and distance.

The 29-er is bit faster, and it takes less energy to go a given distance.

The 26x3 has the edge when it comes to variety of terrain it can handle- it’s fine on grass and off-road stuff, the BA 29-er is best on concrete.