coker speed

Average speed etc will vary hugely on your fitness level, crank length, road conditions, etc, etc.

Here is some metric info based on my personal experience.

Around town I average 15km/h (9.4mph). This includes stops at lights, traffic, road crossing etc.

I ride 45 minutes to work and another 45 home. It doesn’t tire me out much unless I try and up my speed. As Harper said, a 10% increase in speed requires a lot of effort.

On long distance open road rides I average around 17 to 18 km/h (11.5 mph). In the past I have maintained that sort of speed on hilly terrain for around 60km. (Last time I did a road ride longer than that I was only riding around 40min a day so was not particularly fit and hit the wall at 60km)

As long as I adjust my weight on the saddle I can happily ride for 20km or more without a dismount. I find saddle soreness the main limiting factor and a good seat does wonders.

I know Ken Looi can maintain an average speed of around 21-22 km/h for hours on end but he is a machine. His average speed for 24 hours of coker riding was 15.75 km/h

Speed on a Coker is more to do about unicycling skill (riding skill) than it is about fitness. Fitness enters the equation for long rides. For short rides the limiting factor is unicycling skill and how willing you are to let it all hang out. I’m very conservative in how much risk I’m willing to take when going faster than I can run out a UPD. I keep a lot in reserve so I can make a recovery if needed and if I start to feel just a little bit sketchy I don’t push the speed.

Going fast on a Coker requires that you learn how to spin the pedals smoothly. I’ve been working on my spin, but I still don’t consider myself a good spinner. I can keep things smooth up to about 14 mph. Once I start going above 14 mph my pedaling gets more bouncy and I loose the spin. When you lose the spin you lose the efficiency. You can’t maintain a bouncy and inefficient pedaling motion for too long because you’re wasting too much energy.

When I lose the smooth spin at higher RPMs I find that I start to feel like I’m about to get a side stitch. My legs feel like they’re going to fly out of my hips. I don’t breathe properly. I start bouncing on the seat. All of that means that it is impossible to maintain that high of an RPM for very long. I gotta learn to be smoother at the higher RPMs if I want to learn to go faster. The limitation there is skill rather than fitness.

Some people seem to have an easier time spinning at the crazy fast RPMs than other people. If you’re a natural spinner and can spin smoothly at 15+ mph then consider yourself fortunate. I try to work on my spin but my progress is slow. I’m very gradually learning to spin more smoothly at higher RPMs.

Re: coker speed

On Wed, 27 Apr 2005 15:25:57 -0500, “harper” wrote:

>Wherever, whenever, and however fast that unofficial speed record was, I
>can assure you it was set by Christian Hoverath. It was probably on a
>long downhill trying to catch a bicyclist on the Ride across Europe.
>Several people saw him do it but I think that there are only estimates
>of the speed. Do a search and you may find renditions of the story by
>Christian and the other participants of the ride.

If you look at <>, Christian
asserts that it is “a true 48.5kph”.

Klaas Bil - Newsgroup Addict

“When it comes to the family jewels, you won’t be having fun until they’re having fun. - Jake D”

Since I’m an anal-type record-keeping twerp, I have the advantage of some data on almost every ride I’ve ever done on a Coker. I probably rode 100+ miles on my original standard Coker before I bought a computer, but have been tracking ever since. Here are the stats in chronological order from stock coker to custom, then custom with a switch from 150s to 170s, then custom again with 150s. I recently switched back and am happier now.

8.48 mph was my average speed over 136 miles on my standard Coker, with 150s.

8.86 mph was my average speed over 514 miles on my GB4/U-Turn 36, with 150s.

8.64 mph was my average speed over 156 miles on my GB4 with 170s.

8.89 mph is my average speed over 62 miles on my GB4 with 150s again.

That may give you some idea on differences between crank length, at least for the gap between 150 and 170. It is interesting, however, that even with the 170s, my average speed with the custom wheelset was still higher than with shorter cranks but on my original standard wheelset. I chalk this up to inexperience and poor riding skill more than to the wheelset, as Bruce Dawson owns my original standard Coker and can smoke me w/o breaking a sweat.

My fastest speed on my 36 is 14.4 mph, with 150s. I’ve only made it over 14 a handful of times. Right now, that’s more a function of my brain than riding skill. I hit it last night, but I really don’t like to get there on pavement because it’s faster than I can run out of. My fastest recorded speed was actually on a woods trail with a kind of bark mulch surface. It was flat and fast and felt safer than pavement.

I have gone faster than the 14.4 once, on Harper’s Blueshift with an effective 43.5" wheel size. Unfortunately didn’t have a computer to clock it. I only know from the visual clues, as I did it on a local track where I’ve ridden my 36-er at 14. My guess is 17-ish. For some, no big whoop, but it was exhilarating terror for me. That thing just hauls ass…

On the “how far you go before getting tired” question, I think it’s mostly a matter of doing enough riding to build up comfort with the distance. When I first got my Coker 5 to 10 milers felt big. I do that now as an after-dinner joy ride. I can do up to 20-25 miles and still be okay with doing a shorter ride the next day. I’ve only done two rides above 25, one was 33 and one was 55. The 33 wasn’t so bad, but I definitely didn’t ride the next day. The 55 burned me out and the last 5 miles were ugly. I didn’t remount for 2 weeks after that.

To me, the important thing with longer distances is just to give yourself some breaks to get the circulation going. When I do neighborhood rides, I’ll pull up to a mailbox every 4 or 5 miles and just stand on the pedals for a minute, have a drink, re-rack, then continue. On longer rides, will try to dismount at least every 7-10 miles and take a bit of a break. Our group distance rides, as Harper noted, tend to be break-filled affairs.

Have fun with that thing when you get it. I bought my Coker on kind of a lark, but it’s become a bit of an obsession.

Harper’s Blueshift

Thanks for the responses, most helpful in my decision to buy a Coker!
To add on the last comment.
What is this ‘Harper’s Blueshift 45’?
Is this another uni with an even BIGGER wheel size? (do I have a inferior uni size complex?)
Is it available for purchase?
Wonder, if I would even fit on such a uni! (me being 5’9")
And here’s a silly question, what is “UPD”?


Harper’s Blushift is a customised [edit] 29" built by Harper…It is geared and that effectively makes the wheel size larger…You probably would be able to buy a larger wheeled uni (Maybe the Unicycle Factory) but the wheel will not be a pneumatic wheel. 36" is the largest pneumatic wheel…If you really want a nice fast one there’s always a Schlumpf 28" geared to be a 42".
UPD=Unplanned Dismount

I think most of what I’ve said is correct…

Blueshift is a geared up 29er. It’s an internally geared hub that is geared up by 1.5 (one turn of the cranks gives you 1.5 turns of the wheel). That gives it an effective 43.5" wheel. Greg Harper built and designed the Blueshift.

Now we’ve got the Schlumpf hub. The Schlumpf hub is also geared up by 1.5.

UPD stands for UnPlanned Dismount. It’s a creative way of saying that you fell off the unicycle. Some UPDs are more graceful than others. A high speed UPD on a Coker can be quite amazing.

on the road i use 110’s all of the time.
my average for hour rides is just under 15mph.

my top sped on the flat with 110’s is 22.5mph (it felt awesome!). i have had a few UPD at high speeds (once at 21mph) and again they are impressive! but are very painfull! (but hey sh*t happens).

riding off road i use 150’s and average speed is about 10mph but this varies lots depending on condictions, surface etc.

I am so grateful to have duplication of the quoted above.It is not that I can ride Cocker but due to belatedly attempted unicycling(I have started at 65 yo) my smooth spinning is very erratic.Once I get ‘spastic’ the pleasure of unicycling vanishes.
Thanks to your explanation I feel motivated to persevere.TU.:smiley:

I’m not as fast as Roger or Des, last Thursday, I averaged 8.6mph including stops for about 85 not very hilly miles. Friday I did 7.5mph for about 55 miles over some rather large hills. I ride with 110 cranks now for everything.

I think I can do about 14 miles in an hour on road if there’s not much in the way. At really hard race speed on a very flat course I might just manage 15 miles in an hour.

I’ve hit 19, but never knowingly 20mph. I don’t like going that fast though.

When I was coker commuting in London, my average speed went up to just under 13mph on a good day on 150mm cranks. I also hit the same average a couple of times on a 29er with 125mm cranks. That was including lights, heavy traffic etc.

I’d agree it’s mostly about skill rather than fitness, once you’ve learnt to ride a coker well, 50+ flat miles doesn’t take very much effort at all. If you’ve ridden enough to get the skill, you’ll already have the fitness.

Seat comfort is about riding lots rather than about expensive upgrades. I’ve ridden 60 miles in a day on a viscount and it wasn’t that bad. Nowadays I ride a KH because I like the handle more and 85 miles in a day is okay and leaves me okay to do 55 miles the next day, play hockey for hours the third day and ride muni the day after. Oh and to commute to work the day after all that.


I average about 20-25km/hr on my Coker on the road depending on how hilly it is. Can usually keep this up for a few hours, but as Peter B mentioned- that drops down to about 15-16km/h when you take into account breaks/sleep etc.

As a very rough rule of thumb- I add about 50+/- 10% to my biking time on an equivalent road bike, providing I select my Coker crank length well.

My crank length of choice is 110’s for hilly stuff, and 102’s for the flat. I used to use 125’s but I find that it’s doesn’t give me much extra leverage over 110’s on the hills, and doesn’t let you spin nearly as fast. Off road I’m usually on 150’s.

When you’re riding at Coker speeds- you have to think like a biker- ie not what you are going to do if you fall off; but making sure you dont’ fall off! Look well ahead and anticipate corrections/maneuvers before they happen. Two wheeled cyclists dont’ think twice about cycling faster than their runout speed- otherwise no one will be riding >20km/h!

I don’t know about top speeds- since most of the time I’m doing long distance rides and the objective is to have a high average speed. I can’t sprint for peanuts anyway- so would guess that my max speed sits somewhere around 30-35km/h

As for spinning fast over long distance- the only technique which is any use is staying relaxed! You should not be thinking about pedalling in circles, but instead concentrate on keeping as little pressure on your pedals as necessary- just enough to stay on your Coker and just enough for any corrections to your centre of gravity/equilibrium point. The momentum of the wheel and cranks will take care of the rest. As soon as you tense up you will start bouncing up and down- happens to everyone, but from my observations- it happens at a higher rpm for a faster/more relaxed rider. That goes for your upper body too- if you’re too tense then any bump you hit will require more effort to correct for.

You’ll love the Coker!


John, didn’t you have unicycles back before the world of Cokers? Back before MUnis, that is, when all we had were 24" wheels so we pedaled faster?

If you really want to work on your spin, probably one of the best ways is to get on a 20" or 24" wheel and try to go fast (or simply to get somewhere; same thing). I guess I learned my spinning technique from all those years of 24" racing. I never really thought too much about it.

Your objective is for everything above your legs to not be affected by the pedaling motion. If you can isolate it, while relaxing your upper body, you’re going in the right direction.

I noticed a need for improved spin as I got more into MUni and used longer cranks (for years I was on a 24" with 140s on the trails). My body was used to spinning fast with 125s, but the 150s and later 170s on my “better” MUnis force my feet to go in a bigger circle. At first I thought it was just not going to work well to spin fast on 170s. But then I got into a little impromptu race with George Peck. I could barely keep up with him. He was riding 175s and I was riding 150s. Since then my spin on longer cranks has improved.

On the road, my max speed was 20.2mph using 125mm. But I don’t like going over about 18.5mph and don’t usually. I didn’t have a cyclometer for the 120 miles I did with 110mm cranks but as Ken says, it’s alot faster and smoother. My highest speed crash was 18.2mph and that sucks.

Over long distances, what really matters is your inspiration level and how much you stop. I like riding relaxed, stopping every 10km or so and not pushing it all the time (except in a race). So for instance, I did 72 miles around Lake Tahoe in 6:39 riding time which was a bit under 9 hours total time.

When I commute to work, 8-10 miles one way depending on route, an average of 12mph is really good and means I was inspired and not too many of the 17 traffic lights were red. Below 11mph means there was a headwind, I was weak, there were many red lights, or all 3.


Yeah, I did a lot of riding on a 24" Schwinn. But I never had the urge to try to go fast on it. I just kept it at a comfortable speed. If I wanted to go far or get somewhere I just took more time.

When I’m on a unicycle I don’t have an urge to go fast. I’ve been happy keeping it at a comfortable speed and a comfortable cadence. I’m different when I’m on a bike. On a road bike I want to go fast. The faster the better. On the unicycle I want to have fun. On the bike I want to go fast. It’s a different mindset between the two.

I never developed or worked on spinning at crazy high cadences on a unicycle. And even now I don’t like really high cadences.

I do need to work on being able to spin faster. I really should do some speed training on my 20" or 24" and just crank up the RPMs for more than just a brief sprint. It’s a lot safer to practice spinning at 160+ RPMs on a 20" or 24" rather than the Coker. I’ll see if I can learn the need for speed on a unicycle.

I’m interested in the RPM/MPH (cadence/velocity) ratio for a 36" wheel? Or any size wheel for that matter. Does anyone know a formula so I don’t have to switch my brain on?


100rpm = 10.77 mi/hr = 17.23 km/hr on 36"
100rpm = 7.18 mi/hr = 11.5 km/hr on 24"

For other x rpm just multiply the speed(as shown above) with x rpms/100 …

For other wheel sizes use the 36" calculations and multiply the corresponding speed with x wheel size/36" …

Here’s a thread that covers exactly that: Coker cadence calculation

I know lots of formulae. I also know how to derive them. I would recommend switching your brain on and maybe switching the X-Box or TV off. This boils down to pretty much fourth grade arithmetic and that only because it involves more than one digit.

Sorry to go off on a rant-tangent here but would you help me put my socks on? Will you wash my dishes for me? It’s too hard and too much work.

Thanks guys. :slight_smile:

I knew it would have been worked out somewhere before. I’ve only just got a 36er (a Qu-ax not a Coker) so I haven’t read that many threads about them until now and I’m trying to get up to speed, so to speak.

I usually just use 10rpm ~= 1mph as a good enough estimate for a coker. It’s simple enough that you can do it quickly in your head if you just want a quick idea of how fast you’re doing.