Long distance touring with bicycles??

Could any of you cokeurs comment on riding with bikes on a 36? I know the average speed and everything but I want some first hand experience. I have no friends that unicycle but I do have several friends that are into cycle touring… is this plausible If I am on my unicycle?

Were you able to keep up?
Who was faster up hills?
What kind of bike were they riding?

Well I ride my 36er (114mm cranks) on the beach bike path a lot, and routinely pass inline skaters and ppl on most bikes. I can easily maintain 14-15 mph, but the serious guys on road racing bikes leave me in the dust! They hit upwards of 30 mph so there’s no way to keep up with them.

I’m in the same boat

Since I have nobody to uni with, I’ll train along side some bicycle friends.

Also I’ve never ridden a 36" so I don’t know what speed to expect.

My new uni will be a nimbus 36 with 125 cranks.

My average riding speed on my 29" in 10km/hr with 125 cranks.

Will I be able to keep up with bikes who are coasting on their mountain bikes?

Sam Wakling (RedWelly) would be the guy to ask. he rode a Coker (after only a couple of weeks practice) from Lands End to John O’Groats with 4 bikers. I think issue 2 of Uni had the full writeup.


Are you sure you have got that right? I can average about 10mph (16kph) on my 29er with 150s and I hit a max or 13.7mph (22kph) I am pretty sure my spedo is set up right, I havnt calabrated it with a GPS yet though.

I rode RAGBRAI with my friend (mouse on the forums); we both had N36 unicycles and rode alongside 10,000 bicyclists last summer. Of course, yes they have a slightly higher cruising speed (slight being 5-7 mph faster).

There was a heavy headwind all week, and mouse and I experimented with tagging onto the back of a draft line as it passed. Surprisingly, we were able to keep up, though it was quite a frantic candence we had to maintain in order to do so; but the lessening of wind resistance was great.

Riding with bicyclists can be a lot of fun. Sometimes they slow down as they pass you and initiate a conversation. Especially on a long distance ride, that conversation is very helpful, as it makes you focus on something other than how your legs are feeling and how much farther you have to go.

As for hills, we murdered the bicycles as far as speed goes on the way up, but were quickly shown up on the way down.

It’s a great experience. You get to feel especially unique riding with a group that knows about cycling but still believes unicycling to be a superhero power. It certainly makes for more interesting stock comments than those from standard pedestrians and drivers.

I ride with bikers quite often. On our tours, like the Mediterrean Unicycle Tour, we often have a few people on bikes. It will be the same on the upcoming Vietnam Uni Tour. Bikes can generally go faster, that is, if you raced yourself, your bike self would beat your uni self. Maybe there are some exceptions to this, but it’s true in general. On our tours, which are on normal roads, the unis are MUCH slower on the downhills, slower on the level sections and slower or faster on the uphills, depending on the relative speed/skill/fitness/tiredness of the riders.

It would not be very fun for you or your super road bike fanatic friend to go out riding together. If you work really hard, you can average 12-15mph on the Coker but he can average 18-20+ no problem. But it can work out great with a slower biker - they will just have a break at the bottom while you finish descending that 5 mile long hill. This is especially true with my wife who rides a recumbent bike and cruises past the hotshot roadies on the downhills (she even has a fairing).


For a second I was thinking that you were considering a long distance bike tour. I currently have a half baked plan to bike tour from Sask. to the Maritimes in August…

As for riding with bikers probably the best comparison I have experienced was when doing the MS Bike tour last September. On average I was faster than most of the bikers but I was also in better shape. Bikers in similar shape left me in the dust. If your biking friends are willing to carry the bulk of your gear it might be a fairly even playing field with you being faster on the assents and the loaded bike being faster on the descents.

On the MS bike tour I averaged 19.5km/h including a few km of walking off a tweaked knee, riding average was probably around 22km/h. I was riding a 36 with 125s.

Last time I did an actual bike tour it was ridiculously miserable out and the “gravel” clay dirt roads were extremely soft and sticky so we only averaged about 9km/h, but most loaded trips that I have done we average 15-20 on trails and 20-25 on road.
Edit: after reading Nathan’s post I sort of agree. These average speeds were for week long bike trips that i take 13-15yr olds on in the summer, not elite bikers by any means.

I think that the average speeds between a loaded bike and a unloaded 36er is close enough for a bike/uni touring team to work.

on a side not: I am thinking it might be time to upgrade to a Surly big dummy and retire my old Kona frame (with Xtracycle). Just wondering how much it will end up costing.

The first big cycle tour I did was with 35 bicyclists from Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam to Siem Reap in Cambodia. The tour was pretty flat and I was riding a Coker with 125mm cranks. On average we were riding 60-80km/day and I was usually mid-group. There was a huge range of ability in the group, but there was occasion when I was riding with the lead riders at 30km/hr. They were just cruising though, I was pedalling hard out.

Most cycle tours are at a pretty leisurely pace. It’s not a race is it?

On average if there are hills, you’ll probably do better than many of the bikers going uphill, but you’ll be left in the dust on the downhills.

My average riding speed

My 29" has a Vetta cyclometer. Its quite accurate.
I checked it against measured kilometer distances and stopwatch.

My high bursts of speed average at 18kph, my lows are 7-9 kph.

But my comfortable loafing cruising speed is 10kph.

If I push myself I can easily pick it up to 14kph for 5km stretches.

Thanks all. This sounds good to me. I plan on doing as many unsupported unicycle tours with my two friends as I can every chance I get. The good news is they are both in the market for a cheaper touring bike (thanks to some convincing) and are also both new to cycling as a sport. We will pack light but it won’t matter to me since they will be carrying all of it!

www.crazyguyonabike.com has really fortified this love for touring in the past few years, but now with the switch to unitouring it is tenfold.

Sask: That surly machine looks ideal for some seriously loaded touring. Didn’t someone ride around the world on one?

Edit: $820 for the frame and fork alone. I wouldn’t even know where to begin building.

Nathan, you’re a family of alternative cyclists. I also love recumbent touring. I remember cruising down a Nevada mountain somewhere near Ely and not having to pedal for at least twenty minutes. An ‘Easy Rider-esque’ chopper group pulled up behind us and once they passed we were able to stay in their draft for minutes. Do you also ride a bent?

im doing 17 miles tomorrow with some bikes on my 24"
I am hopping for icky muddy trails so that they will not be able to coast and I can keep up. I will let you know how that goes later. I am sure that I will be working my butt off.

I’m the best fastest 36 rider I’ve seen

I’m sure there are others in this town, sometimes, but I never see them.

So I race people. I love a race. 5 year olds on trikes are ok until they get training wheel bikes, and pull away from me on the 20.

On the 24 I would often pass slow joggers, then they would often pass me back.

On the 36 I was fast that day. And a 30ish girl with the look of an average pickings, speed wise, was turning to the right ahead on one of my favorite roads. I told her we were racing, and I took a bit of time turning up sidewalks, cross the street, etc, while she went more straight. I didn’t want to win to quick, I rode the course at first as I always did.

After a few minutes she had gapped me bad. I really knucked down and tried to reach a higher level. I was flying.

After a bit of curves, I lost sight of her for a bit, but caught sight on the long straight. She gapped me 200 yards in about a mile.

I think I’m a good enough 36 rider to take a long tour on sorta smooth roads.

Speed wise, my normal cruise speed is half that of “lazy local bike riders”.

I think my 36 Radial with 140 cranks is in excellent rolling shape. I keep getting smoother and faster. But here in flat town, I have some doubts that I can beat runners, never mind bike riders.

So sure, a 36 rider can tour with bike riders, but only if they consciously wait for the uni rider IMHO. Unless you are on some super guni, and are a really really top uni rider.

My wife rides an Easy Racer Fold Rush, and for the Mediterranean Uni Tour she took a Bike Friday SatRDay (foldable recumbent). She gave that back and is just putting together a Lightning P38 now. I haven’t done much recumbent riding or really any biking lately other that a couple of long MTB rides. Just can’t ride anything other than Uni!



Yes, if you are a confident rider you could definitely tour with friendly bike riders. I planned this End to End tour of the UK (1000 miles, 23 days) for me and three bike friends while I had a 29er, and got a 36er less than two weeks before it started. Being unsupported meant that the three bikes had panniers with most of my stuff too, which helps to keep their speed down. We averaged about 11mph most days, cruising at 12-15mph much of the time. As others have said, uphill a uni will often go faster than loaded bikes; going downhill they’ll get away however fast you can spin.

The main thing is to have biker friends who like taking things easy and cruising along. If they’re relaxed you can all have a good time.


Wow that sounds like a cool tour. I need to get that issue.

Despite seeing it several times now, I still believe unicycling RAGBRAI requires super powers.

touring long distance with bicyclists

i know i’m coming to this discussion a little late, but having ridden thousands of miles with a bicyclist, i’d have to say that it’s just not ideal. i actually swore to myself i’d never do another long-distance tour with anyone again unless it were with a fellow unicyclist. personally, i hate the feeling of holding people back. the uphill sections were rewarding, and having the opportunity to pass bikers consistently was awesome, but not necessarily frequent enough to make it worth the whole ordeal.

it’s true that when a bicycle is loaded with all the touring gear and the cyclist is in touring mentality, the average speed is slower than on training rides and is more feasible to do alongside unicyclists, however the speeds are simply different, and over 60+ miles, it creates a bigger gap.

a lot of your decision will be based on the goals of the bicyclist, because the pace of the tour is pretty much going to be determined by the unicyclist and not the biker. with really long distances, touring is primarily a mental challenge, and having a biker along tended to exacerbate any existing frustrations i may have had.

just my two (or three) cents…