Building the Ultimate 36" Commuter: Suggestions?

Greetings fellow unicyclists,

Disclaimer: First Post. I’ve been unicycling for 6 months. Pardon any stupid questions/noobisms. As the title states, I’m looking to build/buy the be all end all of 36ers for distance riding.

Background: I bought my first uni back in July (24" Nimbus II) and while I still consider myself a beginner, I have unicycled over 400mi according to MapMyRide with my longest ride being just over 20 miles. I do all of my riding between midnight and 5am exclusively on bike path/sidewalk.

For Christmas, I’ve decided I want to invest in a uni a bit more suited to my purpose. After looking at the 36" offerings from Coker, KH, Nimbus, I decided the only way I would really be happy would be to build one from scratch. Naturally, a plethora of questions arose and I have decided to turn to this forum for answers.

Frame: Aluminum or Titanium? I’ve narrowed my choices down to a KH36 or a Triton. As I would eventually like to add a Schlumpf Hub, (if and when Florian releases an ISIS model that is officially disc brake compatible) I think these are my only two options. leaning heavily towards the Triton.

Hub: 100mm KH ISIS. I do eventually want to go schlumpf but am going to wait for next gen.

Saddle: I currently own a KH freeride and a Nimbus Gel but am open to suggestions. I find the flatfish and fusion zero options intriguing.

Cranks: KH Spirit 127/150mm ISIS Disc or Sinz 135 or 140mm ISIS. As I’ve settled on equipping an external disc break, I think these are about the extent of my options but I would like some input here.

Pedals: Help! I like my shins and its too hot here in Florida for safety equipment so I am leaning towards Plastic. But I would like some input here.

Rim: Stealth2 (do I have any other options?) Drilled?
Tire: Nimbus Nightrider seems to be the obvious choice
Tube: Foss 36"
Spokes: 14ga stainless (anyone know where I can order them in black?)
Nipples: 14ga brass or aluminium?

Brake setup/Handlebars: are component specific but again any input would be appreciated.

Finish work: I’d like to have the nipples, cranks, and brake extension sent to Neochromeparts for an Aurora finish.

I have 1000$ to throw at a 36er today and if I need more, so be it. My big question to you guys: If you were in my shoes, what would you build/buy and why?

KH Moment cranks 125/150 mm

KH 36 stock and get riding. You are just fooling yourself if you think you need anything different. In a few months I would think of going a little shorter on cranks. At first you will think you need 165s but will really want the 150s.


keep the suggestions coming

Thanks for the speedy response bungeejoe. In regards to crank length, I honestly have no intention of starting on anything larger than 150mm.

As for the suggestion to KH36 and call it a day… it’s not really what I’m after. The truth is, I don’t need a 36". I already have a uni that I ride every day weather permitting. I want a 36", and I want a 36" where each component is the best available for what I’m going to be using it for… Long distance on poorly lit dilapidated sidewalks. UPDs mandatory :slight_smile:

I firmly believe overkill is underrated and that settling for what is practical is not the path to happiness. That being said, I am only under the impression that a disk brake equipped triton/schlumpf is the end game of commuter 36ers. If you would prefer something else, I’d like to know why?


I don’t understand your question. You have stated your perception of perfection, so go for it. Share pictures when it’s complete.

If you’re looking for the strongest you can get, I’d suggest an old Coker V2. Built like a Mack truck.
(Just throwing the suggestion out there. Not sure what you’re really aiming for. Frankly, bunjeejoe said it best – he’s one of the best road/distance riders out there, so I would take his suggestions.)

Coker V2:

I prefer…

If money was no issue I would only change out on the stock tube for a 29er tube sometime and add a Schlumpf hub as available. The 29er tube is cheap, dependable, relatively easy to install, and available anywhere.

Although I have a brake installed it is mostly a waste of money and weight. I do use it when dismounting in high gear and when descending steep hills in high gear to save the knees. Are you planning on riding any serious hills?

I currently use a stock KH seat. I’ve tried lots of different saddles and keep going back to what works for me. I used a KH custom air saddle arrangement for a long time. Riding a flat air seat or stopping to repair the flat every 300 - 500 miles didn’t seem to balance any added comfort after I got my body accustomed to lots of milage.

I do not recommend you pay any attention to what I use for pedals and shoes. When I’m not using clipless pedals and shoes I switch to stock plastic pedals.

I currently choose to use a TA Radial tire. I don’t think anyone will agree with my switching out the tire for a TA Radial. But I hate having to fix flats and the tread never wears down.

Weight becomes less of an issue than dependability for some of us when one is in shape and rides regularly. The converse also applies, weight and the use of “crutches” become significant when one is not fit and only occasionally rides.

The other thing I find important to add to my KH36 is a set of three juggling balls. They are an important part of my daily commute and distance rides. I find them helpful to keep things interesting and entertaining to both myself and others. A few words of warning. If a car load of teenagers becomes insistent that one juggle for their entertainment you might consider the consequences of not complying.


You only ride between midnight and 5 am. Is this work related? If not, pardon me if it sounds a little creepy. I know Florida can be hot, but does it really cool down that much at night? :slight_smile:

So you didn’t mention lights. You probably want some of those, though I don’t have any good suggestions. For best visibility it’s good to have a fixed light somewhere on the uni, and a second one that’s as high as possible, and mobile. In other words, one on your helmet.

You like your shins, but would rather use plastic pedals? This takes you away from your “ultimate commuter” goal. Grippy pedals are the best. You can also get some grippy shoes, like some 5.10 Freerides. Excellent rubber compound, but still works best with metal pins. Also when you get your Schlumpf in the future, grip becomes even more important, to keep your heels from drifting into the path of the buttons.

Bungeejoe gave the most pragmatic advice in terms of getting yourself going – get the KH. If you instead want to part something together for the joy of parting everything individually, go for the Triton and spend a bunch more money. It’ll be lots more interesting to show off to people (unicyclists; not sure anyone else will be that interested) but won’t perform or weigh much differently.

Crank length: I always recommend 150 as a starter size, to get you familiar with the larger wheel and its inertia. But 150 is really a Muni size for 36". So be prepared to step down to 125, which is a good all-around side for road riding with hills. For Florida, unless you live in the “hilly” northern part, 125 will still be too long once you get used to it. 110 or shorter will be your friend on a non-geared 36".

Personally, for the true “ultimate commuter” I would want to start by designing my own frame; some sort of V type with handlebars incorporated into the design. I would get it powder coated a custom color (rather than the standard KH blue or Triton silver). I’d get the coolest pedals you can find; an area where it’s easy to spend lots of money! I would not go to great lengths to make it light. There’s sensible lightness, and there’s don’t-actually-ride-it-a-lot lightness. Light stuff tends to break; I like my unicycles to not break. Especially when they’re custom!

Whatever you end up with, judge it by the riding, not by how it looks, how much it cost, etc. You can always put more money into it later. :smiley:

Thanks Joe for the information. I will be using the 29er tube info. Heck that just saved me a small amount of cash. If you get bored I’d love to see a few of your latest hill climbs on Strava. Stay safe and watch out for those gun toting kids. :astonished:

Happy Holidays :smiley:

listen to Bungeejoe

Honestly KH throws top quality components at his unis.

If you are worried about weight don’t get a 36er. They are like riding a steamroller. Hard to get going hard to stop but very stable.

If you are worried about breaking things the only thing that you can get stronger than a stock KH that I can think of is the hub. You could get a Nimbus cromo hub if you don’t care about weight.

It seems to me that you want something custom. So buy the KH and spend to your hearts content at the custom finishers. Then you will have something truly unique. Post lots of pictures.

I ordered a custom Oracle 36 for Christmas. I went custom not because the stock components were bad but because I hated the green on the stock Oracle.

Get it the way you want it just don’t worry about any of the stock components.


I agree with JM, Matt, JohnFoss, Gear, V2, etc, [JM: Do you juggle a basic cascade, or more complicated stuff while riding? I prefer clubs in a simple cascade.]

Lots of good advice here already.

More information might be useful for us to help you. A few of us like myself who responded are nearing or over 60 years old. Our responses comes from THAT perspective.

How old are you? How tall are you? How much do you weigh?

We’ve known very fit people who sustained compound fractures of the tibia, probably largely due to the speeds only possible with a Schlumpf geared. Brakes became a big issue at the time of the Germany to Barcelona Uni Tour, and were really needed for the Alps Uni Tour. That said, many road riders don’t use brakes; we use our legs to slow us down and we plan ahead. Who else is on the road with you at 3 am? If its clear, I see little need for brakes.

Metal pedals last much longer. Shin injuries from pedals are rare from just riding, mostly from hopping or doing other stunts; I’ve been riding from about age 17 to now age 59, 5+ miles a day on a 36" mostly on rutted or paved road, and I’ve never even come close to a shin injury.

If I were to powder coat my uni, first I’d buy several workout outfits and match the uni to the clothing-- bright yellow, safety green, or hot purple.

Let us know what you finally decide on, and have fun with the overkill. If you really want overkill, why not add chrome tailpipes with flame decals and a diesel horn. :slight_smile:


I love it!
(says the guy with a flamed paint job and 25mm artillery shell tail lights.)

Heyy, what’s wrong with riding the graveyard hours? :smiley: I love it! Empty roads, no WYOW comments, just you and a few stragglers :sunglasses:

Not sure what the laws are like over there, but here you legally have to have two lights plus a rear (red) reflector on your bike (as well as orange pedal reflectors). If you want expensive and fun, there’s that new thing Qu-Ax have made that embeds two lights into your seatpost clamp, otherwise any LBS-brand light will work fine. That and a headlamp (I use a cheap eBay Cree light, came with a headstrap but should mount fine on a lid too). I don’t really use the headlamp on the road though, it’s definately too much, specially when you’re so high up! You could clip the Cree light to your handlebar should you go that route though, and just aim it down so you don’t blind drivers.

Absolutely agree with this. I don’t understand how people manage to wreck their shins falling off a uni when just riding. On a bike, sure, but on a uni, mechanically it doesn’t really happen that way. I use old-style beartrap pedals (affectionately nicknamed ‘shinrippers’ by my dad), and have never hurt my shins on them despite my many hilarious falls when I first started 36ering (I’m still new to it :D). Get some good grippy pedals and some good grippy shoes, and you’ll be FAR more in control than if you went for slippy plastic pedals. Bungeejoe mentions clipless, and obviously if you’re as crazy as he is this will give you maximum control, but for the rest of us, beartraps or metal pins are enough :smiley:

In regards to lights…

Florida law requires that bicycles be equipped with lights if they are being operated after dark. Florida state statute 316.003 article 2 defines a bicycle as having tandem wheels. While there are provision to include tricycles and power assisted variants into the classification of “bicycle”, the wording, which I believe was intended to exclude wheelchairs, also inadvertently excludes unicycles.

I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice, but I have been pulled over for this. After explaining my understanding of the law to the officer and posing the question “Where would you mount a light on a unicycle?” I was permitted to carry on about my business. As with any encounter with law enforcement, being courteous goes a long way. (Being pulled over on a uni at 2am, in and of itself, is a bucket list worthy experience)

So why do I opt against lighting? Several reasons:

  1. I don’t ride on the road. (except crosswalks) if I did, I would light myself up like a Christmas tree.

  2. I UPD frequently and don’t know of a light or mount that would hold up to regular impacts.

  3. Light cast from a frame mounted light on a unicycle is obstructed by your cadence and appears to flash. I’d prefer not to ride with a flashing light between my legs.

  4. From midnight to 5am, the majority of drivers are either tired or drunk. People in either of those states tend to drive towards what they are looking at. If I am illuminated, it will certainly draw more attention.

Sorry to continue on the light topic:
If you run into a pedestrian that can’t see you and vice versa you will change your feeling on lights. TRUST ME

How did you feel the last time a bike with no lights in the dark rode near you? It’s just not a nice thing to do.

I commute regularly on my 36er after dark (not after midnight, though). As a long-time bike commuter, I’m with Stepupnfall on the light thing. The lights are there partially for your convenience and safety. They are also there to help out the folks that you do not see and who do not see you. I don’t know your riding environment, so I don’t mean to tell you what to do. I’ll just say that in my experience, some of the closest calls I have had came in places I least expected 'em to. In many other cases, I was able to avoid a potentially bad situation because I had lights and could ‘flash’ another driver or cyclist. (See comments below on helmet mounted lights.) No one likes a ninja rider. Trust me.

As far as lighting options on a unicycle, I completely agree that a frame mounted forward facing light is a poor choice - for many of the reasons you cited. A head mounted light, however, works great. No flashing. You can direct the beam where you want to let drivers know you are there, even if they are approaching from the side - such as from an alley/driveway. And, if you want, you can turn it off in quiet, traffic free parts of the ride and have it back on in an instant of you need it.

For rear-mounted lights, I have had one clipped to the seatpost of my 36er for 6 months now. Plenty of UPDs. It hasn’t broken yet. It’s a cygolite hotshot. Plenty tough for unicycling. So, you might consider that.

Happy riding. Enjoy your nighttime escapades. :slight_smile:

for commuting i guess it depends a lot on the type of route you are planning to take and the distance. I started out riding a 24" to work, then bought a 36". I am doing this for a while now and i find that the smaller wheel size has a lot of advantages in traffic. Also if you do short hops on a train or something similar a smaller wheel is also a big advantage.

So perhaps a geared or short cranked 26-29 inch may be worth considering. They are also easier to mount if you carry a backpack with a laptop or other heavy objects like books. Another advantage of a smaller wheel is that you are less sensitive to windy conditions.

just my two cents. I love the 36" just the same but steamroller is a pretty accurate description compared to a 24 inch.:slight_smile:

Lights - I have this Nite Rider and it is fantastic on the helmet. Extremely bright on the lowest setting.

Thanks for the input so far… keep it coming

Before I continue, I’d like to say thanks to JM, John Foss, and everyone else that has posted on this form. I may not always agree with the advice you guys give but I realize that all of you are far more qualified and experienced than myself and I respect the fact that you guys are taking the time out of your day to reply to my inquiries.

To keep this thread moving forward, can anyone speak for the compatibility of the kh disc cranks and triton frame. Every disc brake triton I’ve come across on these forums went the mountain uni/sinz route.

The other question I have in regards to the triton frame has more to do with aesthetics. Being titanium, I know it can be colored with heat. (Google titanium exhaust tips) while I am hesitant to take a torch to a 600$ unicycle frame, I think it would look good if done to the top of the frame. Has this been done before? How much would I have to worry about compromising structural integrity? (Maybe a question better asked on an automotive forum)

Rather than taking a torch to it why not anodize? It looks like the same kinds of colors, and you don’t have to subject the frame to such extreme treatment. Also, anodizing Ti is really simple and you can do it without investing a lot.

I run KH Spirits on my Triton triple with 180mm disks and with Hope Tech calipers. They are beautiful.

There are no issues with running non-mountain uni on Tritons.

As far as the color of titanium, I would not spend a penny on trying to paint or anodize it. It is already perfect.