36er frame round up

I was hoping to start a thread for discussing different 36er frame options and documenting the existing frames people might either see on the trail or online. There are quite a few options now and I’ve not seen that much in the way of comparative reviews…

My ulterior motive in this is that I’m considering upgrading my 36er frame this summer. I thought that a better resource for 36" frames might be useful!

I’m going to start things off by doing some feature comparisons as best I can from the information online. I’m hoping that other folks can follow up with their experiences, reviews and comparisons on these frames plus a bit of history where available!

For starters, here’s a rundown of some significant frames in 36er land:

The standard round-crown steel frame:

Features: Stamped bearing holders, steel construction, chromed.

I’m just giving a like to a UDC variant of this. There have been various 36er frames like this over time, some with different bearing spacings. It’s just a scaled-up version of the standard entry-level frame design and doesn’t have any special features. The UDC 36ers, Cokers and Qu-Ax 36ers have all used frames in this style.

The (Rick) Hunter 36":


Features: Machined bearing holders, brake mounts, various custom modifications!

These seem to be rarely-mentioned beasts these days - I guess now there are more nice 36" options out there. At first glance the frame design looks like the Nimbus 36" (a much later product) however there are some telltale differences (smaller angled V between the uprights, no support plate above bearing clamps, only a single strut between the uprights at the crown). The basic Hunter design was also available in smaller sizes.

They seem to have brake mounts and I’m sure they have machined bearing holders but really they’re somewhat custom as they were hand built. I’m sure there are plenty of these still out there as they used to be one of the options for a high-quality frame.

Kris Holm KH36:

Features: Aluminium construction, machined bearing housings, Magura mount points.

These look like their sister frames in the Kris Holm stable - straight forks, single square crown, aluminium construction with KH blue powdercoat.

Nimbus 36":

Features: CroMo steel, machined bearing housings, a pre-drilled hole for old-style Schlumpf hubs (for the reaction arm - but the frame needs to be bent to fit the bearing width of these), Magura mount points.

The Nimbus 36" frame takes obvious design cues from the Rick Hunter frames but adds an additional reinforcement plate at the base of the forks and an extra strut at the crown. Mass produced and now available in a variety of colours.

Nimbus 36" “Impulse”:

Features: As above but with a disk brake support.

A variant of the Nimbus 36" frame with a disk brake caliper mount.

Triton 36":

Features: Titanium construction, magura mounts, machined bearing holders.

Titanium-built, expensive, low volume. I don’t know how much customisation is available normally with these but I’ve seen quite a few variants incorporating disk support or multiple Magura mounting points. I’ve seen some favourable reviews of the feel of a Titanium frame on here.

Coker V2:

Features: CroMo construction, V-brake mounts, unusual quad-crown frame. Machined bearing holders?

A new design from the company that started the whole 36er thing. The V2 frame has an unusual design that I’ve seen called “quad crown” or “squid” due to it’s symmetrical design with four uprights. I assume that as a higher end frame this has machined bearing holders but I can’t tell from the pictures. I’ve not seen much discussion of this frame out there actually.

The main thing I’m curious about is what difference these options make. Obviously having brake mounts is a handy thing, although you can easily install a caliper brake on a round-crown steel frame - which Roger at Unicycle.com in the UK always used to say was one of the better brakes for that size wheel.

How much does the stiffness difference make from using better design / materials? What about the machined bearing holders? An entry-level frame surely will be more flexy than the better options but how does that really affect riding? Efficiency, steering accuracy? Tighter turns, better idling?

I’m genuinely curious what the benefits of these more expensive frames are; once I’ve sized those up I’ll know whether I should get one or maybe that I should just get my current one powdercoated!

I own a stock coker frame with magura mounts welded on, a kh36, and a nimbus 36 frame. I like the KH the most out of the lot, I notice the least flex (especially with respect to brakes) with the kh frame. Cranking hard uphill can cause considerable movement depending on your setup. Brake drag is about the last thing you want to deal with when riding up a mountain with 50km behind you, and 50 more to go. I also run the kh because at the time I got it, it was the easiest frame to put a schlumpf in.

