How fast big wheels?

I have seen pictures of unicycles with wheels up to 42". Since I travel a lot
on my unicycle and get frustrated with the speed limitations of my 24" wheel, I
was wondering how fast you can go on the bigger wheeled models. My racing speed
is about 11mph, but it would be nice to go 15-20mph without worrying about
losing control.

Beirne Konarski

I would also like to know what kind of speeds people get on wheels larger then your typical 36" coker. Are they just to large to use efficiently for crusing around?

I’ve seen a 40’’ wheel on sale in the trading post. IMO, 36’’ is more than good enough - if you’re decently strong, 15mph is no problem.

Where did you find this thread? It’s one of the oldest I’ve seen.

Ha ha ha. You were just a little squirt when this thread was created. That’s funny. I’m feeling old now.

I was looking through some of the old posts and thought I would give this one a bump.

This thread not only predates the forum, it predates the newsgroup. It’s from the original mailing list, that I found so useful when I was learning to ride (and which ISTR was maintained by Beirne).

I wonder what happened to Beirne.

Woah, I was like -4 months old when this thread was made

Beirne Konarski created, and may have been in charge of the newsgroup at some point, but he didn’t create it. Unfortunately I can’t remember the name of the person who did. I think it was someone from Arizona, and I don’t think I ever met him.

The problem with wheels over 36" is mostly not about whether they can go fast, usually it’s about the fact that almost none of them have pneumatic tires. My 45" big wheel can cruise nicely, but it sucks for long rides because it’s like being on a skinny racing bike tire at 120 psi and no suspension. And the unicycle weighs 28 pounds. There have been some unicycles made with 42-43" rickshaw wheels and fat air tires. But these wheels were built for industrial use (long life) and were way heavier than a Coker wheel with steel rim. And hard to get parts for!

Give me my big wheel for parades and other show-offy stuff (it can do pirouettes), but give me my 36" for any kind of distance riding. :slight_smile:

wowww, I had no idea this site was here so long ago.
93!? That’s insane.
I was 4.

Nor did I know unis went over 36"

I think this thread was started even before most people had heard of the internet, hence the zero replies :wink:

Yup, I’m feeling old too. I had been riding for a good 15 years by the time this thread was started.

93 ? , it’s like yesterday

Now to address the OP’s question. Bigger wheels’s rock. I saw a friend’s 42" uni he bought in Japan in '80 ish , it had a 42 " air tire.

The tire looked to be 30 years old, it is from the rickshaws that were pulled by a jogger. These have been so totally replaced by pedaled tricycle rickshaws (cabs) , using small tires , that a 1/2 hour internet search shows no current source for these 42 " tires. But my Cantonese is weak LOL.:wink:

If I had the $, I would build a really big air uni tire. Maybe crazy big, like a 48 " on a fender frame that would keep the knees and spokes separate. Kris commented in a thread a while back that the big $ cost of a bigger wheel would be paying to make a run of tires.

That makes picking the right size sorta a gamble. No one want’s to roll the dice with their own cash to make a tire bigger than 36" ! :thinking: Not that I have the $ and smarts to try myself.

Personally, as a 36 rider, I can say it’s kinda easy to ride a 36. I am not a very impressive rider on the small wheels (there is a lot to learn!), if a guy like me is totally comfortable riding around on a 36, it was an easy skill to learn.

So I think the market for a bigger than 36 wheel is huge. Riding a 36 is easy, and everyone wants to go faster. Huge by uni sales standards, a 45 ish uni with a TA quality tire might outsell all the 36’s in the first years it is available. If reasonably priced and I am assuming not that hard to ride, most of the current 36 riders would want one. That is a number of buyers perhaps 10 x the number of new 36 riders.

I think the chances of anybody putting money into developing a bigger pneumatic tyre are even lower now since the introduction of the Schlumpf hub. People who want a higher gear now can use an available wheel size and gear it up, albeit at a cost, and have the added bonus of keeping the lower direct drive for hills or traffic riding.

Of course, if a 45" or 52" or whatever wheel was available, some nutter with nerves of steel would put a Schlumpf hub in it anyway!


Haha, and I was only… 37! :astonished:


Wow, I wasn’t even born when this thread was created :stuck_out_tongue:


If it was any older, it would pre-date the wheel itself!


Hey, who had that? Sem Abrahams has/had one, and Jack Halpern. Also guy from Quebec whose name I’m not sure of, so I won’t slaughter it by trying to spell it here. And maybe Bounce had one? He had some nice custom cycles.

Another problem with making bigger tire sizes is that you cut down your market in physical size. 36" still allows a very wide range of leg lengths to fit on it, but as you go bigger you shrink your market. Also I think as wheels get bigger they become inherently weaker, meaning they need more material to keep them stiff and strong. Tire fit might also be an issue, requiring tigher tolerances between rim and tire for a solid pressure-holding tire that won’t pop off the rim or be impossible to put on.

I’ve ridden wheels up to 63.5" diameter. Big looks awesome.

Was it a giraffe, or did it have big extenders on the pedals or what?