all purpose uni advice

In brief…

8 mile commute 3-4 days a week. 1/8 mile significant hill to climb out of the downtown area where I live. Surrounded by bike trails, about 1/2 very nicely paved connecting relatives and friends (40 mile radius) I hope to see 2-3x monthly.

Still at level I in terms of growing skills, but skills ARE improving. Question - what would it take for an Oregon 26er or KH 29er to meet all my needs in a single uni? Are there significant advantages to one over the other?

I’ve never ridden an Oregon, but I don’t see them being useful as ‘all purpose’ unis. I’d imagine they’re a hog on-road (And basically anywhere else you don’t need massive tyres :D)

I use my 29er (It’s a Qu-Ax not a KH) for everything, but have put a less hardcore tyre on it for road-riding, so you might want to take something like that into consideration. Big, treaded knobbly tyres make for a slow and wobbly road trip!

Hey Ben, haven’t heard from you in awhile. I’m guessing you got everything together and finally planning to get a unicycle?

My question back at you is, why did you choose an oregon or KH? They are both very strong quality unicycles with a price tag to show, but are you planning to do any significant hops/drops and mountain trail with them? What unicycle have you started with or are these your plans for your first unicycle?

If you’re planning for your first, I’d start on a cheaper 24 or 26" and see how much you actually like unicycling and how much you like commuting with them. Commuting with a unicycle can be challenging and sometimes frustrating when it comes to dealing with traffic and traffic lights. It’s significantly different from commuting on a bike and will never be as practical as a bike (probably more fun and challenging).

A 29er is a bit big for a beginner, I hope you know what you’re getting into, you might be getting more than you can handle, especially if it’s your first. And from what I heard, Nimbus Oregon unicycles are not good for beginners as well, especially with the fat tire it comes with. If you plan to do hops and drops to some extent, I’d simply get a nimbus with ISIS hub / crank. Have you checked out NIMBUS II ?

You’ll want to aim for thinner road tires over fat knobby ones for easier roll and less wear if you are to commute mostly over asphalt / typical city streets.

There’s no such thing as an “all-purpose unicycle”. That said a KH 29" would be pretty close. You could adjust a bit for road / dirt with tire and crank length.

As others have said, the Oregon is too burly for much road riding.

Yes, you could save a few bills getting a Nimbus, but that’s your call. The KH unicycles are well built, nice to ride and nice to look at.

For the hill you mention, the question is more about crank length than wheel diameter, although the proportion of one to the other is important. It doesn’t sound like you’re riding over especially rough ground and you intend to do a bit of traveling, so I would recommend a 29" wheel, probably with some sort of road tire.

I’ve never ridden an Oregon, but calling it a “hog” is about right. One guy told me that his Oregon made a flight of stairs just feel like a small hill. That sounds fun, but so much cushioning would probably just bog you down on most road trips. The KH29 is a good unicycle, but its hub will quickly start to creak, especially when riding uphill or idling, and according to some reports on this forum, its creaking will eventually lead to mechanical failure. My KH hub’s creaking has definitely become louder and more frequent, and I only rarely hop or ride off curbs or steps. Nimbus hubs apparently don’t have this problem. Maybe you could get one put in your KH29 when you buy it, or have a look at some of the other 29" possibilities.

all purpose uni advice

Actually any practical uni for distance (bike paths) and local street commuting (Michigan is the source of the nation’s highway potholes) sound fine. Does need to be durable, even though I plan to avoid potholes by taking the bike paths as much as possible.

Rode the paths today, they are a dream.

btw…another topic but posting it here… I appreciate all of the data and feedback from those who contributed it on unicycling helping people with back injuries. That helped us to ‘redirect’ and justify a training unicycle purchase. BIG difference, I can now actually lift both my feet in ways not possible in many years. That is not insignificant, for me nothing short of a miracle!

