experienced cyclist, what size Unicycle to get?

hey guys, I’m brand new to the forum, and my son is beginning to unicycle, I’d like to join him.

I’m 6’3", and race bikes (road, TT, mtb, and cyclocross).

My inseam is 35", and my question is - what size unicycle should I get?

26 or 29 is what I am thinking.

thx, Nathan

New post…
So your son can have it when you outgrow it, then you can get your 29".

A beginner who is 6’3" might be a tiny bit more comfortable on a larger wheel than a beginner who is short, but in any case, having a long enough seatpost is far more important than wheel diameter. Most people recommend a 20" wheel for learning to ride, regardless of your height, but starting on a 26 or 29 is certainly feasible. Search this forum and you will find more than you ever wanted to know about the pros and cons of different wheel sizes.

Most people learn on a 20" but that does not mean that it is the only way to learn. People have learned on 36 inch unis.

As you are taller than average, a 24 or possibly a 26 would be a good learning option. The difference between those two sizes is small enough to be one of emphasis rather than fundamental. In terms of speed, torque, input required (etc.) it’s less than 10% which equates to less than one tooth difference on the rear cog of a derailleur on a bike. As seat height is related to the radius of the wheel rather than the diameter, the 26 will be only about an inch higher than the 24. It looks more intimidating but the real difference is negligible.

A 29 is a good all round choice for mixed riding. Generally speaking, smaller wheels are more nimble if you want to do stuff like idling, going backwards, and “tricks” (skills) and larger wheels are better if you want to cover distance quickly and comfortably and roll easily over uneven surfaces.

I have owned all of the common sizes. I find that I almost never use my 20 because I am not interested in doing clever stuff in a small area. I do most of my riding on 29 or 36.

In your position, being an experienced bicyclist, tall and wanting to start out unicycling, I’d go for something around 26 inch. It would take me a little bit longer to learn than it would on a 20, but then I’d have more fun once I’d learned. If you really take to it, your fleet will inevitably expand and diversify.

Welcome to the forum, by the way: possibly the friendliest place on the internet.

I’d perhaps recommend trying to learn on the one your son has if possible - get a larger seatpost if/as required.

Otherwise, 29" is probably a little large for learning (although definitely not impossible). A 24, 26 or 27.5 might be a better bet.

Get the 27.5

I learned on a 20" then got a 27.5 3 months later and love the thing. The 20 is no more fun. Never even tried to learn free mount on 20. Large wheel gives you more time to correct. I taught a friend to ride in 1 hour with the 27.5. I’m 5-9 so maybe the 29 is for you but for sure not the 26. Cheers

learn on a 20"

Hard question. The short answer is: learn to ride on a 20" or 24" and then if you want to go fast, get a 36" for the road or a 29" for off-road (or 36"!).

I’m 6’1" and was also an experienced cyclist and freeride mountain biker when I learned to unicycle and I learned quickly on a 24". In retrospect I probably would have learned even faster on a 20". Being tall, the added height of the unicycle is less of a problem, but it is nevertheless easier to learn with less distance to fall, which you will do a lot for a while (learning is like 90% psychological if you are fit and have got basic balance).

I would borrow/buy a basic 20" (way less than a $100, the old $15 unicycle in someone’s garage will work for learning too) and learn and then think about what to get. If you’re aiming fo road then maybe start with a 29", off-road maybe 27.5" (but that’s ambitious for learning – i learned on a 24", went to 26", then 36" and 29")

Hi Everyone, Hope that no one minds me piggy backing off this thread. I’m a newbie myself. Can someone please give a recommendation at what height the saddle should be set. Any rule of thumb? Waist high? Crotch high? High enough that that your leg is straight at the bottom of the pedal rotation? Thanks in advance for any guidance.


I would avoid going too high at the beginning, as it could result in your feet slipping off the pedals while your butt is still on the seat, causing an ugly fall. As a beginner, it’s more important, safety wise, to learn to keep your feet on the pedals, even if that means you’re too heavy on the pedals and not putting enough weight in the seat.

Another reason for having the seat a little bit lower is so you can perform a free mount starting with one foot closer to the 6:00 position.

