I hate my 36er! :-P

I think I found XC unicycling nirvana, and it’s practically in my backyard!! :sunglasses:

There was a 36er ride today, a Rob’s Ride to be exact, but I didn’t go. I got caught up in some drama at work and couldn’t make it in time. Having just bought a WTB Exiwolf 2.3 for my KH29, I decided to go try it out. I told myself I’d ride up the less of the steeper graded roads near home–it’s only about 8% grade average and around 4 miles long. So, I pumped up the tire to 25 psi which felt pretty good for my 140 pound body, and I headed down to the highway, about 350 feet elevation drop from home.

When I got to the bottom, something in me decided to turn left instead of right. To the right is the less steep road, to the left is Alba Road, my nemesis with an average of 10% grade and about 3.5 miles long. I rode the mile or so to the bottom and started up it. About half a mile up a the first big surge of steepness, I UPD’d and was out of breath. Unwilling to quit I pressed on. In all I counted about 5 big grade surges before the top. Each one had relatively short sections of lesser grade that were still solid uphill but just long enough to catch my breath while riding seated. I made it with only one dismount!! Clearly, the Exiwolf rides well on the road for an offroad tire–it’s definitely my new favorite 29er tire!

Just like last time I went up Alba Road I continued to the summit of Empire Grade and hooked up with the Lost Empire trail. I ran into some local hikers shortly after starting it, and they expressed how awesome my unicycling on a trail is. I guess the “no bikes” signs don’t hold much weight for the locals.

Unlike last time, when I got to the Big Ben Tree, I turned right instead left. Left goes down to a very scenic trail that follows the creek, but it’s not a very exciting trail MUni-wise. And, there are fallen trees with around 4 feet clearance that force a dismount every several hundred feet or so. Right turned out to be incredible with plenty of less than eighteen inch drops, what I would consider good sized for XC MUni. I didn’t clear most of them, but it’s something I can work towards. There were long chutes that were clearly carved out by bikes, not too steep but plenty technical.

Unfortunately, around this time I realized that it was quickly getting dark, and I was descending deeper into a thickly forested valley. So I started hammering which resulted in some UPDs on some more technical sections. I spanked my bum on a log, and I’m sure I’ll have a nice bruise tomorrow. The worst UPD happened right as it got so dark I could barely see without a light. I did an unintentional coast, and one of the pedals caught my left shoe and flung it down the side of the mountain. Fortunately I didn’t fall too hard, and my shoe stopped only about fifteen feet down.

I took the opportunity to pull out my cycling headlight. I covered the remaining few miles of trail walking the rockier parts and riding when I could. Then, an adventure by itself, I rode the windy two lane highway back home, shining my headlight in the road so the cars could see me riding the barely-a-shoulder in some sections.

In all, I was gone for about 3 hours, I climbed at least 2500 feet elevation, and I’d guess that I rode around 15 or more miles. It was quite the epic ride for a weeknight!

So I guess I should explain the trollish subject line. The last three rides I did were on my N36 with 152 mm cranks. All three times left me with a wrecked right knee. It felt like I had seriously pulled something in the joint to the point that even walking was hard. I thought that it might have been from too high of a saddle, but I’m certain that is not the case now. Louise, one of the local riders, clued me in to considering the q-factor. I was using the Sugino cranks that have quite a bit of q-factor. So, with them, my N36 has about one inch more q-factor than any of the other unicycles I have. So I now think the large forces required to ride such a heavy wheel offroad combined with the extreme q-factor is what left my knee hurting so badly. After all my riding today, heck yes I’m sore, but my knees are fine! I’m convinced that the performance to weight ratio of the current 36ers is way too low in rough conditions.

It’s not really that I absolutely hate my N36. It’s a relative hate, relative to how much I like my KH29 and the rides I can take it on. I’m still planning to ride my N36 for the Tour of San Francisco this weekend, but it certainly will have shorter cranks with less q-factor.

So, who else hates their 36er? :stuck_out_tongue:

I have a KH29 and I love it. I have been riding it with 150mm cranks and find it great to ride. I would only consider buying a 36" if I was just riding long flat roads, apart from then my 29er seems to do everything well.

I dont hate 36ers but I dont like them enough to buy one…yet :stuck_out_tongue:

me: it’s a love/hate relationship.

it started when my 36er sent me to the emergency ward.
afterwards I was afraid of it and I went through phases where I could not free-mount it anymore and phases where I could.
another problem is that since it is an “old fashioned Coker” the wheel weights tons and since I use it only offroad trying to keep my balance hurts terribly my achille’s tendons.
So I need to:

  • buy a lighter wheel
  • breathe and try to get rid of my psychological barriers
  • lose my 29er in the woods :stuck_out_tongue:

Since I bought my 36 I have used my KH29 loads more than I used to!

I had a nasty off on the 36, I then got stranded miles from home with a loose crank arm-

I haven’t ridden my 36 much and whenever I do I struggle to mount it, strugle with all the ridiculous hills round my way and end up with my knees hurting for days after a long ride.

My 29 is not that much slower, is way less tiring and much more versatile.

The 36 feels great cruising along on the flat, but where I live there are virtually no flat routes. It seems to me to be too heavy, too cumbersome and makes riding hard work -pretty much takes the fun out of it for me.

I have almost got to the point of wanting to sell it…

But I keep thinking that one day it will click and I will become a coker beast.

In truth I think it is going to spend most of its days in my workshop looking pretty…

I loved my N36. It was a fantastic unicycle. Sadly, it didn’t seem to love me back :frowning:

After a lot of riding on my 29er, I thought I should be more than qualified to move to the next size up, but I never quite got on with the handling or freemounting. Sometimes it was lovely, and rode like a dream, but a lot of the time (particularly in Central London) the overall journey time was actually slower than the 29er.

