Average Speed.

What is a good average speed (in kilometers per hour)on a 29" over 20 to 40 kilometers? I need to set myself a realistic goal and want to base it on what can be achieved.(Rather than just making up a speed - 40km/h yeah ;)) My setup is an ‘un-geared’ 29" with 125mm or possibly 113mm cranks over relatively flat terrain with one significant hill. I’m interested in average speed - not maximum.
PS I know 40km/hour is not do-able, but it would be neat if it was!

you shoudnt try to just meet the level of others. you know how fast you can ride, so just go ride. no need to worry about how fast others go. besides, factors like wind, terrain, type of uni, crank length, and experience all add up immensely. so just go ride and see how fast you can go.

unireed is right but if you need a number to aim for I would say anything in the 16-18km/h would be pretty good.

Generally I just find my average speed then aim to get it 2km/h faster. Once I reach that goal I try to get it another 2km/h faster…

Thanks Eric - that was very helpful!
Unireed - I know how fast I can go.I have been collecting data for a few weeks now, including my terrain, weather factors, time of day, mood etc. Still I want to know what a realistic speed would be - you know the whole SMART goal thing? Specific-Measurable-Attainable-Realistic and Time specific.I want to know if my goal is REALISTIC, and the only way to discover if it is is to compare it with others.

With unicycles it’s even easier to figure out since it’s a fixed gear system. Start with what you think is a reasonable RPM (leg turn over) and you can calculate the speed from there based on your roll distance of your wheel per wheel revolution… There are threads devoted to this very topic on this forum; search for them.

Just to give a few more numbers (but everyone/every ride is different), the few 40/50 km ride I have done on my 29" were around 10km/h average speed. My cruising speed is about 15 to 17km/h, but once you take into account stop signs, lights, traffic, the people asking to take photos, etc…, your actual average speed over long distances is quite lower than cruising speed.

You’re asking about GOOD? Christoph Hartmann has the current track record on the Düsseldorf marathon (42.195 km) as 1:43:15. That’s equivalent to an average speed of 24.52 km/h. This marathon doubles as the Open German Marathon championship. Mind you that the tyre size is maximised at 28 x 1.75", according to the German rules. Also, the cranks must have minimum length of 114 mm. On a 29" with shorter cranks, over 25 km/h must be doable for a really good rider.

Thanks Klaas, I’ve only been riding since July, so don’t think I’m up to 24km/hour… yet;)! My big dilemma is my average speeds on my 26" and 29" are the same! About 15km/hr, and that’s with the same crank length as well (125mm). I’m really trying to speed up on my 29" to make it worth my while having it, but it just doesn’t seem to be happening. That’s what makes me think there is something fundamentally wrong, I was thinking perhaps 15km/hour is the 29ers limit, but obviously that theory is incorrect.

The difference between 26" and 29" is about 10%. So you cannot expect to differ your speeds on the two unis by more than 10% in the first place. In practice, the speed difference is usually less than what one might expect simply on the basis of wheel diameters. Some reasons include physical power (fatigue) and fear of falling. Maybe also the tyres are different? A speed increase of 1 km/h (going from 26" to 29") would be reasonable. You may have that speed difference already, if you measure accurately. This small delta may disappoint you, but for a more noticeable effect you should really have more difference in the wheel sizes.

My tip to increase speed on long distances (like 20 to 40 km) is to work on your max speed for short runs. I’ve noticed this myself on the IUF standard wheelsize (about 24", 125 mm cranks). I first worked on the 10 km, with reasonable success. Once I started working on sprints as well, my times on the 10 km improved significantly. Obviously, in your case this advice would work for both 26" and 29" so the relative difference between the two would not really be affected.

Hey Klaas, thanks for the info - really helpful! Since there is no significant speed difference between the 26" and 29", are there any other reasons to choose the 29" over a long distance rather than the 26". Is a 29" more stable? Does it have less wheel wobble and so on making it a better choice?

I am sticking 113mm cranks on my 26" this weekend (tried it on my 29" and I can see how I might enjoy it in the future:D, but don’t want to keep it on my 29" so close to the event.) What I’m saying is that I might actually end up 1km/hr faster on my 26" - at the moment I’m about 0.1km/hr faster on the 29" (if I don’t do hills - if I include hills, I am faster on the 26")

No disrespect to saskatchewanian, but if you have to ask, then 16-18kmp is NOT gonna happen. Hell, even if you ride everywhere like I do, on an ungeared 29" it is not likely to happen anyway. For your purposes ignore the many claims of high average speeds.

I ride, mostly, a 24" ungeared unicycle and I cover a lot of distance and hours. Withstanding injuries, I will cover around 5,500km this year. I ride flat terrain, some wind, some long slopes. My figures below are real, and are not meant to impress.

On paths and roads I will, when ambling, average around 9kph. When in a hurry about 12kph. The point is, speed for distance on a uni is, unlike on a bike, contained withing a narrow range. And it does not change much from what you do for a short distance either.

So whatever you are doing now in a short trip is about what you will do on longer rides. Just allow a little more time for dismounting, resting the bum, maybe walking a hundred meters, remounting. As you do it more, your speed might creep up 25%, and the rests will be less.

I just look at the distance I am going to do, and then assume every ten km will take me an hour.

btw, adding 20% to the wheel (from 24" up to a 29") will not give you a 20% speed increase over the distance. Maybe add 10% or so.

If you have done it for years, long hills are no slower than for flats, you jut get to work a bit harder. Long hills are the only time I get to pass bike riders. If you are new to it, you might have to walk some of it. I’m only thinking half a km though. If it was longer,then I think I’d have a break part way up.

Average speed for me on a 29"er. WTB Tire and about 35lbs pressure 150 mm cranks. Six to seven mph is a comfortable speed. More than that is not comfortable for long. Max speed about 10 mph.

26" and 29" are “adjacent” wheel sizes (well, there’s 28" also, but really a 29" is a 28" with a fatter tyre). 29" might be up to some 10% faster with the same cranks, it also rolls better over bumps. Maybe it would have somewhat less wheel wobble like you suggest but that depends on the rider of course. So while imho the 29" is a better choice than a 26" for long distance on road or easy trails, they are inherently not much different. Likewise, a 24" would only be a small step down compared to a 26". There are just that many options.

I don’t know what event you’re referring to, you probably mentioned it in another thread. Usually it is not a good idea to change your setup shortly before a big event. At least you should thoroughly try out a significant change! 113 mm is an uncommon length BTW, you probably mean 114 mm?

Achievable speeds on a given wheelsize (and crank size) depend on many things. First and foremost the rider and his/her experience and determination. Also the purpose of the ride: is it a race? A leasure ride? And of course the terrain. No disrespect to colinoldncranky but 16-18 km/h is certainly doable over several tens of km with a 29’er. Granted, it is currently most likely out of reach for UNIROX who has been riding a few months only.

What do you mean? For a good rider there is easily a factor of 5 between minimum and maximum speed.

Most riders are slower on an uphill than on the flat, even if they work harder. Of course you can try and maintain a constant speed through flats and slopes. But then you’re not doing your best all the time.

I can idle. I can stall for a few seconds as I do in crowded pedestrain malls. So the factor for me is infinity. But that doesn’t give any useful advice to the OP.

Bill, think about it yourself - what is the time difference you would do on the same trip between being in a hurry and just taking it easy. That is what I referred to and what is relelvant to the OP who does not normally do these distances. Does that make sense?

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Except for really long hills, this is the case. I concede it doesn’t hold for massively long hills and mountainous rises, but I think I qualified my claim by distance. With distance like the OP is talking about, the difficulty becomes one of decreased fine motor skills, not defeating the demands of Potential Energy. The slope is less challenging in this regard and the back foot does less work. Every day at the end of my home trip I increase m y speed up the last couple of climbs, not to prove anything but because it has become the easier way to do it. But I am only talking about a couple of two or three hundred metre slopes.

Please don’t ask me to define what a long slope is and how steep it is will vary according to the rider and how much they have done in the past. What used to be long and steep for me is no longer the case.

Idling and stalling isn’t riding. When training sprints on my IUF standard unicycle, I achieve about 21 km/h as a top speed (in short bursts) and do about 8 km/h as the most relaxing speed in between those bursts. Those are not speeds “contained within a narrow range”. And if one really tries to ride slowly, the range is considerably extended to the low end. The winner of the 10 m slow forward race at UNICON XV rode an average speed of 0.53 km/h. Mind you, this is with several judges, checking very strictly that the wheel keeps moving forward.

My original reply to you was mainly triggered by your statement “ignore the many claims of high average speeds”. I quoted it out of context now, but some people do claim high average speeds because they ARE fast. I see no reason to ignore them, for someone who asks “what is a good average speed”.

You’re right Klaas, they are actually 114mm Nimbus Venture ones!