best commuting/touring unicycle

I can do some tricks on a unicycle but would like to upgrade my unicycle to do some distance riding. I would like to do uphill rides and possibly tours. My inseam is 28-29 inches, and my height is 65. Does anyone know of a good touring/commuting unicycle that wouldn’t be too big for me?

If you are a beginner look at any 29er. UDC has some cheaper ones. Most on this forum prefer 36ers for anything more than a few miles, including me, but there are other factors including traffic patterns, how much you have to mount and dismount etc.

There is a new 36er out

It is good for shorter folk because the frame adjusts, not the seat post. It also comes with bars. I have an inseam of 31" am 5’8" and fit a standard 36 fine. If I were a bit shorter I wouldn’t. But you could always cut the frame down a bit. I just fit my standard 36 using a low profile seat and 150mm cranks. I almost always ride it on 127mm cranks though and then I have quite a bit of room.

Crank length and seat post also affect the fit. Shorter the cranks the more room you will have.

For climbing steep hills, is a 29 or 36 wheel better?

It depends on a lot of factors:

  • How long a distance?
  • How much of it is up/down hills.
  • How steep are the hills?
  • Are you riding with traffic?
  • Road, dirt, rocks etc?
  • Experience level?
  • Crank length?
  • Planning to take it on a bus?
  • Touring or commuting?

For an experienced unicyclist, a 36 is usually preferred. If it’s very hilly we’d have longer cranks. Dual hole cranks are good for this, like 127/150, or maybe even 110/137 (if those exist). Though a 29 would be more agile, and easier to store/ take on public transport if needed. It would also be easier to find tubes and tires for if you are touring. Unicycles involve a lot of compromises compared to bikes. The gearing is the wheel size and crank length.

Answer the above questions and we can probably help you out more.

For steep hills it’ll be the 29-er. Obviously crank length and leverage are relevant, but assuming that the effective gear ratio of the 29-er and 36-er are pretty much the same, then the much higher weight of the 36-er will sap you much quicker than the lighter weight of the 29-er.

Even with 29-ers, riders who do a lot of steep hill climbing will tend to be looking for a lighter 700c tyre as it really does make steep hills a lot more do-able.

I speak from experience- living in a very hilly area I find I have different priorities to riders living in flat places- for example, with the 29er I shun the heavy downhill tyres most favour, and search out lighter tyres.

My 36-er is in semi-permanent storage, because I got fed up with it’s tractor-like performance on uphill inclines that I can glide up on my 29er and other smaller wheels.

As soon as a decent lighter 36-er tyre comes out, I will make a purchase, as I feel that a tyre around half the weight of the current 26er tyres could well make steep uphills a much more enjoyable experience :slight_smile:

I’m on the shorter side too 5’2" and your inseam is about the same as mine. I’m going with the nightfox. If you live in a super hilly area though a 29" might be better. If you’re a hardcore distance person like I am (working 5miles on a 24" at times) you could try cutting the post down if needed and adding longer cranks on the 36er (150mm) to give you some extra umph.

Don’t want to jack the thread for BillyBobby, but am pondering the same thing myself. So, based on the quesions above, here’s my profile. I’d be interested to hear what people say:

  • How long a distance?

Daily commute 5 miles 1 way. Occasiona road rides, maybe get crazy and do a 40 mile or so organized Gran Fondo once or twice in my life.

  • How much of it is up/down hills.

Daily commute is 50% hill. Of that, 1/2 is gradual, 1/2 is 200’ gain over a half a mile.

  • How steep are the hills?

See above.

  • Are you riding with traffic?

Likely, unless I ride sidewalks. I’m riding a dedicated bike route, though, with wide streets and light traffic (0-2 cars per block pass).

  • Road, dirt, rocks etc?


  • Experience level?

9 months on a uni, riding muni on easy/moderate trails relatively comfortably. Freemounting = good on pavement, even on slight uphills on a 26er.

  • Crank length?

Currently 165, but only because downhill is hard on my knees. Might go to 150s soon since I’ve got the hang of a brake now.

  • Planning to take it on a bus?


  • Touring or commuting?

95+% commuting.

The one wrinkle in the mix is that eventually, I will get a schlumpf and rebuild the wheel with that.

So, any thoughts on whether a g29 or a g36 would be the better option?

How long a distance?
5-20 miles mostly, could be up to 30

How much of it is up/down hills?
Some flats, a lot of hills. I’d be doing more uphill than downhill riding, though a bit of both.

Are you riding with traffic?
I would be riding mostly with traffic but am hoping to unicycle in uphill bike races

Road, dirt, rocks etc?
I’d be riding primarily on pavement, possibly on smooth dirt roads once in a while

Experience level?
I have a good amount of experience with 20 inch unicycles and have a beginner and 6 foot giraffe. The longest I did on the beginner was 6 miles on flat terrain. I can freemount, idle, and ride backwards. I’ve also idled with a foot on the rim. Having said that, I’d like to do more distance riding and less tricks in place.

Crank length?
I was planning on getting a long crank because I’d really like to do a lot of uphill unicycling even if this makes me slower on the flats and downhill.

Planning to take it on a bus?
Never say never, but I’m not planning on it. This won’t be a factor in my decision

Touring or commuting?
I’d mostly do day long tours. At a later point, I’d consider doing multi-day tours with it. I might also commute but distance wise that would probably resemble day long tours in terms of loads and distance.

