29" or 36" for mild commuting???

I also am NOT bringing a Coker, basically just because it’s kind of a pain to travel with an extra uni and such a big one. I would love to have mine there, but am traveling a bit afterwards and just can’t stomach the extra baggage.

Yes a Coker certainly is better for the 10km race, and I don’t see how you can be competitive in the open category without one (except there was that Japanese guy last time who came in second on a 24" with 70mm cranks…) But he had no chance against Roger. If the course is like in 2002 (flat), the fastest unicycle should be a Coker with short cranks, probably shorter than 125mm.

Last time I was lucky enough to be able to borrow a Coker, but this time there will probably be a dozen eager riders for each Coker available for lending.


Joe Merrill did a pirouette on my Coker and then rode it down the stairs. That was the day I learned that Cokers are as “light and nimble” as the rider is skillful. Get a Coker and practice.

(I was totally addicted to my 29er until the day I got my Dave Stockton custom Coker dream machine. Since then, I’ve ridden the 29er only once – and during the whole ride I was wishing I had the Coker.)

yuta 70mm.jpg

Turns out that they have even shorter ones than they used in that race in 2002. The shortest are 45mm!!! Here’s a shot of the unicycle that came in 2nd place. I don’t remember the crank length: maybe 68mm or something like that.


I don’t have a Coker, never ridden one. However, I LOVE my 29er. I’ve used it in a lot of different situations, including mild MUniing on local mountain bike trails (keep in mind I live in Iowa, however :frowning: ) but I’ve enjoyed it thoroughly, the best thing about it is it fits in the trunk of my tiny, tiny car however. Also, tubes and tires are numerous for it.

I would like a Coker too however. (if anyone wants to give me one . . . )

Edit: PS Those short cranks kick. Anyone know where I can get a pair? (Somebody slap those on a Coker!)

Borrow Blue Shift. I can’t go to Japan. Let me know. I like loaning you my unicycles. This one doesn’t have a yellow saddle and yellow pedals, though.

Nothing a good can of spray paint can’t fix.

so could someone explain to me why a 24 with 70 mm cranks can win 2nd place in a race?

i dont know much about racing, but i do know that shorter cranks are supposed to be faster. Why wouldn’t a coker with 89s simply crush any other unicycle? Why didn’t hte guy with 70s put them on a 26 inch wheel instead of a 24? Or maybe a 29?

Is there simply not enough torque with tiny cranks on a coker to get up to full potential speed? (By tiny i mean 70). Or are cranks this small just impossible to ride on a big wheel?

i hope this isn’t thread jacking too much


edit: what is this blue shift you speak of?

Oh man! I think that means I’ll have to get something shorter than the 110’s on my Coker currently :angry:

I have an idea! Why don’t you lend it to Nathan who can lend it to me when I get to Japan and we could put 45mm cranks on it? If you can’t race in person, at least your unicycle can :smiley:

That would be so cool!!!


Coker rules. I have both 36’s and 29.

The Hunter36 w/Dave Stockton wheel and Tom Miller hub is by far the stongest and most solid ride I have ridden.

29ers are a little twitchy and if you have ridden as many miles on a Coker like I have, then a 29’er just seems like a whimp over bumps.


very few people can ride fast on a coker with much smaller than 110 cranks. I’ve seen roger riding with stupidly short (89 I think) cranks on a coker, but even he found it difficult. You have to have incredibly strong legs. It takes a long time to accelerate such a big wheel when you have very little leverage.

Given a smooth area to ride on, the ratio of crank length to wheel size seems to be pretty much the deciding factor (except for fitness) as to what is fast, hence japanese riders going super fast on 24" wheels.

I reckon a big apple with 89s would be a good thing for a race on a smooth course. I’ve ridden this setup and it’s incredibly fast, yet very very stable, on a non bumpy surface I’d guess it’d have an edge over a coker with the same crank/wheel ratio.


That’s because the Coker wheel is way too heavy! If it had the same type of tyre and tube as a 29’er I’m sure it’ll accelerate just fine with short cranks. That’s my main reason to go tubeless (I’ve ordered Stans No-tubes kit- hopefully it’ll arrive soon). Another way to lighten the wheel is to replace the stock thick spokes with some skinnier ones. I did that recently and there is certainly a noticeable difference.

