Learning the 36 Inch Wheel


It is nice to see another learner of the same age :sunglasses: It takes time to get the feel for the big wheel, and I am still not able to use the handle bar very well yet. Hope you are making good progress! Very nice Nimbus :slight_smile:

Hello NotSoYoungOne,

YouTube videos of people riding the 36’er was the reason I got in to unicycling. I got a 24" spring of 2010 to learn, and immediately got hooked. The most challenging for me has been to climb hills. It is difficult but great fun and very satisfying when I make progress. This fall I have tried some Muni as well which I really enjoy. I was surprised to find out how many people over 40 that were unicycling when I discovered this forum.:slight_smile:

I started in September last year and have done much the same as you, trying several sizes of unicycle and types of riding. I really enjoy the 24" around the neighborhood, and I did some very challenging Muni this spring and summer. I have also done a few kind of “big” rides on the 36er (nothing compared to many others out here on the forum though!).

When I first made an account here on the Community I thought it was mostly young people and that there would be few people over 40 (which is why I chose the NotSoYoungOne name), but I was wrong! :astonished: There are so many riders 40+, 50+, and even 60+ it is impressive.

If you want a fun thread for learners go to the Just Conversation forum and look for the Learning Journal thread. Keep posting your progress and I will do the same (here on this thread, on the Learning Journal, etc.). It will be a while before I get back on the 36er but I hope to be on the Muni during the winter.

Thinking of buying a 36er

Hi folks

I’ve been riding for almost exactly a year and am a total addict – why did I wait 51 years to shed a wheel and ride on one not two.

Most of the time I ride either a 24 Muni or a 29. I’m on the verge of buying a 36 but for some reason have the total jitters. I lay awake last night convinced that I’d either never be able to ride it or that I’d fly off and kill myself at the first attempt. We are not talking an idle musings here – this was the full on 3am sweats.

I don’t know any one that’s got or ridden a 36er – indeed I’ve never actually seen one in the flesh. Am I just looking for excuses or are those things real killers.

Ps any answer that puts me off will be ignored!

I’d say there are significantly more dangerous than the 20-29" range. I seem to have seen more posts on here reporting broken bones on 36-ers than on the other size wheels.

They go faster and, in UPD’s, the rider falls from higher, so, clearly, injuries will tend to be worse.

Often, in 36er UPDs, the rider hits the ground at a faster speed than they can run.

Finally, another injury which seems to be peculier to the 36-er, is where the rider comes off and the 36er does a ‘pecking’ action- usually the seat will peck the ground, but, occasionally, it hits the riders achilles tendon. I believe at least one person on this board ended up with a severed tendon from that?

Of course, serious injuries are in the minority, and, can happen on the smaller wheels- it’s just that they’re that bit more likely on the bigger wheel.

If it’s putting you off getting a 36er, you could consider getting a penny farthing for a while- they’re really lethal; then back down and go for the safer option of the 36-er unicycle :slight_smile:

I hate to dissuade anyone from taking up the wonderful world of riding a 36er but I would be remiss not to inform you that it is significantly more dangerous than riding my 26" MUni. I’m laid up right now with a knee injury and I might be out for the entire spring MUni season. The next time I get to ride either one, it will probably be so hot outside that you can’t stand it. Major bummer!

I often ride my 36er along side my wife (who runs) to protect her from abduction. I will be taking my 26" MUni from now on. She’s fast but nobody can outrun a geared 36er. I can use the 137mm hole in my cranks and enjoy hopping the curbs and riding the sidewalks (urban MUni) at a pretty good pace.

Will I ever get rid of my 36er? Probably not in this decade. I’m 43 now and my kids are growing taller everyday so they might one day enjoy it. By then, my old age might relegate me to a bke perish the thought. The whole reason I got into riding a 36er was to try and keep up with my bke friends which I can pretty much do on any incline or on flat ground. Of course they get to coast so they have to wait patiently for me at the bottom of big hills. I will be riding it in the Hike, Bike, and Paddle (they close the streets downtown for 1000+ b*kes and me to ride 15 miles or so) on Memorial and Labor days. That is a can’t miss. I am blessed to live near the 100 mile (90% funded, 30% complete) Louisville Loop and riding a car-free paved/sealed greenway is loads of fun. Anytime you ride with cars, you are putting your life at risk.

So what is it about a 36er that makes it more dangerous? Is it the extra 10 inches that you have to fall whereas you can simply step off the front (I try and make it a point to never try and catch any of my unicycles in a UPD as that is a good way to get hurt) a 26er? Well yes, in part, which is why I think MBalmer made a wise choice putting her Schlumpf hub in a smaller wheel with a slick tire. But, more than that it is the fact that pavement is harder than dirt. If we get that lightweight knobby tire they are bragging about on MTBR, I will try more off road but 99.9% of the trails in my area are rocky, rooty, and not at all conducive to riding a 36er or any wheel for that matter in high gear. In summery, the two major dangers are cars and road rash.

If you look at my albums you will see that I wear only the best protective gear and if you insist in going forward with your endeavor, I would highly suggest you do the same. Yes it’s hot and stinky but road rash sucks!

Oh, who am I kidding! As soon as my knee heals (to 100% functionality) I will probably be right back on my 36er like nothing ever happened. There is nothing like the feeling of the wind whipping thru your helmet riding a 36er at speed. Sweet dreams!

Why do those look to be the same size? ((or is it just me?)

