Did I just make a terrible mistake?

Hi there! Thanks for reading.

37 days from now, starting on May 1st, I plan to do a unicycle ride 400+ miles across Utah. I recently just purchased a used geared KH 36er for this purpose. As I write this the original owner is getting it ready for packing up.

This is where my concerns start. It only just occured to me I’ll have upwards of 30 lbs weighing this thing down.

I’m worried I may be in over my head riding a fully-loaded, geared 36er that distance. Despite my limited experience, I have no concerns about being physically capable of riding an unloaded 36er that far. Shifting gears just takes practice, for which I’m totally willing and able to put in the hours.

So what I’m really hoping to know is whether anyone here has any experience touring with a fully-loaded, geared 36" uni?

I see the vast majority of unipacking riders ride standard hubs, for obvious reasons, such as less technically challenging repairs in the middle of nowhere, etc.

Is it terribly difficult to shift gears while loaded down? Would I be better served by only keeping it in 1:1 gear ratio the entire time?

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If you find that you aren’t ready to do the ride in high gear, I’m thinking you would still have the option of completing the ride in “low” gear which (I believe) is the same 1:1 ratio as riding a fixed hub.

At that point, your largest obstacle may be learning to mount, and riding long distances, with 30 pounds on your back.


None of my gear, besides a Camelback, will be on my back. It will all be on panniers mounted to the frame by a rod support system, which is very common among unipack riders.

I’m also very confident free-mounting now. I used to have to start seatout hopping, then get the saddle under me before pedaling away.

But your point still stands I can just keep it in 1:1 if I find shifting gears too difficult while under load. I don’t know why this didn’t occur to me. In my anxiety over this finally becoming reality I totally forgot that was still an option :joy::sweat_smile:

Regardless, happy to hear other riders’ experiences touring with a geared 36er as opposed to a fixed 36er.

I imagine it wouldn’t be much harder to shift when loaded, but that’s just a semi-educated guess.

For me I don’t think gears are for touring. High gear = greater speed + (much) greater fatigue. Touring does not necessarily need speed, but hates fatigue.

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I totally disagree on this point. In my opinion, the perfect touring setup is a geared 29er. With this setup, you can have longer cranks without going too slowly.
If you do 40 km/day, ungeared is okay, but for longer, going 15 kph is mostly boring. On my first long rides, I used a 29er with short cranks (100 or 89 mm), but as soon as it gets hilly it gets really hard. Having a schlumpf allows you to go faster as long as the road allows it, and to get more strength on hilly sections.


As @Aurelien said, it is helpful to ride geared for longer distances… And when you ride with a two-wheeled friend.
Regarding the loaded vs unloaded shifting, it may be harder to shift when loaded. The hardest part of shifting is keeping balance. When loaded, the uni may lose front-back balance faster than when unloaded.

Last but not least, I may also agree with @Aurelien with the perfect touring set-up… If the road is hilly. Otherwise, for a flat unitouring, a G36er is really great. I did such a tour years ago, and it would have been slow riding a G29er. On the other hand, I did a hilly tour last year on my G29er and it would have been hard on a G36er.


Hey so I do some unipacking so a few tips that may be helpful.

  1. I love using a backpack, if you get a good backpacking bag it keeps the weight comfortable and close to your body, leaving the unicycle very agile. 30lbs of gear isn’t a whole lot and will be a lighter set up than bags + racks on a 36.

  2. If you have the fitness to do this ride, the biggest block will be mental stamina and eating enough food to fuel your body. Take breaks when you need to, stretch at the end of each day and when you stop for a rest etc.

The first few days will suck, the remainder will rock.

I have to say that it may be a mistake for some people. Depending on your saddle, a heavy backpack may increase saddle soreness and make your rides unpleasant. I have experienced such an issue last year, so I will try for my next unipacking trips to have a light backpack. Please remember that the easiest way to relieve your bottom is to stand up on your pedals. The heavier your backpack, the harder it is to stand up.

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Your point stands very well, if you adjust your set up to have more weight on your back you need to compensate for where that weight is going.

I’m using air saddle / bike shorts and only have about a 20lbs (4.5 kg) bag for 2-4 day trips of 80-100km daily. I’ve done it before with a 30lbs (13.5 kg) pack and the bike shorts were essential.

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This is entirely unrelated to the original point of my post. But I just wanted to say thank you to the unicycling community as a whole for being so darn supportive and friendly.