Because the guy riding it pedaled really effing fast! There was another Japanese guy a few spots back in the race. I remember watching him ride in front of me for a while (me struggling to keep up on my 45" wheel with 6.5" cranks).

Unicycle races are won by athletes, not equipment. Have Roger and that guy switch unicycles, give them a month or more to practice, and I think Roger would probably still win.

Because in Japan you only race on 24" wheels. Though he could have brought a bigger one, I’m sure he a) didn’t own one, and b) wasn’t that interested in bringing a separate unicycle just for one race. In Japan it’s all 24" racing, except for possibly a very few specialty events, less than 1% of the racing done there.

I’m not bringing my Coker to Japan for the same reason. Though it would be the best cycle for that event, it’s not worth bringing it (especially at my mediocre training level) just for one race. We’re staying a week after Unicon as well, and then it would really be in the way.

When I went to Unicon III in 1987 (Tokyo), I had 5 unicycles and an artistic bike with me. This was because we paid for our trip by doing shows for a week before that in Hong Kong. I had so much luggage, the hotel had to remove the table and chairs from my room. Then bringing home three huge trophies and 8 or more little ones didn’t help…

For Japan, since I am not a trained-up top-level racer, I’m conserving luggage space. 29" is the wheel size of the future, mark my words. I will use mine for the new 700c races, then the 10k, and then the MUni events (with a tire change). I might have three different sets of cranks for it, but getting that to Japan will be so much easier than additional unicycles! I think I’m bringing just that one and a 20". No 24" at all! If I need to borrow one of those for a few minutes, there should be plenty of them laying around.

As somebody mentioned, the heavy Coker wheel is part of the problem. All that weight at a farther distance from the axle makes for a powerful flywheel effect. You reach a point of swiftly diminishing returns somewhere below 125mm on the cranks. Also the quality of the racecourse is a big factor.

I believe there is now a map on the Unicon XII web site showing the 10k course. It’s two loops with a tail on what may be a bike path. There sill be several sharp turns along the way, but I think it will be very flat, except for transition areas. I believe the bike path follows a waterway.

I bought a pair of prox. 66mm cranks (steel, clearly homemade) from Daiki Izumeda at Unicon 11. Never used them until I got my 29er, then put them on there for a laugh. I would not want to try to ride fast with those on there, as you have very little to work with. Too hard to adjust your speed. Even rocking was very interesting at first.

You can buy these cranks from MYS:
Click on the Parts button, then keep hitting “next” until you’re on page 5 of 7. You can get 50, 55, 60, 70, 80, 89, 95, and 102mm alloy cranks. They look like very nice cut-down jobs! I do not know how long it takes to ship them. I’m thinking of buying some when I’m there. If you plan to do this, they ask you to preorder, so they can make sure things are ready. These cranks might be made to order.

A geared-hub unicycle made by Greg Harper. Search on blue shift.

Interesting stuff John. I’ve ridden a number of those river bike paths in Japan and yes, they are almost dead flat (slight up and down where a path comes in from the side or at bridges).

That’s amazing that you can actually order cranks down to 50mm. I hadn’t made it that far through their parts pages before. Only 6000yen…tempting. Think of a Coker with those babies! You probably need someone to push start you to around 10mph!!


Wow! Cranks down to 50 mm! 2 inches! Cor, blimey!

I got down to 89s on my 24 and found it rideable. 102s were very rideable, and I once did a 24 mile ride on this set up. 110s are my crank of choice on my 28, but I’ve never really been persuaded by anything shorter than the standard 150s on my Coker.

I did a lot of experiments a year or two back, timing myself, and doing the maths.

Shorter cranks are faster up to a point, and then they become counterproductive. The threshold varies from rider to rider, wheel size to wheel size, and also varies with the ride conditions.

Shorter cranks give a smaller pedalling circle, but this fundamentally changes your pedalling action. For a clear illustration of this, compare the muscle actions needed to pedal with a hypothetical set of 200 mm cranks, and a hypothetical set of 50 mm cranks.