36" unicycles are great fun. Do not let the critics dissuade you! However, you probably should wear some protective gear. I wear a helmet, good gloves (Hillbilly) and knee pads (Black diamond). I often wear elbow pads, but I think they are the least important. Get started with long cranks, 150 or 165 mm, and take it easy until you get a feel for it. They are great for cruising on the road, but I like the feel of it better with shorter cranks: 125 or less.

Have fun!


I have never thought of 36’er riding as dangerous at all. But I don’t have a geared hub and I stay away from cars (I only ride on bike paths). I have banged my knee a couple of times because I wasn’t paying attention, so now I always wear knee pads.

Those are the same size. His kh 36er and to the right which is now mine, a nimbus impulse 36er.

I may just be weird but I learned to freemount first day and thing I did when I got it. I tried using a wall and it didn’t work. So I just jump mounted it. Now I can do different types of freemounts. :slight_smile:

I’d never really thought of 36er riding to be dangerous, until I fell off and knocked myself out (I was wearing a helmet), and didn’t know who/where I was for 3 hours. I was only going about 5-6mph at the time. I think the fall was caused by my shoes (part of the sole had half peeled off) getting stuck to the pedals, but for all I know, I could have just accidentally pulled the brake lever, or maybe I just fell asleep…

I’m not trying to put anyone off riding a 36er, and other than that incident, I’ve never fallen off my 36er badly. Just make sure you use suitable footwear, and wear a helmet!

Last year I sold my 36er to build a 26 guni. Last week I sold my 26 guni to build a 36er, come full circle I have :stuck_out_tongue:

The best part is that the new 36er will be built on an Oregon hub and have disc brakes, AND there’s a new mtb tire comng out for the 36" wheel that will have more traction and less weight, so my 36er XC Muni will finally be a reality :smiley:

A week from now I’ll be back to spinning the big wheel…

Now if there were a 32" wheel and some good tire choices :astonished:

I started on a 20 in. After I learned how to ride I went to a 29 in and was scared to death for about 10 minutes. Quickly I realized how nice the ride was. I went to a 36 in about 8 months later and felt the same way for about 10 minutes. I have fallen off my 36 in but always wear knee pads, wrist guards and a helmet. I have never gotten hurt. I have put in almost 100 hrs on it. I have fallen forward and slid across the payment many times. My padding is all scratched up but my knees and palms of my hand have not been touched.

Wow, lots of folks falling off their 36ers, what gives?

I have never fallen on my 36er, certainly some upd’s, but not all the way to the ground :astonished:

Now falling on my 26/29, yeah, I do that on a regulat basis :stuck_out_tongue:

You can get hurt riding unicycles. You can also get hurt doing other things, like taking out the garbage or walking across the street.

I think most people that get hurt on 36ers are pushing the speed envelope, and usually with shorter cranks which also means less control. I enjoy my 36 with 152 cranks, going 11-12 mph on and off road. At reasonable speeds where you can run it out (I have long legs so can run out a 12 mph UPD), I feel very safe on the 36 because if I UPD off the front I usually have plenty of time to position myself before I hit the ground. If I want to go faster, I get on a bicycle or motorcycle. The great thing about the 36er is being high up with the big wheel under you - it’s just a great fun feeling. I’d never seen one in person before buying mine, certainly don’t regret getting it, and am looking to upgrade to a disk brake model.

Seems like that’s the same problem on gunis; well that and riding on slippery surfaces :roll_eyes:

I am not about speed, my idea of a 36er ride is mild single track, winding through the woods, some rough areas, while avoiding double track unless it’s connecting single track. I run 165-170 cranks whcih give me the power and control I need to manage that big wheel.

I find it curious that folks want to push the speed limits on a unicycle. Going fast on a uni is really not playing into the strengths of unicycling. Agility, flexibility, quickness, these are the traits that make unicycling unique in contrast to bicycles. Going fast on a unicycle is dangerous, as many people are learning.

You can’t make a pony into a race horse, but you can have fun riding a pony.

I would imagine people said the same thing about taking a Uni off road many years ago…

Don’t get me wrong, I agree with you 100% Ben.

It takes age and experience to know how far to push it. Some people never learn. I used to push past my limits in mt. biking, a few years ago I learned how far “too far” was and spent most of a year recovering from a bad wipeout. There are people out there way more skilled than me, so let them do it.

Having your limits and knowing to say “when” is important, but everyone is different.

Yeah, no offense taken, some folks would consider me a wimp because I won’t do certain things, while at the same time some would say that I’m crazy.

I’m older now, my “go big” days are winding down, I have enough chronic pains to last me into old age. It’s been a while since I woke up pain free, comes from years of extreme sports and lots and lots of falls.

I feel like there’s a trend in injuries as of late, with the spread of geared hubs, more and more high speed crashes resulting in serious injuries. I have had high speed crashes in other sports, injuries to my back and neck cause me daily discomfort and at times I can hardly function.

All I can to say to folks is that you will pay for your youthful indulgencies, one way or another, best to cut your losses and keep the injuries to a minimum.

I want to ride, ski, climb, etc… into my golden years. There would be nothing worse in my mind than having an active and functional brain stuck in a worn out shell.

Big + 1

Um, yeah. I figured I’d be fine with the guni on ice after all the successful 36er riding I’ve done on ice. . . which I do not recommend. I think my ice riding days are over. :frowning: