Another Guni or fixed question

I know there have been a few threads like this over the years but I have read most of them and I really can’t get an answer to my questions so Ill try here.

I currently have a fixed KH29er that I ride everywhere. I commute about 70km per week on it on a mixture of roads, sealed and gravel bike paths as well as doing about 20km of XC oriented muni most weekends. I love this uni and I think the wheel size suits me pretty well. I would like to go a bit faster on the road and bike paths though when commuting and I would also like to be able to go in a few 50km MTB races which I feel I am a bit too slow on the fixed 29er on the flats and fire roads to do at the moment.

So I saved up some money and I figure I have 2 options: (1) get a KH-Schlumpf hub for my current 29er and build up a new wheel for it; or (2) get a fixed 36er. I can afford to do either so even though the guni option is a bit more expensive that does not bother me. I can’t afford to do both though (unfortunately). I have been thinking about this a lot but don’t have a lot of experience with either so have made a pros and cons list for each and would love any feedback those of you with more experience on these uni’s can give me.

29er Guni

  • pro - I know I like this wheel size for most of the XC I do
  • pro - good for commuting in traffic and crowds
  • pro - can ride in MTB events in 1:1 on single track and 1:1.5 on fire trails (?)
  • con - more maintenance and possible costly repairs (I will keep current wheel and could swap in when riding in mud etc to prevent damage)

36er fixed

  • pro - simple and low maintenance
  • pro - good for commuting and really nice to ride
  • con - does not help me with XC racing
  • con - I am a big guy and feel really high up on my 29er and worry I might feel really really high up on a 36er

I am leaning towards the guni option (mostly for the XC muni ability) but just wanted to see if anyone thinks I am missing something here.

Thanks a lot!

Can o’worms…

The very best advice anyone can/should give in regards to buying a guni is to try one first. Seriously, if you try one and still want one, then you at least won’t have any misconceptions about riding one. I.E. buyers remorse.

Fixed 36" vs geared 29"

A fixed 36" wheel is more stable at speed, rolls obstacles better, is lighter weight, less expensive, less fiddly, and overall takes less effort to ride

A geared 29" is more compact for travel, has more tire choices, has a slightly higher top speed, and has better low speed agility.

I bought a 26" guni with the goal to have one wheel serve two uses, the 26" wheel for offroad agility, the guni for faster trails and some road riding. At the time I had 26", 29", and 36" unis. I found that the 26" aspect of the wheel was just fine, the additional weight and “slack” in the drivetrain was not a problem. Where I did not find the love was in the geared up 26", which I found to be twitchy at speed and hard to manage on anything but the smothest trails.

At the time I bought the geared 26" I still owned a fixed 36", so I took the time to compare the two wheels. On the trails I found the geared 26 to be superior, but only on tight terrain. On flatter terrain and roads the geared 26 was more tiring to ride than the fixed 36". Ultimately I sold the fixed 36" and continued to work on my geared 26" skills for another six months. I never found the love for the guni, so I sold it and built an off road fixed 36" which is what I ride now.

In contrast to the six months I spent struggled to learn the geared 26", never reaching a relative proficiency, I now have six months learning to ride a fixed 36" off road and my capabilities have grown faster and stronger by leaps and bounds. As I have gotten more comfortable riding a big wheel (36") off road, this has helped me move from a 26" wheel to a 29" wheel for technical muni. Maybe in certain situations and for certain riders, a geared wheel is better than a fixed wheel, but I did not find that to be the case.

So I ride muni on my fixed 29" and XC on my fixed 36", it’s a winning combo :slight_smile:

And the best part: These two high end unis cost the same as one geared uni.

Now I will admit to having ongoing “guni dreams”, but now I know better, the 50% gear step is just to much for my uses, so my dream is a step up 1:1.25 gear ratio for my 29er and a step down 1:0.75 for my 36er.

Seriously, spend an afternoon riding a guni, think of it like test driving a car; you wouldn’t buy a car without a test drive would you?

It depends…

… on what your goals, intentions are.

For me I wanted ONE unicycle that I could use for just about everything I could throw at it. So I saved up my clams and finally bought a KH/Schlumpf Hub for my KH24 which had long been my “go to” unicycle. I still own a Coker 36" Big One, a KH20 trials and a 5’ Sun Giraffe but I mainly just use my KH24 GUni for EVERYTHING. I like have the freedom of just grabbing the one unicycle and hitting the trail, road or path. Simple.

While I envy those who can afford to have an entire fleet of unicycles I strongly doubt that even if I had the means that I’d do the same.

Introducing a geared unicycle hub to my KH24 was the best decision I’ve ever made. I can still ride the same old off-road terrain just like I always have but now with the additional gearing I can cover the easier, flatter sections faster and extend my overall range to include trail sections I wouldn’t have time to reach in the past being stuck in low-gear. Now that I’ve gotten fairly used to riding EVERYTHING with the Maxxis Hookworm (Urban Tire) I don’t even have to swap out tires when I want to go ride on the roads or urban bike paths. I just go! What freedom!

I agree with NurseBen in that a KH/Schlumpf isn’t for everybody and that if it is at all possible to borrow or test ride a geared unicycle that you should do so.

If I were in your shoes I’d go with what your gut says and that seems to me being in throwing that KH/Schlumpf hub in your 29er. You’d still be able (with ONE unicycle) to do what you already do but with some added capabilities to take advantage of some easier terrain in high gear AND the commuting options will open up to you as well.

Good luck!

If I based my decision to buy a schlumpf on one afternoon of riding, I would not have gotten it. In fact I hardly really took advantage of it for months. But now I can’t imagine riding without it. I was just slow to get comfortable with it.

For some people, riding one for an afternoon may convince you it IS something you want. But if one afternoon convinces you not to get one, it might be a false negative.

It’s a geared 36er FTW on the asphalt bike paths of the Louisville Loop. Something about the big 36" wheel makes riding in high gear seem almost natural and I am far from being the most skilled rider. I still have my new KH29 set up for XC with shorter cranks, taller saddle, extended handlebars, and higher tire pressure. Compared to my geared 36er, the 29er is ultra-light and very fun to ride so I can see why you prefer that size. But, you are still young (might change my tune when I hit Unigeezer age) and, if you feel the need for speed, there is simply no substitute for a geared 36er. I bought mine from Bronson Silva sight unseen (a test ride was out of the question as nobody rides a unicycle around here much less a geared unicycle) and I have no regrets whatsoever. As my stable grows I’m riding the KH36G less often but I dust it off every Memorial and Labor Day to ride along side a couple of our two wheeled brethren in the family friendly Hike, Bike, and Paddle events. Could not imagine going back (sold my Impulse) to fixed. IMHO, the big wheel is where the Schlumpf excels. That’s my $0.02 worth.

Fixed 36er

Maybe on a 24 guni or 26 guni. It will take a lot to ride high gear on 29er guni on fire trails and travel much faster than fixed 29er. The stop watch and timing the same portion of trail will verify true travel speed.

I have a 24 inch guni, a 28 inch fixed, a 29er frame (sometimes with a 26 inch guni set up - never 29 geared), two 36ers (one fixed and one guni), and a 43 fixed. My favorite to ride and commute is the 36er fixed.

If you work to become a strong climber and proficient at mounting, then xc on a 36er fixed should be no problem for you.

I am a small rider, put thousands of miles on a 28 prior to moving to a 36er fixed and immediately liked being up and having a commanding view.

Most riders, myself included, will find that a guni option is not much faster and sometimes slower than a fixed of the same size unless long stretches of good high gear riding is involved. Especially if the size is 29er or larger. My best fixed 36 normal commute route times have never been beat by my fastest 36 guni ride times. On long open road rides the guni is usually only a little faster and less efficient. Riders of near the same strengths and better abilities on geared 29ers usually ride about the same speed and sometimes slightly slower than I did on my fixed 36. The perception of speed on a guni can be misleading. Some proficient, strong, skilled riders do amazing stuff on geared hub unicycles. If you have the time and put in the effort you could also. Other wise most of us have found the normal progression to next get a fixed 36er a wise choice.

Thanks a lot for the feedback everyone. This is exactly what I was after. Unfortunately it is not easy for me to get hold of a geared uni to try but I can borrow a 36er so I will give that a better go before I make a decision.