Also, I forgot:

How steep are the hills?
They’d mostly have a grade of 7-12%, some of the hills I want to ride have grades of 15-22%. I’d like a unicycle that could handle the later grades.

With the uphill longer cranks are definitely a big help, but with the long cranks means you might have to cut into the frame in order to get the seat low enough. Plus pedaling a 36" beast up steep hills or just hills in general especially since you said you have a lot of them can be a pain. A 29" is lighter and you can easily add the longer cranks without possibly having to cut into the frame.

Since you’re riding mostly with traffic that could be hard with a 36 because mounting even for some experienced riders can be difficult and if its a lot of cars around the risk having a UPD could make it dangerous to ride. Do you live where there’s a bike path or sidewalk you could ride on instead?

Pavement and smooth dirt roads would be fine for you to ride a 36 or 29 on.

Jumping from a 20 to a 36 is a big gap a 29" gives you an easier transition since the mounting is basically the same and it gives a similar riding experience compared to a 36 which is suuuuper different at least to me anyways :stuck_out_tongue:

Touring I definitely prefer the 36 over the 29 you get more distance per pedal.

Since its not likely you’ll take it on a bus either is fine.

There are no bike paths or sidewalks where I live.

Do any of you know of 29 inch unicycles that won’t be too big for someone with an inseam of 28-29 inches?

The fact is unicycles aren’t ideal given no gears (in most cases) and the fact that you have to balance more. :slight_smile:

I got a 29 thinking a 36 was too big. Then I got tired of the 29 for most commuting/road riding duties and got a 36.

I do find my 29 still useful for shorter road rides or rides with my 5 year old. I prefer the 36 when riding with my 7 year old.

If you get into unicylcing, you’ll have a bunch anyway for each use, so get a 29 if you feel nervous about the 36 or are inexperienced. Just make sure you get a narrow enough rim to fit a road tire. It’s a drag riding on roads with wide mountain tires. The KH29 with standard rim is problematic when you want to fit something like a Big Apple on it. Be very careful with that–I’ve had that tire pop off. Look into the KH XC rim if they still make it, or maybe a Nimbus rim, not sure. Then there’s the 700cc builds people are doing.

You can look on UDC for a 29 and they tell you the min inseam length under the items stats.

The problem I’m having is that according to UDC, my inseam is too short for all of the unicycles bigger than 26 inches with the exception of the Nimbus 36" NIghtfox Unicycle. The 26 inches ones that aren’t too big for me are for beginners, so I might as well go with a more expensive 24. If none of you are aware of anything in between, then which sized unicycle would best suit my purposes?

I think UDC lists inseam lengths based on an uncut seatpost. You’d be able to order the shortest seatpost possible, and then cut it down with a hacksaw or pipe cutter to fit your inseam.

Most will tell you 36 is the size for road riding, and I mostly agree. But now that I’ve built my 700c wheel, I think I’m gonna try riding that more. It’s much better at climbing, and with 125mm cranks and the much lighter wheelset, I really don’t know if I’ll lose ‘that’ much speed.

Maybe for some Killian, I just looked up my torker dx and it said the minimum length was 28" (i have mine at about 29") So i don’t know. You can go for a uni that says 30" an try the fit with whatever cranks you originally wanted. If it doesnt quite fit you could always try adding shorter cranks. With a 30" inseam you could try 150mm cranks theyre long enough so you can still make it over hills without much trouble and since the 29 is light i think you’d be fine.

my friend is 5’ 4"
and he bought
with shortest seatpost and impact naomi saddle(it’s thin so lowers your seat height a bit)
With 150mm cranks, he can just ride it, perfect for road rides. With shorter, 125, 100, or 89mm cranks, he would probably need to raise the seat.
For any muni/bumps, might cause him trouble…not sure, he doesn’t ride much.
The frame and post would both need to be cut for anyone shorter.

I’m thinking about getting the Nimbus 29" Road Unicycle or the Schwinn 29" Retro Unicycle. The Nimbus is more expensive but is it better than the Schwinn? I’d probably get 150mm cranks though I was also considering 165. Which crank size is better for someone short like me? Would a 165mm crank be overkill for going up hills? Also, do any of you have brakes on your touring/commuting unicycles? I’m not planning on getting brakes but if any of you think they’re a safety necessity, I’d reconsider.

165 is overkill IMO unless you are doing muni, even then I think 165s are too long. I like 150s for 29 or 36 muni.

I would get the Nimbus and upgrade to dual hole cranks. 127/150s if you can. It will make your uni a lot more flexible. You will grow into the shorter length, so to speak.

Search the forums for brakes. There are tons of conversations with beginners asking about brakes. I would start without them. You will probably notice if you need them.

If I get a unicycle without a brake and decide later on that I want to add one, would it be easy to install?

I noticed that the Nimbus 29" Road Unicycle comes with a tire that’s two inches wide. As an avid road biker, this seems pretty wide to me. I don’t need to get a tire that’s super skinny, but what would be the ideal width for riding on roads? Having said that, I’d also like a rim that could accommodate multiple tire-widths. To the point, can I order the Nimbus 29" Road Unicycle on with the tire and rim that I want?