I will say one thing though, if you’re doing touring type stuff on a 36, the little ‘shelf’ behind the nimbus and hunter designs is great for holding your sleeping bag / tent / other heavy items but still keeping them off the tire. I’ve done it with the kh frame as well, but the technique is way simpler with the nimbus frame.

I prefer caliper brakes on my 36, I find my maggies are too grabby and I just dump myself when I’m tired and going downhill.

hope that helps!

I didn’t see an entry for the current Coker Big One, which is a lightweight, stiff, round-crown aluminum frame with V-brake mounts.

You mention bearing spacing for some frames but it might be worth noting that the KH and Triton use standard/wide width hubs while the other currently made frames use super-wide hubs. Steel frames can be forced to work with either width.

I’m considering selling my Hunter 36 if you’re interested.

Coker Big One should definitely be on the overview list. I think it’s the best bargain, with stiff light aluminum, and v-brake mounts for a cheap but effective brake. For whole uni, the wheel is heavy, but pretty bomber unless you do major drops on the square taper axle/cranks.

If you’re just upgrading the frame, it’s going to depend largely on your current hub. But why bother to just upgrade the frame? Especially if you’re running a square taper, you might just want to upgrade the whole uni.

For upgrading the whole uni, the three to consider would be KH, Nimbus Impulse, and Triton. I have ruled out the Impulse for now, because I wouldn’t trust the aluminum spindle for off road riding; also not compatible with Schlumpf if that’s ever a possibility for you. Triton is great but the expense of the frame plus expense of custom uni build seems to outweigh the benefits. . . probably KH as my next 36er.

I missed the part where you told us what you’re upgrading from. Triton is probably top of the line, and priced to match, but I have no experience with it. Followed by KH which is super stiff and still light. The Coker Big One is also very good, depending what kind of bearings you need to match up to (also a factor in your decision?). I’m not a fan of the Nimbus’ skinny tubing; it makes it very flexy side to side, and hard to run brakes on. Also the ones I’ve ridden whistle if you ride certain speeds; apparently it’s a wind effect through the frame or mounting holes in it.

How about the Nimbus Impulse with disc brake, anyone riding it yet?

Pretty soon disc brakes are going to be the way, even Schlump users will be able to convert using the bearing holder brake mount or a braze on.

Ah, no more brake rub when climbing :slight_smile:

Never heard of that whistle problem O.o I’ve ridden one for 2 years and haven’t had any problems. I’ve heard some people actually like the flex in the frame. I’ve never noticed, but I’ve never ridden anything stiffer and don’t run a brake. If I did, I’d run a long throw V-brake with an adapter so it would never grab.

do you think that noise could be caused by the extra rubber tags (from molding the tire) on the side of the tire, because I just cut those off. . .

When I got mine, it wasn’t worth the extra 200 bucks for the KH frame (to me) when everything else I got was the same. : /

Both my Muni and Coker frames whistle in certain wind conditions. It’s the holes in both sides of the crown for me. It happens sometimes when I’m riding, but mostly when I’m taking breaks.

True! Sorry bout that. Partly oversight, partly because I just wanted to collect the 36er knowledge into one place.

Currently I’ve got the bog-standard round crowned chrome “circus” frame that used to be all you could get for 36 (it was basically only available option). It was part of a customised UDC 36er so it’s got a super wide hub, which I guess does limit my frame choice to … probably just the Nimbus frame?

Interesting that you found the Nimbus flexy, I had thought that all those supporting struts etc were intended to stiffen it up well… Is it less flexy than a bottom end frame like mine?

Come to that, I’ve never been 100% sure why frame flex should bother me on a 36" anyhow. I don’t currently run a brake on it, nor am I likely to (no hills here!) so brake rub won’t be an issue. Would I notice the difference?

Interesting. I admit I’d forgotten the new Big One existed. It’s good to know it’s a nice bit of kit. I’ll hopefully add it when I get round to composing an updated and improved frame round up.

I don’t particularly want to replace the whole machine because actually it’s in generally good shape. Even the frame is actually in good shape but it’s not as flashy as the newer frames, I’m just trying to see what benefits there are aside from bling :wink:

My hub is a UDC super wide, the rim is an airfoil (the generation before the alleged size issues), stainless spokes, etc. So the wheelset I’m pretty happy with - when I bought my 36" it was just before 36er development really took off but I did get a decent haul of the best of the old state of the art.

A frame upgrade would replace the only bit of the uni I’m dubious about and be quite cost effective - just not sure if it’s worth the money.

Yeah, I like the Tritons but I don’t think I could ever justify the expense for my purposes. The KH is nice but my hub probably rules it out, bringing me back to a choice of Nimbus frame or just sticking with what I’ve got.

Thanks, pdc, it’s a nice machine but I think shipping (and tax, probably) costs for getting it to the UK would probably rule it out.


What are those things in the middle of your spokes?

I have a Coker Big One, it’s a really nice frame. There’s a few things I dont like about it though, I find that the crown is a little bit too wide, as it’s made for a Super Wide hub, the frame is super wide, but unlike the Nimbus, this one stays the same width all along the frame and I always hit my legs on the frame legs. The other thing, is that it’s not really stiff. I wanted to put a brake on, but when I rode up hills with it, it always hit the brake and make my fall off. I never had a brake on my Coker since then. But except that, it’s a pretty nice and light frame.

The KH feels much better though, I tried one for a few minutes and I saw the difference right away.

I never tried a Triton 36er, but being one Triton user (on a trials unicycle), I can say that it feels amazing and it’s really stiff.

I think it was only when riding it pretty fast (in high gear).

Sounds like the original Coker frame. I still have one of those, with the original frame and it’s fine. Brakes work fine too, except the wheel needs some truing to smooth them out. Sounds like you have some money and don’t know what to do with it; your frame is fine! :slight_smile:

It’s plenty stiff fore-aft. Unfortunately unicycle frames mostly don’t need to be stiff fore-aft. The only frame I know that’s more wiggly (side to side) than the Nimbus/Hunter is the Schwinn-style frames Tom Miller used to make. That’s what I have on my 45" wheel. It has scrapes on both sides from rim contact, though there’s more than 1" of clearance on each side. And so did my knees. So the Nimbus/Hunter frame can be very problematic for rim brakes, and potentially unworkable for hydraulic ones.

The third major direction for frame stiffness is twisting. We put loads of twist into a frame. Not a big factor for traditional frame types, but could be a major problem for a V frame.

A-ha. I like chrome. It holds up better than any other form of paint or coating. But you could always spend some bucks getting it powder coated.

Interesting; I never had a problem with mine, and the factory Coker brake. I understand hydraulics are far more sensitive to frame flex, as they need to be way closer to the rim. Otherwise I found the Coker frame about as stiff as my current KH one.

The Nimbus frame is really flexy side to side, no doubt that is is flexier than your current frame BUT it has great torsional rigidity (doesn’t twist easily) which you can feel if you use a long handle and use it to “steer” your wheel.

Spoke nipples. I copied Max’s idea for one of my wheels and it works great. Use a regular spoke and a short spoke section with threads on both ends connected to the spoke by a spoke nipple. It is much cheeper than getting custom long spokes and if one breaks at the elbow you are only replacing a standard length spoke.

That was an oddly appropriate thing to say, weird since it was a spam-bot. I guess they are just copying other posts now.

To add to what Eric said, In the 6000 miles I’ve put on my wheel, including a broken hub, I’ve only ever had spokes break at the elbow, and I’d say that about half of them have popped. They usually pop for me when I’m riding along smoothly on flat ground.

Regarding the spam bots, they’ve been just copying posts for a few months now. They used to only copy posts that were a few weeks old, but they seem to have gotten stupider.

so overall what is everyones favorite frame?

For what? Good looks, side-to-side stiffness, twisting stiffness, brake mounting, lightness, finish, etc.? If you’re shopping and can’t afford the Triton, then it’s KH ftw. Long as it fits the rest of your hardware…