Long cranks and fast ride

I met a lockdown new unicyclist with 27,5" uni, 148 cranks spinning really fast (I had to fasten my pace to keep up with him and I was riding a 36" 125 cranks!) So I decided to relearn my g27,5" 137 cranks… No way I can pedal smooth as him. I tried a high grass field and my half rotation pace was strong, but if I try fast spinning (in low gear) on road I fear every bump. So I wrote down a few diffrences in setup: 1) he rode longer cranks and lower saddle (knees more bent)… is it a way to prevent bumps UPD? Isn’t that setup against smoothness? 2) His handle saddle was parallel to the ground (lower than mine for sure)… isn’t that a muni setup to leave part of the weight on the handle during an halfstanding ride? I cannot understand that munilike setup going so fast on road

A bit lower seat does make it easier to deal with bumps, as it’s easier to stand out of the seat (more “suspension travel”.

If your seat isn’t super low, no, not necessarily. You can still spin fast with a seat lower than your typical road setup.

To me, it seems like what happened to you is something that happens to most of us at some point. You think you are a decently fast rider, until you meet someone that can pedal faster than you could ever imagine being possible. The one time I rode a marathon on a 36", I thought I was spinning super fast - until I was overtaken by someone on a 29" consistently spinning a cadence I had only seen on 100m races before.
I think it’s less the setup that is the issue, it’s just practice of spinning fast, and also still being able to deal with bumps/corners when spinning fast that you need.

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I’ve tried many combinations of wheel size and crank length, with cranks down to 75 mm (briefly!) and up to 170 mm. My conclusion is that you ride fastest on the length of crank that you feel comfortable with.

A tad too short and you find yourself over compensating for bumps and rough surfaces, you get nervous and tired, and your journey times deteriorate — even if your peak speed improves.

I’m on my 3rd 26 inch uni and also own 24, 28 and 29, and I have just gone back UP to 150s on the 36. They’re not the fastest on the flat and smooth, but over a long and varied distance, I find it best to choose cranks for the worst conditions I will meet.

As for someone else spinning faster and overtaking you on a smaller wheel — yes, I feel your pain.

Some people are just superhuman.

After a bad crash I was faster riding with longer cranks and a lower seat, but as I became more comfortable again the seat inched its way back up and the cranks got shorter again. I’m not necessarily faster with shorter cranks and higher seat, but more comfortable and feel like I’m using less energy.

I’ve had more unexpected dismounts at speed with shorter cranks, and a higher seat while more efficient indeed will also be more likely to send you into a superman if you hit an unexpected bump or dip.

Probably the biggest factor in how fast you can comfortably ride regardless of crank length is the subconscious fear of suddenly not riding.

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The kids at unihockey ride faster than me. Much faster :frowning:

Well, are you saying he is a kind of superhuman riding in a more controlled but inefficient way? I’m now thinking about going longer regaining control versus flow… but is it a good choice even if it is inefficient? I’ll try lowering a bit my seat

I think you have to stop analyzing every bit of information in an attempt to understand everything.
Put the pen, paper, and smock away in exchange for your helmet, wheel, and spare time.

Who cares what others do, and does it really matter?

Do what feels good for you and you will feel better. That’s a fact.

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I’m with Canoeheadted. The only time I care about relative speed is on a group ride when someone is slower. We always take turns riding in back with the slowest rider. Also, what’s the hurry? Look around at the environment you’re riding through. Most people intentionally pick pretty routes.


I spent big money on a used Schlumpf hub and on a new carbon rim (I cannot let my wife know about these), so I must become faster to avoid the feeling of wasting my family’s money. When I saw a friend riding in that fast inefficient way I felt shame towards family’s long term money planning (paying house debits, new child within few months, old car too small for the growing family). So I must be fast to follow my crazy child on that mtb, to become fitter, to feel doing well with money and so on.

Well, you can always sell your uni gear…

Surely it’s cheaper to buy a unicycle for each member of your family than to upgrade your car.


I basically justify every unicycle and bicycle with “at least we don’t have a car so I can as well spend what I’m saving on those things…”

Well, you spend money to make yourself faster, and your hobby (hopefully) a more enjoyable experience for yourself. If that is a smart investment at that point only you can know, but comparison against others doesn’t matter for that. Did it make YOUR time spend riding more enjoyable is the question, not is someone else faster than you. (Sometimes the answer to that question will be: “No, getting this actually didn’t make much of a difference”, but that is besides the point…)

Eluid Kipchoge relaxed pace training runs are much faster than my race pace, but that still won’t keep me from buying a nice pair of running shoes…