Getting a 36" or alternatives + average speeds from others

Hey everyone,

My birthday is coming up soon and it means I’ll be getting some spending money from family and I’m debating picking up a 36".

I currently have an Ebike, 29", and 24" I use to get around on my day to day but have gotten into bikepacking and uni packing this summer.

My Ebike doesn’t have enough range to make it worth doing some multi day trips, and my 29" I can average about 15-16kmh and 13kmh on my 24".

Most of the touring would be light gravel (not anything is call muni but some patches you need to slow down and watch your handling) or road with minimal hills and looking at 75-100km days. I have not gone out on a multi day uni trip but did take out a folding bike I sold earlier this summer on a few trips and did enjoy it quite a bit. My uni trips have been overnight trips so far.

Most of the fun comes from seeing pretty nature, getting a good but not feeling like I’m dying ride in, and some camping time away from the city.

Also I have a preference for uni over bike just because it’s more fun to me. I did have a 36" I bought last year that I sold as on one of my first rides on it after getting used to 125/150 cranks I put 100s on it and fell off with most of my weight going into one foot and was limping for a few days. This scared me a bit as if I’m doing a gravel ride and fall from a higher distance and sprain and ankle I viewed that there was a larger risk of injury.

I know that having tiny cranks with no brake was stupid, but it put me off the 36".

So I’m looking at a few things.

  1. Getting a handle for my 29" to increase my speed overall as I find I’m at the point where I have the skill to properly use it now.

  2. With the remaining birthday money, do I want to look at another ebike battery or a 36"? A battery would give me about 240km of range total and an average speed of 25kmh for about $900 CAD. A new 36" UDC trainer would be about the same cost, and I can always look at something used

  3. For those that go uni packing, what would you take for the above terrain in terms of wheel size? My 29" has a 3" tire with 100/125/150 cranks so it is quite versatile to different terrain.

4.Would a 36" work on bumpy gravel? Am I overstating the risk of injury if I did ride with 150mm cranks or 125mm? What’s a reasonable average speed for a 36" when doing long days with a 20lbs pack? Would the difference in speed be worth getting another uni as I am quite well practiced on my 29".

As an alternative I was toying with the idea of get a custom 29" V frame built as well, but I think a handle would give the same effect for less cost.

Please note that this is also me looking for an excuse to spend the money and I’m just trying to get feedback and thoughts of others to see if this is a rabbit hole worth going down. I’m quite happy with my current fleet and consider my 29" my adventure vehicle and my ebike to be a car replacement to get around my city easier on days I don’t want to uni.

The 36" would mostly be for trips and wouldn’t be used to commute as I feel more safe on the 29" when riding next to cars (Yay north america).

Lots of thoughts above but I’m excited to hear your thoughts. Please let me know if this makes sense as in typing this before bed.

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36" is fine on bumpy gravel they still have wide 2.25" tyres and I rode mine on the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail which is very bumpy and gravelly. I used a KH36" with 110mm cranks but I’d say 125mm are more appropriate for the terrain. Over a period of 4hrs I averaged around 12km/hr in ideal conditions I would average 18km/hr. Handlebar definitely helps you ride smoother and faster.

This may or may not be helpful.
I got a KH36 in Feb this year, by chance getting it second hand (from Gockie). I have a KH29 before that.
Anyway, I quickly realised I prefer the 36” for distance (more than 3km)
So I guess we differ there.
After riding 2-3 times a week, it has taken til August for me to be able (fitness wise) to commute to work 3 days a week (15km x 6)(160m Elev.) Mon We’d Fri. I am 75kg, and with backpack with computer and lunch, tools, gear, I am carrying 12-15kg on the KH36 (weighs 10kg with aero bar and bracing.)

Anyways, looking at my Strava stats
To Work (13 rides)
Average 12.1km/hr, Fastest 13.1km/hr, Slowest 11.4km/hr
From work (15 rides)
Average 12.8km/hr, Fastest 13.9km/hr, Slowest 11.1km/hr
Bit of off road on grass and dirt track, only 50m.

On a bike path with no need to stop for intersections, and on straights commuting, I currently can average 20km/hr at best.

Brakes: I couldn’t do with out them on big steep descents ~10% -15% grade, especially when tired.

For me I have had my worst injuries on my KH29. Ligament grade 1 sprain. Gouged calves, skinned knees and elbows.
With the KH36, I feel I have a bit more time to land on my feet. With KH29, I’m on the ground before I know it. On KH36, I have never come off at speed (knock on wood) and have always landed running. I do wear Leatt body protector though and full face helmet, wrist guards. No shin guards. Looking forward to Castelli cycle bib/shorts.

I have rambled on about it on this forum, but aero bars are awesome!
For taking weight off seat.

I so envy you for having time for uni-packing.

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You’re tall, I would get a 36” without hesitation.

Make sure you go for a brake, splined cranks of some sort and a handlebar to get the most out of it. I would recommend 150/125 cranks to start with - 125mm is good for all round road riding, including gravel, and 150mm will allow you to do some mild off-road stuff.

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The Uni I ride the most is the one I feel most comfortable riding. If I was only going to use my 36" once in a while for a longer trip I might never feel comfortable.

I don’t think a 29" is safer than a 36". To me they are the same.

About crank length I think that 125mm is nice for
36" riding on gravel roads with decent control. Also shorter is not instantaneously faster if you are lacking control…

My 36" speed vs 29" speed is ~20% faster in ideal conditions (so the increase in wheel size translates too an equal increase in speed). However my average speed increase is most of the time only ~10%.

If you can afford a nice 36" with a brake and a handlebar its a fun size but you might be just as happy if you optimize your current 29" by adding a nice stiff handlebar and an ergonomic brake mount.

I like to swap between my 36" and 29" for variation but most of the time I use my 29" as it is easier to handle and freemount when I’m tired.

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I do it I used to ride a 26 inch… Now for me all I ride is a 36-in with 150 m cranks love it love it love it that’s basically the only size wheel I ride I’m a distance Rider I say go for the 36er you’ll be glad you did so much fun.

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I think a 36" would do well for the trips you are describing. But I’m not sure if it’s “necessary” for 75-100km per day. 15 km/h average (assuming no traffic) should be easy enough on a 29", so that would equate to 5-6.5 hours on the unicycle without trying to ride fast, which seems reasonable enough to me.
Aside from not having much spare cash, I also don’t like having stuff I don’t use - so my gut instinct would honestly be to try out unipacking on the 29" first, seeing if you are happy with it and then deciding if you want to move to a 36" on more of an educated guess. I could imagine that there are plenty of places to invest the money that is burning a hole in your pockets into other parts of the unipacking setup there too (clothes, sleeping bag, tent, cooker, backpack, bike shorts…), which you would need regardless of wheelsize.

A UDC titan is good value for money, but it could also become a “buy cheap, buy twice”, because of not having a brake or (at least commonly available) multi hole cranks.

(And I can’t resist the obvious side not here, even though I know you are probably aware of it: From just a practical perspective, an E-bike out of battery is probably still a lot better than any unicycle for touring…)

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This is honestly where my mind is going for the most part. Like the 29" touring would be fine and I have a pretty lightweight set up currently. Not all of my gear is the lightest weight, but it’s light and cheap that a 20lbs pack with food and water isn’t horrible for riding I find.

I found with breaks I’m usually moving at a pace of 10kmh but I think that’s just something I can improve with fitness and a handle quite easily.

The fun part of growing older too is this not really needing stuff part. I used to impulse buy so many thing but even having the three uni’s is plenty. Beyond I think getting myself a good Bivvy there’s not a whole lot I can upgrade with my current kit as I’ve found some good deals at Decathalon and AliExpress.

I do go no cook, but that might change as I start doing some trips this winter

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I’ve found that whenever I’ve been in your situation contemplating a major gear purchase, the best choice is to put off the choice for a few months and work with what you have. You have had a 36 before so you have a lot of insight for what you would be getting into, something is keeping you from doing it…

There have been several videos/posts lately of people doing some epic multiday unipacking trips here, they are all on 29 unis. You don’t mention where you live and where you ride. Can you find terrain that more matches your 29 uni?

I think you should start doing multi day trips on the gear you have before buying a 36.

Isn’t it great to have these problems?

I’m so impressed by all you folks that have the stamina to ride so long I’m struggling to get up to 10 mile rides.

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