29r tire considerations

I am considering a 29r for commuting and trail riding. My commute is 4.5 miles on road and trail, I started on a 24" wheel then quickly switched to a 26" wheel on to cover the ground a bit faster. But I really need bigger and I can’t justify the expense of a geared just yet, so I’ll probably get a KH29XC.

I’d like to hear anyone’s experience of the hybrid tires available for 29rs. The candidates I have found are below, I’d be interested to hear of any others.

Also found a web site (for two wheelers) that may be useful for news of new tires coming out as this size becomes more popular http://twentynineinches.com/

The Kenda Claw - knobbly so probably behaves badly on tarmac.
The Big Apple - might be OK but sometimes the trails is muddy.
NanoRaptor - tread looks good for hybrid.
Motoraptor - tread looks a bit too knobbly for good road handling.
Kenda Karma - looks good but not sure I can get one in the UK without paying international shipping.


Moto raptor

The moto raptor, in 26 size, is the absolute best mountain bike tire you can buy, for an amazingly low price ($25, jensonusa.com). It is just excellent in all conditions. I run 2.4 width on my mtb, and it is an absolutely amazing tire. Just incredible. It climbs, corners, brakes, rolls, over any surface, like magic. No pinch flats, just amazing incredible traction everywhere. Rocks? Did I mention rocks? It rides over rocks like no tomorrow, just amazing, grips like crazy glue. Downhill? Yeah, it bombs downhill, I can’t believe how fast I can go with these tires.
But I don’t think you’d want it on your unicycle. it’s a bit meaty for that. And heavier than say a Kenda Karma.
I’d recommend a tire with a smooth center rib, for easy rolling.

Of those on your list, the Kenda Karma would be a good choice, I think. I had those on my MTB a while back and they were a nice light tire. Knobbys aren’t very tall, so it would roll nice. It has a nice round profile. And it doesn’t weigh much. They didn’t corner very well, and bombing downhill wasn’t very confidence inspiring, but that doesn’t matter on a uni. Motoraptors rule for mtb.

Unless you’ve already gone down to 102mm cranks or whatever, you could try just changing cranks and tyres on the 26". You might find that makes enough difference to speed.

There’s only about 10% difference in gearing between a 29" and a 26", and way less tyre choice.


The Kenda Klaw does behave badly on tarmac.


I use the WTB exiwolf tire, it’s a 29x2.3" with tread similar to the nanoraptor. I havent done alot of off road or even road (I rode around the city on it, but havn’t since I got my coker) but I really liked it because it gave a little more tire volume, and didn’t really have knobs per se so it was quite smooth on pavement

I may be completely off beam here but I seem to remeber, just about the time I joined this forum, rumours of some testing of different off road 29er tyres. Did I just dream it, has it come to any conclusions?


I have a 29 that I ride pretty much only on pavement and dirt/gravel paths. I’ve had very brief rides on other people’s Big Apples, and have had one MotoRaptor and several NanoRaptors on my own uni.

The Big Apple seems like a really nice road tire, probably less suitable for muddy trails. I’ve been wanting one for a while now, but none of the local shops ever had any, and I wanted a closer look at one before buying. Now there’s a shop here that has some, but I can’t afford to buy anything that I don’t need at the moment, so I’ll be waiting a bit longer.

The Moto was a bit more knobby than I liked for the riding that I do. I think its tread wore down a bit faster than the Nano’s, but it’s probably not intended for a lot of pavement riding. I don’t like riding on knobbies that have worn down just in the center; that’s just me though.

The Nano works pretty well for me. I originally chose it as a fallback while waiting to find a Big Apple, but I ended up liking it well enough anyway. It has enough grip but still rolls reasonably smoothly, and lasts a while. For me it’s a good all-around tire. I’ve had, I think, two with the steel bead and one with a Kevlar bead. The Kevlar one came folded-up in a box; it might be a bit lighter than the steel bead but that’s not something that I would notice. I did have one that had some kind of separation or something that caused it to deform in one spot, but the tire was worn out enough to be replaced by then anyway. I can’t remember whether it was the Kevlar or one of the steel beaded ones.

