36" Airfoil Rim, worth the money for a noob?

Hi again,

I’m afraid it’s me and another Coker question. I’m starting another thread to keep the two debates separate. I’ve not found definitive answers to these questions in the search, so hopefully these threads will be a useful resource in future.

I’m looking at getting an airfoil rim built onto my new 36". The question is really whether it’s worth the cost: it’ll cost me 70 ukp more (they’re more expensive over here than in the states IIRC).

I’d like to make the uni as maneuvrable as possible, for dodging pedestrians (and tourists with a death wish). I’d also like to make riding place as little strain on my knees as possible. I’m hoping that a lighter wheelset will help me with this. I suspect the strength aspect is not so important, since I only weigh around 60 kilos.

-edit: accidentally posted before I’d finished writing!-

I’m not going to be breaking any speed / distance records any time soon, but I’m expecting to ride 4 miles or so daily, regularly ride 10-20 miles, do light offroad very occasionally. I’m used to riding a 29er, but would like some extra speed / stability, and to make riding a little less effort. And I am really keen to minimise the strain on my knees as far as possible (I get occasional knee problems myself when I ride very heavily, but my uncle has two fake knees…).

So, for a relative noob who’s just getting into long distance (but quite enthusiastically) and is likely to be commuting daily through a busy town on the 36, are the weight savings / improved handling / improved strength going to make life significantly easier for me? Enough to be worth the cost of the upgrade?

cokers are heavy regardless but i got the rim upgrade because i don’t do anything in halfs :smiley:

no matter how new you are:

if you get the steel rim, it’s quite rideable, but you always need to be worried about it giving out on you, and adjusting your riding to it (although I was able to ride quite rough with mine for 2 seasons, with a lot of finnesse)

You can put the airfoil rim on and fugheddaboudit.

If you can afford it now, get it!

If you cannot afford it now, get it!


  • it’s cheaper than deciding later on to upgrade
  • you may decide to ride off-road with it eventually
  • the lighter the wheel, the better it handles.
  • Yes, it’s noticeable.
  • it will outlast a stock Coker
  • especially if you get it built with SS spokes and a good hub
  • it gives a better braking surface if you decide to use a brake in future
  • it can be converted to tubeless (I think a stock Coker could too, but I’m not sure anyone’s tried it)
  • it’s virtually bombproof
  • it won’t rust
  • it looks cooler
  • it will have a better resale value (if you ever decide to sell it)

yeha i got the airfoil with ss spokes and udc hub.

It isn’t vital. But it’d cost you more like £100 to upgrade later, plus wheelbuilding costs and postage, so I’d go for it now if you can afford it.

You end up with better spokes as well now, with the stainless coker spokes being available now and cheaper than the stock ones.


Well, this thread is a bit late for me - I didn’t get it. Having said that, I have ridden it every day in areas heavily popluated with tourists who think that because they are on holiday none of the normal rules about anything apply, and have managed to successfully dodge them all.


I went for the Airfoil straight off because I knew I’d eventually want to upgrade. Having ridden stock Cokers since I bought mine I’m glad I did, there’s nothing wrong with the stock rim for most rideing as Joe will testify, but the airfoil does make for a nicer ride, IMHO.

Are you going for a wide hub or standard width? I’d say go wide…

If you want to try an Airfoil coker in Cambridge let me know, I’ve had no trouble with tourists/pedestrians, it’s the buses that worry me!


I agree with B-Mac…you could probably get by with steel now but it will be a good bit cheaper to get the upgrade now, so if you can afford it now, get it. It is quite a noticable difference. Also, you wouldn’t have to deal with selling the steel rim later, and you would save big on wheel building costs and wouldn’t have to pay shipping twice (which is almost as expensive for just a rim as it is for a whole coker due to dimensional weight).

but then again, you’ll have a steel rim ready to build into a 36" ultimate wheel when you want to upgrade to an airfoil :slight_smile:

Paul: I’ve heard that a wider hub is the way to go for a Coker, so I’m looking at the UDC wide hub. I’m pretty inclined to get the airfoil rim, and this will minimise the amount of upgrading I need to do (a Dave Stockton Strongest wheel one day, I hope!).

Is there really any downside to having a wide hub?

theres no downsides as far as i can think for the wider hub :S
(although im sure to be corrected if there is one)

but i’d say definatly get the airfoil rim

Some people say that the wide hub makes it harder to pedal really fast, I believe Ken Looi still used a narrow hub at least until recently. Roger said you get used to it after about 6 months of riding though and get back the speed you lose. It probably won’t have any downsides if you’re not going for records anyway.

If you use a wide hub and an airfoil rim, you’ll have all the parts you’d get in a Dave Stockton wheel anyway, so the only major difference would be in the wheel build. Unicycle.com do build fine wheels, but if you’re real fussed about it being built by a named wheel builder, you could take your wheel to one of the really good specialist wheel builders in the UK and get it trued, rather than messing around buying parts from the US.


I use a UDC hub :slight_smile:

Works great and I haven’t noticed any flex but I don’t use a brake.

I found the switch from a narrow hub on the 29er/24/20 to the wide hub on the Coker a little difficult, it’s definitely adds a degree of extra wobble at speed which needs practice to control, on the flip side it makes turning easier as you’ve got a little extra leverage. After about 6 months of riding the Coker I could spin the wheel as fast as I’ve ever spun the 29er wheel, so I agree with Roger/Joe, it’s just a matter of getting used to it.

If you were looking for the absolute ultimate in straight line speed you’d probably go for a narrow hub, but for general riding, particularly if you’re hard on equipment then go wide…


Hmmm, wouldn’t having a wider hub be awkward for the knees or something? It just seems to me that it might put your legs at an awkward angle or something… OTOH, it probably depends on your body geometry, I guess?

I had a love/hate relationship with the 29er for ages after initially starting to ride it, so I’m quite prepared to take ages to learn to handle the coker also. :slight_smile:


It wont take you ages. I adapted really quickly and I bet you will too. Admitedly I am no expert but the whole of the unicycle felt different for me and I didn’t particularly notice the wider hub as being strange.


if the hub is still within the frame (if it’s not there then you’re in real trouble) and the bearing distance is the same (which i think it is ?) then it shouldnt affect the awkwardness of your knee angle.

if that made any sense

The bearings on the wide Coker hub are further apart than those on a standard hub, I had to widen my frame to get it to fit. From memory I think the difference is about 20mm, but I’m not sure - someone correct me :wink:

How comfortable the extra width is depends on the geometry of your legs, some people like it, some don’t.


If anyone is interested, I could bring mine to NAUCC 2006, for trade or $$.