36ers Wide or narrow hubs

This has been done before but I would love some input from you EXPERTS.
I started on a Coker Big One with a narrow hub years ago. I wrecked the wheel and upgraded to a wide hub, Hunter frame etc because they are stronger and I liked them.
Now all 36"ers have wider hubs, the UDC 36" Machine, Nimbus and Dave Stockton wheels, were are you Dave?
NOW, I still feel that I could ride uphills and long rides better on the old Coker with a narrow hub due to less Q factor and more energy being delivered to going forward not sideways.
SO, if I have an Aifoil rim built on a KH ISIS hub, I reckon it would overcome the weakness of the Coker wheel and deliver better power.
Is the strength of the wide hub only required for 36" Muniing, jumping or trials? For touring, do we need that much strength?
I look forward to your input.

So nothing stops you from having narrow hub :slight_smile: (see below…)

Well, in fact I’m quite new to the 36" world, but that’s what I think:
Wide hubs are not used in 36ers due to their strength, but just because
36" wheel is darn big :slight_smile: and darn big wheels built on narrow hubs
are quite flexible sideways.
(BrianMacKenzie had a nice movie that showed how spectacular such flex can be :slight_smile:
So wide hubs are used to make wheels more rigid especially when hopping,
riding over stuff (logs, curbs, etc) and turning.

Now, when some of new 36" rims have 48 spokes like the new Coker and the new Qu-ax, there is much less need for wide hubs I suppose.

I am not urguing or wondering about that wider hubs are stonger or stiffer, I am sure they are (BTW one of my wide hubs deflects big time on an idle freemount).
If the main aim is to go forward like touring, is the extra strength needed as a trade off of energy…to go forward. Forget jumping, muniing etc.

48 spokes v’s 36

I guess we have to wait. Coker likes making us wait

Hi Mal,

I’ve used a std hub for years with no problems associated with flexing at all. Plenty of riders I would consider ‘experts’ prefer to use the narrow hubs.

Yes, a wide hub in theory has less flex, although I have seen many of these wide hubbed wheels wobbling from side to side (that’s even with Hunter frames). I guess a lot of it would depend on wheelbuild and how heavy you are, how you ride etc. I’ve done quite a few mountainbike races on my Coker (12/24hr races; The 106km Hidden Vale Epic in Brisbane, Karapoti, Rainbow Rage), so the std UDC hub is definitely strong enough for off-road use.

The KH ISIS or Nimbus ISIS should make quite a nice Coker hub…you can now get most of the useful crank lengths (unless you’re an 89mm speed demon). Also, if you are worried about Q factor then use straight cranks like the Quax ones.

That said, I’m sure the wide hubs are adequate for touring. If I was in the market for a off-the-shelf Coker right now, I would probably have a look at the Nimbuses (Nimbii?).


Ah, and one more thing:

I’m wondering about the influence of wider vs narrow hub on the knee pain
and knee overload…

Has anybody had any thoughts about that?

I too have several years of heavy riding (I’m relatively heavy too @ 200 lbs.) on an old stock Coker with NO problems with the narrow hub. I ride in the city mostly and have made countless fast 90 degree turns to avoid traffic and I ride pretty aggressively (less so, since I switched to 102 cranks this spring). I drop off curbs routinely but that’s the extent to which I do ‘drops’.
I like how my feet feel close together laterally. It’s not awkward to pinch my knees together in front of the tire for aerodynamic effect and efficiency.
I’m dubious about these EXTRA SUPER EXTRA wide hubs for 36er roadies.

With the rims that are manufactured these days (Airfoil, Nimbus, Qu-ax and Coker) you don’t need an extra wide hub. To do so would be overkill. My first wheel was a airfoil rim with a 127mm Nimbus hub and I really loved it untill I switched to the narrow Qu-ax wheelset and found that heaven. I changed back to airfoil once but found it horrible to ride because it was so wide. I don’t think you really need an ISIS hub even though Qu-ax now has awesome lightweight cranks with no Q-factor. Does anyone know the weight of a cotterless hub VS an ISIS splined hub? To see if it’s worth going to ISIS just for weight.

The ergonomics with a wide hub vs. a standard hub will depend on the rider. If you have wider hips and longer legs you’ll adjust to the wide hub more easily. If you have shorter legs and narrower hips then the standard hub may be more appropriate from an ergonomic standpoint.

I’m able to ride a wide hub with minimal side to side wobble or “S” style tire track. I also have long legs. But even for me, from a purely ergonomic standpoint a narrow hub would be better in that my legs would be more in line with my hips. But I’m able to adjust and it hasn’t bothered me at all.

With all other things being equal, a wide hub will also give you a stronger wheel with less lateral flex of the rim. That can be important if you plan to use a brake. Proper spoke tension is also important if you want to avoid broken spokes.

The wheel build will also affect the strength and stiffness of the wheel. It is easier to get a stronger wheel build with the wider hub. The wheel build is already very fussy with a Coker size wheel.

so for someone like me who is 194cm (6"4) and 125kg (i think 275 lbs) a wider hub would be ideal?

Ideal would be a magical wheel that is narrow yet stiff and strong. But you must compromise the ideal with practicalities.

A taller person, and especially one who is heavier, would do better with a wider hub than a shorter person. Given your height and weight I’d go for the extra wide hub.

Something that isn’t often noted in the wide hub vs. narrow hub debate is the height of the rider making observations on what they prefer.

There are not simply two hub sizes (wide and narrow).

The original cokers sold with Suze hubs which had 61mm flange to flange spacing. These hubs, combined with the flimsey steel rim, made for a pretty weak and flexy wheel.

Current UDC Wide hubs (which, ironically, are what I think you guys are calling “narrow”) have a 71mm ftf width. These hubs combined with an aluminum rim make a pretty decent wheel. I’ve used similar wider hubs with 36ers (semcycle pro, schwinn), which are both significantly wider than the original Suzue (but narrower than the EXTRA wide hub)

I think the UDC EXTRA Wide hubs, which are standard for 36ers now, are a bit of overkill. They have a 100mm ftf width, and they make for a very strong wheel, that’s a little bit more wobbly. This, mind, you, can be exaggerated by cranks with a high Q factor. In fact, I would say a wide hub with straight cranks, probably performs similarly to a narrower hub with high Q cranks.

All this being said, I think wide hubs are fine, and only really affect your speed if you’re a fast rider. I still go plenty fast with an Extra wide hub, but I think I prefer the slightly narrower hubs.

It should be noted that the KH moment (and I think other splined hubs) use 42mm OD bearings, and might not be compatible with current Hunter frames, and other machined bearing-holder frames which were made for 40mm OD bearings.

I’m a small person (120 lbs and going on 21 years old next year) and I find the standard thin coker hub not very much different in my short experience with it than the UDC holy crap super jesus god wide hub. I like the wide pedal spacing and even have 15mm of Q on my cranks to space it out a bit further. I’ve found that the narrow hub accelerates faster going downhill because of less wind resistance but don’t really have a complaint either way. I rode my super holy crap wide hub 500 miles in 7 days and had zero knee pain…my ankles were a mess after that but that is way more likely due to seat height and 110mm cranks I had used all week. Now that I’m on a shorter post and longer cranks I feel like I Could go all day without problems.

Another comment or observation about Q-factor for unicycling compared to bikes.

Bikes have a narrow pedaling Q-factor (I’m talking about the entire Q-factor and not just the crank Q-factor). Professional and serious cyclists typically try to get the Q-factor as narrow as possible. They’ll fuss over pedals that add a few extra millimeters of Q-factor compared to other pedals. They’ll spend hundreds of dollars on bike fittings and analysis to find their optimal Q-factor.

I think a large part of their narrow Q-factor quest is due to the riding position on a bike. The professional and serious cyclists have a low riding position with the hips rolled forward. Try sitting on a bicycle trainer set up with a low handlebar position like the professional cyclists have. Put your feet on the outside edge of the pedals and try pedaling. It will feel like things are not lined up with your hips. You’re going to notice that things are not right.

On a unicycle you are sitting upright. The hips are not rolled forward. The body position is upright like you’re walking and the hips are square under you like they are when you’re walking. Try a similar experiment on a unicycle comparing how it feels to pedal with a wide Q-factor. The wide Q-factor is not going to feel so wrong as it does on a bike. I think that is due to the different hip position. You can walk with the feet wide apart just fine and not aggravate the hips or have the hips and legs move through a strange range of motion. Now try rolling the hips forward as you walk (as the hips would be if you were sitting on a racing bike). Your feet are going to want to be closer together as you walk. You’re going to be wanting a narrow Q-factor. Walking with the feet more spread out (wider Q-factor) will feel strange at the hips.

So for unicycling I don’t think the narrow Q-factor is as important for ergonomics as it is for bicycling. If you have a unicycling position that rolls the hips forward then you’ll likely be wanting a narrower Q-factor, but most people don’t ride that way.

Just my observations from playing around with road bike fit and doing some road bicycling this summer.

I agree. I find that when riding perfectly upright I keep to the outside of the pedals but when going into the wind and I am in a more prone bent forward position I keep my feet as close to the cranks as possible

I would love to see this hub on a 36er: http://www.einradladen.net/shop/show_product.php/cPath/2/products_id/459 maybe it will be a project for my airfoil uni :roll_eyes:

Thanks for the input guys. Why I was thinking KH or an ISIS hub is because I bought some KH Moments and love the quality. Also with square taper cranks I am forever re-tightening them.
I will look into bearings that have the same ID and 40mm OD.

Maybe that’s why I differ from all the wide hubbed unicyclists. My body position is most definitely not upright!

Lowering your body position helps spread the weight onto your arms and lowers your centre of gravity making you more stable. I see many people riding bolt upright and it makes me cringe…surely it’s got to hurt putting all your weight on your crotch? You wouldn’t be very efficient riding a bike in the upright position either…


Body position.jpg

  • to that Ken!