Thanks again for your support and information… now back to my lurker status…

^ So first you were considering some of the top of the line unicycles and now you think any would do as long as they don’t easily break? :stuck_out_tongue:

You really got to elaborate on the full intent of what you plan to do with the unicycle in order to see what kind of abuse it should be able to handle and what skill level you’re at. Last thing you want to do is jump the gun and get an expensive beast (such as the ones you’ve mentioned) that you can’t handle and regret the whole thing a day after you get it and never really getting to the point of actually enjoying it.

Local Caigslist, find cheap good condition unicycle, post up the specs and pics here to have the forum members check it out for you if you want, find a way to deal with the bad seat that’s the biggest downer when it comes to cheap unicycles, see if you even like to unicycle or if your legs/feet are able to handle it as you’ve mentioned. Don’t like it or want a smaller or bigger wheel? Simply sell it back. Like it but want an upgrade? Do the same, at least now you know with a better certainty that you actually like to unicycle, what you want from it, and still have commute in mind. Either way you won’t be out much since a cheap one is only around $50-70.

Ebay also has them and maybe posting an ad in the trading section, but I’d go local before that.

If you’re lucky, you might find a quality cheap one and might even be comfortable with the seat or make some arrangements to fit a more comfortable seat in it and be fine with it for a very long time for the chosen purpose for the unicycle.

Definitely don’t forget the protective gear. If you’re still new, I’d advise wrist guards like Hillbilly half fingers and a helmet. Shin pad for the option.

I have been dealing with a lower back issue for the better part of a year now. It hasn’t been bad enough to get me into the crappy medical system. The past couple of days I’ve been working on picking up balls off the ground while on the uni. It must be the stretching I do when I make my attempts, but my back has been feeling way better… love it!

Not for an 8-mile commute. 29" is a fair compromise for such a distance (over a 36", which would be faster). Anything else would be too slow for a regular commute.

Don’t worry about it. They still ride like smaller unicycles, only a little larger. The jump to 36" is much more of a jolt, owing to its heavy wheel and rotating mass. I recommend starting with 125s maximum; nothing longer. Later you’ll probably want something shorter. Depending on that one hill, I’d go for 102s or 110s (or ISIS equivalent).

Definitely for a commute ride. Even if your commute includes dirt sections, a road tire will probably be better overall. Schwalbe Big Apple, in either 2.0" or 2.35" are both great cruising tires.

I haven’t heard of that issue. My Wilder has been creaky since I got it in 2003, but it still works fine. I know it’s a different sort of creak, but I wouldn’t expect a KH hub to break from normal, commuting-type use. Ever.

Oregon has a massive tire, which is best suited to riding on snow or sand. I learned to unicycle in Michigan, and rode 1.75" street tires all over the place in the winter, so don’t get the wrong idea. The Oregon is fun, but it’s a heavy, bouncy ride, and would definitely be wasted on pavement.

The KH is also overkill for regular commuting, but if you like high end stuff, you’re making a fine choice. If you don’t plan on lots of hopping or dropping, you don’t even need an ISIS hub. Just about any 29" unicycle will probably be fine for your first one; it’s more a question of having a good seat (and possibly handlebar later), and the right tire and crank length.

I was going to give you a hard time about that, saying that paved roads are the result of pressure from cyclists. But bikes don’t make potholes. I think it’s safe to blame the cars for that. And along with potholes, Michigan would also be the source of the nation’s rust! :slight_smile:


I was thinking what about something in the middle? Awhile back I had hookworms on and it was great and all then one day I decided that I wanted to try something different and went into some uphill dirt trail and that wasn’t so great.

Then I went and got some Holy Rollers 2.2. They are significantly lighter, pretty decent on the road too, have them for a few months and still look new mostly used around the street, and have flat not-so-aggressive knobs that still digs into loose bits better like sand, dirt etc.

