32er distance riders

I would like to open a discussion on the experience of 32 inch distance riders. In particular those riding multi surface trails, asphalt, crushed limestone and gravel with moderate elevation changes. I will not be riding any thing close to single track.

I have been riding a 29er and 26er under same conditions but will also be riding a UDC 32 titan with a Kris Holm handle bar, nimbus night rider tire 125 or 150 cranks and a rim brake. I am interested in hearing about how others have thier unicycles set up including tire pressures. I am also interested in hearing about riding experiences, including average and max speeds. hill climbing and descending and how the uni reacts to bumps and obstacles on the trail.

Average and Max speeds of other riders are irrelevant unless you are in a direct competition (race).

My 32 pre-dates the commercial ones so it is a bit different than most, but I can tell you it’s somewhere between the feel of a 29 and 36 :wink: . Bigger wheels will have better rollover and momentum but will be a bit more sluggish in the handling department.

I have it set up geared with 137mm cranks and usually run about 35 PSI in my tire. It is just an incremental step taller from the 29 you are used to, I’m sure you will be fine.

Bear in mind that the 32" rim has painted sidewalls so the performance with a rim brake will be mediocre at best until that rubs off.

I agree with comments about the ride and speed generally - it’s quite dependent on the rider.
I suspect you’ll find that it rides pretty similar to your 29" if you use that with a moderately sized road tyre right now. The Nimbus Nightrider is pretty good on most surfaces, with the Nightrider Lite being slightly worse offroad at lower pressures and slightly better on road in my experience.

I run around 35-45PSI but I’m pretty light and tend to like my road tyres a little less solid than others do.

On a somewhat related note, I had no idea that they had done a run of rims in black rather than the awful grey that was the only option when I got my Nimbus rim.

I often think my 32" is more flexible than the 29" nimbus muni, but that prolly has to do with the friction of the tire. The Nightrider tire is a road tire, which makes turning very smooth, so going uphill gives less friction than with a muni tire. I attended the Dutch Uni championships with the 32". That was all just asphalt (10km). The winners naturally rode a 36", but I find it easier to mount a 32". I rode it with 140mm cranks. I keep the tire pressure of all unis, except the Hatchet, at 35 psi. I do think the 32" will ride even smoother with a harder tire, but in turn it might throw me off when the road becomes too bumpy and I start bouncing.

Thanks so much for the comments. I ride my 29er with a 2.5 swabel marathon at 35 psi. I ride125 cranks and a Kris Holm t bar set up. My “big” rides have been between 8 and 10 miles. I have a nimbus air cover on my Kris Holme street zero saddle and roll those distances quite comfortably. My plan is to start riding the 32 in the spring and summer of 2021 in 15 to 20 mile sections at a clip of the Great Allegheny passage trail between Pittsburgh PA and Cumberland MD. Hoping the 32 will allow me to cover more distance a little faster than I have been going , between 7 and 8.5 mph on my 29er

I agree with you all. I have found the sweet spot on my 32" to be a 140ish size cranks, I use the Impact 140mm cranks for general distance riding on gravel mainly. I have used 125mm for racing a circle dirt track and it seem fine except for riding over braking bumps can be a little shady control wise. I enjoy the 32" as it feels like a fast 29" handling wise. I find I choose that over my 36" just because the handling is easier on me, less hanging on for the ride.

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OK, I don’t have a 32, but I ride exactly that sort of thing on a 36 and on a 29 and sometimes on my skinny 28. I like my tyre fairly hard (finger and thumb test) and although I have ridden shorter, I find 150s on the 36 and 125s on the 29 will cope with most things.

I used to be a real crank length geek, but eventually concluded that the versatility of reasonably long cranks is more important than the occasional speed advantages of short cranks. Then again, I have never had brakes on a unicycle.

Based on my own performance as a 57 year old sedentary office worker, most fit adults with a bit of experience and practice should be able to cover about 10 miles/16 km in an elapsed hour on a 32.


Thanks just the kind of response i was looking for. At 52 I’m catching up to you.


Thanks Josh i just happen to have some 140’s hanging around i’m going to give them a try.

My other advice is keep it simple, and ride lots. My biggest local hill is a serious challenge on a bike. The first time I climbed it on my 36 I had to stand up for more than half the climb, and I needed a rest at the top. Several years later and older, I climbed it without getting out of the saddle, and continued for a further 10 miles, including the descent of the same hill, without a brake.

I have at various times had various sorts of handlebar, but at the moment I ride without one. The best single upgrade for any unicycle is some decent pinned platform pedals.


Which pedals do you use. I have the nimbus plastic with metal pins on my 26 and the fyxation plastic pinned on my 29 er . I like the nimbus better.

