I am thinking of doing a local Duathlon next year on a unicycle rather than a road bike. I have done the event eight times, and need a new challenge. It was last Sunday, so I have lots of time to sort this out, but I was wondering what speed I could expect from a 29" unicycle with a road tyre.

I know lots of things can affect speed, but I was after a very average speed.

The event is the Nairn-Shire Challenge, which is 13 miles of running or walking over hills, then a 18 mile road cycle. I finished on Sunday in 2 hours 51 minutes.

If I was to Unicycle the cycle section, I will take it easier on the run, so my legs are fresher to cope with a long unicycle ride. I haven’t really done long unicycle journeys, but as I have said, I have a year to get used to long distances.

I have been unicycling for a good few years, but my unicycle rides normally are about an hours off road on my Kris Holm XC 24", I have a Pashley 26" with a road tyre, and plan on using that until I think about upgrading to a Nimbus 29" uni. I don’t fancy a 36" Uni, as I like the idea of a 29" for the route, which has quite a few hills, and I know I would struggle to free mount a coker with tired legs.

So any ideas on an average speed for a 29" Nimbus?

I have a KH29 with a Schwalbe Big Apple Tire and can easily do 8+ MPH. I can spin up to 10 MPH for short bursts. If I had shorter cranks, it would be easier to maintain 10 MPH, but I need the 150s to make it up the hills.

I could once just about keep up 12.5-13 mph on a 29" with 125mm cranks for 8 miles. For rides around 20 miles, I was usually closer to 11mph real average.

That was with 18 miles a day training, 4-5 days a week, plus muni at weekends. Oh and with sensible length cranks. It was riding generally in London, with a lot of traffic lights though. On clear roads with no traffic lights I think I could have averaged 13mph for that kind of distance.

Typical real average speeds for people who don’t ride every day, over that kind of distance tend to be more like 8mph, going up to 10mph for pretty fit people who are in a hurry.

Assuming you’re not going to be using super short cranks, like less than 110s, the speeds you’re likely to get are about 2/3 of a coker speed, so if you look at the results here, and take 2/3 of the speed, you’ll get a good idea of the sort of speed you can expect (bearing in mind that the top people are people like Ken Looi, Roger Davies etc. who are impossibly fast). http://www.unicon13.ch/uni/cms/upload/results/RL-Marathon.pdf

Personally, if you’ve got a year to train and are buying a new unicycle anyway, I’d recommend a coker. It might be harder to mount, but you’ve got tons of time to learn to mount a coker, cokers aren’t inherently much harder to mount, it’s just a different technique. But if you have to ride 18 miles, it is just easier and faster on the coker. Mounting is about 2 seconds of the time in a ride like this, making every minute of your riding harder, just to make 2 seconds of the riding easier doesn’t make sense.

You could easily put a 29er wheel on your Pashley and not have to buy a new uni.

One summer with lots of miles, very hilly country and 150mm cranks I was doing about 8 mph average on a 29er with a Schwalbe tire on it. I’m a slower rider.

My commute through London is about 18-17 miles, and I’d agree with those figures.

When I went on my long ride on the 29er last year, in the first hour I’d done just over 12 miles, and in the second hour (not including a break between), I’d done nearly 11 more. 3rd and 4th hour it dropped off a bit though…

As for the Coker option? Well, 18 miles is probably just over where I’d be happy enough to do it on either. Well, I’d still do 18 miles on a 29, but if my N36 was to hand, I’d use that.

STM

edit: Oh, I was using 110 cranks and a 2" Big Apple tyre if that makes any difference

On my first ride last sunday with a local coker group, I was riding a borrowed KH 29er that had 175mm cranks, so I swapped them for my KH trials 137s and off we went. We did 20 miles and I kept up with no problem, and I was hitting max speeds of almost 14mph for short spurts (pedalling like a madman! ) and avereaging 9-10 mph.

I felt that was pretty decent for a 29er with 137’s. And for the whole ride I probably pedalled at least 50% more revs than the cokers. So this Saturday I’m really looking forward to riding a coker with 128s, and going 50 miles!

I would go with a coker. I did a 25 mile ride on a coker and had no trouble remounting after 23 miles when my foot clipped a crank arm. A coker is going to be a lot easier, especially after all that running.

Yeah, I’m with you here U Turn. Now that I have my T 7 on my 29’er, and Big Appled uni as well, I am starting to do more and more distance riding. Generally at least one 30 - 40 km ride per week. My riding is all urban at this point and I tend to be doing between 12 - 16 kmph. Mind you thats with 127 mm cranks.

I figured out a way to accurately measure your speed in MPH. I used this formula to clock my speeds on my 20" and 29" unicycles. I agree with everyone else, that a 36" would be much better and more fun to ride, but I can’t afford one
All in all, the difference in speed between a 29 and 36 is not much different. Only difference you’ll notice is that you will work harder on a 29 to keep up with a 36. The factors in speed are your wheel size, crank arm lenght, and your pedaling cadence.

For my speed:
(slowest / average / top speed)
20" wheel: 3mph, 6mph, 10.7 mph
29" wheel: 5mph, 8mph, 12.6 mph

My 29" is only faster by 2mph. I want a Schlumpf geared 29"!! The ratio is 1.5 wheel revolution to 1 foot revolution (1:1.5). But those things are expensive!! ($2k)

For me, pedaling slowest means riding at the slowest speed without falling off. Pedaling average is a comfortable ride, not trying to go too fast, but not taking things too slow. Top speed is where I pedaled as fast as I could without falling off, although I normally did once at the finish line of my experiment.

Here’s how to calculate your speed:

Measure 41.25 feet (495 inches, or “41’ 3”) and mark the ends of your measurement.

With a stopwatch or timer, record your time traveling in this distance. It works best to ride up to the beginning and start the clock (instead of starting from a stopped position).

Now divide 28.125 with your time and this will give you the MPH for your average speed recorded in this distance. For example, say you traveled this distance in 5.2 seconds. 28.125/5.2 = 5.4 MPH. Try it! I calculated this formula with basic algebra and it’s accurate!

All you need to remember is the distance: 41.25 FT, and the formula:

28.125/t = MPH

BY THE WAY, According to wikipedia’s unicycling article, “The top speed achieved on a unicycle is around 29 mph, on a 36”. " Can anyone vouch for this or is this false information? It doesn’t sound possible!

Are you sure you didn’t mean 24" wheel? HArd to belive you’re hitting 10 mph on a 20". My 24" muni (more like a 26" with the gazz!) average speed is maybe 7 mph.

Well, I’ll have to re-test my 20" since you made a good point. It’s a trials w/ a maxxis creepy crawler tire. I remember when I clocked myself on this one, I was pedaling really really FREAKING FAST. At the end I fell off. I did it a few times over and found my average top speed was that. I’ll do it again and let you know… but the formula is good. Mabey my time on my 20 is off.

29" with 150mm cranks, I traveled 41.25’ in 2.25 seconds. That’s 12.5 MPH

20" with 130mm cranks, I traveled 41.25’ in:

1st attempt: 4 seconds which is 7 MPH (relaxed pace)
2nd: 3 seconds = 9.375 MPH
3rd: 2.78 sec. = 10.11 mph
4th: 2.66 sec. = 10.57 mph

AND MY BEST TIME YET ON THE 20" WHEEL:

2.57 seconds to travel 41.25 feet. A whopping 10.94 MPH!!

I’m serious. I measured my tire, cranks, racing distance. My calculations are accurate and correct. I was pedaling like a maniac!! Try the formula I mentioned above. I have a video coming soon of setting up the experiment. I’ll have to make one video of me pedaling at 10mph on a 20"…