Coker vs GUNI performance on RTL?

For those who were there at RTL, did the Cokers rule or did the small evolving mammal known as the 29er GUNI prove it is on the rise as a species?

It looks like most of the riders were on 36" unicycles but I am curious if anybody rode a geared 29 who was competitive?


GUnis, both 29 and 36, dominated at RTL. It was very difficult to outpace a good rider on a geared uni while on a ‘straight’ 36.

Only a few Coker riders could outpace a guni. Ken Looi zoomed past me on the time trial despite my 3.5-minute head start, and then I never saw him again. Some of the other top riders, like Team Lost, got by sans gears, tho it was a bit closer to call. My 29" guni and I did catch up to most of the other riders of ungeared unis. Some of this equation depends on the individual rider’s strengths, bit basically the geared 36s are now dominant.

There is no doubt that a geared 36er is the fastest unicycle out there. I rode a 29" guni in the race and loved it, I am definitely faster on it than I am on my ungeared 36er. I also tried Corbin’s geared 36er and have no doubt that it is a faster wheel for just about any paved course, regardless of elevation changes. The difference is greatest on the flats and downhills, but these will be >1/2 of any course.

HOWEVER, the rider also makes a big difference. The 2nd place team had only one geared cycle, they were flying! I think the number of geared cycles in the top 10 reflect not only the fact that they go faster, but also the fact that those teams had the riders serious enough about it to invest in a gear (not to mention the customization needed for a 36" guni). Take away all the gears and I expect the top 10 teams would not change that much.


Ok, here’s my verdict:

  • The course definitely favoured Gunis. It had lot’s of very flat rolling terrain where our Fixie 36’ers were outgeared by the GUNIs. We need a few Tour De France style mountain stages I think :stuck_out_tongue: Unfortunately, I hear it takes a few million years to build a mountain, so I guess that will have to wait.

-I’ve had a 29’er Guni for over three years, and where I ride, there is probably less than 1-2min difference between my 29’er Sclumpf and my 36" fixie Coker over 1-2hrs riding. It’s faster on the flats and downhills.

-We were killed by the 36" Schlumpfing German team on the downhills. To a lesser extent the flat sections. We held our own on the hillclimbs.

-Our observation is that the 36’er Schlumpfs seemed to have more useable gears, whereas we found that we kept our 29’er Sclumpf in high gear most of the time. It did not climb well. There were a couple of short steep climbs where the 36’ers could shift down and make use of the low 36" 1:1 gear

-The Time Trial was dominated by Sclumpfs- it was a flat rolling course. The top three places went to 36" Sclumpfs, followed by a fixed 36’er (Team NZUNI).

-Of the top 10 places in the Time Trial, there were only two riders riding fixed 36’ers (me, on 36"/114mm) and Tue Johansson (not sure what crank lenght he used).

-Criterium results…aside from Chuck powering away from us on the 36’er Schlumpf, I don’t think it really reflected Sclumpf speed vs fixie speed so much. It was just a fun race and had very little effect on the GC. We were aiming to stay out of trouble/crashing.

-The last two stages were particularly bad for fixie 36’ers. We were so undergeared on the flat and gentle downhills it wasn’t funny.

  • Overall, if we had to pick the fastest unicycle for this course, it would be a 36" Sclumpf. But it is course dependent. Two years ago, the top four places at the Unicon marathon went to fixie 36’ers, followed by a 29’er Sclumpf, and further back a couple of 36’er Sclumpfs.

  • Having said that, people are getting better at shifting and revving up their 36" Sclumpfs, so that may have had some bearing on the results

-Previously very fit/strong riders didn’t necessarily make for a fast unicyclist. I’ve gone much faster than people much fitter than me. That’s changed with the 36" Gunis now I think. It will become more like bikes…fitness and strength will be more important in going fast, whereas previously it was all about spinning technique. That is, how fast you can pedal without falling off! I think there are two types of riders that will develop. The super fast spinners vs more powerful riders who can push the bigger gears. I don’t know if I could push the 36" Sclumpf gear all that much faster than I could my fixie 36".

-For your interest:
Team NZUNI’s equipment for RTL:
Will Sklenars: 36"Fixie/114mm
Tony Melton: 29"er Sclumpf/125mm; also 36" Fixie with 114/125mm cranks.
Ken Looi: (that’s me!) 36"/114mm for most of it. 36"/110 for the first stage

Notice how I have a habit of bringing a Sclumpf half way across the world but Tony Melton always uses it instead of me :frowning:

Ken Looi


Thanks all, sounds like a new day has dawned. It won’t take long for someone to beat the train to Silverton during the Iron horse, I’d bet.


Are there people that spin as fast on the geared unis as what they would on non geared unis? Or is the technique to just use the gears to keep at a slightly highly speed than fixed cokers?

Next time I think there should be different categories for the unis, or something like that to make it fair - seeing as the course is good for Gunis there’s no use people on other unis trying to compete :wink: .

In general, people on the GUnis are running longer cranks, so they can’t spin as fast; Chuck, who was clearly the fastest guy in the race, was on a geared 36 with 150s.

The holy grail of geared unis might be a three speed, 1:1, 1:1.3, 1:1.7 hub with 170mm cranks.

