"29" nimbus road unicycle - what's essential?

I’m a week or so away from ordering the uni for my 8 mile round trip commute. As mentioned previously I’ve got one serious 1/8 to 1/4 mile hill that I plan on walking if need be to get out of the bowl that downtown Kalamazoo sits in. I’m hoping to get good enough before winter to ride it in winter.

I have the basic Level 1 skills roughly down and have ridden my “20” more than 3 miles in a stretch.

  1. I wonder: how many Nimbus 29 road uni owners that ride hills (25-30% grade) use a brake AND 2. can a brake be added later?

  2. Would another seat be better from the start rather than the gel seat that comes standard?

  3. Other than a backpack, is there a simple and economical way to store change of clothes, water and lunch?

  1. I wonder: how many Nimbus 29 road uni owners that ride hills (25-30% grade) use a brake AND 2. can a brake be added later?

Wow, 25-30%, that’s steeeeeeeeep. In the Rockies at home here in Colorado I find myself on grades up to 15% fairly often, and I’m very comfortable with 125mm cranks, and I don’t have a brake on the 29er at the moment. I have been riding it with 102mm cranks lateley, and on downhill runs it gets a bit hairy sometimes without the brake. Yes you can add a brake later. And to be perfectly honest, you will do well to do it later. A hydraulic rim brake is overkill in my oppinion, and you can get a BMX caliper brake that is easy to mount and works perfectly on a road 29. The caliper brake is much cheaper. If you really want a Magura I would float some cash in Bryce’s direction and get a reconditioned use set. Still much cheaper than a new set from UDC. You can look him up in the trading post. His thread is usually on the first page.

  1. Would another seat be better from the start rather than the gel seat that comes standard?

Some people like the Nimbus Gel. I semi flattened mine, and it improved greatly. I expect to be finishing the job one of these days. I prefer the KH Street, but the flattened Nimbus Gel may be better once it is all the way flat. Translation: saddle preference is personal. If you have found a saddle that you like then you know. If not, it is a lot of trial and error before you find the right saddle.

  1. Other than a backpack, is there a simple and economical way to store change of clothes, water and lunch?

When I commute on my uni I use a backpack. For small loads you could rig up a carrier, and a water bottle holder.

Thats a pretty steep road, with practice the climb might be do-able. A 29er is a far better choice for hills than a 36er. A brake makes descents very easy especially if you can trust it not to lock up (disc brake).

It can be fitted with hydraulic rim brakes immediately, v brakes with an adaptor or can be retrofitted with a disc brake mount and crank or hub mounted brake rotor.

Saddles are a personal thing. If you get the option a KH freeride is a good saddle for <10 mile rides for me but it gets painful if ridden for any further in one go.

Not that i know of. You could mount a rear rack and bag either using a seatpost mounting rack or a shadow handle but it will make mounting a nightmare and will probably affect cornering. For a riding rucksack look for one designed specifically for climbing or cycling as they will rock around less. Plenty of riders mount a bottle cage on their frames, usually on the back of the seatpost.

When it comes to seats, I have no problem recommending the new kh fusion zero. It might take a bit getting used to if you are used to traditional seats, but after I got mine I have not even been close to the numbness I used to get in that area.

I like brakes on anything bigger than a 26. I’d get a kh street saddle off the bat. It’s cheaper than buying later. 150 cranks are too long. I’d think about 150/127s or 137s.

I ride 29er on lots of big hills and def. recommend a brake to save your knees on long downhills. (No offence, but are your hills really “25-30% grade”?)

If you want to go budg and are willing to drill a hole in your frame, this brake is cheap and works just fine


I just got the Nimbus 29 road uni about a week ago. I got it with the shadow handles as well. I noticed you are upgrading from a 20". That is going to take some time to make the transition, especially if you have never ridden one with that size wheel. I am upgrading from a 24" and it has been trickier than I would have thought to make the transition. Freemounting, balance, and overall comfort are much different and take quite a bit of practice. I used to ride my 24 for rides of up to 7 miles without much trouble. I am not ready yet to strike out on the 29er. Just give yourself some time to adjust to the difference.

I don’t have break on it yet, but I can see where it would be helpful. the 29er is harder to slow down than the 24.

Can’t speak to the backpack. I have never used one. Congrats on the the new purchase!

I carry a Deuter 10. http://www.deuter.com/US/us/hiking/speed-lite-10-33101-119.html.

I’ve carried it for years. It’s a bit small, but that’s a good thing. I keep extra clothes at work. It’s worth the money.

Getting used to a bigger wheel will take some time, but it’s not that big of a deal if you are an intermediate unicyclist.

The key for me when riding 29s/36s as opposed to 20, 24, or 26s is that I have to be much more careful about keeping my center of gravity over the wheel. With the bigger heavier wheel it’s not as easy to catch that wheel up with you and you’re down, hard.

I am very cautious on my 36 when commuting. I avoid traffic at all costs, though I have to deal with it a little. I err on the slow side and always wear a helmet, wrist guards, finger/palm protection. It’s best to wear knee protection, but I don’t always. I should. Falls from that thing, even once in a great while can be nasty.

I can attest to that! (About center of gravity…) my worst fall came on my second day with the 29. I got ahead of the wheel, couldn’t get it back, and went down on my palms…and elbow…and shoulder…as I rolled :astonished:

Roads are pretty unforgiving surfaces! Now I wear gloves with wrist guards. Definitely not the same animal as the smaller wheels.

