29-ers and the smaller tire advantage

I was always surprised how, after riding my 24x3 muni for months, when I went out on the 29-er, climbing hills seemed easier.

I would have thought the opposite would be true as the munis smaller wheel should give a leverage advantage.


  1. nimbus muni, 24x3 with Halo Contra 3" tyre and 150mm cranks
  2. nimbus 29-er, with Kenda Klaw 29x2.1 tyre and 150mm cranks

Recently I upgraded to a KH 29-er-

  1. KH29, with WTB Stout 29x2.3 tyre and 150/125 dual cranks set to 150mm

Having previously tried a Big Apple tyre on the nimbus and found it dreadful in terms of road crown and, expecting to have to endure a period of acclimatisation with the new WTB tyre, I was pleasently surprised that it rode well straight out of the box- very stable and solid with no having to mess about altering tyre pressure etc.

Maybe the aluminium frame and more solid hub (my previous nimbus 29 is very old, with very narrow uneyletted rim) contributed to the impressive ride, but, certainly, the tyre worked very well.

However, after a few rides I started to notice that hill climbing was really taking it out of me, especially the final hills at the end of a ride- sometimes I
was having to dismount and walk a bit, which rarely happened on the 24x3 or my old 29-er.

I started to suspect that it must be the heavier tyre- especially on steep hills where the effort of overcoming the rotational mass on each push of the cranks seems to take it’s toll.

So, a couple of days ago I switched the smalle Kenda Klaw onto the KH29- the couple of rides I’ve had seem to bear it out as hill climbing seems much easier.

The ride on flats seems a little less stable and more ‘twitchy’, but not massively so and, I suspect, will improve over a few rides as I get used to the tyre.

Any other 29-er riders prefer smaller tyres? If so, how small do you go?

(Years back I did try a normal, narrow, 700c bike tyre on the 29-er and, though it made the unicycle appealingly light, riding on it was not good and I found myself being thrown off by going over small pebbles etc).

Also, is it fair to assume that, if a hill causes problems with a 29-er with a WTB Stout type tyre, that a Coker, with it’s more massive tyre, will be difficult to ride up?

The best tire I’ve found for road riding on the 29er is the Big Apple 29x2.0". It is night-and-day different than the 29x2.3" in terms of road crown. I used that setup for RTL and still use it on my ungeared 29er.

The WTB Stout 29x2.3" is actually not bad on the roads, either, but the knobs make it not as good as the Big Apple 2.0". That’s what I now have on my geared 29er, which is set up for mixed road/MUni rides.

The main thing is that you want the tire profile to be rounded rather than square. The more square the tire profile is, the worse the tire will be on camber. (The Endomorph 26x3.7", squarish by design, is by far the worst I’ve ridden).

I think you’re right on in terms of the weight issue with climbing. I’ve found that even off-road, my 29x2.0" with 110mm cranks climbs better than my MUni with 150mm cranks, as long as traction is not an issue. I recently did “Rob’s Ride”, a Santa Cruz 20-miler with mixed road and dirt on hills, on a standard Coker, and I couldn’t believe how much more annoying it was to climb on the Coker compared to the 29er setup I was more accustomed to. The Coker is incredibly sluggish and slow, comparatively. (Of course, it’s still more about the rider than the cycle).

I’d like to try the smaller Big Apple, I’ve heard good things about it and a few people have posted that it’s not affected by road camber to the same extent as the 2.3.

As well as the rider and the cycle, Ithink there’s a third factor- the landscape :slight_smile:

Which, in my case contains lots of steep hills and, I’m finding that, even when I’m riding regularly and am in decent shape, there’s a limit to what can be done if the tyres heavy.

I was seriously considering taking advantage of this months price reduction of Cokers at unicycle.co.uk, but, where I am, the hills are unavoidable and,given the way they feel on a 29-er with a big tyre, the Cokers’s much bigger tyre is likely to not be much fun.

9er tires

For my 29er experinces, It Sounds like the previous is not taking into acount snowrides in the winter?? I have a 2.55 WTB tire w/a round profile and small arrow tread is not good on any crusty snow or questionable winter terrain. I thought the Nevegal is a nice blend of dirt and asphault w lower pressure.

I was riding my 29x2.0" in winter conditions just today: 65 and sunny.

Squarish tires are sensitive to camber. Even worse than square, for general riding on pavement, is a pointy tire. Think egg shape, with the pointy end toward the road. Those are the worst, and it gets more noticeable the skinnier the tire.

Having said that, if you want a light-responsive wheel, you can go really skinny and really light. It will ride hard and squirrelly, but nothing you can’t get used to. In track racing, you’ll see lots of skinny tires. In fact, a lot of 26 x 1" tires are small enough to fit within the regular track racing wheelsize limit. Not comfortable for long road rides, but very responsive! I would use something like that for a race up a mountain or something, but not for a long ride on mixed terrain.

+1 on the 2.0" Big Apple. Huge difference on Camber, and still plenty of air volume!

I’d prefer a coker on a paved road anytime over a 29er. If you are going to ride paved roads I’d look again at the 36er, but if you are riding single track, gravel or dirt or a mix a 29er may be best.

I’ve been riding the Stout for a while now and the weight increase is really noticeable when climbing. For bumpy terrain it really does so soak up the bumps much better than my old tyre the Kenda Klaw 1.95 so it depends on your priorities but I like riding up as many hills as I can.

A lighter tyre doesnt have to mean a smaller volume tyre. I have just got hold of a Schwalbe Racing Ralph 2.4 which is about half the weight of the Stout and probably lighter than the Kenda Klaw. With its thinner sidewalls I dont expect it to handle rough stuff quite as well as the Stout but for hill climbing it should be a big improvement.

