You could. It will probably be a much tougher learning curve, but there are people that have learned on a 36", it’s not impossible.
A 29" is just outside of what is possible to fit into any standard size suitcases that I’ve seen (26" just squeezes into one fully disassembled). You may find wheel bags for bikes that work within the airlines maximum dimensions.
I like the idea of having some goal when learning to unicycle but I hope you are also realistic about the distance and average speed that you can sustain on a unicycle.
Not recommend. But you probably allready read that. I don’t think it’s about your height. I’m similar to you in that regard.
Get a throwaway 24" or 20". If you manage to get really confident before getting home then upgrade and leave the cheap uni behind.
I bought a 20" initially and soon after a 29". But I found it to big of a leap bought a 24". After riding the 24" for a few month I started appreciating the 29" which is now my favorite size…
There is a chance that starting too big will make it to frustrating to learn and you might give up…
If you have 50$ to spend, I’ll buy a 20 or 24" used unicycle. It’s likely you’ll be able to re-sell it for the same price so, it’s kind of a “free” unicycle.
Also, wear at least basic protecting gear:
Shin Guards: beginners always will hurt their shin with the pedals (happens way less when you get to be more skillful). Very painful. If you have trousers or high socks, you can even just use a piece of cardboard under these clothes, that does the job very well.
Wrist guards: Usually, you’ll fall on your feet. But if you don’t, then there are chances that you’ll fall on your hands.
I started to use wrist guards very late after starting unicycling. I never almost fall, and even less on my wrists, but here is how they look as today:
Helmet It’s less likely you’ll hurt your head while learning unicycling, but you definitely don’t want a trauma here.
And finally, some advice I don’t see often, but is from my own experience and what I have suffered multiple times… If possible, try to be aware of the position of your feet when they touch the ground if you fall or dismount.
I twisted my ankle 2 weeks after starting to learn unicycling. It was not serious and I could ride again after 2 weeks only.
+1 to what others have said, if you’re brand new no experience a 20" or 24" and some protective gear. Doesn’t need to be a good uni just cheap and rolls when you pedals
I have a 29" that I use for light muni and going alongside my wife and doing bike packing trips and 29" is my favorite size for this. 36" is a bit too big and fast for my comfort zone by others swear by them. I like my 29" because I can go decently fast, 15.5kmh on a 72km trip, there are lots of tire and build options, and it’s great for Muni if you want a single unicycle. You can even just change your tire before you ride different terrain if you want different handling. I personally love 29" and use it to get everywhere
Do not start learning on a 29" though. I went from a 24" to 29" and mounted and rode my first try (I think this was mostly luck). So that transition isn’t too harsh. You can learn on a 29" but you’ll be giving yourself more grief than is worth the $100 cheap uni.
Honestly this is in my opinion not achievable. I can keep up with mediocre cyclists when doing a reasonable number of miles when I’m riding my 36er, but I’ve tried similar on a 29" and it’s simply not fast enough.
(and as a consistent UK road race podium finisher, I’m pretty quick…)
A 24" is a reasonable size to learn on and is what I learnt on many years ago. I could imagine someone learning on a 29", but probably only if they’re well over 6 foot, and even then it definitely wouldn’t be ideal.
I think a main issue with learning on a 29 would be the part about jumping onto it. On a 24 or smaller, you can just kind of step on, but with a 29 a bit of a hop is required to get on and this could be too offbalancing to learn nicely. I would say it’s possible with motivation and willpower, so if you decide to go for it, keep us posted.
Sounds like a challenge. If you really are committed to learning (which you have to be in any case), I’d say go for it. You may need more support for mounting at first but the basic idea of uni riding is the same, no matter what size.
After barely learning the basic idea of riding as a kid I went cold turkey into riding a 36’er after a 50 year break. If I had asked I would have likely been advised to start back on a smaller uni just to get “back in the saddle” again. It worked out well, but did likely use more support when mounting at first.
I will refute the 29" isn’t fast part. I can go quite fast as I’ve been training quite a bit on my 29 and can go fast. It takes a few years of practice as do all things but it can be done. When you start on a 29" though expect to be slow.
I’m arguably on the slow side of 29er riders but I did a few trips with my wife on the bicycle and me on the uni. When I ride the 29er I have to ride at a very high cadence which isn’t that enjoyable for me, however my wife is still bored by the speed we go. Nowadays I’d rather take the 36er for longer rides together.
I also have a bit a different opinion on my 24’’. I’ve got a nice 24 muni which I still enjoy riding for shortish distances (<10km) and it’s a great uni to take with you when you travel by train, bus or plane.