There’s nothing quite like the sound of the plastic palm guards on the Hillbillies scraping across the asphalt. Every time I hear that, I think damn I’m glad I’m wearing these things.

I once had to go the ER on a bike when scraped my palm very badly and had to get it cleaned out. It hurt like hell. Could have been avoided with gloves.

Is it really pleasant to commute to work on a uni? I see it more as a recreational activity – just the amount of sweating alone… – so can’t quite imagine it being a pleasure.
Unless there’s a shower at work?:slight_smile:

Until you’ve experienced riding down a main road atop a unicycle with your hair tied back smart, wearing your best shirt, pants, tie and weilding a briefcase, you’ve not lived :sunglasses:

I don’t unicycle to work yet, as I don’t have a job, but I uni to all my job interviews. I just take my ‘smart’ shirt folded neatly in my bag, and change shirts before I enter the building. And use anti-perspirant/deodorant midway between the shirt-changing :smiley:

I really enjoy my uni workout/commute to work. It’s the perfect way to the start of my day. My commute is about 10 miles each way. Yes, it does take a bit of planning, but well worth the small amount of trouble. I do have a shower available, although I choose to just take a sort of sponge bath. I usually bring an extra shirt with me. I leave deodorant at work.

buy a camelback backpack to store clothes and lunch, they have different sizes, some have storage others don’t I prefer milspec ones they usually have d rings and stuff to attach things to


and they can be used to ride bicycles or hike or just to walk around and have some water

Sweating would depend on the terrain, and temperature of course. During the winter months here in NC I find that I can do rides of up to 5-7 miles on a 24" without breaking a sweat. However, it is all flat surfaces. Summer time however…I break a sweat just walking out the front door!:smiley:

Hill reality versus perception


As mentioned previously I’ve got one serious 1/8 to 1/4 mile hill that I plan on walking if need be to get out of the bowl that downtown Kalamazoo sits in. I’m hoping to get good enough before winter to ride it in winter.

  1. I wonder: how many Nimbus 29 road uni owners that ride hills (25-30% grade) use a brake AND 2. can a brake be added later?"[/I]

After getting several responses questioning my evaluation of the West Main hill that seems so absolutely wicked to me I decided to ask my soil scientist/geologist friend about it.

Jay’s calculations of the hill is that it is actually around a 10% grade with some sections approaching 12% or slightly more. He corrected me also in that it is not a 1/8 to 1/4 mile but over a half mile. When all is included (gentle grade start) it is over 3/4 of a mile climb out of the bowl.

Opps!!! I’m still terrified on the climb and descent…

i wonder if you’ve considered jumping right up to the 36er since you’re planning to do road riding. I started two years ago on a 24 because that’s what the “book” told me to do. Then I was on the 29er for awhile, but as soon as I had basic uni skills, I bought the KH36 and was shocked at how stable and easy the thing was–it made me question the orthodox view that people have to take a long, gradual path to the 36. The big wheel is less twitchy, tracks better, and is waaaaaay more fun to ride on the road than the 29, imho.
As far as the feasibility of commuting on a unicycle goes, my only problem is that I have so much fun on the one-wheel that i’m totally neglecting my bicycle commute. :frowning: My route to the office is a 28-mile round trip, which I do 2-3 times per week, plus at least one bigger ride on the weekend. Today it was sunny, so I just stayed out all day, cruising around Seattle and Puget Sound, stopping every 10 miles or so for coffee and snacks. I rode just over 40 miles, including some massive hills, and had a REALLY fun time. :wink: People were pointing camera phones at me from rolled-down car windows, cheering and thumbs-upping me–it was a hoot! It would have also been fun on my old KH29, but definitely slower and shorter, distance-wise.

Anyway, something to think about… :roll_eyes:

I don’t know if a 36 is really the end all size for road riding. I haven’t regretted selling my 36, but after I got rid of my 29 I felt like there were too many situations where it would have worked where the 36 was just too big.

So, I have a 29 again, and I built a 32. Now, the 32 is just about the perfect size I think. It has more of the stability of a 36, but it is only a little bigger than the 29. I still think that if you are only going to have one decent uni it’s hard to argue with the versatility of a 29. And with short cranks, like 100mm, it’s amazing how fast the 29 is. I actually think it is comparable to my old 36 in terms of speed.

Playing catch up…

In a perfect world I’d Love to be on a 36, but the cars I presently use are a 2012 Nissan Leaf and a 2002 Honda Insight. I choose for various reasons to load the uni inside the cars when traveling. I don’t think the 36 will easily fit inside the Insight. The 32 fascinates me and I am curious, but my skills and time are not up to building a 32 at the moment.

btw… my internet access is sketchy so I don’t get here as often as I’d like.
I do appreciate All of the comments on this thread. I wondered about alternatives to a backpack. I’m still checking them out. While at a farmer’s market a vendor suggested I consider a fanny pack to carry water and bare essential clean up items. The camelpak looks like a better combination that would meet many of my needs and I think fit my ideal. No doubt you get what you pay for. The price though might require a bit of budgeting…

re: brakes… hydraulic rim brakes vs disc brake… On slushy hill riding in the winter, will rim brakes still work as well? What is a price range on rim brakes? On the other hand sliding the hill with locked (disc?) brakes doesn’t sound fun either. Of course never having done winter riding on a uni I don’t know if this is a realistic scenario…

I was also surprised to find that my top speeds on a road 29" (700x45, 114mm cranks) are very close to my top speeds on a 36" (125mm cranks) but the 29" takes a lot more work to maintain similar speeds over distance.