Best size for a freewheel?

Hey guys. I’m building a freewheel unicycle but am unsure of what size is the best for starting out. I’ve checked out the freewheel mega thread but couldn’t find too much on this subject. I’m pretty much a newbie when it comes to freewheels, as the only time I’ve ever tried one out was for a few minutes at an event. Any tips for the best size to start out on? I’d love to have a 29” or even 36” freewheel for when I get used to it so I can use it as a fun road uni, but I’m afraid that 29” might be too much to start out on. Is a 26” a good size? Does size even matter when it comes to how fun/fast/stable a freewheel is to ride?


Hi oridemic

I’m just starting out on my first freewheel which I’m going to build into a 27.5”

I will be interested in hearing what sizes others suggest for first one. I was thinking of starting on 20” using a cheap second hand bmx wheel.

I learned on a 20" and have ridden 24", 26", and 36". As with any unicycle I would say that it’s easiest to learn on a 20" or 24" depending on the size of your inseam and on flat, smooth ground. However, plenty of people learn to ride fixed unicycles on larger wheels and I’m sure the same would go on a freewheel (with a possibly steeper learning curve). I also learned to ride without a brake and then added one later to facilitate riding off road. If you’re going to learn to ride using the brake from the start it may be harder to build a 20" or 24" and a 26" or 27.5" may make more sense. Bigger wheels are harder to mount and you’ve got further to fall. I’ve found I can pedal a 26" much faster than I want to go so haven’t felt the need for much larger wheels (although I am building a 27.5"). If I rode a 36" I would just pedal slower and end up going about the same average speed. This is partly because it’s not the constant pedaling of a fixed wheel - I pedal faster and faster until I’m going too fast and then bleed off speed by coasting or brake-coasting. And of course while you’re coasting or brake-coasting the size of the wheel doesn’t affect the speed.

I ride a trail with a lot of rollers. I got used to riding it on a 24" wheel and now that I ride it on a 26" wheel I have to be more cognizant of my pedal position. My regular braking/coasting stance is between right foot at 3 o’clock and maybe down to 7 o’clock. If I hit the peak of a roller when my left foot is around the same position there can be an issue since that’s where I would want to either brake or coast and my switch stance is not strong and I’d probably have a UPD. I can either manage it so this doesn’t happen (what I try to do now and am mostly successful) or work on my switch stance (which I tried recently and fell and had a minor injury).

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I have learnt freewheel on a 27.5er. Although it was great for going muni once I was able to ride it, I would not advise to go for such a wheel as a first freewheel uni. I’d say a littler uni would be easier to mount, such as a 24" with a brake. But it wouldn’t be a uni you could use to go for a long ride as it is slow.

  • if you want to build a single uni, go for the size you’d like to have later. It’ll be harder to learn on, but you’ll be happy to have it once you have mastered the beast;
  • if you’re keen to build multiple unis, go hor a small size, learn on it then build a new, bigger uni.