Future of Geared Hubs?

I thought your hub slipped to once?

Perhaps my perception is skewed in that my main exposure to other unicyclists is this forum.
Given that, I had the impression that very few people purchase one KH unicycle - rather a KH24 and a KH29 and/or KH36 and/or and/or KHTrials and/or different KH24 with specialized setup for X situation… It’s this group of people I could envision purchasing a gearing (or cvt) system instead of a secondary (tertiary, …) unicycle.
But maybe this group is smaller than it appears through the lens of teh intarwebz.

I only have one KH.

. . .but I do want more.

I think a better comparison would be how many people have multiple Schlumpf’s? Looking at the (ever-growing, incomplete) list in the other thread, most people willing to shell out the cash for one only have one. AND, look how short the list is, compared to the user list for this site.

For me I want a ONE SIZE FITS MOST unicycle that I can travel (i.e. fly ) with (not just local trips from home). For the most part the reason so many sized unicycles exist is because there is no gearing. For the most part the 20" wheel is pretty dedicated for freestyle, street and trials. But from 24" up to 36" (and larger) the decision on which size wheel to get depends on what you MOSTLY want to do with it. Now if you had ONE unicycle with gearing, in my mind you wouldn’t have to own multiple unicycles. So assuming you wanted a fairly top of the line unicycle of each size, 24" up to 36" and you wanted them fully equipped with hydro. brakes, handle bars etc… then you will spend much more than if you equipped ONE unicycle with ONE KH/Schlumpf (or other future) hub. I know it’s fun to own several unicycles, I own 6 myself. However I’d gladly trade away most of them for one unicycle that fit most of what I’d like to do. Think about the constantly recycled thread on this forum “What sized uni should I get?” They might learn on a 20" but then soon they’ll want to do some MUni but also perhaps ride around town on the roads; perhaps commute etc… Well the current practice, really, is to get a dedicated uni for each activity (eventually when one can afford it). Wouldn’t it be so much better to just get one geared uni? That way you have a whole lot more versatility. Say a 24 or 26er with a geared hub. You could muni, you could do some trials and you can get around town…

Our whole approach is like having several single speed bikes, one for trails (low gearing) one for road riding (high gearing) etc… I think the sole limiting factor now is cost. If a geared uni hub could be produced for 1/4 to 1/2 the current cost then the ONE uni approach would be more viable. Still if you think about it; even at today’s hub cost it is still a whole lot cheaper than buying several quality, buff unicycles…

Speaking as someone who owns 9 unicycles, including a 29er/Schlumpf (TD Jr.), I think you’ll find that a geared unicycle, at least at the current level of technology, does not replace most of my other unicycles. There is no way I’d take the Schlumpf on the fun MUni trails nearby; the 24" is way better for real MUni. I can’t use the Schlumpf for basketball. I even prefer my ungeared 29er with 110s (Zippy) for a lot of riding; TD Jr. is set up with an off-road tire and 150mm cranks, and weighs probably four pounds more than Zippy. If I had an ungeared Coker, TD Jr. would probably replace that one. But that’s just one unicycle.

You could try a 24" Schlumpf like Corbin and Louise have. The problem is, it’s still not as good as a real MUni for MUni, and it’s not nearly as good as an ungeared Coker for distance riding. If you put a real MUni tire on it, it will suck even more for distance riding, and if you put a tire that’s reasonable on the road, it will suck even more for MUni. Plus, part of the appeal of the Coker (insofar as I understand it) is that you can relax and enjoy the ride; on a geared uni, you have to remain focused at all times.

Or, you could get a 36" Schlumpf, which would only replace your ungeared 36".

A stock KH 29er with Schlumpf hub costs just under $2,000. For that much, you could get a KH 24" MUni ($621), a KH 29er ($685), a Coker Big One ($505), and throw in a freestyle uni as well. If you went with Nimbus instead of KH for the first two, you could add in an ultimate wheel, BC, and giraffe. So with the KH/Schlumpf, you’re spending enough money for a full stable of unicycles, for one unicycle which really doesn’t do things as well as any of the others (with the exception of going fast).

tholub: You make some very valid points. I’m right with you on having a pretty full arsenal. I’ve got a 20" Sun learner, KH20 trials, the KH24 GUni, 5’ Sun giraffe, Coker BigOne and a semi put together (missing some pieces) 28" Yuni w/ 26" rim/tire set up. I really wouldn’t want to trade all that for one uni. I totally agree with you that for the price of a GUni you can afford an arsenal; that really wasn’t my point. I’m talking about being able to travel. It is not very practical to carry around a whole arsenal of unis everytime you go on vacation (at least not for me). So what do you do? You pick the one size fits most and that is what my arguement is and sort of my justification for my KH24 GUni. It’s a good fit for what I want to do so that’s why I did it. Sure it will “suck” at some things compared to others, but if that’s all you have I imagine you’d get used to it. I think all of this would be moot if we could ever get a geared hub that is a lot cheaper :frowning:

+1 to what tholub says. I’ve got 9 unicycles in my stable*, including the dream geared 29er with handles and brakes. It really is a fantastic bit of kit, and for touring or commuting I really wouldn’t want anything else.

Tomorrow though, I’m going for a muni ride on my fixed 24. I wish it had a geared hub, as I’m sure there are lots of bits that would benefit from that, but I can’t afford a second one.

I also ride my Blizzard 24 a lot because with the slick tyre it’s great for nipping about, but small enough to go in the boot [trunk] of anyones car. Again, I wish that was geared, but finances dictate otherwise.

I’ve not ridden a 36 for a couple of years now, but I really fancy the idea of an ultimate speed machine. Would I sacrifice my 29 so I can lace the hub in to a bigger wheel? No way.

Geared hub prices will have to come down one hell of a lot before I get the other three I would like. Probably much to far to be realistic. That’s what inspired the splined flange sleeve idea earlier in this thread. But I wouldn’t dream of gearing my freestyle or giraffe or hockey unicycles.

One size fits most is a nice idea, but really, it’ll be more a case of ‘one size isn’t quite good enough at any of them’ unless your very narrow in your choice of riding.


  • I’ve never worked out why a collection of unicycles is called a stable. Stable is one thing they inherently aren’t!

I don’t know, perhaps it’s a different mindset I have. For me the “one size isn’t quite good enough at any of them” translates to “it’s okay for a lot of things.” This situation is very analogous to my off-road fixed gear bicycling days. You can never have the perfect gearing so you aim for the middle and hope to have a setup that works “most” of the time. So you choose a gear set and just go for it and not worry about it. “Ride what ya brung!” is a common phrase from that camp. Maybe it’s too spinny in some places (so my legs get tired, so what?), maybe it’s too much gear in others (so I’ll have to walk, so what?), but it’s probably good enough all around. That is the “sweet spot” I’m aiming for since I’m of like mind. So for my unicycling approach is similar minded. I’ve geared out my KH24 and, for me, that will be good enough for “most” of what I want to do when I’m traveling away from home. I know it works great for me because I used to do trials on my KH24 before I ever got a 20", and I’ve ridden some fairly long distances on single track (50 miles) on the KH24 before I ever got a 36er w/o any issues… It’s just a different approach, a different mindset; it really doesn’t bother me that I don’t have the best tool for the job at all times. Obviously one can do trials much easier on a 20" or ride long distance XC on a 29er (or perhaps 36er) but that isn’t my point. I’m saying sometimes I have to or choose to go with one uni.

I too love the irony of a group of unicycles being called a stable! :smiley:

That’s why Corbin and Louise went with 24" GUnis (two months in Africa), and part of what I do with TD Jr. I’m taking a train trip to Portland later this year, and TD “don’t call me Junior” (he’s actually a little ornery) will be easy to transport on the train, and available for road and off-road rides once I get there. Still, that purchase made a lot more sense as my ninth unicycle than it would have made as my second.

Agreed. You have to be in this sport long enough to learn the best fit for you. I wouldn’t dream of dropping $2000 into a GUni as my first or 2nd unicycle! :astonished:

Speaking as someone who has returned the new KH/Schlumpf hub twice within a very short period of time and almost no riding time before and in between, I must say this hub has eventually brought me so much more fun and versatility in the 26" muni setup that it is definitely worth it. If it were less expensive I know I would have already bought a second one with a KH36 and perhaps even a third one…
But I must say it would have been nearly unbearable to wait for those repairs for months if I hadn’t been able to ride my 36er and 24er while waiting for the return.
While the geared 26x3 setup can handle most of the terrain that the 24" and the 36" can, I would not want to miss the latter two, because they are both very different and fun rides.
The great thing about the 26x3 guni is that you can use both gears in XC, do fast road riding in high gear and do more technical off road things in low gear. So to me, that is a great compromise and definitely my choice for travelling anywhere.

I do like the idea of seperating the gears and the flanges of the hub. I was actually thinking exactly the same thing recently. It would be really cool to be able to swap hubs between different unis with little effort.
One concern I do have about it is that it would probably mean even more material and therefore more weight. But made out of titanium maybe it would be cool :astonished: and expensive.:stuck_out_tongue: And then another problem is how to get the flanges part attached to the gears firmly. But it definitely would be possible.

Will they come down in price?
I bet the price will drop to half + inflation, but it’ll take like, 15 yrs.

Will the durability improve?

Will they be upgraded to three speeds?
Not in the near future. Maybee in 10 + yrs.

Should I wait a couple years?
My gueses for the future: Cost won’t come down by much by then. Reliability will improve a fair amount in 2 yrs. but not like you don’t have to worry about it.

If you can afford it, I’d get one now.

thought i would just weigh in on the posts about separating the geared part of the hub from the flanges. I have been thinking about people who want to use the hub on multiple unicycles (because of the cost) and was thinking about the possibility of maintaining the geared section at the center of the wheel.

Pretty much i’m thinking that some flanges could be welded to a cylinder (possibly with splines on the inside), could be slid over the geared hub and fixed there by bolts etc. To switch the geared hub between unicycles all you would have to do would be to remove the wheel from your frame, remove a crank, undo the bolts, slide out the geared hub and place it in the other wheel (granted both wheels would have to be laced to the same type of hollow hub cylinder) but it would be quicker than re-lacing an entire wheel every time you wanted to change your geared hub.

Just an idea, can’t wait till i can afford to get my KH24" geared!

That is pretty much exactly what I had in mind. The only thing I would suggest though is that the hub must be able to be changed without the need to remove a crank. Crank removal on Schlumpfs adds an unwanted level of complication and risk of damaging the shifting mechanism. Looking at my pre-KH hub though, I think it’ll work fine with the cranks in place. The latest ones are wider, so it might cause an issue, although the internals appear to be thinner at one end so maybe a tapered cylinder would be the solution.