36" Advice for a complete noob.

For a while I have been toying with the idea of purchasing a 36" unicycle. After seeing the RTL pictures, I was inspired to finally make the purchase. I read through some of the other threads and have pretty much settled on buying the Coker Big One, without a brake and with 150mm cranks(then later switching to 125s or shorter, and possibly buying a brake).

I want to know what some other purchases I should make are as far as distance unicycling goes. I will eventually get around to buying a cycle computer, but what about other necessities?

What kinds of rides should I do to start out? Should I learn to idle or will hopping in place do?

Is there any other advice you can give me as the (soon to be) owner of a 36er?

Thanks in advance.

For me, first is always the contact points:

  • Seat (many like the KH freeride)
  • Shorts (compression shorts with thick chamois)
  • Gloves and Grips (personal preference)
  • Pedals (personal preference, though lighter and grippier is desirable)
  • Not a contact point but most importantly, a helmet.

I don’t think hoping in place is very practical on a Coker. The high pressure in the tire would make it like hoping on a brick. Idling is pretty hard too but I know some people do it. I don’t ride much in traffic but when I do I try to time the intersections so I don’t have to stop, slow down yes, but not stop. I have run stop signs right in front of police cars and have not gotten a ticket yet. When that happens there will be a new traffic ticket thread. :roll_eyes:

I pair of padded shorts will help for distance.

I have a basic aluminum framed Big One with no added bells or whistles and that works fine for me.

Wear a helmet.

I personally don’t like riding a 36-er without a good solid handle. Was reminded of that today, because I currently have an old-style soft Miyata front handle on my 36-er seat while my regular touring handle is off for some upgrading. The mushy handle was an annoyance.

My first recommend would be a cycle computer…give yourself credit while you track your increase in mileage.

If you have a handle, I’d also recommend a bell. In many countries, you can’t ride without one. They’re a good idea. Something like this is good.

I’d also recommend the full-finger KH Pulse Gloves. Might be a bit hot in the summer, but as a new cokerist you’re going to fall, and you’re going to come down on your hands. The KH gloves have both palm/finger protection, and wrist protection.

Here is how I would approach things:

Learn to free mount first, so you can be self-sufficient if you fall off in the middle of nowhere with no mailboxes or telephone poles around. Much more valuable than being able to idle, a skill I’ve managed do do without over 5,000 miles. Hop in place is good, but most traffic lights have poles, and there’s almost always someplace you can just pull up and lean against.

Mostly I’d just focus on getting some miles under your belt. Work on a nice smooth spin, so you’re not over-correcting all the time to maintain your balance. That tires you out pretty quickly. Practice both accellerating and more importantly decellerating. As you get comfortable, find some rough sidewalk or hard-pack dirt paths…something with irregular surface to practice riding on. That will help tune your balance and ability to deal with small obstacles in the road when you come across them.

Tuck your shoelaces in under the crossed-laces section, and make sure you have them in there firmly enough they won’t slip out.

Plus all the stuff lpounds said…

Welcome to the world of Big Wheels. It’s a very fun place to be.

Idling is sorta shaky on a coker, just because you’ll be traveling alot further both forward and back when you idle. Hopping is also harder because of the weight, but you’ll get used to it. I generally just jump on and ride and if I have to stop along the way, like at a stoplight, I just dismount or lean on a pole in lieu of hopping or idling which saps your strength pretty fast.

I’ve only got one tip: don’t ride on ice because if you slip out sideways while riding fast downhill, it really hurts when you land haha

If there are riders in your area do some group rides with them. The only necessities for distance riding are lungs and legs. The rest is fluff and you get it when it suits you or when you’re ready for it. Idling a Coker is slow business and impractical in most cases. Hopping in place with still stands in between is the third most energy efficient. Second is just getting off and remounting. The most energy efficient is the tried and true Blackwood lazy-man lean on poles, posts, signs, walls, or parasitically even on other riders. The most elegant is the multi-rider hand-hold still-stand.

I have about 40 miles on mine and i love having the handle and a cycling computer to see how your doing. I dont have gloves with wrist braces but i see them in my future. Oh and i have a camelbak that is very handy.
The biggest thing i have found so far is to work on spinning smoothly. Saves energy and you pick up alot of speed.:slight_smile: :slight_smile:

I also just got a coker a couple of weeks ago, and a love it!!!
here is my two cents:
i agree you are going to want some kind of hydration system, even if you get a bottle holder on your handlebars (if you get them, but just as a word of warning i hear that they can sometimes rub against your legs when riding). It is hot by me, and i cant go far without water. Plus staying hydrated mean you can go further!!