I have the KH plastic with metal pins and blue chromoly spindles on the 2 unis I ride most often. I’m not sure they are available any more. On my fixed gear bike, I have some of these, and I would recommend them:

I have used both the Nimbus plastic (with metal pins) and the all plastic Fixation pedals. My preference, out of the box, is with the Fixation. I have modified the Nimbus pedals by subtly rounding the edges of the pins with a file. Otherwise, they are too aggressive for me.
I prefer being able to adjust my foot position without completely lifting my foot off the pedal.

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I wonder sometimes if novice riders seeking shorter cranks aren’t putting themselves into a box, so to speak. I wonder if the goal of fast and smooth riding creates a zero-sum game with other types of riding.

I am super spoiled. There are tons of different riding conditions / surfaces near my house, and I make it a point to play around on all of them (except the ones where injury is imminent). For most conditions, longer cranks work better for me. I understand that a seasoned distance rider will want short cranks. But I’m concerned that novices might be limiting their riding styles by prematurely going for shorter cranks.

If endurance is the goal, at a certain point, shorter cranks may produce diminishing returns. I have found that I can ride for long distances without getting too tired, so long as I limit how often I cross a certain threshold of effort. With shorter cranks, I found that occasional, sudden strenuous corrections…tired me out more than if I were spinning bigger circles on larger cranks and lowering the threshold of effort for sudden corrections. In other words, I used more total energy with longer cranks, but I was more worn out from the occasional, more strenuous correction from the shorter cranks.

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I broadly agree. I went through the short cranks phase years ago: cranks down to about 75 mm (briefly) on one uni, and about 89mm on another. I also went the other way, trying 170s on my 26.

It may or may not be the case now, but at the time, I felt that there was a bit of a macho competitive thing that riding shorter cranks was perceived as making you a better or more hardcore rider.

Then one day I worked out that you can practise and develop a faster cadence on long cranks, but tour body mass imposes an absolute limit to how much torque you can apply through short ones.

I finally met myself somewhere in the middle, preferring 150s for general riding, and 125s if I’m doing distance on the flat.

Unicycling is so much simpler than we sometimes make it. :slight_smile:

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It’s all in what you get used to and ride with on a regular basis.

I think newer riders are trying to shake the coarseness of longer cranks. (translates as novice skills)
They feel choppy and slow with large leg movements so they naturally move to shorter cranks and it smooths things out and they go faster as well. (translates as intermediate/advanced skills)
Just like the experienced riders do.

If you always use short cranks and then switch to longer ones, on a steep hill it will feel great, but as soon as you step back into short crank skill zones then it will always feel choppy and slow and probably more tiresome during your regular riding.
Same goes for long crank users that switch to a shorter crank. On a big long straight ride it will feel great, but as soon as you step back into long crank skill zones then you’re using more energy with corrections and it’s not so great and probably more tiresome.
(I hope those two make sense)

I think I’m in the middle as well.
I usually ride with 127mm on both my 29 and 36. I can still do short term steep uphills with this because this is what I ride with all of the time.
Now if I have a long term climb then I’ll switch my cranks to the 150mm just for the climb and then swap back to 127mm for the downhill for rest of the ride because 150mm just feels so sloppy on anything else but climbing.

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I’m comfortable with the 125 on my 29 and 150 on my 26 muni which I’m going to ride this morning. I just put 140’s on my 32, but I have not had a chance to ride the 32 yet. I just got it and I am sorting out my set up. Hopefully a trial ride later today. I can’t imagine stopping to swap cranks mid ride, that has to be a real pain I need my set up to handle everything on the ride. Thanks for the advise.

I should have mentioned that I have dual hole cranks. (127mm and 150mm)
So one allen wrench is all I would need to carry.

I have my seat post marked for both heights so I can switch my setup in two minutes.
Move each pedal and then lower or raise my seat accordingly.

When I finally get my Hatchet, I’ll be putting triple hole cranks on that baby.

Swapping cranks on a ride is possible, but you’re looking at 5 minutes of work and having to carry the crank tool, pedal spanner, spare cranks, and so on. It’s not something I’d consider.

Swapping pedals from one hole to the other on dual hole (or even triple hole) cranks is much quicker and, with the right pedals, all you need is an Allen key.

However, in reality, I have never swapped holes part way through a ride. I am the sort of rider who likes to get on and ride, and avoid dismounting until the end of the ride. It is not always possible, because there are gates, or deep muddy patches, or occasional UPDs, but the clean ride with no stop or a single break is my ideal, at least on the bigger wheel sizes.

One of the things I love about unicycling is the simplicity: a small set of numbers (wheel diameter, crank length, rim width and tyre section): you make your choice, then you do your ride. I might change the cranks for a different ride, but not mid ride.

Both you and calendar mentioned quick change pedals. This may sound nieve but I am not familiar with a pedal you can change with an alien key. Could you expand on that