Muni/125 and 29/150 experiment.

The story so far: -

I live in Sheffield=big hills, I love my 24x3 muni with 150mm cranks so much that I use it on the streets/communting- it works well especially on the hills, though it’s a little slow.

My 29-er with 125 cranks is good for roads, though I feel that roads are not the best place for a unicycle to be; on the pavement it’s ok but, though I like the smaller turning circle and lack of ‘wobble’ with the 125’s, I don’t like the lack of control.

Despite intending to try different cranks on both wheels for the past year, I’ve not gotten round to it cos I hate changing cranks around and don’t like spoiling a good ride by having to adjust to a new set up.

But last night I forced my hand by switching the 125’s onto the muni and the 150’s onto the 29-er.

Today I embarked on the 29-er with 150 cranks and took an instant dislike, the big wheel had lost its smooth wobble free action, and the crank turning circle was ungainly.

Admittedly, my effort was pathetic, I went once round the block and then went home.

Then back out with the 125 muni, expecting very little other than another quick return home.

However, I found it to be a very nice set up and ended up riding for an hour.

Within minutes I’d adjusted and, at times, the 125’s felt little different to the 150’s. On the streets I felt no particuclar loss of control, and had no problems with some mild ‘muni’ of going up and down the odd road side grass hill verge.

Also found myself riding much as I did with the muni in 150 mode, hip twisting sharp corners, jumping off curbs etc; basically felt very comfortable, safe and enjoyed the ride.

It was difficult to say how much faster, if at all, it was with the shorter cranks; I have a problem judging speed, for example, the extra speed of a 29-er with 125’s was never apparent to me till I switched back to the muni.

I think there’s an effect where you get a contrast of actual speed with ‘apparent speed’ i.e. on the 150 muni I can really spin the pedals cos I’m so used to riding it and often feel as though I’m bombing along.

Whereas, with the 29-er/125, despite the fact that my actual speed is greater, it often feels that I’m going slow because I never feel confident/inclined to spin the cranks like on the muni.

Conclusion: -

Despite the lower control of the 29-er with 125’s, it seems to be a necessary ‘other side of the coin’ to its more charming attributes of a smooth, dignified ride.

Whilst the 150’s would open up its muni potential, and make the steep hills more do-able, I’d be inclined to just get a muni out instead.

It’s become apparent that my discomfort with the 29-er is not so much to do with the cranks as with the wheel, and also its height.

i.e. a problem whilst on the muni, regardless of crank length, is something that you can generally step out of; whereas, on a 29-er, it’s more of a jump from a height.

As for the muni 24X3, my respect has gone up once again; as a good all round general purpose (for outdoors anyway) uni, it has got to be near the top- good for muni, streets, hills and great with either 125’s and 150’s.

In fairness I do need to have a longer ride with the 29/150 to fully assess it’s merits.

My only problem now is that I suspect I’ll be wanting the 125’s to use on the 29-er as a road machine, but my muni is going to be reluctant to relinquish them!

Maybe I should try my 110’s on the muni?

110s on MUni might be good for something. Just not MUni. I use my MUni for going up and down steep stuff. I need torque. I’ve got 170s on it. Slow, no doubt. But like a tank, it just plows up and over all kinds of stuff.

I use 125s on my niner for general use. But I found that for light MUni (“crosscountry”) that 150s were better. I lost some speed, but made up for it by not spending so much time and energy remounting after numerous UPDs.


Sounds to me like a huge part of the problem is psychological. You talk about the extra height. A 29 has 3 inches greater diameter than a 26 (a 24 x 3 isn’t far off 26 inch real diameter) but your seat height is related to the radius because the hub is only half way up the wheel. So you’re sitting approximately 1.5 inches higher which is almost negligible.

Lengthen the cranks and your seat goes lower relative to the hub. Shorten the cranks and you need to raise the seat a little.

