Geared 29 vs. Geared 36 - an updated review

As I have had quite a lot of experience on both a geared 29 and a geared 36, I thought I would do an updated write up for those of you deciding on what size wheel to put the hub in.
FWIW: I went from a geared 29er -> geared 36er - > geared 29er, I have over 1,000 miles on the geared 36 and a little less on the geared 29.

Here is my summary:
Geared 29er: More versatile, travels a lot better (flying, driving, etc), if I were to only have only one unicycle in my collection - this would be it (with dual hole cranks). For the road - I put on the Big Apple tire and either use 125 or 150 mm crank slot. On the road, it really only has one useful gear (for most areas). Switching to low gear from high makes it feel like a toy, BUT for long climbs up mountain passes, the low gear is extremely useful. In DC I found myself almost never using the low gear on the road, but now that I have moved to Colorado, the geared 29er is amazing.
Off Road: I put on the Navegal knobby tire, and use 150mm crank slot. This process of switching tires and pedal location took me…20 min or so, but part of it was spent finding the right seat height. For most single track I just leave it in low gear, but if it is smooth enough riding single track in high gear is extremely thrilling! The high gear off road comes in handy when riding on fire roads, or gravel roads to the trail. I was just out in Boulder and found myself actually using both gears off road quite often since the trail I was riding had a lot of easy sections in between the interesting ones.

Geared 36er: The fastest uni for the road for most conditions. The exception would be a race that had a lot of steep climbing (like a lot of races here in Colorado) - although that depends also on how many miles are spent descending. The geared 36er feels like a heavy bike, it isn’t as squirrely as the geared 29er and on the road it has two usable gears for a lot more conditions than the geared 29. Geared 36er simply rides much smoother than a geared 29. The geared 36er is kind of like weight lifting sometimes, it requires a lot of leg strength, and is sure to build up your muscles.
Off road: the geared 36er is great on gravel roads and you can pop it into low gear for stuff that you already do 36er muni on. It rolls over stuff smoothly, and is fun on easy-moderate XC stuff. It is definitely not as versatile off road as the 29er with a knobby tire though.

In Conclusion - If you primarily ride on the road and you don’t live in a mountainous area the geared 36er is the best choice for you. If you simply can’t imagine not riding a 36" uni, the geared 36er is also the choice for you. The 36er really is an amazing ride, both ungeared and geared.

If you want a uni that is an amazing XC/road ride and is highly versatile, get a geared 29er with dual hole cranks. It is amazing being able to go somewhere with one unicycle and 1 extra tire and be able to ride almost anything. If you live in a mountainous area, and ride on the road and frequently climb mountain passes, the geared 29er is also the choice for you. Back in DC, the geared 36er was so much fun, but out here in Colorado, I think the 29er is better because climbing is a breeze on it.

Also - if you primarily do shorter rides on the road (<25 miles) the geared 36er may be better for you as it will give you more of a workout. I find the geared 29er or an ungeared 36er easier to ride on endurance events. Of course some may disagree, as Sam/Roger did their 100+ miles a day for a week ride on geared 36ers, but I found the geared 36er to be quite brutal on a long ride.

That was great. I kind of want to get a 29er now haha.

I was just wondering why you find the geared 36er is harder for endurance rides than ungeared?

Pushing a higher gear for a long time is harder than spinning a lower gear. Spinning fast in a low gear of course has its own issues, and I would much rather push a higher gear at a more comfortable cadence, but I feel that I would be able to do a century on an ungeared 36er easier (but not faster) than a geared 36er. It takes less muscle and the ungeared 36er almost rides itself.

Of course - as to why the geared 29er feels easier on longer endurance ride is two part: 1) spinning a slightly lower gear, 2) 3 pounds less rotational weight.

Wouldnt it become easier as you built up the muscle? Just like when you start on a 36er it is already hard to ride because of that extra weight, but you end up getting used to it.

Just out of pure curiosity.

Yeah, me too! In fact, I just ordered one and it will be here by Friday! :smiley:

Did you win the lotto? Seems like you are getting a lot of new wheels.

I wish I could get some new wheels.

