In praise of the 28

Today, on the 28, I cleaned an obstacle I’ve never managed on the Coker. The Coker has a 2.25 section tyre and 150mm cranks. The 28 has a 32 mm road tyre and 110mm cranks. That means that the Coker has better ‘rollover’ (bigger wheel); more momentum (heavier wheel); more tyre squish for small irregularities; and a lower gear (cranks are proportionately longer, compared to the wheel diameter).

The obstacle in question is a footbridge over a marina entrance on the side of the Nottingham canal. There is a short steep ramp up, with narrow house bricks set into it across the slope to provide grip for pedestrians, or to buckle bicycle rims. Then the bridge has a bit of a hump back, then there’s a steep desent, also with the bricks.

This gives me a choice of riding over the bricks and risking tripping, or denting the rim, or aiming for the narrow gaps between and risking fluffing it. The descent offers all sorts of possibilities, not least of which is being too concussed from a backflip to notice where the unicycle falls into the canal.

But I did it! On the same uni (28/110) I rode the tricky cobbled bridge at Beesten which often stops the Coker.

(To be fair, I also UPDd on 3 sections which i normally take for granted on the Coker.)

None of you will know these bridges, so I don’t expect you to be impressed. However, I thought it was worth sharing that the 28/110 with a road tyre seems to be remarkably nimble. So much can be achieved with short cranks and a bit of care and determination.

Another incident on the day’s ride: I’m cruising along the river bank on a cycle path when I hear a bicycle approach from behind. I move over a little and hear the bicyclist say, “They’re short cranks you’ve got there.” We rode together for half a mile or so chatting, with him expouinding his theory (to me of all people!) that the length of cranks is one of the most overlooked things in cycling. He has 165s on his bike instead of 170s, and is looking for some 160s.

Also, riding by the Trent and seeing over 50 swans and probably 300 gulls all bobbing there in bright sunlight under a blue sky, a cormorant cruising low of the water, and a heron flapping gracefully along. On a nice day, even Nottingham can appear nice.

20.62 miles (33.17km)
Average speed on mixed terrain, but mainly flat: 9.05 mph (14.56 kmh)
Top speed 14 mph (22.52 kmh)

I feel I have to go and ride these bridges, just for research reasons. But that’ll be on a 24x2.6 muni with a brake etc. Ah well. I’ll put some shorter cranks on.


Never spotted you’re in Nottingham!

The bridge I was most chuffed about was the narrow footbridge over the entrance to Castle Marina, where the canal runs parallel to Castle Boulevard. It’s not far from Homebase. I find it quite tricky, and quite steep. I dare say I could ride it on the MUni, but I’ve always failed on the Coker.

The other bridge is just a tricky one which gets me sometimes, but I cleaned it today: it’s a traditional canal bridge over the canal at Beeston Rylands - about the first bridge down the canal from Beeston Lock.

Must ride together some time.


definately. It will require me to reach new hights of organisation though, neding to choose a time to go for a ride more than 5 minutes before starting. I’ll pm you some time.


Re: In praise of the 28

did he at least seem surprised to meet someone who could ‘give as good as he got’ in the crank-length discussion stakes?

Re: Re: In praise of the 28

To be honest, I think he was just pleased to have an audience who understood what he was on about. There was little real exchange of ideas. I’m not even sure how much he really understood his subject, as he was talking about differences of 5mm in crank length. I guess he was more interested in the ergonomics (cranks tailored to leg length) than the effect on gearing (ratio of pedal movement to wheel rim movement).

However, it was nice that he didn’t regard the unicycle as unusual or an invalid form of transport - and he noticed a technical aspect of the machine. That’s progress of a sort.

Re: Re: Re: In praise of the 28

which is something i haven’t heard u mention in your discussions on crank length
any validity for the unicycle?
or do we compensate for that with seat height?