At some point, you will feel more comfortable keeping your feet on the pedals throughout the pedal stroke and you will learn to bail out in a not-so-catastrophic fashion. Then you’ll be ready to raise your seat up by tiny increments. When you improve mounting, you’ll move from the 6:00 position toward the 9:00 position, putting you in a higher starting position, making it easier to clear a higher seat while mounting.

Just because experienced riders use a high seat, that doesn’t make it wise for a beginner, IMO.

I’m a believer in the high seatpost for learning.
Head up, straight back, extended seat. Like you said, a slight bend at full extension. (maybe minus an inch so-depending on saddle)

Once you learn to ride then start squatting or hunching over if you want.

I try and ride as tall as possible.
The only time I’m hunched over is if I’m riding defensively on a very steep or technical grade.

Put your heel on the pedal, leg should be extended. That’s a good starting point.

I Agree… A high seatpost helps to keep your weight off the pedals and on the saddle. It helped me a lot in the beginning.

That may be but once the seat starts feeling uncomfortable, it is harder to stand up to let the blood flow again while keeping riding. I also notice I sometimes hang too much bent forward and sitting up straight adds control again. When having a TBar though, it doesn;t do to sit up straight.

It’s like walking: you don’t want to be on tiptoes and you don’t want to be waddling with your knees bent.

I use the bicycle rule: sit on the saddle with the pedal at the lowest point of travel. Put your heel on the pedal. Your leg should be straight but not locked or stretching. That gives you the most ergonomic saddle height.

Then, as unicycle cranks are a different length from bike cranks, it is sometimes necessary to drop the saddle a tiny amount: maybe 5–10 mm or 1/4 to 1/2 inch.

For specialist disciplines such as trials or hard muni, you may then need to lower the saddle further.

If you have the saddle low, you may feel safer because there is less distance to fall, but you will be more likely to fall. Changes to balance happen more slowly and predictably when the centre of mass is as far away as possible from the fulcrum.

Imagine balancing a pencil vertically on your finger, then doing the same with a yard broom (with the head at the top!). Sit high and straight rather than stooped or hunched; keep your backside pulled in. Look at the ground several yards/metres ahead of you, be confident.

First advice, learn on a trails uni. The fat tyre and long cranks make them far easier control than the average learner’s uni with a skinny tyre and 114 mm cranks (effectively a freestyle uni).

Note that nearly everything about an experienced rider’s technique does not apply to a beginner. Many experienced riders offer inappropriate advice because they tell you what they do now. If they can still remember how they started out they offer what they think helped them to learn, not realising that there were better ways.

Learners should have the saddle lower than an experienced rider so that they can just touch the ground. This helps avoid the precarious feeling and building up momentum as you fall to the side and avoids putting too much the weight on the saddle.

Putting weight onto the saddle is something to work towards as soon as you can but not right at the start. Until you get basic control of the unicycle, putting weight on the saddle tends to make it unstable.

Keep your weight on the pedals and grip the front half of the saddle between the thighs. This puts the weight down lower and is much more stable. If the saddle is too low the thighs can’t grip properly because they move too much. Use this as your minimum height guide.

Spend only enough time holding onto a fence to get a feel and learn how to point the wheel where you want to go by twisting. This should only require a few minutes. Then get away from the fence because fences inhibit the fundamental action that maintains an upright position, steering the uni in the direction of your fall.

Use this mantra. “Put the wheel where you would put your foot if you were walking.” Walking is a continuously saved fall. So is unicycling. Your brain knows how to walk and can employ the same neural pathways to ride.

Forwards/backwards balance is often described as continually adjusting forwards and backwards pedal pressure. It should not be thought about in this way but as pedalling forwards enough to keep up with the fall. It is less about F/B balance than the avoidance of actions and geometry that cause oscillation between forward and backwards leans.

The most prevalent and unhelpful unicycling myth suggests the unicycle needs to be treated as an extension of the rider’s spine and kept upright. It fact an upright unicycle is extremely unstable and prone to oscillation. The unicycle should slope backwards while the rider leans slightly forward to keep their centre of mass above the wheel’s contact point with the ground. This geometry suppresses oscillation and stabilises steering by inducing “trail”.