My response was in the thought that he is still new or might never have successfully ridden a unicycle before. Mounting is one of the harder part with the bigger wheel and learning the basics is harder considering the roll weight and faster speed. Falling off of a bigger/higher/faster unicycle as well. I just think it’s safer to start with with a smaller wheel to learn on, even if it is slower. I just think it’s a bit unrealistic if you’re a beginner to think “okay, I want to commute on a unicycle, big wheel, short crank, done”. I think they’re more likely to have an epic UPD in the middle of the street or give up within the first week or month. I think how fast you go will also have to do a lot with comfort level and how experience you are.

Just explaining why I said what I said. Feel free to correct my logic if it is incorrect. Hopefully my text isn’t taken out of context, it surely isn’t meant to offend or disrespect, I’m just debating back and forth about stuff and I am thankful and grateful for JohnFoss’ helpful advices.

There’s something to be said for that as well. Got to get comfortable with your commuting machine before taking it out with the clock running for work! For my 8-mile commute, my first ride was on a weekend, to cement the route, which was a mixture of side streets and bike path. Then I did my first few actual rides on a bicycle, to get an idea of the time required. This was in 2003 or so; I got my first Coker in 2002.

Here in “unicycle land” when you say Level 1, the specific definition of that is that you can freemount, ride 50 meters and dismount gracefully. Which of course still makes you a beginner. A larger wheel with short cranks will indeed ride differently, and you may need to take some time getting familiar with it. If you’re going to be riding with cars, make sure you are comfortable and confident in your riding first; it’s better for everyone (especially you of course).

Also, as I often remind people when they are deciding what to buy, don’t think of this purchase as your last unicycle, think of it as your next one. :slight_smile:


All purpose unicycle for that sort of distance and easy off road: any good 29er such as the KH. Big enough to cover distance comfortably, small enough to throw around confidently on rough tracks. Safer than a 36 if there are pedestrians about.

Then by the 36 next year.

And the 24.

Check out Halo’s Twin Rail, I’ve got the 29x2.2 version and its awesome. Smooth as silk on road, built like a tank (no punctures) And has decent trail tread :smiley:

As for the rest of your post, I go the idea that the creator of this thread can already ride a uni (As he said he’s still a beginner but is improving). As someone who was in such a situation not long ago (Can ride fine but wanting to go further) I can say a 29er isn’t too hard to get going with, though I’m not sure on JohnFoss’s short crank recommendation :smiley:

I have been on one of the rails-to-trails in Kalamazoo in the autumn a few years ago. It was a gorgeous trail connecting small towns that literally screamed for a Coker. Also, I saw no such hills as the one you describe. Must be a man-made hill. But, then again, I come from a hilly city.

A 29 sounds like a good start, though if you are a beginner get 150/127 dual hole.cranks. Yes the kh hub creaks. Ive seen it myself many times. I like the oregon hubs better. If you want to do muni, think about the nimbus oracle 29. They are great unis, and come with a disc brake. Not sure how thin of a tire you can put on. Be wary of thinner road tires on the kh29. I had a big apple and it would pop off. Very dangerous, at least on the std muni rim.

If no muni, go for the nimbus2 29.

Conclusion: BenBrown sets his goal

So ultimately there is no absolute all purpose uni. Having said that, I have the 20" preparing me for more. I am enjoying it as I SLOWLY work my endurance up from injuries unrelated to unicycle riding.

I currently ride when all things are perfect about 1/10 to 1/8 of a mile before needing to stop and catch my breath (sometimes for the day.) Initially when I first got the uni simply sitting on the uni and standing still caused me to breakout in a sweat and was tiring. My doc warned me my core muscles were pretty bad.

I’ve gone from standing, to traveling the upstairs hallway to riding the perimeter of glassy smooth tennis courts, to parking lots, to paved bike paths to finally riding down the sidewalks where there are no pedestrians.

Having a goal without personal criticism has helped me stay with the uni. This is my personality. That is one reason I’ve not shared my progress with some friends in my community… [Think: Humans learn to walk by watching various examples of success and not focusing on the falls, but on the goal.]

