Advice for long distance riding on a 29er

Hi guys,
I’m planning on doing a multi-day, 200+ mile trip on a non geared 29er. In terms of tire and crank size, what would be my best bet?

I’m thinking about the big apple or gumonder tire. Is a 75mm crank too small for a 29er? The nimbus venture 75mm cranks are on sale at udc. I figured a smaller crank would yield a bit more speed.

For a pure distance-on-road-without-load ride, a slick tire with high pressure and short cranks (within the limits of your knees strength) is the way to go.

After that, you may not ride in a flat area or have a backpack/frame bag(s) that will change the equation for the crank length (longer than what you suggest to get more torque).

And finally, if the road is more gravel road than pavement, you may have to go for a tire with a light tread to get more grip/traction.

Have fun preparing your setup (and don’t hesitate to browse the other touring threads in the forum you may get some useful information).

On a related note, is it worth it to build a different, lightweight wheel for long distance or fast commuting, with possibly a very narrow rim with something like 24 holes?

Or would the biggest difference come from a slick tire and shorter cranks, assuming, again, ungeared on a 29"er.

Distance can be done on anything. It is totally up to the rider. If you can spin like crazy your setup should work out fine.

I would suggest cranks slightly longer but 75mm cranks will work. Steep downhill and road camber are where short cranks might give you some challenges. I have some miles on a 28 with 89mm cranks. I have climbed hills I have not ridden down with 89s. I got off and walked.

Many of us go for a larger wheel so we can get more time off the wheel for the same distance traveled. Century rides have been done on 24 inch unicycles.

Usually as the wheel size decreases and/or the cranks get shorter more attention to riding is required.

Have fun…

I’ve used 75mm cranks on my 29er. It’s fine depending on terrain. It’s much harder to make those quick subtle corrections required when you hit a bump etc.

I think riding long distance on a 29er with 75mm cranks requires a lot of experience and practise and reasonably smooth road surface.

btw handlebars are helpful for long distance riding

“Distance can be done on anyrhing”

Shoot bungeejoe, you might as well suggested to have him on a 36er SPD set up on his 200 plus mile journey:D

Are there disadvantages to using a thick mountain style tire for distance? How much of a speed trade off is there compared to a slick road tire?


Very obvious trade off. Knobby mtb tires suck b@lls for purely road riding, hig roll resistance, means alot of unnecessary noise and panting. Just as well Im sure slick tires suck for off road, when slick is just a pain.

The biggest thing that bothers me is that a mountain tire just doesn’t have the same turning characteristics, so it changes the whole feel. The maxxis ardent for instance, is very good on dirt. Grippy, quick, light. On the road though it’s a pig, it has a bit of a center ridge that makes the wheel want to be on one side or the other like you’re on a bubble. It’s certainly doable, and I’ve ridden a couple of miles on it, but it’s an offroad tire through and through. Heck I just rode the larry 3.8 for the first time yesterday and I think that thing rides like a dream on the road compared to an ardent, so ymmv depending on tire and pressure.

Hmmmmm…somebody should try that 200+ miles on a fattie:p:D

I’d go for a smooth fat tyre, short reach T bar handle set up and either 125mm cranks or twin hole cranks of around 125 and 150.

I have ridden on much shorter cranks and learned to prefer the versatility of medium length cranks. Of course, if you have a brake the descents may be easier on shorter cranks.

Short cranks can be very tiring on one small part of your muscle.

Do you have any specific tire recommendations? Is there a range of tire thicknesses that will fit my rim, or can any tire fit?

You didnt mention how long you have been unicycling? How many miles do you plan for a day? That makes a difference too, and the type of terrain?

Been unicycling since July, not very long. This is my first long distance cycling trip, for both bike and unicycle. First day I will be riding around 120 miles. Second day, around 80 miles. Terrain is mostly flat, I will be following the STP trail from seattle to portland.

Im glad you’re bringing your bike too, because that butt, legs, back and neck is going to be killing you for 120 miles a day on one wheel, especially with a beginner’s inefficient. Please correct me if Im wrong.
In just trying to be realistic and not be a downer…

Im in my year and a half and still, I wont even come near 100 miles a day. : ( my crotch will hate me for it the next day;)

I meant to say that this will be my first long distance cycling trip. I haven’t done a long distance on a uni or a bike.

Not to discourage you, but I just don’t see this happening. Experienced unicyclists on a 36er maybe. But not on an ungeared 29er.

I’ve been riding for a bit more than a year now. My main ride is a 29er Nimbus with 125mm cranks. I wouldn’t want anything shorter than this or I’d be stranded on the first incline. I do about 6mph on it. If you do the math on that, I’d be riding for 20 hours straight without any break to recover, eat, drink, sleep. You originally said multi day trip. I’d really stretch this out if I were you and cut the distances to something more manageable. Do a training ride where you ride about 130% of what you plan for your longest day. If you have no problem with that, you may be ok.

Here is some info from another thread to support my claim. Hopefully that will make you see that a 120rpm cadence for a multi day ride is a bit too much:

It can be done.

I’ve put hundreds of miles on a 28 inch with 6 inch cranks and averaged 7 to 8 mph for long rides.

It comes down to how much sleep you will get between the two days.

If I remember correctly Jack did the STP on a 24 inch. I think Dan did it on a 28 inch.


For you, bungeejoe, and the experienced, yes.
For the newbie(s), no.

I’m just short of saying, “You have got to be kidding me”
Sorry, Not to be mean, just being realistic…