One more question though for the geared riders. Many people mention how riding geared requires more concentration than fixed, I take it this is when riding in high gear or when changing gears is it? When riding 1:1 I presume it feels exactly the same as riding an unguarded fixed wheel (putting the extra weight and chance of accidental shifts aside)?

Thanks again

No. You have gear lash free play in low gear. You get use to it. It is about like chain slack in a giraffe. I might notice this more than most other riders because I use clipless pedals.

Also depending on which foot you favor to mount with and which side you have the high gear shift button during mounting you might hit the shift button occasionally on static freemounts.

Big wheel keep on rollin’

Hi Tim,

I concur, by far my favorite wheelsize for muni is a 29er, and most of my offroad riding is on my 29er with 137mm cranks. Given that I currently have a 12", a giraffe, a 19" trials, two 20", a 24" muni, a 29" muni, a 29" town uni, a 36" schlumpf, a mini penny, and a 54" penny, the 29er muni is still my first choice when I have a hankering for some quick muni love (so much for culling my uni fleet when I relocated OS). It’s a very versatile muni setup, but one thing is certain, it’s not a fun uni to commute on.

Some background: my current Mon - Fri commute is about 9km each way on a mixture of asphalt roads and gravel bike paths. For the last 3 months I have been riding this on my 36er guni with 137mm cranks, as the high gear really shaves a lot of time off the commute, and it’s a hoot to fly along at 25-30km/hr. Also, in low gear it’s still a useful uni (I find a 36er with 150mm cranks is too much spinning for my liking after riding a short crank SS 36er for a long time, and 125mm is too little torque in high gear, so I settled on 137mm cranks).

Today I rode my 29er townie into work for something different, and all I can say is I won’t be doing that again soon! (This 29er was built up as a shopping uni, with a slick tyre and 114mm cranks, and I mostly use it to ride the 500m down to the shops to grab groceries.) Compared with my normal commute riding the 29er added about 15mins to my average riding time, and it felt oh so slow in comparison with riding the 36er, even if I had of been riding the bigger wheel in low gear the whole way.

In the past I have heard criticisms of the geared 29 wheel for offroad use, as apprently the high gear can be a little too high for effective use offroad. I have only ridden a geared 29er for about 15 mins, so I can’t comment directly, but I had about 18months riding my geared 26 before I transplanted my hub into the 36er. I agree with most people when they say that riding a 26" in high gear offroad is a different ball game, and although I adapted and in the end enjoyed it immensely, I think I wouldn’t feel as comfortable riding a 29er in high gear offroad as I used to riding the 26".

As to some of your pros and cons:

  • The 36er wheel is such a nice ride, and especially if you are commuting along the yarra/merri trails it’ll make for a much more enjoyable commute than the 29er. 36ers are also fun offroad (as certain members of this forum seem to constantly remind us…)

  • The 36er might not help with your XC racing aspirations directly, but in reality unless you’re Napalm or Jamey, us “non-superhuman” riders shouldn’t expect to be competitive with the first half of field in a MTB race. Last year I did some cyclocross racing in Adelaide, and even on my geared 36er most of field was way ahead of me. I think indirectly the fitness benefits of riding the 36er for your commute will help you more with your singlespeed 29" racing plans than getting a geared hub will.

  • I wouldn’t worry about feeling too high up on the 36er. I got my new 54" penny last week, riding that makes the 36er uni feel like a 12" kids uni. So it’s all relative, and you’ll adjust to the new wheel size.

So, in summary, I would say get a fixed 36er and put the rest of the cash aside for a future schlumpf hub purchase. At that point in time you can decide if you want to put the hub in the 29er or 36er (or maybe 26er). Do you still have my old 36er frame? The fact that you bought that off me shows premeditated intention to ride a big wheel; time to get the big wheel rolling!

I hope my ramblings have not confused your decision anymore than before, and I hope the Melbourne winter isn’t too cold and wet. Summer here in Denmark is fine and dandy!


Dmac :smiley:

The shifting is a challenge, more downshifting that upshifting, the accidental shifting is rare, but missing shifts is common esp when you’re learning or tired.

The akwardness of riding a guni in high gear is the mismatch between the wheel size and speed/crank spin. This is why you should try one.

I missed this part of the equation until dmacuni brought it up…

Okay, so I also I built a 26Guni for the same reason as so many others: to go faster on the flats when riding trails.