No, I wish! I just sold my second 36er; the one I’ve had for a long time and loved it, but then I got a KH 36er, so I didn’t need it anymore. Same with me selling my extra 24" MUni. So money in, money out, lol. Plus, it helps not to have a wife & kids to support. :stuck_out_tongue:

Are you getting a geared 29"?

Negatory! I plan to use it primarily for XC trail riding and dh, with some technical. And the 125mm crank hole setting will provide me with all the speed I’ll ever want on the trails! :smiley:

Yeah, it does become easier and you do build up muscle pretty fast. On an ungeared 36er you don’t need a lot of muscle to spin it, but with the geared 36 you are pounding the high gear. Pushing a high gear for a long time though is going to be harder on an endurance ride where you primarily care about distance travelled than pushing a lower gear and spinning a bit faster. The ungeared 36er with 125mm cranks requires pretty fast cadence, and the geared 36er has a much slower rate, but it still feels like it is slightly too high a gear, whereas the geared 29er is a good in between size and the cadence is sliiightly faster than I would like, but it is a good compromise I feel.

That makes much more sense now. Thank you. Again great review.

Great. So now you got me craving for a geared 29er too. As if a geared 36er and 26er plus a couple of ungeared unis weren’t enough. But where the heck would I put it? Looks like every corner of my room is occupied either by a unicycle or a musical instrument. Nah, I’ll be happy enough once my geared 26er finally comes to life again. The waiting time for the Schlumpf replacement has exceeded 5 months now and it’s not for the first time either. It’s driving me crazy.

I did a hilly ride w/Rolandisimo today, again on the geared KH29/137s. This is the perfect uni for me, long enough cranks for climbing in low gear, and for geared-up leverage, too. And easy to spin fast on the downhills, but I’m still scared of riding too fast - up around 20mph is my fear limit.

29 vs 36

Great post, thanks. Those were all questions I had wondered about.


What size of cranks are you comparing for the geared/ungeared 36? I think the effort to put power into the wheel is a compromise between cadence, crank length, and wheel size.

I know the relationships aren’t linear, or even necessarily similar between people, and I’m totally ignoring things like efficiency losses in the gears, but I’m very curious about a comparison between

  • ungeared 36 with 125s
  • geared 36 with 192.5s.

My guess: riding ungeared speeds with the geared would be similarly easy, but feel slow. I think part of the reason ungeared 36ers can feel fast is because of the high cadence.

137s are probably a great size on the road, I am mainly using 125/150 cranks because 150s are my favorite XC crank length, although it would be interesting to try 137/165 and use 165s in high gear off road.

I find that I don’t have a fear of riding too fast, the fear comes from high cadence. Going over 20mph on a geared 36er isnt scary at all, on the geared 29er you have to spin faster to go over 20, so it gets a little scarier, which makes the geared 36er quite the fast descender.

Your idea is one thing that gives me pause (aside from the price) when considering a 36 GUNI. I agree that high cadence makes me nervous, and these days 14-15 MPH is about the top of my comfort zone on a 36". With a 36" guni that might creep up to 20+ MPH. Eventually there would be that unfortunate UPD at speed. I can run out a 14 MPH UPD, but I think a 20 MPH UPD would end in a splat. :frowning:


Yeah you pretty much nailed it, there is less resistance in an ungeared 36er, there is some efficiency loss from using the geared hub.

when talking about ungeared 36er, I used 114mm and 125mm cranks most of the time.

geared 36, I tried 125s (hated it), 150s (used most of the time), and 165s towards the end because it made climbing easier out here.

Spinning fast on a ungeared 36 is definitely annoying dont get me wrong, I just felt like I could ride forever on the ungeared 36. I’d much rather use a geared 36 for most road rides than an ungeared 36.

Hey Terry, you are in for some fun riding with the new 29er! I look forward to seeing the videos.

How rough can you be off road with the geared uni. It seems like the torque that you might apply on changing terrain would be hard on the hub. I’ve wanted a geared uni for a while but I’m afraid I’m too heavy for one at 230lbs. I do some fairly technical downhill and I’m pretty hard on my uni. I love riding my 29er on the trails and I’d love to ride a little faster, I just don’t want to break the hub because of my fat butt! :p:D