A Distance Unicycling idea...

I was thinking about buying a torker lx 26 in or something similar and putting really short cranks (89mm or 100mm) to go fast. Would this be a good idea? I cant pay much money but after riding my friends 36er I want to do a bit of distance riding and I can’t afford a big wheel.

Edit: The seat’s not an issue cause I turn them into air saddles and they’re quite comfy.

(I also posted this in Product Reviews)

One of our riders at purdue had a 26" LX with 89mm cranks. It was fast but hills of the smallest bit sucked and it was as dangerous as a tall geared fixie…not a lot of control in town and you need that to be safe.

I’m not sure what the cost of the Torker plus new cranks would be, but personally I would think your money would be better spent on a 29" uni for distance. This does, of course, depend on what distance you are planning on covering though!

I used a 26" wheel to commute a couple of years back. It was fine for the 4 mile route I took, but the 8 mile route took forever. When I changed up to a 29er things got soooo much better. With 114 cranks on it I also rode it 45 miles one day, which I would never consider on a 26".

YMMV :smiley:


I tried the short cranks with the smallish (27 X 1 1/4) wheel idea, I could probably get a higher top speed with my 27" and 102mm cranks than my 36 with 125s but it was really unstable compared to a bigger wheel and resulted in a pretty good crash last year.

so yah its fast but not very safe and hard to control.

What do you have at the moment?

Putting shorter cranks on a uni is cheap, and can get you up to a fairly impressive speed. You do lose some control, but that doesn’t have to be very significant if you find the right length for you.

I have a friend who rides quite long distances on a 26". I use a 29er and a 36er for distances. A 29er might well be faster / more stable for you (I can’t comment more specifically as I’ve never ridden a 26"). However, you do get a better choice of tyres on a 26" - possibly the best range of choice of any wheel size.

Really, you can ride distances on anything, but on something like a trials uni it’s going to be a bit tedious. I used to ride a 20" freestyle on 1-3 mile trips and found it very enjoyable but also found myself quickly wanting something bigger and faster, which was when I got the 29".

send a PM to Joseppi on this forum. He rode the 26lx with 89mm steel cranks for about 3 months

Regardless of crank length, if distance is your goal I would not recommend anything smaller than a 29". The standard UDC Nimbus 29" w/ Big Apple tire is about as cheap a distance uni as you’ll find. I can’t see a 26" working well regardless of crank length or tire.

But if you really want to ride distance, here’s my recommend: delay your gratification and save your spare change. A little each day adds up, and before you know it you’ll have enough for a 36.

I have both a 26er with 100mm (I had 89mm’s at one point) and a 36er (with 114mm/125mm depending on the route) I rode my 26er to school every day last year but that was only 2 miles, any more than that I would hop on my bike, or now my 36er

I say wait and save up for a 36er if you are going to be riding farther than 4 miles in the city or 2 in the country

I have a 26 and a 36. Thought I would do the same a month back and it was terrible. You cannot beat the ride/speed of a bigger wheel. I went 13 miles on my 26 (with 170’s) before I learned about crank length. It took me a bit over 2 hours. I would never consider going over 4 miles on a 26 now if time was an issue. If you have all day, then ride whatever you are comfortable with.

i would say either the torker ax 29 or one of the nimbus 29ers. For xc muni i would go with the the isis hub one. Unfortunately it doesnt come with a knobbly tire, which i find is kinda weird. But, it is easy to buy one


Remember a guy from Japan who did very well in the 10K race (maybe even a medal?), using a 24" with REALLY SHORT cranks? This was during UNICON near your town? Couple years ago?

Some people can manage to do it well.


You can just ask, UDC has no problem with customizing orders.

Years ago, when I was young, fit and handsome, I did a 24 mile ride on a 24" uni with super short cranks. They were either 102mm or 89mm.

It was not as easy as doing 36 miles on a 36" wheel, or 28 miles on a 28" wheel, which I have also done. On the other hand, it was not as bad as doing 20 miles on a 20" wheel, which I did once.

A 24" uni with short cranks will scoot about at a decent speed, but after a mile or two, you start to feel like a hamster on a wheel. You are only using a small part of the range of movement of your legs, so you are not getting the full benefit of those big muscles in your thighs. You are more likely to get some form of repetitive strain injury in your knees too.

I know the question was about a 26" wheel, but the principle will be the same. A 26" is only 8% bigger/faster than a 24".

OK, I lied about “handsome”.

Thanks for the tips so far guys. I think I’ll just save up for a bigger wheel. I also am wondering why the price jumps so much from a 24/26 inch to a 29 inch? 24/26 inch uni you can get for under $100 but 29 inches are over $200

The new nimbus 29er is a very good deal in terms of what you get for the price. It is also going to be much stronger than a torker ax 29er due to the stronger hub. The wheel build on the nimbus 29er is pretty impressive too as I used mine for XC muni as well as road riding before I sold it to get a 36.

Brian MacKenzie once rode a Coker with 88mm cranks I think it was.
As I recall, he didn’t like it very much.

There is a wide range of strong and wide 24 and 26" rims available from the bicycle world but 700C rims tend to be skinny and light. Unicycles benefit from wider stronger rims and also 29er tires tend to be more expensive because they are a relatively new product again with comparatively few options to choose from.

The price jump between 29 and 36 can be explained the same way but it is just more extreme.

i was actualy thinking of getting a 12in with long cranks for distance riding

He had one made up with 40mm cranks. IIRC, he calculated a theoretical maximum speed of over 40mph :smiley: Of course, as he and everyone else expected, 40mm cranks are actually a rather slow way of getting about due to lack of control! I understand it was basically like a big BC wheel with a little bit more speed control.

Yeah, I rode the Torker LX 26er with 89mm cranks for lack of a bigger wheel. I’d say, if you can’t afford another unicycle, it’s a fun experiment to test yourself with small cranks; but as far as applicability goes, it’s definitely murder on the hills. Even if you get used to the cranks, you’ll notice that life is AMAZING with slightly longer cranks.

I actually rode around with those 89mm’s on my Nimbus 36er for a while (a week) while waiting for my 102mm cranks. Wow, the one thing I can say about really small cranks is that they make the next size up seem very easy; and therefore, you can get to building a lot of muscle. But it’s a lot of work.

I guess the moral of the story is that if you genuinely want to ride distance, you should go for a bigger wheel instead of smaller cranks.

(Sorry if I said the same thing other people have said; I didn’t read everything in detail.)