Freestyle vs. trials?

Hi all! I’ve been reading posts here for a few months, but this is my first post on the forum.

I’m a relatively new rider, so I’ve only ridden my 24" club that I learned on and my newer 36" oracle. I’m having a blast going long distances, but I’m considering getting a smaller unicycle to practice some technical skills. Specifically, right now I want to learn idling, idling+juggling, riding backwards, and hopping in place/up curbs.

I don’t want to put too much money into this, so I’m considering the impact athmos and nimbus II right now.

I assume that both would be sturdy enough for the skills I’m interested in learning. But the big differences (at least, as far as I can tell) are the 19" vs. 20" wheel, and the longer crank length that comes stock with the athmos.

How significant are these differences for what I want to learn? And are there other important differences between the two models, or other models I should consider?

My daughter has a 20" Nimbus 2 and it’s a solid, well built machine. I’m not sure if the rim would hold up to a fatty like me doing drops of more than 12" though and I think the stock tire would be stressed too. If you’re on the slimmer side or don’t expect to do big drops I think it would hold up fine.

I have an Athmos and a 26" Nimbus II.

The Athmos is pretty nice. I don’t ride mine hard but I can’t see any red flags as far as doing trials go. The only thing I don’t like about it is the bearing holders - they’re stamped and don’t have integrated threads. That doesn’t affect performance though.

The Nimbus II is really tough. It’s not built lightweight like some freestyle unis. I use mine as a muni and have no concerns about breaking it. It has 48 spokes (I believe the newer ones are 36), a double walled rim with eyelets, steel ISIS hub and machined bearing holders. As far as I can tell the only real difference between it and the steel Nimbus munis is the narrower rim and reduced tyre clearance.

I would say that the real difference you would feel is that the Nimbus II is more precise while the Athmos is more cushy. The Athmos will handle any kind of offroad riding and hopping better than the Nimbus II. The Nimbus II will probably be a better learning tool for idling and manoeuvring.

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You are considering the two unicycles I’d recommend for that job, both sturdy enough to last and good value for money.
The riding feel is very different. But I don’t think is very significant for the skills you want to learn, I would be surprised if you would find a concensus on any of the skills you listed being much easier on either of those two unicycles. Either of them would be a decent choice for the job.
If you have the chance to ride any 20" vs. any 19" somewhere, I’d take that opportunity and decide on which you prefer. I’d personally lean toward the 20" if the surface you are riding on is pretty smooth, just because I’d prefer the smoother pedaling and turning for those “beginner” freestyle skills. But there is also something about the “full control” you can have with long cranks, and the bounce of a 19" tire, and it does deal with rough surfaces better.

Could get a cheapo noname 20" for learning idling, backwards, idling with juggling, and get yourself a trials uni to help your hopping skills. For the trials uni you can also switch it out with a freestyle style wheel if you wanted.

Freestyle unis have much shorter cranks. 114mm vs 140mm in the Athmos. Trials tyres have higher rolling resistance. (BTW The Cycolite tyre on the Athmos is not very popular as a trials tyre either.)

Consequently trials unis are terrible to ride any distance. They really are for jumping up and down things.

The short answer is you need both a freestyle and a trials uni. Even that isn’t really enough. For example, I have a suburban street 20 with 100 mm cranks and a Hookworm tyre as well as a freestyle with 114 cranks, a non-marking tyre and pedals for indoors. Also an Athmos wheel with a Gekok tyre in an old KH frame for trials.

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Well, it’s good to know that I’m on the right track :slight_smile:

This is encouraging. I think the main thing I had in mind was whether a non-trials unicycle would be durable enough to do a little bit of hopping on. I have the feeling that the 19" wheel and long cranks would feel too fiddly for me, since I’ve never ridden anything smaller than 24".

Naturally! But I’m not sure how interested I am in trials at the moment. I think right now I’m leaning towards the Nimbus II, but maybe I’ll want to explore trials more in the future.

I have a 19" Equinox with 140mm Eiffel cranks and a Cyko Lite tire. I guess you would call that a trials unicycle. The techniques I practice on it are varied. I ride it on trails, up and down hills, like a muni rider. I practice wheel walking, backwards figure eights, still stands, pirouettes, like a freestyle rider. I practice various jump mounts. Not sure into what category that fits. I never learned any flatland tricks. I am pretty heavy and would probably break my unicycle (or myself) doing flatland. My riding on this uni doesn’t fall into a particular category.

If anyone more experienced wishes to disagree, please go for it. But I think a trials uni is a more general purpose unicycle and a freestyle is a more specialized unicycle, at least as far as a beginner is concerned. For someone interested in learning the broadest range of techniques, I’d suggest the trials over the freestyle.

The OP already has a 36". If a trials unicycle is terrible at riding distances compared to freestyle unicycle, both those are still terrible compared to the 36".

I have been riding a 19 “unicycle for 3.5 months now, during which time I have mastered both idling and driving back and forth and juggling … and I am very unhappy with the 19” tire because it is very, very bad cornering. gets stuck, does not allow to calmly turn.

we have a 20 inch unicycle in the studio and I feel much better on it. as soon as I can afford to buy a 20-inch equinox, I will buy it right away.