I’m mainly riding on roads.

But, as I said, it involves lots of steep hill climbs- would you still recommend a Coker over the 29-er? (Bearing in mind the climbs are sufficiently steep that I’ve switched to a smaller 29-er tyre).

Well, for the sake of adding a ‘me too’ post, I agree with what’s been said so far.

You didn’t say what size of Big Apple you had, but it sounds like you were using the 2.3", and as people have pointed out already, that tyre sucks on camber. In fact, I don’t know why it is sold to unicyclists, as I don’t think I have ever met anyone that likes it. The 2.0" is certainly much better, but for road use I have used the Schwalbe Marathon Plus Supreme 28 x 2.0. It is quite a bit lighter than the BA which makes the unicycle more responsive, and it also seems to grip better.

As for off-road 29 tyres, I have only used two; the Kenda Klaw, which I really hated, and the Nano Raptor, which I really loved. I think that the difference here is the same, as the Nano Raptor is a really light weight tyre.

For a few months I commuted on a 26" unicycle, and tried a few different tyres on that. The one I settled on as being best for road use was a super skinny (25mm I think. Maybe thinner) racing tyre. The KH rim on my 29er is too fat to support a tyre like this, but I would love to try something as thin as this again on a geared 29.


I’ll just add that I also love my 2.0 BA tyre on my KH29, but I do struggle a bit with camber, especially when using the 125mm cranks. With the 150mm ones, I can handle the camber better, but I still have to fight it a bit. Now, I’ve only been riding the KH29 for a month or so, I am no expert rider, and I haven’t tried any other tyres to compare.

I think part of my issue is that, when going at a cruising speed, the wheel wobbles a little bit (more so with the shorter cranks), which tend to pull me down the slope on camber.
For everything else, like flat roads, groomed trails or sidewalks, I don’t think I could ask for a better tyre.

It’s sold to unicyclists because it was recommended by unicyclists. I’ll admit I never noticed a problem with my fat BA tires until I started riding fast on (borrowed) 29" Schlumps. In my experience, camber doesn’t become much of a problem until you’re going fast. It was mostly during RTL that I had a hard time with the camber on Dave White or David Stone’s 29" Schlumpfs. I had some moments of embarrassingly slow downhill riding when the road was curving to the left! I remember passing by one of the other team cars at the bottom of a big left-curving hill. They were looking at me as if I must be injured or something, and I borrowed a line from the Zoolander movie: “I can’t turn left!”

I think we should start requesting the 2.0" Big Apple from our local UDC or other unicycle distributors so they’ll start to stock them.

Well, at first I don’t think there was a 29x2.0" Big Apple, so we used the 29x2.3". And actually it’s a very nice tire in a lot of ways–better than the other 29ers available at the time. It just sucks on camber. Even on camber, it’s relatively easy to get used to on an ungeared 29er; the problem is when you’re blasting downhill at 20+ and you hit a cambered section.

You’re a jerk. :angry:

I would agree that going fast is certainly a problem for the larger BA, so certainly on Schlumpfs it’s going to be a problem. However, I think riding experience is what made it ok for you on a standard 29er. A newish rider will have the same problems, and the majority of people buying 2.3" BAs are either new, or have not read my previous rants on them :smiley:

Personally I think we should start requesting the Marathon Plus Supreme. It is a better tyre all round (no pun intended), and being a folding tyre, is surely easier to post too. Just prior to RTL I requested this, but they were unable to supply them at the time. There are plenty of online retailers that do stock them though.


STM is the Marathon Supreme HS 382 tire at this link http://www.schwalbetires.com/marathon_supreme what your talking about??
If it is I see why it would be good on the crowned roads…it is a very round design. If this isn’t the right one can you give the exact name so I have an idea what to get in the future.


Yes, those are the ones. The listing recommends the 19 tube though, but iirc the 19a does the same job at an even less weight.


STM and Vinnya,

What is the difference between a folding bead tire and a wire bead tire? Will they both work well on a unicycle?

Here is the web site that lists the tires (again):

I have a nimbus 29" purchased last year. It appears to be a 622 mm diameter rim with a 40 mm (measured OD) width. Which of the tire sizes will fit? I assume the “622” set is fine but I do not understand the tolerances on the width.

Thank you.

A folding bead is usually made out of kevlar or other strong flexible material. Generally you can save about 40 or 50g by going with a folding bead.

Wire beads are cheaper but heavier.

The 29" tires and the 700x##c tires will fit your rim but I would not go skinier than 2" or maybe 40mm but that is stretching it.

New Liteskin version if the Schwalbe Big Apple tire

Hi there!

[B]To be noticed that Schwalbe just released (or is about to release?) a light version of the Big Apple 29x2.0", called “Liteskin”:


I’ve asked UDC UK to try and get it for me, and I was kindly told that I would have the answer within 1 week. Let’s hope they will confirm it is available and will have found a supplier for it!
Actually, I do mostly off-road, but quite often in pretty dry conditions, and I actually expect to work out so much better the hills with a slick 2.0" tire than with a regular off-road tire that overall I foresee a benefit, for some of my rides, to use a slick 2.0" tire.

In fact, in June this year, I would like to climb the famous slopy road to l’Alpe d’Huez (ski station on the French side of the Alps) - joining a group of road cyclists who do that every year at the beginning of the Summer time. I have the feeling that, considering my averagish skills, every aspect of my ride will count if I want to be successful, and the tire is certainly a good part of it - together with the saddle comfort,… and the crank length of course!

Cheers, MadC.