29" or 36" for mild commuting???

I’m thinking of purchasing a new uni that i’m only going to use for long distance riding but i’m not sure what would be more sutable a 29" or a 36". Also if i were to get either uni what would be the recommened size of cranks for each if pretty much all of my long distance riding would be on flat terrain with only a small amount of mild hills.

If you have the money, get the Coker. Otherwise, it sounds like a 29er would work perfectly for you.

me and ryan (me 36"/127’s, him 29r"/102’s) came within minutes of each other over a 60km course featuring gravel roads, paved roads, and mild offroading.

Either one you get will be fine for commuting, it’s what you are looking for in a ‘total’ unicycling package.

The Coker is tougher to master, a completely unique ride, more of a challenge, and is a lot cooler. (personal pref, but you tower over pedestrians and bikers while you ride) Does your commute contain slushy, icey, or snowwy sidewalks in the winter? The Coker will plow through stuff that the 29r can’t handle.

I can only lock my Coker up to the end of a bikerack because it doesn’t fit in the wheel holes.

The stock rim, while weak, is all you need for commuting. An alluminum rim is also available.

There is only one tire you can get with the Coker. This tire is great for the road, and fine in the trail. It only craps out in mud (deep or slick mud in the trails, not road mud)

I’ll never own a 29r, but those who do seem to like them.

Being as unbiased as I can be (because if I wanted a 29r, I’d have one) I’d get the Coker if I were you!

There are a number of factors that go into deciding whether to get a 29er or a Coker.

Cokers are faster and provide much more of a rush than 29ers. However, they also require much more practice and strength to freemount and idle. Freemounting isn’t that difficult, but particularly with shorter cranks, i.e. 5" and shorter, and when fatigued, it can become a challenge. You’ll cover more distance in a shorter time with a Coker. They look very cool, too.

29ers are somewhat slower. However, freemounting even with shorter cranks is much more manageable. And if you can idle on a 24" uni, you’ll have no trouble idling a 29er. On a 29er you’ll simply feel and be more in control of the beast. And 29ers are by no means slow; just more so compared to a Coker.

I have owned both. I sold my Coker based on the fact that at 5’5", it was simply too difficult to manage both in terms of regular and consistent freemounting and idling. I did the former regularly, but again when tired after longer rides, it became a challenge. As for the latter, I never managed it at all. For me this made the Coker impractical, even though the experience of riding it on the open road was a thrill.

Note, please, that there are many riders who freemount and idle effortlessly or close to it on a Coker. If you have reason to believe you are or might be one of them, this, of course, will affect your decision.

As for crank length the longer they are the slower you’ll go, but have more control. As they get shorter, you’ll ride faster but lose out on some of the control. I’m basically a wimp in this respect. I use 6" cranks, but if you want a bit more speed, 5" cranks on a 29er or Coker are fairly common.

All of this is to say that your decision will be affected by your age, height, weight, degree of physical fitness and pocketbook. If you’re a slender, tall, buff, rich dude, go with the Coker. If you’re a short, pudgy, poor slob, go with the 29er. If you’re in between, slide the scale and figure out which it leans toward.

Good luck and have fun. You’re not likely to be disappointed whatever decision you make.

Raphael Lasar
Matawan, NJ

I’m biased (thousands of Coker miles vs dozens of 29er miles), but GO COKER! It’s better in every way for road riding. For long distance, there is simply no question.


I only tried the Coker last weekend, and I thought it was fun. However, for commuting I think I would prefer the 29er, I do have more control, I go almost as fast as I did on the coker, and can still do some tricks on it (like go up stairs, ride one footed). The 29er is nice for hilly areas as well.

Coker. No question about it. Nothing compares for commuting.

Re: 29" or 36" for mild commuting???

Disclaimer: I have spent almost no time on a 29".

For distance riding, I’d say the Coker is the clear choice. JJuggle’s observations are also all correct, however. Although the more I ride it, the more confident I get at slow speeds, tight cornering, etc.

I would say if the distance riding you are planning is all urban, city block type commuting, the 29 would be better due to superior manueverability. If it’s open road or open trail or even open neighborhood, the 36 dominates.

(who did a quick 11 miles after dinner to bring the new GB4 36 to the 100 mile mark)

If your commute involves stopping and waiting at many intersections, stop sign, road crossing, traffic signals, pedestrian signals, and other traffic control devices then the 29er is going to have an advantage. It’s simply easier to dismount and remount on a 29er. It’s easier to maneuver a 29er over to a sign pole or other object that you can lean on while waiting for a light to change. On a Coker the stopping, and going, and dismounts, and such is more difficult and takes the fun out of the ride.

If you have to weave around to avoid people, road debris, rocks on the road, storm grates on the road, cutouts to get up sidewalk curbs, and other obstacles then the 29er is going to have an advantage. A 29er (with appropriate cranks) is more maneuverable than a Coker. It’s like the difference between a sedan and a semi-truck. The Coker is the semi-truck. The 29er is the little sedan.

For long stretches of bike path where you can just cruise, the Coker rules.

It all depends on the nature of the ride and the whim of the rider.

I’ve done a few thousand Km’s on both the 29er and Coker.

I think it would depend on your type of commute:

If you’re riding short distance eg <10km then a 29’er might be more practical. It’s easier to weave in and out through pedestrian traffic, you can hop up onto the footpath or ride on the road, and still get there almost as fast as a Coker. It’s easier to store (eg in the boot of your car), and you can wheel it into places like supermarkets without causing too much offence. Over 10km the difference (for me) between a Coker and a 29’er is only a few minutes. In fact, it may be even be faster on a 29’er if there is a lot of pedestrians/traffic lights etc etc. So yeah- if I was riding to the corner shops or a short distance to work I’d go 29’er.

If you want a long distance commuter eg >10km then you want something that will get you there a bit faster- and a Coker is the only way to go!

This from the inventor of Blue Shift?

Caution, Thread Jacking -> Hows the mass production of the shifter coming anyway?


When things go wrong on a Coker, they can go very wrong indeed. To ride a Coker in traffic, you need absolute confidence in your ability. A 28/29 is safer, more manoeuvreable, lighter, and less likely to annoy motorists.

On the other hand, if practicality were your only criterion, you’d choose a bicycle or a moped. So, if you think you’'re route is safe and easy, the Coker’s the way to go. If you have to mix it with traffic, hills, junctions etc., a lot of fun can be had on a 28.

(I’ve ridden 29s. Neither fish nor fowl.)

I’ve done about 4000 miles on a coker and probably a bit under 2k on a 29er, 950 miles of that with a big apple tyre.

For city commuting, once you’ve done a few hundred miles on a coker, or about 100 on a 29er, they’re pretty similar things if you have the equivalent crank length. The coker takes a bit more time to learn, but if you have the standard 150mm cranks on, you can control it really easily with practice and once you’ve got that down, 125 or 110 cranks aren’t impossible.

The thing about a coker is that it’s easy to control if you ride it regularly for long distances, but not something you can just pick up every so often and ride well.

The coker really comes into it’s own for distances above 30 miles or so, which are that bit more relaxing on a coker. However, the difference isn’t that much once you’ve got short cranks and a big apple tyre on the 29er. The 29er is better however in tight traffic and jams, where you want to be able to stop and hop on the spot, do 90 turns in a restricted space, preferably hop kerbs, etc. and where the smaller wheel gives you that bit more space to use.

Talking of which, the big apple tyre is the 29er tyre you want, you get speed and comfort. It’s super, no other tyre compares.

I’m also biased here, I haven’t ridden my coker at all since I got the big apple tyre on my 29er, but I’d say, if you’re intending to ride 3 or 4 times every week including commuting almost all the year and some really long rides, coker is the one. If you’re riding less regularly, or aren’t doing regular >30 mile rides, or are in a big city, then get a 29er, they’re more versatile. If you want to ride lots of offroad, or have the flexibility to change to mud tyres for winter I’d go for 29er too.

Don’t ride the coker or 29er in heavy traffic until you know you won’t fall off. In fast traffic, you need to be able to hold back a bit of speed so that you know 100% you’re not going to crash out in front of a lorry. Save the riding as fast as possible for deserted or very slow moving roads, or offroad.


Hi Joe,

I’ve got a 29-er with a 2.1" IRC Notos tyre and 5" cranks.

I’ve considered getting a Big Apple but havn’t yet because I think I’ll need to get a new frame to fit it (currently it’s a 28" round top nimbus, and I believe that you need a 28" flat top to get the Apple in).

So I’m wondering if you’ve ridden with a 2.1 Notos and if the Apple is substantially better?

If so I may invest :slight_smile:

Also, in what ways exactly is it better- just extra comfort, or is there a Coker like momentum effect from the extra tyre mass?

I definitly noticed a big improvement when I went from the original skinny 700c tyre to the 29-er.

Coker advantages:

  • Less effort for same speed; more speed for about equal effort.
  • Flywheel effect makes for a nice, steady ride.
  • Looks cool, turns heads, higher view from up there.

Coker disadvantages:

  • Heavy. The more hillier the ride, the less Coker advantage.
  • Only one choice of tire.
  • Less maneuverable in tight spots.
  • More work to mount and dismount.
  • Big; takes up more space when stored or carried around

29er advantages:

  • Literally hundreds of tires to choose from (though most are skinny).
  • Light as a feather compared to Coker wheel.
  • More exercise for equal distance ridden.
  • Fits much more easily into car, closet, cubicle, etc.
  • More choice of frames.
  • Stronger wheel.

29er disadvantages:

  • More pedaling to go same distance
  • Less flywheel effect, so a little more effort to cruise, even at comparable rpm.
  • You don’t stand out as much as on a Coker (this is optinally an advantage).

My commute to work is about 8.2 miles, with minimal hills. My Coker with 125s (and a nice Wyganowski handlebar) does it great, and I get there in about 40 minutes.

The other day I tried my new 29er with 102 cranks. I could feel it was more wear & tear on my knee, which started to bother me about halfway there. I slowed down after that. When I arrived at work and stopped the stopwatch, it was only a few minutes slower than my average Coker ride. Amazing! So it was more pedaling, but the overall time was very close. The 102s felt pretty comfortable. I don’t know if I would be happy with shorter ones, though I would try 89s if I had 'em.

I prefer the Coker for my commute, but I won’t be racing on it in Japan, so I will try to ride the 29er to work as many times as possible before NAUCC (after I recover from Mt. Diablo on Saturday, 29er with 140 cranks).

The more hilly your ride will be, the more you might prefer the 29er. Also if there are lots of stops or obstacles like pedestrians. On the other hand, the further your ride is, the more you might lean toward the Coker. I know not all of Ottawa is flat, as I’ve ridden around the downtown (Unicon V and International Cycling Festival). Outlying areas might be dead flat though.

The Coker is likely to be a bigger change from what you’re used to riding. If it comes with 150s, start out by riding with those until you get comfortable. Then you can switch to shorter ones and you’ll appreciate them much more. Give the cycle time for you to get used to it; don’t pass judgement after only a few rides.

JJuggle mentioned idling. Cokers are not for idling. When I get to a red light I get off. People in cars love watching you get on your unicycle anyway. Getting off is a rest for your crotch. Though you can idle a large wheel, it doesn’t really do much for you, other than take up a lot of space (usually not a good idea at a red light). Hold the post or dismount. Idling on a Coker or larger wheel is like using a road bike for Trials.

It’s definately a lot better, more comfort and more momentum.

Some people have managed to fit them into standard nimbus frames by doing something nasty with shims in their bearing holders to make the wheel a little bit further away. I dunno what though.

If you’re not in a hurry to buy it, I’ll be moving to Nottingham at some point, probably around september, which isn’t too far on the train from Sheffield, you could have a go on my 29er and see if you thought the difference was worth it.


BTW, I have a Big Apple tire on its way to me now. Everybody seems to recommend it for road, though it doesn’t have any tread to speak of for dirt.

Meanwhile, I have the WTB Nanoraptor on there. Fine in the dirt, but not so great on the road with its center ridge. As long as you’re going perfectly straight you’re fine, but turning is annoying. So if most of your riding is on pavement, go for the Big Apple. Nanoraptor for mostly dirt, and lots of air in it for pavement.

The Coker is a commuter. Blue Shift is for break-neck speeds and a real workout trying to stay in the balance envelope. Passing bicyclists on Blue Shift is fun. Falling off at bicycling speeds is not. It doesn’t make a good commute.

What about the 2" big apple tyre, I got one with the nimbus 1 and know that it fits no problem, I’m yet to fit it yet though as I’ve decided to wear out the original tyre practicing idling and tight turns and things like that.

Another threadjack:

Seems like a lot of people are leaving their Cokers behind for UNICON 12- I would have thought you’d need a Coker to be competitive in the 10km event? Do you know anyone who IS bringing a Coker? I heard that the Japanese favour short (ie 60mm) cranks on a standard 24’ wheel over a 36’?