In some situations the up and down gearing fit my needs fine, but upgeared the 26 was often geared too high, and downgeared the 26 was often geared too low, in others words I couldn’t find no happy medium.

I also considered a 29guni, since I ride muni on a 29er, but having an even higher gearing was going to make my upgeared riding even less useable, so again the “happy medium” was hard to find.

Keep in mind that a Schlumpf hub is a 50% step increase in gearing versus a mountain bike which has 12-15% steps in gearing, so it’s one big step!

I’d pretty much given up on the dream to ride trails faster when I heard about a local group that was working a new 36er off road tire. Based on this tire, I built an off road 36er using the Nimbus Shadow frame and the Oregon super wide disc hub.

I have been riding my 36er “XC” for a few months now, more recently with a prototype of the 36er off road tire. What can I say, a 36er is perfect for XC use, I even use it on technical muni that involves slow speed maneuvering and hops. So I no longer see any reason to have a guni because a 36er can do it all.

Take a look at the 36er XC thread I started, I also posted some pics of my 36er, and more recently went tubeless :slight_smile:

You can have your cake and eat it too!

As a result of my success with a 36er for XC riding, I am now looking at multi day trips on the 36er, all XC on rolling single track, double track, and some roads, a combination that would have been rough on a smaller wheel.

First off let me preface that I’m a smaller rider, 5’ 8" tall and ~140-145lbs.

I agree that a geared 29er offroad, even on flats and fire roads MAY be a little too much gearing in high gear for most of us. However, I know from years of experience that, for me, a geared 24" has been a pretty good compromise. I invested in the 24" line years ago when that was all the rage, now the trend has shifted to the 26" and I’ve been slow to transition! :slight_smile: However, I feel that the a 26" GUni could quite possibly be the perfect, do it all, unicycle for the types of goals you mention.

I’ve used my KH24 GUni with an Urban tire (Maxxis Hookworm) for many, many miles of paved riding up to and including a 100 mile ride last October and many 50km+ training rides before. For this function I really liked my setup and feel that a 26" would be slightly better because I could achieve higher speeds and maintain my current averages at an easier effort.

At the same time, simply by lowering my tire pressure, I ride the same GUni setup offroad, from easy XC to hardcore, technical trails; trails that look more like stream beds than trails! The 24" GUni setup does just fine. I ride 137mm cranks and so can get going pretty fast in 1:1 and have plenty of power in 1:1.5+ when I’m riding on easier trails and fire roads. It’s been a pretty darned good setup IMHO. I think a 26" GUni setup with 150mm cranks would be even better (with the same type of tire) as the roll over ability would be slightly better and the speeds in low/high gear would be slightly higher but not too high.

While I think an ungeared 29er would be pretty good for me for offroad riding, a geared 29er would definitely be too much gearing in 1:1.5+ mode. However, the same setup would probably be pretty awesome on roads with higher speeds being possible. Again, for me, I like having ONE unicycle to do it all and a geared 29er just wouldn’t be a good fit for me.

Anyhow, good luck with whatever you decide. Will be fun!

Hi. What are the costs of say a 26" geared set up?

The hub is about $1k is that right? I searched for it on, but can’t even find it there. Why so much? Because it’s so specialized?

Let’s say you order a KH26 with a geared hub one off $675 - the standard hub = $575 + geared hub: $1675 plus bucks for brakes and maybe bucks for putting it together for you.

That starting to add up to the same amount as a very good quality road bike. yikes.

I suppose it’s worth it if such a set up will satisfy all my needs–but somehow I doubt it. For close to the same amount I could have every size Nimbus, or at least several sized KH fixed unis.

And how often do these hubs need maintenance? Obviously one of the pluses of unis is their simplicity. I’ve had my 24" semcycle for 29 years and have only trued the wheels, replaced the seat and post in all that time. I can’t say the same for all the bikes I’ve owned.

You’re a tad low, the hubs are $1750 USD plus build up. I paid $2050 USD for a built 26" Schlumpf wheel last summer, then you add in the cost of the unicyle, so ~ $2600 depending on build. It’s a lot of cash for sure, which is why folks are hesitant to jump in and why a test ride is so important.

