Eek! 20"

After several years of riding mainly roads and cross country on 24, 29 and 36, with occasional forays on a 26 or 28, I had a quick go on my 20 today. Twitchy isn’t the word! And to think I learned on this size! Feeling old.

I did the same, though I have a trials and freestyle one. The freestyle trips over every little bump letting me do a face plant a few months ago. Yesterday I rode the trials one which has a fatter tire and eats bumps much easier. Such a small wheel takes a lot of energy, but I do think it helps riding the bigger sizes again. I have 8 uni’s all of which I ride regularly, so I don’t get stuck on one size, though the 36er I use the least, coz I forgot how to mount it. It is too high. :slight_smile:

Im terrible with the 20", and not liking it the last time I was on it
With that being said, Im working myself backwards from a virtual 54"(g36/110) to a 26" then to a 24" and back to a trials 20":smiley:

Fat tire 20

I try to take a uni to work with me. Spin around on it a few minutes when its not busy. Today I have my fat tire KH20. I really like jumping and bouncing on this one. (small jumps) jeff c

And to think many of the British Muni pioneers were riding around the trails on 20" wheels! I tried that a few times but always thought it was awful. Better with a Trials tire, but those came along years later… :slight_smile:

Try going back and forth between a 20" Freestyle and a 45" hard-tire big wheel. Going from big to small is the hard transition, where you twitch all over the place. But if you switch them around more, your body learns to handle the transition much faster.

30 years ago, I learned on a Pashley 20" UMX (Unicycle Moto-Cross) with lollipop bearings held in by 4 self-taping screws, one of which sheared off in the first week or so. The seat was covered in flimsy fabric and had no handle. It had steel cottered cranks. By today’s standards, it was horrible. However, the advertisement referred to “unicycle yomping” - yomping being a military term for marching cross country. During my time with that uni, I never got my freemount better than about 1/3 and all I could do was ride forwards and steer, but I rode it on the muddy paths around the local nature reserve and thought I was hardcore.

My next 20 was the one I have now: a Nimbus with the H fork crown, a red anodised wheel and square tapered cranks and a Viscount seat which weighs more than the rest of the uni put together. It was so cool when I got it - in a different league from the Pashley. I spoiled it by putting a Hookworm tyre on it which rides like a block of wood. However, I learned some basic “skills” including idling, one foot idling, reversing, and even some one foot riding. I never got good at that stuff because I always saw a unicycle as a vehicle of exploration rather than as a technical challenge in its own right.

Today, I found I could only reliably freemount left foot down, I could only single foot idle left foot down, I could ride backwards with very sketchy steering, and I couldn’t ride forward single footed. (I managed a couple of times when I did a single full revolution.)

So much stuff I’ve lost because I’ve been doing other things.

I agree with John Foss. Without a doubt, riding different wheel sizes - and crank lengths - improves your overall stability. I have found that helpful with my pursuit of taller giraffe’s. Since fear becomes a factor, overall adaptability helps a lot.

you talk about fear and the giraffe, the 36" already scares me - soo high :slight_smile:

But once you’re up there, the 36 is far and away the easiest unicycle to ride, at least at a steady speed on the flat.

Shhhh… You know that and I know that but those who haven’t ridden the 36 need to believe it takes super human unicycle skills to power, control and stay on top of the big wheel!


My road 20 has 100 mm cranks and I quite enjoy occasionally zipping around the neighbourhood on it. There are some downhill runs that are great for developing cadence. I can definitely hit significantly higher speeds on the big wheel after those sessions.

I also like the reliable effortless free mounting. Pop it under and ride away.

20 with 114mm cranks

OK I’m new to the sport ( riding one month so far). As I ride my Club 20 with 114mm cranks my legs spinning to the point of burning. I also often have wheel darting left to right to left etc for much of the ride. All that plus trying my hand at a bit of uphill is making wonder if I could use longer cranks 127mm?

Any advice???

A wobbling wheel is mostly an issue of technique, you likely have too much weight on your pedals, and not enough on the saddle (common problem for beginners). Usually going to SHORTER cranks fixes some of the wobble. If you don’t want to do trials, street or flat, there is no reason to go longer than 114mm cranks on a 20".

20" unis are great for tricks and trials (I personally almost exclusively use a 20", because I mostly care about learning new things, not riding any distances), and terrible for anything else.

It used to be that 20 inch unis came with 5 inch cranks and 24 inch unis came with 6 inch cranks - that 125 (127) and 150 respectively. That was before so many options were available.

Shirt cranks allow a slightly higher top speed and a higher cruising speed, but at the cost of reduced fine control especially on hills or when you need to change speed suddenly.

I have 125s on my 20 at the moment. Then again, I have 11s on my 28!

Yeah that certainly is true about the 19/20 inch the effortlessly freemounting. Mostly when changing wheel sizes, the first time always fails, just feeling where the middle is and as happened today with the 32" I reckoned even though with wobbly take off, there is no need to step off and try again. It is easy enough to catch yourself and continue on.

I disagree. 20" is the size to use for hockey. Which is, of course, the main reason for riding a unicycle. :stuck_out_tongue:

You are correct, forgot about that :stuck_out_tongue: I’m pretty sure it’s the best for slackline or tightrope riding, and probably track coasting, too.

If I may, 20" is terrible for going any long distance, or at high speeds (at least outside of the hockey rink).

I don’t know how much of an influence this has been on the large manufacturers, but also we now use 125mm as the crank length for Track racing. This is something only a tiny fraction of the world’s unicyclists will ever do or care about, but I seem to see more of that size cranks on 24" conventional unicycles these days. It’s a good all-around size for riding, except for on rough terrain, where you’ll want to go longer.

I’d like to see those 11s. How do they have room for two holes? :stuck_out_tongue:

I also used to use 125s on my 20". Back in the day, that’s what came on the Miyatas and, once I made the switch to 20" (from 24") in the early 80s, all of my Freestyle and most of my performing were done on a 20" with 125s. Those seem incredibly long by today’s Freestyle standards, with the pedals hitting the floor all the time. On my “new” Freestyle uni (circa 1995), I started with 110, couldn’t cope, and switched to 114s. Then I started riding more Muni and less Freestyle, so that’s still the setup. If I ever go back to riding in gyms, I will definitely play with much shorter cranks and see what I can learn to do with them. I’ll probably start with 102s… :slight_smile:

Ah, yes.

Short cranks, not shirt cranks, and 114s on my 28, not 11s.

You thought Fat Fingers was an overweight pickpocket until you saw my typing.