After about 2 months, I went on a 136 mile ride from Swansea to Birmingham. I thought that spending that much time together there would be some bonding going on, and I was sure that we’d end up the best of buddies by the end of it… however, there were a few arguments along the way, and the N36 got stroppy and refused to go up steep hills, so the bonding just didn’t happen. A few times I thought about selling it, but decided that even though we didn’t get on, I couldn’t part with it…

… until… a second hand 29" Schlumpf came along. I couldn’t afford to just buy it, but after offering the N36 as part payment, I’ve never looked back. I’m living the dream now! Yeah baby! Now I’ve put a T7 handle on it, it’s just fantastic.


I don’t think I would replace my coker with a schlumpf. I definitely want to get a schlumpf uni, but I don’t think I would ever replace my coker. The coker is so fun, and I can take it offroad and down stairs and be brutal with it and not have to worry about messing up a 1,000 dollar hub! Now that I have a full-time job though, I am anticipating the new KH/Schlumpf hub.

Something that could be making your knees hurt on the coker is the seat height and the crank length. Your seat may be too low, so raise it up some…also 152mm cranks are pretty long…my knees definitely feel a whole lot better when I use 125s, and soon I will be switching to 114s. 125s are very versatile and you can climb most things with them…just not the really steep sections. I used my 125s in Colorado on a ride I did with Aspen Mike and in San Francisco on my own little ride I did. They are great little climbers and a pretty decent cruiser…just not all that great for really steep sections (although Ken or Roger would probably disagree).

My knees only hurt when I go DOWN a lot of really steep sections now…but once I surface my rim and get my brake installed properly so I can actually use it…I think this problem will be solved.

You know me so well :stuck_out_tongue:

125’s are my climbing cranks, 110’s my general cruiser, and 100’s for flats.

Speaking of 29er, that’s all I’ve been riding recently. I like it cos it’s so versatile.

As I understand it, Kris rode the hell out of his prototype and only broke one doing big North Shore MUni, which is much more intense than the trails I ride with my 29er. So I’m not too worried about the durability.

I’m fairly certain the problem is not the saddle height.

I’ve been all about the 125s until recently. I agree that they’re the most versatile length. I only put 152 on for the first time a week or so ago, and they were great for the long uphill trail I first tried them on–I think it was about 2000+ feet of elevation gain. But I ended up with a hurting knee. So I think I’ll be using my 29er from know on for the really big climbs.

I think the down is definitely harder on the knees than the up, and I suspect this is because back pressuring pedals just doesn’t seem natural.

BTW I worked much on my position going downwards and having the foot always pointing down helps me a lot .
I try to get my torso much bent forward and try to have a smooth pedalling with toes always pointing downwards: when I succeed it is really worth the try!

Yeah, but that is the KH/Schlumpf prototype. That is why I am waiting for that to come out…I meant that I wouldn’t want to ride too hard on the schlumpf that is out now…but when the KH/Schlumpf comes out it will definitely be fine for some fun things.

I also find that leaning forward helps some too. Also, on long steep sections that are starting to hurt…I find that if you stand up while going down, it creates a little more resistance and lets you pump down easier and with less knee pain.

Downhill is harder on the knees when running/walking, also. It’s just the physics and anatomy of it.

We did a 20-mile mixed road and MUni ride last weekend on 29ers; the particular route we chose would have been OK on Cokers, too, but the 29er is definitely a nice size. Big wheels are a blast on trails that would otherwise be too easy to be really fun.

Oh, you did not just said that

As I understand it, the hubs are pretty similar.

I’d be more interested in seeing more riders testing it at high speed- doing MUni and jumps etc is quite different from revving it up to 30-40km/hr.

I’ve done a little bit of riding, but never really pushed it too much.

I don’t know about the Q-factor thing. I only use straight cranks so I don’t know what it’s like having your feet that little bit further apart. I definitely love my 36er (as well as my KH29) - both are fantastic cycles.

On the ride yesterday that Mr Phlegm missed, I was testing a new pair of straight steel 140mm cranks and they were really nice. I could almost keep up with Corbin on his 125s on the downhill (well, at least I kept him in sight) and I could still climb well.

This weekend, we have a 1200m climb on Saturday - I’ll keep testing the 140s then scale down to 125mm for the San Francisco Tour - only 900-1000m climbing there.


I love my 36… but I do think that the 29 is more versatile. It takes me so much more effort to hop up, regain control of…etc my N36. But recently have been enjoying my 24 offroad all the more for its hoppability…

I use 125’s on my 36, my quads get sore, but my knees don’t get that ichy sore feeling. I have been tempted to commute in on the 29, but the 5 miles goes so fast on my N36, hard to switch it out.

knee pain

I have also noticed knee pain after about 2 hours of hard riding on my N36. At first I thought that my legs just wernt used to riding that much anymore but am now convinced that it has something to do with the uni, I have tried difrent seat heights but I haven’t considered Q-factor, I would consider re-building my wheel with a standard hub but I would be scared to give it the abuse I do now with the super wide.

riding a 36er at a skate park is an interesting chalenge

I am glad to hear I am not the only one that has problems getting on the 36 er and controlling it. I have found the 26 I have has become much easier to ride though. BIG QUESTION: What is “Q-factor”? I love riding flats on the 36 but I do not have any idling skills on it yet. I am riding 125’s and everytime I get on it I want to go. I have to take time to practice idling and mounting. I really cannot belive anyone takes a 36er off road.


Q-factor is the distance between the plains in which the petals revolve. cranks with zero Q do not bend out while ones with (an added) Q-fartor do. Having a wide hub will also increase Q-fartor.

Maby not the clearest explination but I hope it helped

Maybe not the best spelling. I laughed out loud when I saw Q-fartor. :slight_smile: