Advice on road going wheel size

Hi all, had over 12months experience on my 26” muni and looking to branch out.
I’m keen to get something that’s more road orientated and have initially decided the Nimbus Oracle 36er could be a good option however I see there’s a 32” version.
My height is 5ft11.
Does anyone have any advice they could offer to guide on this as these things a pretty expensive in the U.K. and without being able to try one it’s a dilemma.

I’m 5’5" and my inseam was only just long enough to ride a standard KH 36er. I’m going to assume with you being taller, the likelihood of you having static freemounting issues will be less than me. I just had a lot of issues getting my body up and over the uni when starting from the ground. Choose the 36er and enjoy. :slight_smile:

I will say, smaller unis are more manevourable, but if you are going long, mostly straight distances without needing to stop (and without pedestrians in your way), a 36er is great.

Edit: I’m sure there must be someone you could meet with locally and try their uni, or someone must be selling one?

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I’m the same height and tried a 36" after riding a 29" for 6 months. If you’re keen you will pick it up eventually but it’s a huge step up from any other unicycle. The sheer muscle strength you need to build up to control it effortlessly takes time as well as free mounting it. I recommend you get multi hole cranks that cover at least 150mm and 127mm. Rolling mount is the best beginner mount for a 36".

Practice on 150 and when you’re more proficient move down the crank sizes for more speed.

Thanks for the replies everyone. Yeah I look forward to the challenge of the bigger wheel. It’s taken me some time to build the strength on a 26er.

So the thing about a 36er is that except for riding fast and smooth, everything you do on it is harder. Mounting, turning, idling, dismounting, hopping, it’s all more challenging, but for riding fast and effortlessly and just rolling over things they’re great. The rolling mount is the easiest.

I’d go with longer cranks to start with, at least 150s. Even with 170s it will be way faster than your 26er.

And it has its own momentum. Start going up or down a slope when you have been rolling along a flat area and it just wants to keep rolling along… Kinda freaky to feel the first few times in particular.

Idling is the same way. You move back and forth a considerable distance with each idle and you have to forcibly make corrections to keep your balance. I’ve done over 150 right side idles at a time on my 19", over 90 on my 27.5 and I think my record so far on the 36er is 7.

You idle better than me.

I’m not naturally good at it. Idling has been the main focus of my skills practice for the past 2-3 months. I keep getting better, but I’m far from having mastered it. I’m aiming to be able to idle indefinitely and to rotate left or right or move left or right while doing so and to be able to do it on either side. On my right side I’m getting there. On my left, I’m 2 months behind where I am on my right.

You are getting there. I’m not really game to try idling on anything bigger than a 24”. And your right is my left. Left comes much easier for me.

I ride both unicycles. I’m 5’7” and 145 lbs. 150mm cranks on both. The 32” goes 8.5 mph and the 36 goes 9.5mph. The 32” is quite a bit more maneuverable and easier on climbs/descents, and is my preferred unicycle for city riding. I ride the 36” less frequently but on longer (10+ miles) distances. For example, I’ve ridden the 36” in the New York City Five Boro Tour (50 miles) but anything over about a 2% grade and I have to walk. Hope that helps.

A 2% grade on most any unicycle should be hardly noticeable and full ride-able. I run 109mm cranks on my 36er and regularly ride up/down 12% grades. If the up hill is very long I have to take a break to catch my wind but I don’t walk till it gets quite a bit steeper.

Maybe a 2% grade is doable, but it is a 4% grade that is very difficult to climb. I’m trying to remember the grade of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge that I fell on while climbing with my 36"er because it was too steep. Of course, that was after 40 miles of cycling and I was tired.

My point is that a 36" is quite a bit harder to climb with than a 32". A 12% grade would be impossible for me.

That’s kind of odd. 40 miles would nearly kill me, but a 12% grade wouldn’t phase me unless it was a long climb.

Yes, the 32" should be a little better at climbing hills.

The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge has an average gradient of 3.9% and max of 6.4%.

36 or 32 are subjective choices. I prefer the 32 to the 36 because it is much easier to mount and turns easier too. It is very flexible. However if you were to get a 32" you will keep wondering, if you shouldnt have bought a 36". In a way that is the charm of unicycling. You eventually want fo try them all. I have both and occasionally it feels good to be able to tame the big beast again.

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In over 30 years of riding, I’ve owned all the common sizes from 20 up to 36 except for the 32.

To me, the difference between 29 and 32, or between 36 and 32, is almost negligible. Therefore, a 32 would seem to be a fair compromise if you are sure that you will only buy one more unicycle.

There is no doubt that if you buy one of the medium sizes, you will still want a 36.

The 29 is a good all round size, capable of long distances on the road, and versatile on rough tracks.

I did my longest day ever (around 56 miles) on a 700c x 32, which is around a 27" wheel diameter.

I did my longest ride without a dismount (just over 50 km) on a 36.

These days I live in a fairly flat area and most of my riding is on quiet roads and easy rough tracks. The 36 gets ridden more than any other.

However, when I was commuting, a few years ago, and coping with numerous “moving hazards” (traffic, pedestrians, other cyclists) I tried every size and combination and ended up finding that the 29 was far and away the most practical.

I’m 5’7" approx, in my late 50s, and slightly overweight (or undertall).

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I own both a 36" and a 32" and also after years of riding with others, 99% of the time for anyone looking to ride on road whose current largest wheel is 26" or smaller, I’d recommend the 32". It’s a really unappreciated size.

The Nightrider Lite and carbon rims for the 36" have made them more manoeuvrable, but the sheer size of the wheel is still there and that continues to make it a challenge for many riders, however lightweight it is.

What frame did you use for you 700c uni? Is there any benefit in riding a 700c over a 26” for road?

Hi @UniBeetle I bought a hub and a basic Nimbus “28” frame from unicycle dot com (UK) and had a local bike shop build the wheel.

For general road riding, the frame is in many ways the least important component. At that time, I was doing a lot more riding than I am now and I toyed with the idea of having a frame built but decided against.

There are no advantages to the 700c “skinny” wheel compared to a 26 or 29.

Roughly, my 700c, which now has a 28mm tyre, is 27 inches diameter. That is within 5% of the diameter of a 26 and within 10% of the diameter of a 29. In derailleur bike terms, that’s less than 1 tooth on the rear cog.

I find riding a skinny high pressure tyre challenging off road. I find a 29" sort of “neither fish nor fowl” except on rough terrain. I sold my 26 as I was hardly ever riding it.

Rather than a 700c with skinny tyre, if I was looking for a uni in that size bracket, I would go for a 29 with a smooth road tyre.

Each to his or her own. Most of us end up going through a phase of having one of every size.