First Muni

I’m 5’11" 223 pounds and can currently ride my trainer 20" uni around 150 feet. I’m looking to get my first Muni and am not sure what to get.
I’ll probably be doing a lot of greenways with the family and their bicycles. I want the option to do fireroads, and real mountain biking trails.

Looking at a 24 or 26 inch and also not sure about crank size or if I need a brake. I’ve read the 24 vs 26 debates but I’m wondering which would work best in my case (a beginner). Is the 26 inch Oracle too big of a jump up for me? Also is a brake needed for whatever I get?

No, a 26" isn’t that big of a jump.

A brake is never needed on a unicycle.

To ride with bikes, I recommend a 29". Sounds like the trails you are aiming at are not very technical, so it should be the best choice for covering ground. Yes you can ride it. It may seem crazy-big at first, but you will be cruising miles on it in no time.

Crank size? As a beginner, maybe start with 150mm. If your 29" will fit Kris Holm cranks, you could get the 125/150 dual-holes. That would give you a great mix for easy/hard trails. 125 will probably be fine most of the time, once you get used to the wheel and riding off pavement.

I was in the same boat as you about a month ago, and i ended up going with a 26", and I’m glad i did! You can get some pretty nice speed going on a 26" but at the same time it doesn’t feel too huge and unwieldy. Then again, i am 6’4" so that might make a difference. I had no trouble at all transition from my 20 to the 26, mounted first time and was away.

In terms of cranks, i found the stock 165 cranks to feel really long, so i swapped them out for the 138s from my 20" uni. My main interest was speed, so these work great, I’ve since installed a brake though because i found it to be uncontrollable going down steep hills. I think most people seem to use 150 cranks.

Ah, now being a beginner is something I’m an expert at! So I learned on a 29 and it was great for flats (even as a 1st unicycle). Later on I got a 24 and that’s been MUCH better for learning to ride the tight, bumpy and rooty trails near me. I’ve tried a 26 on those same trails and I prefer the 24 for the control and smooth ride (lower tire pressure on the bigger 3" tire). The 26 is a bit faster and thus more fun, but I end up on the ground way more often (though to be fair, I’m used to the 24 so that’s a part of it).

Anyway, for me (with less than a year’s worth of experience total), I would pick:

  • fire roads with bikes: a bike
  • fire roads without bikes: 29
  • Tight, bumpy single track (or steep): 24
  • Somewhere in between: 26

I’ve ridden 150’s and 165’s on all of those sizes and prefer 165’s. The difference is huge. I find that at my lower skill level (and my muscle conditioning), the longer cranks help a lot. Most ppl will say to go shorter, but most ppl here are very skillful riders. I’m about your height, for whatever that’s worth.

As for brakes – I have every ounce of respect for Shmolagin and his sage opinions. Truly. But I happen to run a brake, and worse, I run one on my 24 with 165 cranks (almost universally considered silly). I LOVE the brake and do recommend one if you’re going down hills, have bad knees, or think they look cool. All three of those apply to me, so I have disc brakes on both the 24 & 26 and wouldn’t go without them.

Hope that helps!

take a peek at this:

My son learned on a 20 then went straight to a 29 as his preferred size for easy off road.

I own all common sizes and find the 24 way too slow on any track that isn’t difficult enough to need a 24.

The difference between 24 and 26 is minimal. There are pros and cons such as availability of tyres but from a difficulty point of view, they are about the same.

I have tried all sizes of cranks from below 100 mm up to 170 mm. After many miles on each size, I have concluded that medium-long is most versatile. Shorter cranks give you a little bit of extra top speed, but at the expense of fine control and hill climbing/descending ability. I find 150s a good compromise on 24, 26, 29 and 36 inch wheels.

No one NEEDS a brake on fire roads and general light muni, but many people like to have one. On long steep descents, a brake would be useful.

29 is a good all round size for the sort of riding you describe. Very few pedal strikes, good average speed, rolls easily over rough patches, easy to mount and steer.

Why not QuAx 27,5? :slight_smile:
Good size and indestructible…
If you choosing QuAx you do not have to worry about some parts will broke. Choose uni with yellow hub and you will be fine.
Good luck!


I’ve only been riding a year and I appreciate your insight on most things on this board, but in only a year I have learned that this is flat out not the case. You’re under 18, have string knees and a complete set of cartilage, and live in Illinois (judging from your profile). The OP here doesn’t give any info on where he’s at and the trails he might ride, but…

As a 45 year old guy who has abused his knees a lot in life, who lives in Utah where 1-3000’ of climbing/descending over a few miles is a “normal” ride, let me tell you that there are times you need a brake. Hell, I just upgraded the rotor on my 36er to a 180 b/c the 160 didn’t have enough power for some of the steeper sections of hills around my house.

If all you’re doing is tooling around on rolling trails, maybe you don’t need a brake. But, there are a lot of places I’ve been where it will make the difference between being able to walk the next day and not.