So, my advice would be: Get a nice 24er muni to keep and take wherever you go and later get a 36er for the rides with your wife.
Well congratulations on doing your unicycle “model” research. KH 29 is an awesome unicycle for unicycle riders who like speed, maneuverability and downhilling.
Also, having the “confidence” to drop the $$$ to get one, and you can’t even ride it yet.
Here’s a quick tip on learning. It’s how most sons/daughters of parents who are unicyclers learn.
(I don’t agree, because I’m a stubborn fkn ex-punker/raver/skateboarder diy type. To me it’s cheating)
However, this is the “quickest” way to learn.
a.) Find a “patient friend”.
b.) Have him/her “hold you up” while you are riding and figuring it out. No wall or fence.
c.) BTW; here’s a crash course in unicycle mechanical dynamics:
i.) Learn to use/control a fore/aft rocking motion that is generated either by hip action from the seat or upper body brute force/timing. Get used to feeling of “falling forward”.
ii.) Learn to “drag the pedal” = use back pressure to “fight” the normal forward pedaling foot, so you can grind the rotating to a machine like constant rpm. Also, use a “stop/go” pedaling action.
iii.) Learn to coordinate upper body twist (shoulder/elbow/hips) to the pedaling motion.
iv.) Pedaling motion dynamic is both “food down” force and “knee up” force. Newton’s 3rd law.
Now, enjoy the 29" and show us “experts” on unicyclist that it can be fkn done on a 29!!!
Can you put some numbers to what “fast” is to you?
Just as a reference for @Dave and the bikepacking ideas:
21 km/h average is the world record on a 29" for the marathon distance - that would be with very short cranks and pretty smooth road.
I’d say as a “fast but not pushing it” on usual (flat) bikepaths, I could probably sustain somewhere in the 16 km/h region for a decent amount of time - as a pretty good overall unicyclist, but not specifically trained in pedaling fast. (Which would be a few km/h slower than me on a bike at a deliberately slow pace, trying to not sweat).
I’ve (tried to) followed cyclists with my 29" many times. A 29" isn’t big enough to follow “regular” cyclists, unless they go slow or uphill or on tough terrain (where they have to go slow).
That said, if your wife is nice enough, she’ll ride slow and you’ll be able to ride with her. This is how we did it with my girlfriend.
Never tried a larger wheel size though.
You’ll quickly learn how to ride a 20 or 24" unicycle. Then, you’ll be able to very quickly to tame a 29".
After 2 months of practice with a 20", I was able to ride my new 29" the very first day I received it. I just needed a bit more time to learn to mount it (and I found it easier to mount the 29" thanks to the wheel inertia).
So city riding with my wife is say 15-17kmh average, Unipacking with friends is 12-16kmh average depending on terrain. I can generally get up to 20kmh in short burst but not often.
This speed is with a light wheel and 100mm cranks, if I’m swapping to 125/114 it will drop a bit. Also I’ve pretty much been riding road/gravel for years. I do muni, but more so as a group ride with the other local unicyle riders in town.
In not saying it’s as fast as a bike, but those I ride on bikes next too didn’t mind the slower pace but I’m not setting and speed record with my friends.
If the goal is go bike speed of 17-22kmh average, 36" hands down or a Schlumpf. Or just train like no tomorrow lol.
I ride a 29er regularly on paved and packed bike paths that are semi flat. 7 to 8 mph is where I’m at sustainability for longer distances. Having a bike rider have to keep a slow pace to keep up with me is not a fair expectation and keep in mind they have the benefits of down hill coasting that can drive their average speed way up as well as the distance between you and them. When I bike with friends , I use a bike that way we stay friends and I’m invited back on rides. If your wife wants to ride her bike with you and keep you company that’s fine, my daughter’s ride with me every now and again but usually get bored of putting along and end up meeting me at trails end. If you intend on uni packing you will have the added weight of your gear that will slow you down even more, and your biker companions are going to want to cover some ground to stay on schedule.
Ultimately if you want to keep up with bikes you will need a 36er short cranks and some advanced skills. For me I love my 29ers and am content with the speed I travel and am comfortable with the control I have, it makes for pleasurable rides for me and as I troll along bikes pass me by one after another.
Agreed, the reduced pace may not be for all bike riders. If your friends wants
a bike ride, best to give them that knowing their speed. My friends know me as the unicycle guy so it’s a fairly agreeable time for them as we mostly due chill rides together