I don’t know that I’ve ever been an extraordinarily fast spinner, but there was one section on day 5 where I (on a geared 29) drafted one of the German riders on his geared 36 downhill and I didn’t feel like I could spin any faster even if I were on a fixed gear 42" wheel.

I think that you’re right the 36 has 2 usable road gears vs. the 29er which you just keep in high gear, but not that the schlumpf doesn’t climb well. There were 2 noticeable climbs in RTL that were hard to ride on a 29er schlumpf in high gear, the first one after Annapolis on day 1, and the first hill on the time trial. Both of them were so steep that many of the coker riders were also getting off (and they didn’t have the option of switching to low gear to make it easy).

In terms of speed on rideable climbs, personally I find my schlumpf is great to keep spinning uphill, because it has such a light wheel - my rim + tyre + tube weighs significantly less than the coker tyre. My uni is probably about 2kg less total weight than your schlumpf though, if your one has a T7 and a 2.3" big apple? I found myself going up some of the hills faster than people who I know are way fitter than me and who were significantly ahead of me on the (pretty flat) time trial. Maybe that’s just because I only trained on hills though.

Having said all that, much as I love my geared 29er, i think it’d be very hard to design a course that Schlumpf 36ers wouldn’t win (assuming similar riding fitness) - looking at how people like Chuck ride, they seem to shift very quickly and easily, losing no time shifting (in the parade Chuck was shifting roughly every 2nd pedal stroke at 10-12mph), meaning that varying terrain is no problem, and the minor weight disadvantage going uphill is surely outweighed by the high gear on the flat/downhills. James was saying that when he rode it, the new 36er was way more smooth to shift than his 29er too, maybe due to the momentum of the big wheel or something?


I am still having nightmares from every time I would see a centurion waiting ahead outside the support vehicle with a geared 29…

I don’t know if anyone has said this yet, but I think having geared and non-geared unis on the course made everyone faster. There were stretches where I pulled a fixed geared rider downhill and on flats and then I was pulled up the hills with my geared 29. :sunglasses:

RTL Stage results and rankings for all FIVE DAYS OF EVENT.

Hello all.

Results from FIVE days of Ride the Lobster can be found here:

Then click on RESULTS.

Would have liked to upload the original EXCEL spreadsheets, but I am at a loss. I guess I can’t attach an .xls file?

Would rather have the results here than on the Wiki.

Anywhere, they are there.
Technical issues with our web master resulted in this unpardonable delay.

Wobble on,

I never wanted a GUni until this event. I first tried a geared 29er which was nice, but didn’t have the same feel as a coker. When I tried Beau’s geared coker, I was amazed. It felt like I was riding my single speed bike which has a very high gear, but I still got to sit 4 feet off the ground. Then it could drop into climbing mode as a normal 36 with 150s. If only:
a) I had the money
b) I could actually shift…

“Next time I think there should be different categories for the unis, or something like that to make it fair - seeing as the course is good for Gunis there’s no use people on other unis trying to compete.”

There’s no end to that line of reasoning. They need a category for overweight older newbies on 20" so I can compete.

It would have to depend on the size of the respective fields. I think it would have been nice to have male and female categories if the field got large enough. When was the last time you saw a woman compete in the mens Tour de France?

I say boo to long cranks.

I’m not really qualified to say that it’s possible to go as fast or faster with 127mm cranks vs. 152mm cranks on a Schlumpf 36er since I wasn’t one of the fastest riders, but that’s what I run. I don’t think I’m going to switch back.

That being said, I performed pretty well with my setup. I managed 16th out of 105 on the time trial which I’m happy with in terms of my athleticism. I was also able to power up hills in high-gear much better than I expected.

152mm cranks suck in 1:1 mode except for super-steep climbing or MUni. 127mm cranks are MUCH more useable and I don’t think they’ve limited the terrain I ride in high gear in any significant way. Shifting is also dramatically easier, and these two things combined significantly improve the functionality of my 36er Schlumpf.

I predict that more people will move to shorter cranks on their GUnis.

Does anyone know what the Germans were running for crank length?


I talked to them a while, they are all great guys and were more than willing to explain their set ups.

2 of the riders (Arne and Jan) were running 36" schlumpfs with 125mm cranks, and Johannes was riding 140s (since he is quite tall).

I believe that Arne did not use a brake on his geared 36er with 125s, which sounds crazy since some of those downhills went on forever! I wasn’t using a brake on my geared 29 with 125s, but a geared 36 with 125s is another story.

I tried out Chuck’s 36er in the 125mm slot and the 150mm slot. The 150mm slot felt so much nicer to me than the 125s, but I may just need practice with the 125s to fully benefit from them. Shifting was indeed quite easy still with the 150mm cranks, and I don’t think that shifting often would be a problem. The 125s would give you two fast usuable gears, but you would be shifting more often than the 150s where you would try to keep it in high gear more often.

Dan Hansen, Beau (on the last day), and Corbin were using geared 36ers with 150mm cranks, and they were all quite fast on their machines.

The 150s on Chucks uni did seem too long on the flats and downhills, so I would be curious to see how 140s would feel on it.