So, if you simply work out the ratio of crank length to wheel radius, you can’t make a 20, 24, 28, 29 and Coker all perform identically just by fitting the right cranks. Up to approximately Coker size, bigger wheels are always faster on average. Above Coker size there are no pneumatic tyres available, so I guess that would introduce handling challenges.

But back to the original question ont he thread: choice of a commuting unicycle… a Coker will cruise the distance at a comfortable speed. A 28 or 29 will be generally slower, but lighter and safer. A 28 with 110s or 102s is also an option, though. What do you want from a commute? Fun, speed, practicality, notoriety, portability, storability, lockability?

I agree the Coker has to be one of the most cumbersome things to lug half way across the world. But I’m not just bringing it for the 10km race- I need it in case the MUni events are Cokerable- I wouldn’t want to be undergeared for that :p. I’m also bringing the 29’er and the organisers said that I could borrow a 24’ for track racing from someone.

I haven’t had much flat riding- it’s hard to find anywhere flat in Wellington- but hopefully the velodrome will give me some kind of idea.

I’m salivating over some of those Mys corporation bits. Apparently there is some kind of titanium frame available- I emailed them but they haven’t got back to me :frowning:


I don’t currently do any real long road riding, but I’d like some input on a 29 vs. a 36 on my specific commute (about 7 miles each way).

I have a custom KH29 with inboard disc hub (oracle) and standard wide KH rim, with 150/127mm cranks.

My commute to work is (reverse it for the way home)

  1. a pretty steep, but very short hill for ~25 meters
  2. 2 miles of pretty flat, pretty straight asphalt bike trail. The trail in the afternoon usually has a decent amount of foot traffic, including clueless pedestrians with headphones and little kids riding bikes.
  3. Quarter mile of a relatively steep uphill on a very lightly trafficked road
  4. 20 Meters up a pretty steep, heavily trafficked road, which ends with a large intersection.
  5. Half mile of lightly trafficked backroads, moderately hilly.
  6. quarter mile of moderately steep hill
  7. 2 miles of packed gravel, packed dirt straight and pretty flat bike trail. Not many pedestrians.
  8. 1 mile and a half of side walk, moderately hilly with 3 pretty big intersections.

My choices are:

  1. Get an Oracle 29" wheel build with Nimbus rim, and use it on my KH 29 frame. I could then fit my existing BA 2.0 (which is too small for my 29 muni wheel) and have a lighter, smoother wheel for commuting.

  2. Get a 36.

Given my commute (terrain, traffic, intersections) any input on which wheel size would be optimal? A geared hub on a 29 almost sounds optimal, but I can’t afford it and don’t want it for other reasons.

My suspicion is that the 29 Oracle wheel might be the best option.

Wow, this thread has been revived from 2004!

In the 8 years since it started, I’ve refined my views a bit.

My 36 is the uni of choice for riding any distance on tarmac and easy trails. It is good for a steady 11 - 12 mph for a couple of hours at a time. That’s on 150 mm cranks.

However, it remains a “handful” at difficult junctions and when interacting with traffic and pedestrians.

For general safety and practicality, the 29 wins out. It is less fun on easy surfaces, and a fair bit slower, but it is transportable, storable, safe, controllable, and less likely to provoke silly or hostile reactions from other road users.

As I’ve got older, I have generally reverted to longer cranks. You use more of your leg muscle so the effort is less focussed. I’d rather spin long cranks when I need to go fast than fight short cranks when I need to go up or down a hill.

I still have the 28 (I’ve done a few easy miles on it today) and it is more interesting to ride than the 29, but slower over a journey.

My only criticism of the 29 remains that it is so bloody practical and convenient that it almost misses the point of being a unicycle - but that’s because of the type of riding I’m doing at the moment. If I had more access to serious off road, the 29 would come back into its own.

As always, when choosing between a 29 and a 36, my head says 29, but heart says 36.

Funny, the revival here!

I pretty much use a 36 for anything - if I had to only have one uni, it would definitely be a (geared) 36. In fact, that cycle is so good that if somehow I couldn’t have it, I would ride a bike most of the time.

For me, the only places for a 29er are where it’s just so steep you can’t ride a 36 or my daily commute (0.4 miles with a stairway and a carry through a restaurant at the end) - 29er is more convenient for that.

I just love the feel of how the big wheel rides.