What is your max speed? today I went on a ride on an old railroad bed and I averaged around 15km/h (slight downhill on the way there, slight uphill on the way back) but I had a max of 33.3km/h.
I am also amazed when I see similar numbers but in mph by people on their RTL qualifying reports.
Get 110’s or 114’s ASAP, best investment ever, they probably won’t speed you up a ton but if you are used to 125’s then you will love the 114’s. I switched over without noticing any hinderence in performance, only increase in speed and ease of use.
It really just comes down to how lightly you can spin and how smoothly you can ride, so as to correct minor tips as easily and infrequently as possible. Once you get to where you can spin really really quickly, you might notice that you’re capable of riding at your slower speeds while barely putting any pressure on the pedals at all; methinks you need to be able to do that in order to keep your tolerances tight enough to where you can spin really fast and still maintain your line and your steadiness.
Also, I love riding with my feet really far back on the pedals, so I can use the bend in my ankle (calf muscle) to absorb some of the motion so I don’t have to bounce my thighs up and down quite so far. (I use 102 cranks)
I’d really recommend the 114s. 102s are the longest I’d want to go for anything flat, but there are some hills around here, and 125s felt too long even for them.
Just go out and ride and have fun; you’ll get faster even if you just do that!
Oh, I keep my seat pretty high, too. My legs come very close to totally straight when I ride with the centers of my feet on the pedals, and I can relax them to the right extension by riding with my toes/footballs on the pedals.
I ride 125s (though as soon as my coker’s out of the shop, I’ll switch to 114s) and I probably average 20 kilometers over some rollling hills. I once clocked my top speed (and this was years ago) on a slight decline at 18 mph (I think that’s about 29 or 30 kph) and I believe that was actually on longer cranks.
To maintain speed up hills, it’s a matter of experience to maintain your balance, and leg strength to keep the wheel spinning.
If you live somewhere hilly, the biggest speed improvement you can get is quite likely by riding faster on the downhills. Fitting a brake helps a lot with that if you haven’t already.
Riding fast on downhills is a matter of getting over the fear mainly, and letting the pedals spin your legs round. I’m rubbish at it, I don’t like going faster than about 18, but that is how most people get the big >20mph speeds.
Doing the fast downhills improves your spinning technique anyway, you’ll get better on the flat from learning downhills. Uphills are just a matter of practice practice practice, like everything else.
Having said that, a few riders out there can ride 20mph for a bit on the flat, which is insane. Typically with quite short cranks.
I don’t remember averaging over 10mph on my coker until I’d ridden probably 1000 miles / 1600km or more. I was riding 12 miles a day to work at that time, so doing a lot of training.
I’m no speedster on my coker. I seem to have a top speed barrier at just over 15mph - how ever fast I think I’ve ridden my top speed is always the same. I think it’s mostly just me being chicken because I can spin faster rpm on my 26", but the coker just feels less stable (I know it should be more stable in theory but that’s how it feels).
I’ve always used 150s on it so far because it’s quite hilly round here and I tend to ride a lot of light cross-country in preference to road. I’m going to try the 127s off my 20" and see how I get on - presumably I’ll be slower for a bit until I get used to the control, then hopefully a bit faster due to easier spinning.
I’m amazed by people who can ride at 20mph+ without falling off - huge amount of skill.
I’ve been doing weekly intervals with a couple of local Coker speed demons (steveyo and rolandisimo). Over the past few weeks we’ve all seen our ability to spin increase. My speed has increase by about 1mph over the past 6 weeks. For me it’s a matter of confidence (time in the saddle).
I’d recommend finding a relatively flat circuit (no hill climbs) with little traffic and start out with 8 sets of 3 minutes on (spin as fast as you can) and 1.5 minutes off (ride slowly to recover). Repeat until you completed 8 sets. Don’t forget to do a 10-15 minutes warm-up and cool-down.
After a couple of weeks, up the time so you are riding to 4 minutes on and 2 minutes off for 8 sets.
At some point, you’ll probably be able to switch your goal from time to distance. So… instead of 4 minutes on, you’ll do 1.5 - 2 miles on with a 2 minute rest.
Give it a try for a couple of weeks. Try to do the intervals twice a week. I’m willing to bet you’ll see a significant improvement.
The main trick to riding fast is to not back pedal. In other words, don’t slow down with your legs. Do all your slowing down with a brake (if required), and ideally, just “go with the flow” and spin as fast as the wheel wants to go. I prefer 125’s when non geared, and 150’s when geared.
Stop riding in the snow. I think that’ll speed you right up!
Obviously, smooth roads make a difference. The rougher your route/roads, the less you’ll want to push it. What might help is practicing sprints on smaller unicycles. Back in the old days (before there were Cokers), all unicycle racing was on 24" wheels (with 125mm cranks). We learned to pedal really, really fast on those. I used to be able to hit 17.5 mph on my 24". Now I can finally do it on my Coker, and for longer stretches, but I’m not comfortable doing it.
Because of my semi-healed collar bone, I haven’t been pushing for high speeds at all. I’ve only been working on high average speeds. What kind of speeds can I manage for a whole ride, or for several miles? That is hopefully building me a nice, strong, useful foundation of solid riding.
+1 on the smooth roads. For me, bumps mean a 15mph speed limit! Rough roads aren’t bad, because 36" is so big, but bumps, like small tree-roots under the concrete or something, are just horrible.
also, a huge +1 on Corbin’s comment about just going with the flow. You can kind of use your body as a “gas pedal” and when you’re going with the flow, you just tilt yourself forward a little bit, and you’ll accelerate without really thinking about pressing harder on the pedals, like your legs are just spinning automagically, putting in power as necessary, but never taking it out (i.e. don’t lean back!). Obviously, this only works to a point, but it’ll get you up to 19-20-21mph if you have short enough cranks!
This is an informative thread! Question for you fast guys…does the q factor have much influence? As in would you rather have short 102 cranks that are steel and heavy with little q factor or 102 cranks in a light alloy that have a bigger q factor?
On a pair of 102s the weight difference between steel and alloy is probably pretty minimal, especially in relation to a heavy Coker-type wheel. Currently I’m riding with some beautiful, alloy Qu-ax 114s, but eventually I will probably settle on 110s. My pair is ugly black steel (also straight).
For me, I prefer the lower Q, but that may be more of a personal preference than anything else. I’m getting ready to shuffle around the pieces from my new & old Cokers to make the best possible RTL machine out of them. Mostly this will be the new Big One with whatever seat and handlebar setup I can get working on there. Then I’ll see how I like the narrow hub on my old Coker vs. the new, wider one. I don’t think I’ll notice much difference, at least with straight cranks. The Coker cranks have some q.