Geared 29 for Ride the Lobster

First of all who has a Geared 29"

Can you comment on how the geared version is for long distance?

Would you use the geared 29" for Ride the Lobster or 36" with 3 different sized cranks.

My speculation is the 29" would be an asset for hills and hard section of the course. The flip side would be a 36" with 150 or 170 cranks.

I think that this has been discussed in a previous thread, but from what I remember the consensus is that…

-a 36" with small-ish cranks will be the best for rolling hills and most of the ride (even uphills)
-a Schlumpf or any geared set up with a high virtual wheel size will be best for the constant flat and slightly downhill sections.

I don’t think that a 29" in low gear will be an asset at all for the race.

A couple (high profile) riders had that opinion (short cranks vs. geared), but I wouldn’t consider that a consensus. I still think a shiftable 36er might pull ahead. …we’ll see.

I think most would agree that a 29er in 29er mode will probably never have an advantage in this race.

I tend to agree with Mike. Not saying that I’m that fast of a rider, but I had a hard time spinning fast enough on flat pavement to keep up with a geared up 29er even. I was using 127 mm cranks though–don’t know if my new found love for 110s would make a difference.

I seem to remember reading that the RTL course will have a relatively small amount of climbing, let alone high graded climbing. So a standard 1:1 29er would have little advantage, if any at all. If you can spin really fast uphill, a 29er might be fast enough on climbs.

Regarding geared up 29er vs. geared up 36er, I think the 36er could definitely be faster on flats, but maybe not with enough varying terrain. Also, I think it’s a matter of preference. Personally I’d rather ride a 29er with 127s than a 36er with 152s because I like the shorter cranks. I’m not sure I’d be willing to ride a geared 36er with 127s. :astonished:

The other factor for me is that I find it hard to justify building up a geared 36er just for RTL when in my daily life I would much rather ride a geared 29er because of the local terrain.


I have a Geared 29"

But basically what James (Siaferide) said.

Unless it’s a gentle uphill, a Geared 29" is unlikely to be much use. The 29" 1:1 mode is next to worthless unless you’re talking 15% grades or so.

Regards Geared 36", I have yet to see anyone go faster on one than on a fiexed 36". I’m sure it’s possible, but you do end up using longer cranks and lose some of the effect higher gear.


I agree, I have never seen one faster than a fixed 36". I have cruised at 24mph for over 10 miles on mine, but it was an exceptionally flat smooth road in idea conditions. Sam under the same conditions was riding on his fixed 36" with 102 cranks and was in front of me for most of the time.

On hills, it is harder to say but my general impression is that they do not have that much of an advantage I have not noticed them pulling ahead of the group in hills. The changing of gears looses some of the momentium and advantage you have of a flowing fixed 36".

I am sure I will get proved wrong though…


Good input from all

Thanks everyone for their input.

I received some email input on this topic. Apparently some inexperienced riders of a geared 29" have been hurt from UPD due to un-planned shifts.

This helps me set the path for my unicycle of choice for RTL, a 36" non-geared (with multiple crank lengths)

Wasn’t that a defect in some of the early prototypical Schlumpf hubs?

Defect in hubs

Perhaps, a defect in the early hubs.

But one less part to break, cause accident to fatigued rider, or be a concern on the mind of a long distance rider.

Unfortunately, I’m not in a position to try/demo a 29" geared unicycle. None are available.

It would be risky on my part to commit to a product for 800km race and find I’m uncomfortable on it.

I’d love to try one and give feed back, but …

It’s hard to relate to your scenario as a mere mortal.

I have my thoughts on this, and they are this:

There’s a class of riders that I refer to as “hummingbirds” who are lightweight, and can spin at an extraordinary cadence. This class of rider is idealy suited to a short-cranked fixie. The light weight of a hummingbird is part of the reason that he can cruise up steep hills with very short cranks.

Then there’s the class of rider that I’m a part of. Heavier, and strong, but with less fast-twich muscle fiber than the hummingbirds. Being heavier means that you can put more energy into fewer strokes, and therefore benefit from a geared-up cycle. The heavier rider also benifits by being able to shift down on the hills and use the leverage of the longer crank arms.

Even if I’m geared up and you’re fixed, I’m sure you’ll still pass me with the additional insult of you being engaged in a novel while overtaking.

There is more risk in a geared hub. It’s also starting to get late in the game for switching to a geared unicycle since it takes a good amount of riding to become really comfortable riding one.

I’ll also add that geared hubs reduce some fatigue (and saddle soreness) since it’s very physically and mentally demanding to spin long distances at high cadence. However, they increase muscle fatigue since you’re pushing a higher gear.

I’m surprised at how casual going 18-20 mph feels.

I think the same could be said for short cranks. Yesterday’s 40 miler with 110s felt pretty good on my legs and my bum, definitely much better than 40 miles into the 100K last spring with 127s. Maybe I’m just a better rider now.

Absolutely true.

I need to change my screen name baaaaad. I wonder if Gilby would be so kind to let me change it without singing up again haha.

What’s wrong with yours screen name? I like it. Don’t know what it means though.

Anagrams I came up with in one minute:
Siaferide =

  1. “Dis faerie”?
  2. I ride safe
  3. I said ‘free’
  4. as deifier
  5. a fireside
  6. I AIDS-free

Well, back to my online Scrabble game…

Well, I was, just as every other guni rider was, inexperienced in riding a guni to start with. But one thing that I have only ever experienced once is an unplanned shift - (which was whilst I was stationary, holding on to a traffic light pole, and trying to move round in order to point myself in a slightyly better direction). I can’t imagine that it would happen accidentally whilst riding though.

RTL is 6 months away at the moment. I’d say it took me a month to get comfortatble on a daily commute, and another month before I was confidentally shifting up and down on long rides. You’ve got plenty of time to get used to it!


Thanks for this testamonial - it’s heartening!

No worries. I can testify that it doesn’t take too long to get the hang of it… but I can’t guarantee it’ll be a winning formula for RTL though.

I’m sure that some spinners on fixed 36ers will be quicker than most geared 29ers, but what is best for YOU depends on YOUR style of riding.


Haha I had no idea that there were that many possibilities…and yet you still didn’t get it. I’ve had the SN for a loooong time when I used to like this band AFI in highschool a lot, the sn stuck, the opinion on the music changed after their 4th album. It is A Fire "In"Side (AFI = a fire inside)…SIafireDE

Although I do kind of like I Said Free.

I never thought of how annoying it would be to meet people and have it so they couldn’t say the screen name haha. You are Sifreed? You are Saphire?

It is even hard to just spell out in a message board post (as ken showed :wink: )