I encourage the use of a backstop start. Put one foot on the back pedal to push the wheel back against the stop, then step up to the other pedal. Experiment with back pedal between 4 to 5 o’clock for a left foot start (or 7 to 8 for the right foot). Alternatively, use a support to get into position. However the backstop start is a step towards achieving a static free mount.

As you take off, lean both you and your uni much further than you are likely to expect so you will get momentum into your body. (At this point only does the uni actually lean forward.) Start pedalling quickly to bring the wheel up to speed and into the normal riding position with the uni leaning slightly back.

This take off technique avoids the problem of riding slowly, which is not a beginner’s skill. It also reduces the likelihood of falling backwards which is about the worst thing that can happen.

On each attempt, focus on nailing one aspect. Forwards, sideways, getting over the dead zone when the cranks are vertical etc. Ultimately all the skills will come together and you will be able to ride.

Begin your learning on a slightly downhill soft grassed area that is as smooth as you can find. Holes and lumps are hard to deal with. The down hill slope helps overcome the resistance of the grass. Grass is better to fall on while you learn to run out of an aborted attempt. It also slows everything down and dampens overcompensation.

As soon as you can ride a few wobbly turns and are comfortable with emergency dismounts, move onto a flat hard surface. Put some protective gear on, especially wrist guards.

My learners have averaged about an hour to reach a point where they can ride ten metres on a trials uni using these techniques. Of course I was there to give constant advice on refinements. Your experience may vary, especially if you are on a freestyle uni.

Hello All, Thanks for all the tips on setting saddle height for beginners. Very much appreciated!

I just want to add that I’m 6’3" ( like the gentleman who started the thread asking for wheel size recommendations) and have a 24" wheel to start learning on and personally find it a bit intimidating and feel pretty high off the ground.

Hi everyone! My first day registered here.

I just ordered an Oracle 24 and in my 50’s have probably shrunk a bit from where I used to be, almost 6’2". I didn’t want to go as small as a 20 to learn on because I didn’t see myself using it after learning, so I accepted the challenge of learning on a bigger one right away.

I’m crossing my fingers it can all be learned with simple perseverance, as I’ve read before. I can already picture owning different wheels for different uses … but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here!


Yes, exactly!

In general, as stated at least twice above, the seat height should be like that of proper bicycle fit (when sitting straight in the saddle without tilting put one heel on the pedal, and the knee should be just barely bent without the ankle stretching at all).

Maybe at first when you’re getting used to feel and holding on a wall, pole or hand, a lower seat might have some advantages. But as soon as you start taking the plunge and riding away from the wall without support (as you should!), having a high seat makes it much easier (a low seat requires you to support all your weight with you legs which tires your muscles quickly and induces lots of side-to-side motion).

If you’re worried about falling a long distance to the ground, then make sure you have a small unicycle (a 20" with a long seatpost is good even for very tall 6’5" riders).

As from my own learning experience, being over 6" it’s totally doable to learn on a 24" and probably comparable to how a much shorter person feels on a 20" (although bigger people still fall further and harder on their butts).

From my pervious post:

Yes, being taller you can definitely learn on a 24" but a 20" will reduce the fear and pain, so it’s just a question of how much that’s worth to you (a tall person with perseverance, determination a not so much fear can learn well and quickly on a 24").

I’m only 5’5" and it took me a few weeks to learn to ride with a Club 24" unicycle(almost 3 years ago). I’ve considered getting a 20" many times because I’m a small guy, maybe it would be better for the various tricks I do. But based on advice from many experienced riders on this forum, there really isn’t that big of a difference between a 24" and 20" when it comes to most freestyle tricks, unless you’re a professional and you do a lot of indoor unicycling.

It does appear that probably 95% of professional unicyclists in circuses or performers use 20"s for freestyle tricks(of course a lot of them are using giraffes), and there’s gotta be a reason for that. I remember John Foss saying that over 30 years ago American performers often preferred the 24" for freestyle, while most of the rest of the world preferred the 20". Eventually, over the years American unicyclists converted to the 20(please correct me if I’m wrong, can’t remember exactly which thread this was in).

A 24" seems the most intermediary of all unicycle sizes — not ideal but good enough for freestyle, and on the very slow end when it comes to distance riding. Of course there are some municyclists who prefer the 24".