Need help with upgrades for unicycling son

Hi -

My 12yo son has gotten heavily into unicycling. His goal is to ride an hour every day. He generally rides on the road and does several miles up and down hills in our neighborhood. He can free-mount and go up and down the steps on our walkway, over roots, small rocks, etc. He’s still working on idling but it’s not as much fun as riding so it’s not a primary goal of his.

He rides a 24" unicycle we got from Amazon and it still suits his needs, but he wants to expand his options for riding. An adult friend of ours who rides a lot said we should get a fat tire for his 24 which will be fun to ride and allow him to go on trails. Eventually we think he’ll want a bigger wheel for street-riding or a higher quality unicycle.

Can I just order a new fat 24" tire from Amazon? What width is considered “fat”? Any general recommendations other than Amazon?

He’s 5’2" and, based on family heights, probably will top out between 5’10" and 6’. If we wanted to look into a taller uni, what size wheel would you suggest?

From a rider’s standpoint, how does a more expensive unicycle differ from a cheaper one? I mean how do they feel different?

Thanks in advance!

Hi Dave,

Always good to have more unicyclists out there. You could get a bigger muni-tire for the uni, but for one I wouldn’t buy it on Amazon, but on a site like Also I wouldn’t recommend another 24". In that case you’d better get a 26" or 27.5". The tire is slightly bigger and more comfy for longer rides.
You can see various types here :
559/584mm (26/27.5 Inch)

Personally I prefer not to buy the most expensive and also not the cheapest. Buying a municycle (mountain unicycle) is to my opinion the most versatile. You can ride on the road and also off-road and a bigger wheel rides more easily over bumps and through pits.

I think also a more expensive one has a better seat and is less prone to break.

How wide you can go on the tire depends on your rim width. I’d guess there is a fairly narrow rim on your 24", so if he wants to ride some trails and go with a more offroad tire, you are probably limited to a ~2" wide tire. You can go to a local bike store for tires too, they can probably tell you what tires would work width wise for your rim if they look at it. I buy all parts that are interchangeable with bikes (brakes, tires, pedals) from bike stores or amazon, I see no point in limiting myself to for those.

It depends on what he wants to get into. Downhill: 27.5", Cross Country: 29", long distance 36", trials/flatland: 19", would be my rough guide. Since unicycles (mostly) have no gears, the tire size determines your top speed, but there is always a tradeoff for maneuverability.

I’d say there are two aspects: a more expensive unicycle is stronger. If you ride “Muni” (Mountain unicycling), a unicycle has to survive some hopping, some drops. As a rough guide, anything with a splined hub (ISIS or Q-Axle) will be significantly stronger than unicycles with square tapered hubs. The general “high quality” brands I’d recommend are: Mad4one,Unarouta,Kris Holm, Nimbus, Qu-ax, Impact. Within those, there is still some differences, with more expensive, you tend to get lighter, and stiffer frames.

I guess my general recommendation would be: If he is interested in riding Muni, put a offroad tire, and some grippy pedals on his 24", and let him try it with that. If he likes it, and wants to continue down that path, get a proper, high quality Muni with a brake.

Maybe you could have him look at some urban unicycling videos or these tutorials.
Considering his age, he might end up enjoying himself a lot more on a smaller wheel :wink:

Who says you need a small uni for that?

And don’t forget frame width. That’s easy to measure, but exact tire widths, when inflated, may be different (or a lot different) than what’s printed on the side. That number usually relates somewhat to the recommended rim width, but could be smaller than the actual width of the inflated tire.

So basically, see how much room you have to work with. Even if it’s not real wide, you can find a knobby tire to put in there, which will make it better for the dirt. I started out with 24 x 1.75 tires on the trails, and used that for years, because Mountain Unicycles weren’t on the market yet. :slight_smile:

Good advice. Brake is optional, depending on how steep his most-ridden trails are. The brake is primarily used for control when riding downhill.

More expensive unicycles generally will be lighter (all other things being equal) and much harder to break. We usually recommend waiting until the “starter” uni has problems before making a decision, but many people want to move on while the starter uni is still good; it can then be used to teach the next person!