125mm cranks lose 1/6 of the leverage compared to 150s. 17%. It will make a difference at the margins, but not to normal riding, on a 26 - 29 on tarmac and easy obstacles.

My 28 has only a light(ish) road tyre, 700c x 32mm, and I have only ever enjoyed riding it with 110mm cranks. On that set up, I have done light MUni or X country. The style and rhythm is different, but it can be done.

And on my 24 (with only a 1.95 tyre) I have ridden ‘off road’ on cranks down to 89mm. It is surprising what can be achieved up hill and downhill on a 24 with 102s.

Where you need to make adjustments is in the sudden changes of speed. With shorter cranks, plan further ahead, and do the tricky bits slowly, standing on the pedals for fine control.

Keep experimenting, and find what suits you. Give each set up a reasonable chance. You’re clearly a good and experienced rider, so you should acclimatise fairly quickly to a new set up.

Good point Mike, and on reading that I was a little surprised that the apparent loss of control on the 29-er compared to the muni could be due to a 1.5" difference.

So I put them next to each other and you’re right, the axle of the 29-er is only a little higher off the ground than the munis.

I guess maybe it’s a combination of factors including the small height difference, the smaller leverage of the 125s and the fact that 98% of my riding to now has been on a muni with 150’s. Hopefully another factor is the psychological one as well, as that is something that can be worked on.

One thing I’d like to mention again is relevant to what you said about riding well within the limits of ability i.e. Sheffields hills; all the roads are do-able on a muni with 150’s, but I’m in a bit of a state at the top of some of them!

So, the combination of shorter cranks and small height increase when tackling steep hills means that I’m getting to the edge of my riding abilities.

On Christmas day I did a 16 mile bike ride to visit my parents, I don’t ride the bike often and when I do it’s usually in Sheffield and I usually keep it in the lowest gear (it’s a racer) cos it’s good for the hills and, on the flat, I’ve no desire to go that fast.

Leaving Sheffield on the bicycle it really hit home how hilly Sheffield is cos suddenly the lowest gear felt totally inadequate, and, for the rest of the ride, the high gears got their first taste of exercise for some time.

The only other place I’ve done any unicycling in is Milton Keynes, for a week. It’s much flatter with a superb cycle path network (away from the roads) and, if I lived there, I reckon the 29 with 125’s would probably become my main uni.

I do appreciate what you say about the possible pychological factor though, and, the next time I go out on the 29-er I’ll do so with that thought uppermost in my mind and see what happens.

I reckon that I’ll be using the muni with 125’s for the next few weeks and I’m sure that will help when I put them back on the 29-er.

Here’s an idea, to try or reject as you see fit.

To get used to a new wheel/crank combination, practise in a restricted area. It has to be an area with clear physical limits such as kerbs, walls, fences, hedges, or crocodile infested swamps.

I find that if I am free to ride a long way, I ride a long way. Riding a long way builds stamina, but doesn’t do much for your technique.

However, if you practise in a clearly defined area like a tennis court, small car park, etc., then you force yourself to find something to do. Before you know it, you’re riding figures of eight, idling, reversing, doing 180s degree spins, and all that sort of stuff.

My ‘freestyle’ skills are very limited, but my basics (freemount, idle, reverse, turn, stop) are pretty good on all sizes (except idling the Coker, which is still hit and miss).

And it is my belief that if you can freemount, idle, stop and reverse a unicycle, you are confident on it, and that confidence makes you better able to ride it forwards when the terrain is challenging.

A simple incline or decline on tarmac is either rideable or not. Technique and timing will help to an extent, but after that, it’s a simple matter of leverage. On uneven ground, though, the timing makes all the difference. Even little things like a slight wiggle of the wheel to ‘shorten your stride’ so that the pedal goes down at the right time to hoist you over the steepest bit. I’ve never learned to hop over or up obstacles, partly through laziness, but mainly because I like to outwit the terrain, not bludgeon it to death.