The other thing i recommend is leg armor, (knee and shin protection) The second day i was on my titan i took a nasty spill, and chewed my legs up. I was glad i had on a helmet! The next thing i did was order some 661s, lucky i havent fallen again, but having them on makes me a lot more comfortable when i am riding fast!!
And welcome to the coker world!

Here are a few of my 36er videos; A “visual” mounting tutorial or sorts, and a few more that give you an idea of what other things can be done on a big wheel. (First one includes coker idling) :slight_smile:

I strongly recommend getting wrist guards, or gloves with integrated wrist guards. Breaking or spraining your wrist if probably the most likely injury you’re likely to get, and it’s highly preventable.

I use the hilly billy half-finger gloves from this website.

I also recommend the KH Fusion freeride saddle with a rail adaptor so you can adjust the seat angle.

Bike shorts, yes. I use bike shorts as underwear for more conservative shorts.

For stop lights, still-standing with corrective hops is HIGHLY useful. It takes some time developing this skill. Idling is totally doable, but not particularly useful since it takes so much space, focus and energy on the big wheel.

Instead of a cycle computer, I recommend a wrist-wearable GPS. I’ve broken (or lost) every single cycle computer I’ve ever had on my 36ers.

If it’s really hot and you don’t want to wear lot’s of stuff, wrist wraps are the most important gear. It’s best to wear leg gear, but I almost never do. Because I have confidence that I won’t ruin my hands, I can really brutalize the palms in a forward fall, thus saving my knees from more then token scratches so far. :slight_smile:

Idling a 36 is really hard. I am OK idling my 29, but the heavy wheel on the 36 means it will take a lot more work. I have the old style steel rim. For this trick, weight is an important factor.

Free mounting is unimportant in most riding areas. I wouldn’t worry about it until you feel like it, or you really live somewhere that has no hand holds for long distances. Personally, after riding a few miles, I kinda like to walk a block or so to rest my seat and stretch the old legs.

The oddesy twisted pc pedal is a nice light big cheap pedal with ok grip.

Water bottles are unnecessary if you plan a route around the location of drinking fountains or other sources. Carrying anything heavy is a drag IMHO, and it’s hard to carry a bottle without a handle bar. Simple is best to start, it seems only the more experienced riders like handles, and not all of them.

The TA tire runs smooth and silent, wears like diamonds and isn’t so bad off road either.

I wear a fanny pack with a goretex rain suit in the winter, for long rides. That and money is all I need. The rain suit is so light that I forget it’s there. Carrying anything heavy back there can make twisting turns feel strange.

The other thing you will really want is a skinny LED headlight. You want a skinny one, so you can strap it to your seat post, and it won’t hit your leg. It has a pivot so you can get the up down thing aimed correctly. And of course you want a red led blinky for the back of your seat post. I also use a clip on blinky on by shoe lace.


Ooops, I made a mistake

I posted a picture of the wrong kind of light to get, that one sticks out from the post to far. You want a really skinny one.


I can idle my (old steel rim) 36, and stillstand + hop on the spot. I find hopping on the spot incredibly useful. I haven’t really idled much since I went down to 110s, hopping is easier to do, takes less effort and doesn’t take up any road space.

I do stop at red lights, which some riders don’t, which makes being able to stillstand and hop at lights useful. Also, I cokered a lot in London, which has very complex roads, and you’re often 2 or 3 lanes in at a junction, so you can’t always guarantee something to grab onto. It’s probably a less useful skill in the US, where you don’t have many complex road junctions*.

Some people just get very very good at mounting - so they can confidently do it instantly in front of a line of traffic, I know Paul Royle does this. I like to use toeclips so I can’t mount super quickly into them, but I can do this if I’m using normal pedals.


*the first roundabout outside Heathrow airport in London is famous for the number of crashes by confused Americans in hire cars who have never seen a roundabout before.

IMHO, you will be much happier riding with a handlebar. A T7, or the coker one. Anything to help you get pressure off your bottom while riding.