The hub is highly specialized, built by hand, not unlike a Swiss watch, so you get what you pay for, in this case a one of kind geared unicycle hub. Unicycle hubs take a lot more abuse than a bicycle hub, so it’s quite a feat of engineering to make this hub a reality. Some folks have more than one Schlumpf hub :astonished:

I ordered mine directly from Schlumpf-Innovations several years ago and it cost me ~$1200 US. Today it’s closer to $1450 US. So YES it is very pricey because the market is relatively small and they are all hand machined but have a pretty good warranty if you ever have any issues. However, service is indeed quite slow so it’s good to always have a spare wheelset around to use while you wait… :slight_smile:

“I suppose it’s worth it if such a set up will satisfy all my needs–but somehow I doubt it. For close to the same amount I could have every size Nimbus, or at least several sized KH fixed unis. kahunacohen”

It depends how you look at it. I agree that the common response is “For X amount of money I could buy a full fleet of unicycles…” And you’re right, you definitely could and a lot of folks do that. But I believe there are some of us that honestly don’t like carrying a lot of baggage. I know I don’t. I’d rather have ONE unicycle that fits most of my needs. You can read some of my threads to see that I’ve run the full range of road and trail usage with the same geared unicycle set up; even down to the tire choice! For me it’s all about simplicity and freedom. I really don’t like having a lot of clutter in my life including a bunch of unicycles that I rarely ride (that’s what I had before I got my GUni). I know, sacrilege right? :roll_eyes: But I like NOT having to think about what unicycle to ride when, I just grab and go! Sure my setup may not be the best for ALL situations but then again think about it, the unicycle isn’t the best device for transport in all situations either; it’s actually fairly grossly inefficient. So who cares what you ride right? :slight_smile:

All good points. I like simplicity too, but the cost for me would be prohibitive.

G29 if you only ever think you will use the low gear on single trail and high gear on fire roads, G26 if you want to use your high gear on single track as well as on the fire roads. I came to UNICON XVI with only the one unicycle- a geared 26 with 137s, 2.4 tyre and a handlebar. With the one uni i competed in the 10km road race, Expert XC, expert DH and hill climb. I placed 3rd overall in the XC, 2nd overall in the Muni hill climb and 5th overall in the DH. This unicycle can do everything. If you go with the fixed 36- you will struggle with the MTB events (canopy height and single track issues). If you run long cranks to try to overcome these issues you will have a shit time on the easier fire trail. Spend the money, learn how to utilize a geared unicycle and watch all your other unicycles disappear down the trading post forum. We have a small crew in Oz that already hit up the mountain bike events- Jamey mossengren, Rob O’brien, Ashley Curtis and Myself. We are all running the G26 with 137s/ 2.4 ardent. We have done 50-110km races all over the place and couldn’t think of a better, more fun unicycle to use for it.

Would it be reasonable to commute say 7 miles on the road with that uni? Can you hit speeds of, say, a 36?

I can’t speak for everyone but in my experience I can typically ride just as fast (or faster) on my KH24 GUni on the roads as I can with my ungeared 36er. Averaging 11-13 mph is fairly common. In addition, having the ability to downshift into 1:1 for steeper climbs, traffic intersections, etc… is very nice as is the ability to be able to easily mount in low gear then get up to speed and shift to high gear. A comparably setup 36er is much more difficult to mount and get up to speed (at least for me).

In the end it’s all what you’re used to; I’ve grown used to my GUni setup and would only change up to a KH26 simply because of the improved roll-over ability wider range of tire choices.

Not an issue, you are only a few inches higher, so it’s not a significant problem. In terms of what can be ridden on a big wheel, I will direct you to your own experience learning to ride a geared unicycle; ie with practice you can learn to make it work. I ride a fixed 36er off road and I am far faster, smoother, and get less fatigued than I did on a geared 26er.

Why don’t you hook up with the OP and let him try one of yours?

What made me turn away from a 26guni was not the top end issues or the shifting, it was the drastic gear step and the slow speed/poor obstacle bridging of the 26" wheel.

I am a die hard 29er rider, I love the all around performance of that wheel size both in terms of speed and technical handling, so a 26er was like taking a step backwards.

If I could get a 29Guni with a 25% gear step, I’d snap one up in a second!