I won’t share the context behind that thought at the moment but thanks to those who have welcomed me back into the community since I returned to unicycling a few months ago after a 12 year hiatus. It means a lot to me. :pray:t3:


You’ve probably seen Becky’s touring setup she used for doing the European Divide – I think it is the only setup video I’ve seen for touring with a Schlumpf, albeit a 29" rather than a 36". It is a very good video, so if you haven’t seen it:

She is on this forum – search for Becky98 if you haven’t come across her. If you look at some of Becky’s other videos she previously favoured the unpacking approach with a rucksack – this time round she went with the luggage on the uni. As far as I remember there is also discussion of this in Edd’s #unicyclelife podcast – Series 2 Episode 1, and also another podcast about her European Divide tour – search on here for that if you are interested. It might be worth reaching out to her to ask how she found changing gear on her 29" loaded setup.

Also, Ed Pratt is currently posting his Latvian muni tour on YouTube and has a setup video available as part of that. That is for a single-speed 27.5" muni, however it met up with Sylvain Oulala along the way who was doing a tour from France to Estonia on a 36’er – Ed has a Patreon exclusive video of his setup – fair enough, you have to pay to get access to that video on Ed’s Patreon. That is a KH36, again non-Schlumpf, and the setup is pretty similar to Ed’s round the world setup – notably Sylvain has two parallel bars instead of a single bar for hanging his bags from though.

Sylvain’s Instagram page:

I"ve never ridden a 36" – my 32" seems big enough for me given I’m a bit short (!) – the prospect of a coming off a loaded 36" in high gear scares me to say the least, so I can see why you might be apprehensive. As you say, you can always keep it in low gear if you need to, but nothing ventured, nothing gained :smiley: I hope it all goes well for you and you have a great trip.


Thank you! I’m already aware of these details but I really appreciate the thought you put into your comment. Ed, Becky and Sylvian’s setups have served as massive inspiration for my own setup. I’ll share some pics when it’s all put together.

And thank you for the well wishes! :pray:t3:


I can only speak for me, but you are very welcome! One thing I’ve noticed is that the members of this forum are very welcoming and supportive.

With regard to your 400 mile Utah ride, do you plan to capture video throughout the trip? I imagine (hope) we might be entertained with a recap at the end of the ride, but do you plan on tracking the ride or posting updates throughout the ride?

Recently, it has been very enjoyable to read the Ride The Lobster posts by @onetiredluver and @tholub , as well as the updates by @Unicyc throughout his completion of the Olympus Mons Challenge.


I got my geared 36" in 2010, and it has a lot of miles on it, but none of loaded touring. Have you made a mistake? Not yet. You still have the option of riding in low gear, and practicing high gear along the way. I freemount in high gear all the time, but the uni is not loaded.

Have you ever ridden a 36" unicycle in high gear? It’s a big learning curve. Definitely practice as much as you can without a lot of weight on the uni. You’ll be able to decide high vs. low gear. The Schlumpf hub has a tiny bit of play in it, which can be disconcerting if you’re not used to it. That’s easy to get used to. Work on your spin, and you can mostly ride without it clicking all the time.

I imagine a 36" loaded with 30 lbs of gear in front and back of the wheel will be challenging, even with no crosswind. But you’ll have the option of low gear. I recommend 150mm cranks regardless; shorter ones are only good for really strong riders. I assume your route is not flat! :slight_smile:

The sooner the uni arrives, the more time you’ll have to practice on it, first unloaded, then with “test” weight to get the hang of it. Have you ridden a loaded 36" before? If not, it’s only 400 miles; a walk in the park for Ed Pratt. :open_mouth:


I would think a geared 36" would be terrible for touring especially if you’re inexperienced riding geared unicycles. Switching gears on a unicycle is not a trivial matter and takes months to learn to shift easily. Even still after years of riding a guni36 I still on rare occasions fail to shift correctly causing a UPD.

Riding geared unicycles your chances of having a UPD compared to ungeared is significantly higher. I know some touring setups can be robust but could yours constantly handle being dropped numerous times fully loaded with weight?

There is also another factor that I remember when Ed Pratt was asked why he didn’t use a schlumpf and it was because of maintenance. If you’re buying your hub second hand it’s possible you may have problems with it at some point. This isn’t much of an issue around town but miles away from anything and it will be impossible to fix.


