Living on a flood plain, I don’t get too much opportunity to do ‘mountain unicycling’ but I do get to do plenty of ‘off road unicycling’ on a variety of surfaces.
With few steep bits, I seldom need the torque of long cranks, and I have been experimenting with very short ones. Today I did about 8 miles, mainly off road, on a 24 with 110 mm cranks. That’s a leverage of 36%… very similar to a standard Coker (33%). Yesterday I ordered some 102 mm cranks - that’s 4 inches old money - which will give the 24 exactly the same ratio as the Coker.
Results? Fun fun fun, and I recommend it to anyone who can’t get to steep hills easily.
On the flat boring bits, the cadence goes up, so you get there quicker, and, crucially, it feels like you’re getting there quicker. On the rough bits, it takes a lot more control than riding with longer cranks. It’s tempting to go too fast, then when the wheel hits a trap, things can happen very quickly indeed! Short steep bits can be swooped up with momentum.
Long steep up hills aren’t as hard as you think because the tiny diameter of the pedalling circle makes it like you’re going up a flight of very small stairs. Given a reasonably smooth surface, there are some hills I’d rather do on a 24 with 110s than a 26 with 150s.
Steep descents are more of a problem. It’s easy to let the pedal pass beyond ‘top dead centre’ unexpectedly, and you can find yourself flying!
So, a strong recommendation: if you are reasonably experienced at MUni, but can’t find any hills, put some short cranks on and magnify the hills you can find! And when you put the 150s back on, it will be so bloomin’ easy you’ll need to find some even bigger hills than you couldn’t find in the first place!