Crank arm length

Magdalena Olimpia Teter <> wrote:
>I’m interested in any ideas regarding the optimal crank lenth for a 24"
wheel unicycle. I know that too >long a crank will risk hitting the ground on a
sharp angled turn, but are there other considerations? >What is too short? What
is too long?
>Questions, questions…
>Shawn Hill NYC

Jack Halpern replied:
>There was a long discussion concerning this problem, and I have it all in a
file. Do you want me to send >it to you.

>I, and many top unicyclists. agree that 5" is ideal for a 24" wheel. For top
speed raciong (if >there are no >rule restrictons), use 4.5" or even 4". 5.5"
might be good for certain skills in artistic riding, but is >uncomfortable for
general riding.

I don’t fully agree with Jack. Mostly, the question is too general. The best
crank length depends a lot on the type of riding you do (and your personal
preference and physical size). On a 24" wheel, before the crank is so long that
it hits the ground on turns, it’s really annoying for riding straight. My first
Miyata Deluxe (1980) came with 6" cranks, which I found uncomfortable and slow.
When the cranks are too short, you will find yourself sluggish on the basketball
court (hockey field) and otherwise falling off more because you won’t have as
much leverage to make sudden changes as you would with longer cranks.

I think either 5" or 5 1/2" are good for all around riding, depending on the
type of all around you do. If you are riding a lot of distance (a mile or more),
definitely 5" or shorter. If you ride on lots of bumps, like UMX or Muni stuff,
you might want even longer than 5 1/2". George Peck (who rides over boulders and
grizzly bears in Alaska) would say that even 6" might be too short. I’ve had
good success with 5 1/2" in UMX races over the years, and also use that size for
the official Obstacle Course. I don’t feel comfortable with 5" cranks playing
basketball or hockey, but a rider with more powerful legs might feel otherwise.

Short crank arms definitely make learning some skills more difficult, but may
make others easier. Anything involving spinning, or any type of graceful and
flowing riding will benefit from shorter cranks. I saw this on a 1993 video of
the Japan Indoor Championships. It looked like some of the smoother riders were
using short crank arms, and they were smooooooth and graceful!

Are you fully confused yet? I actually lug two different 24" unicycles to the
conventions. One is lightweight, with a skinny tire and 5" cranks. It’s designed
for the track and not meant for pounding. The other one has a regular tire and 5
1/2" cranks, and is used for Obstacle Course, UMX, Wheel Walk, and any kind of
general purpose riding, such as scenic tours. I also bring a 20" freestyle
unicycle (5" cranks), which makes for nasty heavy luggage!

John Foss, the Uni-Cyclone