42" or 36"

I should have access to both a 42" unicycle and a 36" and am planning on doing some rather long distance riding and was wondering if the 42" would have any benefit over the 36" or if it would more be for fun and speed?

If they both have a pneumatic wheel, then I’d surely go with the 42" unicycle. If the 42" unicycle has a hard rubber wheel, then I’d most certainly go with the 36er. I’m not aware of any commercially available 42" unicycles with a pneumatic wheel so if there are any that are being sold, can you please provide a link or further information? Or is it a custom build? Thanks!

Custom built and hard rubber. Thank you, I was leaning toward the 36er but thought I should get some advise on the matter.

That’s what I suspected. My pleasure. In that case, I believe your intuition is correct that the 36er is the way to go. If you’re planning to be doing a lot of distance riding, perhaps you can consider a 36er with a Schlumpf geared hub or just a Schlumpf hub by itself that you can use on that 36er you’ve got your eye on. Every once in a while you’ll see used ones for sale.

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Given that tyres, tubes etc are available off the shelf for 36ers, then the 36" would make more sense.

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Definitely the 36". Trust me. Hard tire unicycles are great, but they are less and less enjoyable as the ride gets longer, or bumpier. You feel every nuance of the pavement, plus the tire (and probably the rim) are quite a bit heavier. Rotating weight is what you want to avoid most!

I rode my old 45" (hard tire) uni in the NYC 5-Boro Bike Tour for many years, but that was before 36-ers existed. If I ever get the chance to do it again, it would be on the 36 for sure!

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The 42" is a penny wheel and is actually quite a bit lighter than the 36er, would that affect things?

Lighter? Yes, that does affect the equation for sure. A lighter machine is good, but the hard tire is not-so-good. Is it a custom build, like a penny wheel with a unicycle frame on it? I’m curious how a solid-tire wheel is lighter than a 36" uni. The older ones were heavier, with steel rims, heavier tires, etc.

All other things being equal, it may be rider preference between the harsher ride of the solid tire, but with the friction of a super-high pressure tire, vs. a softer, more bump-compliant ride, on a wheel that tends to track straight (less wobble) but a smaller distance traveled per rotation. I’m curious to hear what you think after riding both!

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Yes it is a penny wheel on a Nightfox frame, I haven’t had a chance to properly ride the 42", but when I do then I’ll be able to properly compare the 2.

Pretty sure 36 is (currently) the largest size available for inner tubes. Anything larger woyld be a hard tire, which is not practical for long distance.

I’d guess that most everyone in the world would say that long distance on any unicycle is not practical. Of course a very few modern distance riders and even Wally Watts who went around the world on a hard tired uni may disagree.

Given the fact that the very first 36-in pneumatic tire didn’t even come along until Coker introduced it in 1998, more than 20 years after Watt rode his 43" around the world, ('76-'78) a hard tire was his only option.