Having something to aim for and believe I might be able to do has helped. One of my docs suggested going on disability. Instead the uni (and other things I am doing) is allowing me to remain gainfully employed and generate a functional income. Riding the unicycle is recreation and importantly much more.

So… based on what I learned from your responses… I’m currently looking at the Nimbus 29 Road Unicycle and setting up goals for me to get there. It may not do everything, but meet enough of my criteria I can aim for it.

Thank you all greatly.


Before getting another uni I’d work on my riding more. I’d have the goal of riding for 1hr w/ few or no stops w/o being exhausted afterwards; freemounting w/ each leg, on flat & hills; iddling; ride the hills you want on your learner.

+1 on N29, road. IMO 125 or less cranks are good when no longer a newb (or only on flats) but I think 150+ is best at first. Longer cranks will make the transition to the bigger wheel easier & ease hills (fitness & technique). Many don’t like cranks longer than 150, but I do. If it were me, I’d get a Nimbus road, KH Fusion saddle, & 165/137 double hole KH Spirit cranks. You don’t notice weight on the frame on the road, were you want to save it is moving parts, esp tire, tube, & rim.

That would be a decent all rounder for what you described, could even do some Muni w/ a diff tire. But IMO “All rounders” do most things OK & none really well & changing tires on a regular basis is a pain. So when you acquire these goals I’d look at another more specialized uni for whatever else you find interesting.

Good for you! This reminds me of something that kept me going when I was trying to learn on the P.O.S. Troxel uni I had in 1976. Like the baby learning to walk, one first assumes that one can do/learn it. I think a baby inherently believes that walking is the next thing to do, because everyone bigger is doing it. Since everyone does it, “I” can learn to do it too. The baby doesn’t worry about whether it’s possible, or whether he/she will be capable. They just keep at it.

The thing that holds most people back from learning to ride unicycles is a belief that they can’t do it. This is sad. For one who says “I could never do that,” one wonders how many other things they say the same thing to. On the one hand, this is a natural thought when contemplating riding on top of a single wheel. But on the other hand, lots of people can do it. If they can do it, why can’t I?

That was almost enough for me, though those “lots of” people weren’t anyone I knew. Except for one kid in my neighborhood. I remember seeing him ride, and idle a unicycle. And I knew he was a normal human! If he could do it, then so could I. I just had to figure it out. Without that conviction, I’m not sure if I would have stuck with it during the six weeks or so that it took me to start actually riding that crappy old unicycle.

You’ve said a mouthful. Not just about yourself and the challenges you’ve alluded to, but also about the “much more” that many of us benefit from because we are unicyclists.

An hour non-stop is a lot for a 20". Let’s say an hour total. Freemounting with each leg is great discipline, though I’d consider them optional as prerequisites for buying a second uni. I learned most of what I do on the unicycles that came after my first one.

Probably the right advice for such a new rider. If you get more solid before buying the next uni you can try starting with 140s or something shorter. Like mentioned above, if you get one with an ISIS hub, you can start with a pair of 150/127s.

all purpose uni update…

John Foss,

It had been so long since checking out my thread I forgot specifics… I’ve been working on Level I requirements… I’ve just gotten up to a mile on the 20", so I meet the distance requirements. I “can” dismount according to standards, but have to think about it. I’ve only started to work on my free mounting (which seems to draw a crowd of my neighbors - who seem to wonder why I suddenly can’t seem to ride down the road… Even with explanation they don’t understand I’m working on a specific skill - free mounting.)

Having said that, a lot of neighbors on my mile route have come out of the woodwork and encouraged me and/or asked about learning to unicycle. I’m embarrassed to be the local poster boy for unicycling when I’m not where I want to be.

Once I’ve completed my Level I, plans are to get them certified by members of RTUC if they will, then order the Nimbus Road uni. At that point I hope enough of those asking about uni’s will start our own club here, perhaps as a satellite.

With a bike path that basically runs separately along the busiest part of my commute, I’m thinking I may yet be riding to work before mid summer by unicycle.