Crank length muni24--for beginner

I am 52 and live in Buckley, WA. I had a Schwinn Uni in 1975 that I rode around a little. I was never very good at it, but I rode it up and down the street as long as I wanted. I could never get started without a support like the regular riders.

I was thinking that it would be fun to ride a muni with my wife (mtb) on the easy trails around town. I bought a Nimbus 24 with 155mm cranks (you guys recommends for muni). This is a MUCH better bike than my old Schwinn.

KH told me to take off the knobby and put on a BIG Apple tire. I found a hookworm 24 at Universal Cycles and got that instead. They had no Apple 24". I also took out the allen screws in the pedals.

The problem: This bike seems much harder to ride than I remember the Schwinn. I can sometimes get 30’ runs, but I am very inconsistant. The lore is once you can go 30’, you can go forever. Today I worked at it for 30 minutes and my best run was 15’.

ARE THOSE CRANKS TOO LONG? I will get the 125mm cranks if that will make any difference. On my old Schwinn, I remember that you were pretty much good to go if you survived the first couple of turns.

I have been working at this a month with little progress.

Why did I think I could ride a muni when I am actually a rank beginner with a 33 year layoff? It is the power of positive thinking I guess.

Thanks for any advice.


Haha wow! You sound a lot like me and we are the same age! I had a similar layoff, but more like about 40 years lol! Anyway, I’ve been riding pretty extreme MUni for a couple years now, and recently switched from 165mm to 150’s, and I much prefer these. I’m wondering why Kris Holm would tell you to not use a knobby type tire for MUni, and use the big apple, which I don’t think is made for MUni.

CAn still climb sufficiently well with them but also can go considerably faster. I would say that 150’s are really the ideal overall good size for MUni, but then again it can depend on your style, height, leg length and so on. I would not suggest 125mm cranks for MUni, since they will give you limited leverage and are not ideal for hopping and technical riding.

I don’t think shorter crank would benifit you at all. Although you can sure try, to see which one you prefer.

I’m not completly sure on this, but I believe the Schwinns have something in the range of 150mm cranks aswell?

My dad re-learned to unicycle at about your age, after 30+ years without riding. It didn’t take very long for him to be able to ride up and down the street, and now he can do some basic off road riding (although he rarely rides/practices at all).
It does depend very much on the person though. Different people learn at different speeds and in different ways. Just keep practicing. :slight_smile:

For muni, a slick tire wouldn’t be that good. But for any riding on smooth surfaces, pavement, especially learning, the big apple or the hookworm are pretty ideal.

And I believe Joe is talking about initially learning to ride, not riding muni.


You guys are fast. Funny: I ran a search on crank length before the post and didn’t see anything particulary useful.

After the post, 5 similar posts were listed that had very useful information.

I am 6’ with 32" inseam. 190lb. In 1975, I was 160lb.

KH says the knobby is not needed unless the trail is very nasty or steep–not the usual terrain for a beginner.

I think I will lower the seat a bit and see if that makes a difference. I will keep after it.


The saddle should be high enough to allow optimum power strokes, but you don’t want your legs to lock at the downstroke. The higher saddle adjustment is ideal for climbing and distance riding, but for technical riding and hopping, etc, lower the saddle to allow for more knee bend, which is necessary for hopping and technical stuff, unless your riding sif mostly.

Hi Joe–

Welcome to the Unicyclist forums! I too was a big “gap” unicyclist, stopping from the time I was around 12 until I turned around 33; been riding regularly for the past 10 or so years.

I think the uni is probably fine as it is. Your seat height something to play with, but usually it’s set too low, not too high. A good way to ballpark the height is to put the pedals at 6 and 12, and put your heel on the lower pedal. If your leg is nearly fully extended, with your knee almost locked, then your seat is at about the right height. When you put your foot on the pedal to ride (with the pedal’s axle under the balls of your feet), your knee will have about the right amount of bend.

Good luck! Keep at it!

Yeah the saddle could be too high or too low. For learning and freestyle, you want it on the high side. Make sure you keep a slight bend in the knee and your hips aren’t rocking side to side as you pedal.

The hookworm is a good tire for the road and to learn on. When you switch to trails w/ your knoby you will need to pedal more smoothly and may take some getting used to (took me several rides), this is much more so w/ a road tire.

Do you mean 150 mm for your cranks? I’ve never seen cranks in that length.

For me I found longer cranks made it easier to learn on. More tourque on the wheel, I was a bit lower to the ground, and going a slower speed, making riding a bit easier and UPD’s less scarry.

My 170mm cranks are a bit too long for me to pedal smoothly, but they alow me to get over more challenging terrain (I have long legs, so no pain in my knees). I’ll prob put my 150’s back on when I get better.

I’m a big fan of the hookworm, but it needs to have a bit of pressure or else it feels a little squirrly. Make sure you’re running 45-60 psi (I think max is 65ish).

Your cranks are fine. 125’s would probably be harder at first. Also, if your seat is too low, it will be harder to ride (of course, so will too high, but it’s usually pretty obvious if your seat is too high).

Your problem may well be that you just need to practice a bit more. If you can ride 30 feet, you’re probably at the edge of a breakthrough.

My 24" unicycle has 152mm cranks and for me they are just fine. I have the saddle quite high, more like you would have it for freestyle, but I find it quite comfortable, even when going up a gradient of 12%.

Since my 24" is not a real Muni, I “upgraded” the 1.75" tyre to a 2.3" tyre and riding is now much more comfortable off road.

Back to the original question: On a 24" uni, I think that the cranks should not be shorter than 145 mm for a beginner. And I am definitely still a beginner (started from scratch in Dec 2007).