@Uni2ONE2, Yes, I will indeed be documenting my entire ride on video. In fact, that’s the thing I’m looking forward to most! I’m a filmmaker by vocation and an avid storyteller.

I aim to create 11+ episodes highlighting each day of the journey, which will batch launch on my Patreon (still setting up) and weekly on my YouTube channel, Unique Unicycle.

Currently I’m going through all the gear I’ll need – or more accurately WON’T need. On paper it’s so tempting to bring a mobile video production studio. But size and weight are a MAJOR factor.

Long story short, I may end up bringing my Z Cam E2-F6 Pro cinema camera with a lightweight vintage* zoom lens (*read: cheap!). By no means is it the heaviest cinema around but it’s not winning any weight weenie contests. Frankly, it’s the only camera I own and I’m not willing to buy or rent a lighter one.

I aim to keep my setup at 80 lbs or less (unicycle included). 50 lbs ideally.

(That said…I’m sooooo tempted to buy an Insta360, GoPro and small drone :man_facepalming:t3::sweat_smile: We’ll see…)

There’s also a possibility a family member will join by car for part of the journey, which may alleviate my weight concerns for some of the ride.

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@Unigan All very true and valid points.

Given I’ve already invested in the new-to-me guni, I’m considering I may just ride in 1:1 the entire time and just hope and pray the used Schlumpf hub doesn’t break. If it does…welp. Looks like I’m taking the Greyhound home.

Either way, we’ll find out tomorrow when it arrives and within the next few days of practice rides. Maybe, just maybe I’ll be a natural at shifting gears while under load. A guy can dream, right?

But if my practice sesh on a friend’s G36er was any indication, I won’t be. Then again, those weren’t ideal conditions. It was night-time, I didn’t have any protective gear on and out of respect for his property I was really trying not to scuff it up.


I’ve done two road tours, both on 29" geared. (And one offroad tour on a muni). Since the tours were supported, I had no luggage on the uni, and only a small backpack of about 3 - 4 kg. There was no difference in shifting because of the backpack, I’ve never even thought about that. What I like about having a geared setup is the versatility re terrain (one of the tours was in the Himalayas which are kind of hilly). Since I had to travel by air to get there, the 29 was preferred over 36.

To your original issue I’d say, if you are comfortable with gear shifting and geared riding per se, then the fact that the unicycle is loaded should hardly matter.


@Klaas_Bil Good to hear your perspective, as my route will inevitably take me through some hilly terrain. It is Utah, after all, which is known for its dramatic mountain landscape.

I should mention, however, that there are, in fact, expansive flat, rural portions of Utah. It’s not all skiing like you see in movies.

Ideally, I’d stick to those flat portions, but my planned route includes hilly areas for two main reasons: 1) Safe, legal camping spots and 2) Key stops along the way which will add variety to the ride and to my vlog series.

Now, tackling hilly terrain on a geared 29" uni is quite a different experience from a geared 36" uni. I’ll see how I fare.

There’s a very real chance I may sell of the G-KH36* and switch to an ungeared 36" to avoid potential mishaps, even if it means delaying my trip until autumn. The last thing I want is a busted Schlumpf hub in the middle of the desert.

(*That said, to any interested buyers: feel free to line up now. I aim to sell quick once I’ve come to a decision. This is the same uni Claude Magnuson was selling on the Geared Unicycle Chat through Facebook.)

Following up on my comment about support during the tour, I’m fortunate to have some family assistance lined up. My dad, who amazingly has accrued 21 days of PTO, has graciously offered to support me for several challenging days along the route.

And at the end of the ride, my brother and sister-in-law plan to vacation in Southern Utah, offering to drive me home. Or they’ll drive my gear back while I return by plane, flying from Saint George to Salt Lakes City. I’m tempted by the latter option, as it would be an amazing finale to see an aerial view of the route I completed.

Anyway…lots to plan, especially now others have offered to rope themselves into my crazy scheme…:man_facepalming:t3: I keep telling them I’d like to be as self-sufficient as possible but they won’t listen!

Okay, okay…I’ll quit oversharing now. :grimacing:

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@Unigan has a really good point, there. During my last uni-packing trip, my Schlumpf hub started to randomly freewheel in low gear. It was unfixable on the trip, so I had a few UPD due to that issue. That’s quite frustrating and it can be dangerous if you’re not used to jump from your uni and get back on your feet.

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