Re: 29r tire considerations

On Tue, 25 Apr 2006 14:57:14 -0500, cathwood wrote:

>I may be completely off beam here but I seem to remeber, just about the
>time I joined this forum, rumours of some testing of different off road
>29er tyres. Did I just dream it, has it come to any conclusions?

If my memory serves me right, that is (I shouldn’t say ‘was’, right?)
a project pulled together by U-Turn. Was it called 29’er tyre study?
Anyway, it seems to run rather slow, in part due to the logistics of
shipping stuff around, and many testers having to find the time to
test all the tyres under a varied set of conditions (with the tyre
swapping and all that). AFAIK, no conclusions have been published yet.

Looks like quite a severe tread I’m surprised it is OK on pavement.

Cranks - I’ll try 125s and see how I get on, but I like the control of my 150s. I noticed a lot of difference going from 24" to 26" that I reckon if go to 29" with 150s and lighter tire I get speed and manoevrability. But if going to 125s gives another 10% speed then great. I might just build a speed machine.

Tires/tyres - I have a Big Apple on my bike I could try but it squirms around at low pressure and it is so noticable on the bike that I reckon it could be a problem on the uni unless pumped hard. Also when the hardpack turns to softpack after rain I could be skating all over the place. But I’ll never know 'till I try. Currently I have a Holy Roller on the uni which is an excellent hybrid tyre so I don’t think that is slowing me down at all.

At the mo the Nanoraptor is looking the best choice but I have found another candidate, Bontrager Jones XR: http://www.bontrager.com/Mountain/Wheelworks/Tires/5795.php

And a new site which has the best selection I’ve seen and more coming all the time as more bikers adopt this format:

Thanks for the informative replies.


I had an IRC Notos 29" tyre which was okay on the road and okay off road.

I used to use the big apple for a mix of towpath and big roads and it was fine, but it isn’t happy for more technical riding in winter. It was okay riding singletrack in the summer though.


I’m about 50/50 towpath and road, the towpath can get pretty grubby when wet and the roads have some big cambers and steep hills and I hate doing battle with the tyre and a hill at the same time, I want the tyre to be on my side at least.

Hence my apparent obsession with well-performing road tires.


BTW Joe, How are you geting on with your Schlumph. Did you get the 24" or 28". Is the narrow rim OK.

That is my other option, stop arsing around and just spend some money on a geared, I probably will in the end anyway… then a load more questions pop into my head…oh dear!

I’ve got the schlumpf. I’ve got a custom build, with the KH rim, I’d not buy the stock schlumpf at all, as at least when I bought my schlumpf, the stock one had a narrow rim, didn’t come with a good seatpost or seat etc. and seemed to have a pretty hefty mark-up on all these parts, meaning that a custom one with decent parts didn’t cost much different.

To be honest though, other than the hub, which is lovely, the rest of the Schlumpf is rubbish. I wouldn’t buy a Schlumpf hub until a version which doesn’t require a Schlumpf frame comes out. The stock frame is terrible and if/when something goes wrong it takes months for Schlumpf to do anything to fix it. My frame broke after 4 hours, after which I said I was going to return it if it had to have the Schlumpf frame, because it just isn’t safe to ride, waited a month for mr Schlumpf to reply to unicycle.com, at which point he said he’d make up some other frame for it, three months later, ie. four months after the frame broke, he comes back with the choice of a frame that is too small to fit the big apple tyre, or the same old frame with all the same problems. He also said that the reason my frame broke was because of not torqueing the 8 bolts you need to adjust to set the seat height(*) exactly equally or something which is insane, a frame you can break by not using a torque wrench to set your seat height. And break properly too, in a way that leaves you walking home (not to mention not being able to ride the Schlumpf for more than four months afterwards). I’m just glad that my seatpost suddenly started twisting when I was riding a mountain bike race rather than when I was on my commute riding in traffic. I can honestly say I wish I hadn’t bought a Schlumpf, and I wouldn’t recommend them at the moment.

Roger from unicycle.com has been great throughout all this and is sorting me out with a custom frame that removes the schlumpf frame problems, which we’re currently in the process of sorting out some teething problems with. However, I dunno if he’s going to be selling these. If it wasn’t for the custom frame, I’d have returned the Schlumpf for my money back by now, £1000 is a lot for an expensive decoration in my front room.

For the sort of riding you’re describing, you could just get a coker if you want more speed. Cokers are fine for towpath riding.


  • Yes you really do have to adjust 8 bolts to move the seat. I suspect whoever designed the schlumpf frame doesn’t ride unicycles very often.

Yes, that’s true, Klaas. I’ll have some up sometime soon, though, as soon as the current set of crises passes.

I’ve got a Big Apple tyre on my 29er, and I love it. Ok, so almost all the riding I do is on tarmac, but it’s great for that. As long as you’re not going through thick mud, it’s not too bad off road either.

However, if it’s been raining lots, and the towpath is going to be very muddy, then is it a much longer distance to stick to the roads? When I used to commute on my 20"er, and then my 26"er, I was on the road, the path, the grass, through mud, off road, and anywhere to get the shortest possible distance to work. My riding style is quite different on the 29 though, and I tend to take a much more similar route to what I would take in a car. Maybe that is because of the tyre, but I think it’s more likely that it doesn’t seem to take longer just because I’m on a bigger wheel.


The thing about the exiwolf is that the tread is not very high or nobby, plus it has a pretty good center ridge, which makes it run smoother on pavement. The other thing is that it has a very good caseing and rubber, making it supple and reduce rolling resistance, at least as far as I can tell, it doenst feel like most thick dh tires when it’s run low. I really like it, it conforms well and can be run at a lower pressure without sacraficing lots of speed or performance, and it’s relativly light weight. I have the steel bead tire, but it comes in Kevlar. though kevlar WTB 29" tires are a bit suspect, since some problems occured with the nanoraptor and i dont want to risk it on the exiwolf

I could always use a Big Apple for summer and get another tyre for winter if I need it, I’ll try one on my 26" first.

BTW Can someone help me by measuring the actual rim diameter and outside dia of the 29r with a Big Apple - I am guessing it’s actually 622mm rim + 120mm (2x60mm) tyre height.

I’m getting really confused - what does a 700c rim mean. Is it 700mm diameter with or without a tire or does the “700c” refer to something else. A Big Apple is quoted as fitting a “standard 28” rim actually 622mm" on Unicycle.uk.com, but 622 equates to 24.5". 700mm equates to 27.5" rim - eh?

If the total dia is 622mm (rim) + 120mm max (tyre height BA), I can probably fit one in my existing frame (Nimbus II) which will actually accomodate 740mm in total. If the rim is larger than 622 I need a new frame.

Do they all - 700c - 28" - 29r - all refer to the same thing. I.E. will a tyre quoted as 700c or 29" fit a rim I buy from UDC quoted as 29", 28", 622mm or some other arbitrary number.

Andy :thinking:

700c is the name of the rim size. Tyres known as 28", 29" and road 700c tyres all fit the same rim. With a normal road tyre fitted (such as a 700x32c) the outside diameter of the whole wheel including the tyre is something like 28". With a fat tyre like a Big Apple, it is more like 29". With a skinny racing tyre it’s not much more than 27".
The difference is the tyre, not the rim.


There’s one standard rim size for 28/29/700c, which is known as 700c, and is 622mm wide at the bead of the tyre. The big apple will fit on this.

There are some old rim sizes around, and a few shops will have tyres to fit them, but almost all tyres out there now are for a 700c rim.

http://www.schwalbetires.com/tech_info/tire_dimensions has a list of the official tyre dimensions.

Also, Harper measured his to be 29.3" which is about 744mm.

I’ve got a Nimbus II 29" frame with a big apple in, but there seem to be various different versions, so best check with Roger at unicycle.com about whether your particular frame would fit, he’ll probably know.