Commuting and hips

I’ve got a question for you all, especially the old timers
I’m moving to a new place which means my daily commute will increase from 2x 3,5km to 2x 12km (test ride 45mins each way)

My worry is because I had calves perthes hip disease as a kid and therefore already starting to have (minor)signs of wear.
Will need replacement hip at 50 says the doctor, and recommends bicycling in low gear.
Would my 36’er be good enough?
Love unicycling and it’d be a cool commute
commute, but don’t want to wear out my hip faster than necessary


I’m no doctor, but running large cranks (150mm) and riding the KH fusion zero saddle, which is thinner than other saddles available would be the best setup if you’re paranoid. Though with shorter cranks, there is less leg movement, you won’t be pushing as hard with the larger cranks. Larger cranks would add time though.

Riding feel less strenuous on me than walking and definitely less than running.

it depends on the hills in your area too. If you didn’t have hills and wouldn’t be pushing hard up them, I would think you could run 110-125mm cranks, which really speeds up the commute, but when it gets hilly they take a lot more effort to climb with.

Again, no doctor.

36er is good for that distance, that’s exactly the distance of my commute.

I can’t really say much about the hip issues, as never had any issues there (only lower back and knee)…

But as JA said above, the 36 is great for this distance (my commute was 2x16km last year and now 2x14.5km).

I think the amount of pressure on the hips would depend mostly on your hills and your skill level, plus crank length and Q factor:

  • more Q = more hip
  • shorter crank = more muscle force/pressure on the hip vs. longer crank = larger range of movement but less force

Or you can always do 1-2 days/week with the uni and the other days on the bike.

I mostly ride 127s with high Q but have been experimenting with 100mm cranks with low Q and will eventually probably go with something about 110/114 (today I rode with 100s and it was great but challenging and I really feel that you use different muscles. In particular, my hip flexors are worked).

I would suggest that you listen to your body. If it feels comfortable then do it. If it feels uncomfortable then don’t do it.

When i say ‘feels comfortable’ I’m including how you feel after the ride as well as how you feel during the ride.

I don’t believe in pain.

Doctor said no running, it’s bad for me.

I’ll try to Google Q factor.

Large cranks vs less movement is interesting.
There are some hills, but only the last one feels tough:)

Wasn’t really any effects after the test ride, only walked bandy legged for a bit cause of the saddle. Will have to see how 5 days a week feels though

36ers are still relatively low-geared compared to bicycles, look how fast you have to pedal to get to any good speed! :smiley:

Again, I’m not a doctor so don’t take my advice.

Q factor is just how far away from the hub the cranks put the pedal. A large Q factor will give you a wider stance (your feet will be farther apart)

KH Spirits are rather heavy on the Q factor, likely due to the fact that some spirit cranks accept a disc on the inside of the crank for an outside-frame-mounted brake. The large Q factor keeps your leg from hitting the disc.

KH Moments at least look like they have less Q factor, but they are thicker cranks, so they may be similar.

Venture/Venture2 cranks have no Q factor, and are relatively thin cranks, putting your feet close together, and thus lining up your knees/hips more, but if you have a standard saddle and a narrow hub, the saddle will push your hips apart, which is why I suggested a narrower saddle.

Qu-Ax also makes a zeroQ crank that is exactly what it sounds like.

@ JohnIb Using handlebars with the t-bar extended should help spread your weight over three points instead of having all your weight pressing down on your hips.

Have you tried using handle bars?

@ Unibokk yeah my nightrider pro came with a handle standard:) still getting used to it.
I’m thinking less Q factor would be best.
As it wears more I’m told there’ll be less mobility in the hips.

Well combined doctors opinion, your advice and listening to my bodys warning signs, should keep me safe:)

Note that a 36" unicycle, ungeared, is equivalent to a low gear on any bike. So it’s a lot of pedaling, which I guess equals more wear & tear on your joints. For a lot more money you can add a Schlumpf hub, which gets up up to a not-so-low gear by bicycle standards. But it’s harder to ride.

You wouldn’t push as hard, but it’s more range of motion. So I’m not sure which is worse for your joints. If the doctor recommended higher gears, I would recommend shorter cranks. Especially for the Denmark I know, which is pretty flat. Even 125s are probably too long for an efficient 36er commute. I used to use 114s, I think, for my ~12k (each way) commute, which I did not do every day.

I’m of course also not a doctor, and don’t know anything about Calves Perthes. Really, if you’re worried about premature wear on your joints, you should probably ride a bike in high gear, most of the time, and try to limit the commute unicycling. Then save your unicycling for the “fun stuff”. :slight_smile: