Freestyle Pedal Spacing (Nimbus Eclipse and beyond)

The unveiling of the Nimbus Eclipse has got me wondering about the relative importance of pedal spacing on freestyle unicycles. UDC claims that it improves spinning ability. This is true on racing unicycles at very high rpms but what effect does it have on freestyle skills that are done at average rpms? Is the effect similar to using very short freestyle cranks where slow speed smoothness is increased? Clearly ultimate wheels are easier to ride than seat drag a unicycle, but how much of this is due to the narrow pedal spacing, and would the effect be similar on a narrow unicycle? I’d like to hear from somebody whose ridden the Eclipse.

I believe that the DM Ringmaster Advanced’s where made with 90mm bearing spacing. Was that an attempt at innovation, and if so why did it not catch on?

I also know that some track unicycles have been made with absurdly small pedal spacings. Where any apropos lessons learned?

I assume that 100mm bearing spacing became the standard because it was spacing of most bicycle forks. Perhaps low quality components and the prevalence of 24" wheels necessitated it, but today I see no reason to stay with 100mm on 20" freestyle unicycles, provided there is a benefit to going narrower. Maybe the market was too small in the past, or maybe there isn’t much benefit. Marketing aside are narrower unicycles going to become the norm in competitive freestyle?

That is not my experience, but this may have to do with which skill one learns first. I still find seat drag generally easier, though they are fairly different skills.

The Ringmasters were handmade. The main reason they didn’t “catch on” was probably that they were expensive (compared to mass-produced unicycles, as well as DM’s other unis).

I liked my narrow Track unicycle; it worked well for me. But there’s a limit to how narrow you need. Too much and I think my knees would start hitting each other…

Unicycles used for actual Freestyle is still a tiny market; not enough to justify a different hub and frame size. This is probably why 100mm is common; it seems to work for a range of unicycle types.

Depending on the type of (Freestyle) riding you do, a narrow hub will have advantages and disadvantages. The main disadvantage might be a weaker wheel. There’s a limit to how far I’d like to go in that direction to get an unknown improvement in the ability to do some skills.

The spinning UDC is referring to is the skill, spinning. Which also makes pirouetting easier. They aren’t talking about smooth speed here.

Also, I’m with john on the seat drag. I can seat drag until my legs give out, but I can’t manage to ride an ultimate wheel.

Regarding why 100mm became the standard, that’s something that’s happened in the last ten years. When I started riding the Suzue hub was the standard, and the dimensions of those hubs are similar to the eclipse hub.

That’s what I thought at first but I couldn’t figure out why that type of spinning would be more stable. Yes the moment of inertia is decreased but that shouldn’t make any noticeable difference, unless something else was at work. So I thought maybe that something else was pedal speed.

Okay, I guess I was wrong about that. I’ve never ridden an ultimate wheel but that was what I’d heard from a couple riders.

Ahh yes. I vaguely knew about that. Perhaps then it is reasonable to assume then that the performance difference is negligible or else more competitive riders would continue to use that set up.

I think there are several factors one has to consider:

Less pedal spacing means less wobbling of the wheel, which is an advantage in general. For old-school high-frequency racing and freestyle this is probably more important than for other types of riding.

Less pedal spacing up to a certain point also means that there is less outward bending of the legs, for more natural pedaling. Again this is probably more important for high-frequency pedaling.

Lateral wheel stability gets better for larger flange spacing. This is of course very important for trial unis and larger wheels.

So overall I’d argue that it’s best to have different standards for different types of riding: smaller spacing for freestyle and old-school racing, larger spacing for everything else. Therefore I’m very happy about the reduced pedal spacing on the Eclipse (and it means that I could reuse my Suzue wheelset).

For drag seat you also have to take into account the movement range of the wheel. For a smaller pedal spacing you get less wobble, but also a reduced movement range (the wheel touches your legs sooner).

The narrower the pedal spacing the more you have to displace your feet for unispins, not that you’d ever notice.