So, to the OP, what kind of muni are you looking at and how old are your knees? A brake is a cheap investment in a longer muni career and less chance of patellar tendonitis. #OldMuniGuys

I’m basically in a similar situation to Shmolagin (Young and well-working knees), so I personally don’t have a brake on any uni, but I can definately see where one would be advantageous. My rides into the next town involve going down a few steep hills, and it’d be so much easier to just ride the brake and let it flow.

That being said, after doing it so many times I don’t feel I need it and so haven’t bothered to make the investment. I’d say ride without one for a while, and if you find your knees aren’t adjusting, maybe look into fitting one, but don’t jump right into it. A hill that nearly killed you yesterday might be far easier two months forward, and just putting a brake on straight away could stop you building up the strength to handle it better.

Lol, I figured someone would probably call me out on that statement. :roll_eyes:

Believe it or not there actually are hills in Illinois, I happen to live in the most hilly part.

Sure a brake is helpful and in some cases healthful as you have correctly pointed out, but on a unicycle it’s not a necessity. The OP wants to ride on a wide variety of places but for entry level there’s not much reason to spend extra money getting an option that he is unlikely to have the skill to use for quite some time. Of course this is all speculation but why should he spend extra money right now, especially since he wants to keep up with bikes and will probably have to buy a 36er to do that. If he decides that he wants a brake later he can get a brake later.

I might add that I’m really looking for something that will be a good overall muni. Greenways, Fireroads, and mountain bike trails.
Sounds like I might need to get a 24/26 and a 29 eventually.
Would a 26 Oracle be a good overall now? I would like to be able to do some hopping and drops (2 or 3 feet). Is this realistic with the 26 in Oracle?

Sure that’s completely realistic!

I’m 47 and my knees are things I’m carefull with as they do feel somewhat fragile.

Never used a brake on my unicycles though (24, 26 and 29ers). Like Mike Fule I now always have 150 cranks on my unis and find them fine for all downhills- I live in an extremely hilly place i.e. Sheffield, UK (though I’m not doing intense/extreme downhill muni-ing).

I don’t like brakes/gears on unicycles- I like simplicity and dislike the maintenance/setting up/repair of such gadgets.

Main reason I’ll advise you to wait on the brakes though, is cos most people find that using them is a skill in itself and, if you’re currently riding 150 feet, I just don’t think you need the extra hassle.

In fact, you’d probably do well to hold back on getting the bigger wheel, until you can ride that 20" several miles without dismounting.

When I got into unicycling I spent a glorious summer commuting on my 20" :slight_smile:

Now I couldn’t do that, cos, having ridden 1000’s of miles on bigger wheels, it’d be way too slow. But, at the time, it was great. And, being able to ride your 20" easily over long distances without dismounting, would definitly translate very well to any bigger wheel when you do get one.

Also a 20 doesn’t roll over bumps well but I use that as an opportunity to improve that skill. On a bigger wheel I’d need a bigger bump to be challenging, be higher up, going faster & scarier to UPD.

I’d get a 24. If you get longer cranks you don’t really need breaks (w/my 170’s I’ve thought breaks might be helpful ~5 times ever). Also a 26, for me, rolls over bumps & up hills I can do on a 24, w/ less effort, but if its at the limit of my skill & fitness, a UPD can be very scary. Also longer cranks would be a cheap way of making it easier while still a beginner Muni rider.

I like 24"-ers: spent years riding a 24"-er with 3" tyre. But when I got my quax 26" I sold the old 24x3.

A 26" isn’t actually that much bigger than a 24 with a 3" tyre. And, I reckon 24x3" tyres could well become scarce in the future- certainly way less selection than the options you get with 26" tyres.

The only reason I’d get a 24"-er now, is if I wanted to run a 3" tyre- I briefly ran a 26-er with a 3" tyre and it was, IMO, overly heavy.

As another beginner, I would suggest waiting til you can comfortably ride the current uni before switching it up.
I have a 20" beginner uni, and can consistently mount it and ride as far as I want (I usually go a little over 2 miles on a ride).

So I figured I was due for an upgrade, and I just got a Nimbus 24". I love the new uni, but it’s a little discouraging because I can’t just jump on it and go. It takes me a few attempts to mount it, and I’ve had several UPDs for no good reason other than it’s a bit different… I’m sure I’ll get used to it with practice - but I’m glad I waited until I was totally confident on the 20" to switch to something else. I’ve banged up my shins/ankles all over again, just like when I first learned to mount the old one.

(For me, I think part of the issue is that both my uni’s have 125 cranks, so the ratio is a bit different to adjust to… I may switch the 24 out to a 150 crank…)

Seems like for most people who stick with this sport, they end up with a small, medium and large uni. You’ve already got the small, the medium is what your after here. I wouldn’t suggest a 24, its not going to be a big enough jump up in size. The 26 or a 29 should be good. They are similar in handling and speed, for muni the 29 will have a longer learning curve. Sound like your eyeing the oracle 26, it would certainly suit your purpose and handle anything you can throw at it.

My 29 has been my most ridden Uni, it was my large uni for many years, now it’s my medium and has been dedicated to muni. It’s a very versatile size. 26 isn’t too much smaller.