Cruise or Bruise?

Hey everyone. I’ve been unicycling for nearly 4 years now when my parents bought me a 20" for my birthday. I taught myself how to ride (took nearly a month to get it down!) and since then I’ve enjoyed pedaling around.

I now have a 24" Avenir unicycle with a narrow tire, which I’ve been riding around Chicago lately for exercise and enjoyment. Only now have I taught myself to go beyond bunny hops (pedaling backwards, idling, one-footed pedaling), and now I’d like to learn a few more tricks like wheel-walking, hopping up onto objects, and different mounts… yes, believe it or not, I still mount the cycle like a small horse.

I’ve read on some places that anything larger than a 20" wheel makes it very difficult to do tricks. Will someone please elaborate?!

My fork in the road is this: I want to learn tricks, but I also very much enjoy cruising down the streets of Chi-town pedaling to my iPod tunes. What are the pros/cons of a 20" (or smaller) freestyle and a 36" commuter? I was thinking: big city = big wheel.

Thanks for all who took time to read this!

For all but the most skilled riders, riding on crowded streets in the city can be frightening with a 36" as you have significantly less control. However that is not to say its impossible. If you will mostly be riding in the city a 29" may be a better idea for you. It’s still pretty fast yet a bit more easy to control for some people.

As far as for doing tricks you could do most of them on a 24" inch wheel, it will just be a little bit more difficult. This is one downfall of unicycling, the equipment is very specific to which type of riding it will perform well in. It’s really best to get a unicycle for each discipline - freestyle/street and distance/commuting.

I haven’t learned to idle or free mount my 36

So that really means I can’t ride it in a place where I have to stop every block. Fortunately, there are lot’s of places here where I can just ride. You really can’t beat a 36 for distance street riding. If you have places to go where you can just ride none stop, parks etc. , I’m sure you will love a 36. It is tricker to idle and mount, but no harder to ride then a 24.

As an example, for me, wheel-walking seemed much easier to learn on a 20" because there’s more space to maneuver my feet between the seat and the top of the wheel. Smaller wheels are generally easier to control than larger wheels, so smaller is generally better for learning tricks. As long as you’re comfortable on your 24" it’s fine for learning a lot of freestyle tricks. In fact, I think some tricks (like seat drag) are easier on a 24" wheel.

The obvious solution is to get both, if you can! :slight_smile: Otherwise, your 24" will do for tricks as long as you don’t break it by jumping too much. If I were you, I wouldn’t hesitate to go straight for a 36" wheel for distance. Even though a 29" is a bit easier to control, I think you’d tire of a 29" quickly because Chicago is so flat.

Is there a way to tell when your uni is going to give way? My 20 inch’s pedal basically stripped out of the crank before without warning.

I would just say that if anything is loose, stop straight away amd put it right. Riding with loose parts only causes damage and can sometimes be very quick to make the unicycle unridable. Check things like the left pedal is in the left crank, and that both of these are on the left of the seat. This is one of the main things people get wrong, and is worth checking if you are unsure.


I have a 20" and ive been riding for just over 2 months now and hopping up stuff is down packed.

So i’m saying hopping is really easy on a 20" and so are doing tricks however you have to be a fast rider to ride at even a jogging pace.