Beginner Unicycle size question


I have been trying to learn to ride on a friend’s 24" unicycle. I am making progress but I am frustrated as well. I have read that a 20" unicycle would be easier to learn to ride on. Would using a smaller wheel help significantly? If 20" is easier than 24" would 16" be easier yet? My local craigslist has a 16" torker for sale for $50, the add says she paid $175 for it for her kid but she never road it. Any advice on if I should get the 16", get a new 20", get a new 24", or keep using my friend’s 24" would be great.

Laura :slight_smile:

WELCOME! :smiley:

It is a bit easier to ride than a 20 and that’s a bit easier than a 24, but not by much. The main diff for me is UPD’s are painless and not scarry. If she paid $175 for it she got ripped off. $75 would be more reasonable.

I started w/ a 24 as well. My main problem is I was terrified of falling. After 2 months I could fairly consistently ride the full length of my 90 ft. practice rail, but didn’t have the guts to turn away from it. I heard the same as you, and was very frustrated at my slow progress, so I got a 16" CX and w/in a half hour I was doing large circles and by the end of the hour figure eights. I also thought it would be a good learner for friends, which it has. And I’ve been using it to learn to ride backwards, SIF, and SIB.

After getting the CX I rode it exclusively for 2 months, then someone gave me a cheep 20" and used that for an additional 2 months, then alternated between that and my 24 untill the 20 started to fall apart.

Now I use that 20" as a loaner, and also have a 20" nimbus X, my CX and my 24" DX. I’m considering also getting a 26" Torker LX for light Muni and road use.

i found that while learning a 20" was easiest. it has the perfect balance of speed and control… by that i mean it isn’t too twitchy like a 16 possibly and its not as sluggish and as hard to turn as a 24.

GET THE 16"!!!

it will be harder to learn on, but for $50 it is an amazing deal.
no, 20" is not that much easier than 24"

You only learn once !

So no body knows ! You would have to learn once on each size to really compare.
I started riding along a wall. I taught a friend there also. It took us both a couple afternoons to be able to ride away from the wall. On a 20.
I switched to a fat tired 24 very soon. It was hard to turn at first, but felt more stable. The more I ride, the slower I can go and keep balance. On a 20, I had to pedal much faster to keep balancing speed. So I think in that regard the 24 is easier then the 20. At a relaxed pedal speed it is a lot faster.:slight_smile:
I would just ride your friends 24 more. 24 is a really great size for exploring neighborhoods etc. A 20 is almost painfully slow in comparison. I doubt you would prefer a 16 unless you are well under 5’ tall. They must be really slow !

In balance terms there is no difference between a learner 16", 20" and 24". They all have the same ratio of crank length to wheel size.

So assumming that you could fit all sizes…

The smaller wheels move slower so if you are tentitive when learning then they tend to be better. We have recommended riders in the 60’s learn on 16s as they tend to like to be slow and careful while learning.

We normally recommend that you get off a 16" onto a 20" as early as possible as they generally require really smooth ground to learn.

Where you are learning makes a big difference. If you are learning outside and the ground is not totally smooth then the 24" will be better. The smaller wheel tends to “trip up” on the stones and bumps.

An easy differential between the 20" and 24" is between the type of person you are. If would class yourself as Juggler, BMX rider, Skateboarder (tricks kind of person) then go for 20", if you are a mountain biker, road cyclist then go for a 24".

As has been said there are always exceptions to rules and in our local club the Nimbus 24" (with a set of 150 cranks on it) is often picked up and liked by teanage girls… this does not make sense.

You need to be comfortable on the size of unicycle you have. Tall people tend to feel more comfortable on bigger wheels, small on smaller wheels.



Thanks for all the advice. Getting several different perspectives has made the differences a bit clearer in my mind, so thanks to all that have responded.