So I’m proceeding with the 36" bike project I started a while ago. I am trying to gain some acceptance for the wheelsize, and the response thus far has been very encouraging.
There are two things that, in my mind, need to happen for 36ers, (uni and bike.)
Firstly, there needs to be an established ISO tire size. This is critical in avoiding the current Coker/Wheels TA tire rim issues. For there to be two tires and two rims out there that don’t work together is ridiculous.
Secondly, there needs to be a higher quality rim and tire available. If one were to scale up a common 29er tire to 36" it would weigh between 800-1000 gms. This is a huge difference from a 1700-2000 gm TA slick or Coker.
So I’m wondering two things. I’m new to the unicycle world, so I don’t know how many 36er riders there are out there. That, and if a much lighter tire and rim were available, how many people do you think would be interested? I will say that I own a bike shop, and would profit a little from this development, though profit is far from my main drive. I love this bike, and I think that a joint development between bikers and uni riders would be critical to getting this right.
So here are the questions.
How many riders do you think would be interested in a new tire and rim combo?
What are people’s biggest gripes about what is currently available?
What distribution network would be the easiest to get these out to people? (IE, Unicycles.com or the like.)
The tire would probably be a tread like WTB’s Nano Raptor or Weirwolf, something with bite but good rolling resistance. Would this be a tire good enough for the longer rides that 36er’s usual do?
Thanks for your responses, it’ll be a great help in determining the feasiblility of making this happen. Thanks again, cheers,
I understand that Roger of UDC Uk is in the process of trying to get a decent 36" rim made after all the recent troubles (and enormous cost in the UK) of airfoils.Might be worth dropping him a line, he’s very friendly.
The Airfoil Rims are a great rim, not too heavy and very strong. EXCEPT that they can’t seem to make 2 batches the same size. I’m happy to own one of the earlier ones that wasn’t reworked and fits both tires currently available.
That’d be good. Or at least a de-facto standard… I have one of the powder coated Airfoils from (I think) before the small batch, so it’ll take both tyres. The lack of a proper braking surface might irritate me one day but right now I don’t use a brake.
Since I have an airfoil, I wouldn’t want to upgrade the rim in the forseeable future - most serious 36er riders have the airfoil but they may differ on whether upgrading is worth it.
If the tyre would fit on my rim I’d be quite interested; might want to wear down my TA tyre first since large tyres are expensive. But after messing up my ankle sliding in the mud I’d absolutely like to see some kind of offroad-able tread pattern.
There’s a lot of 36er riders in these forums and lots of folks who have experimented.
The tyre is definitely interesting. Ideally it’d be nice to fit it on my airfoil though!
Both tyres are very heavy and neither seem to have very suitable tread for muddy conditions (although I’ve not ridden the coker tyre).
The heaviness is good in that it gives you more momentum, but sometimes it would be nice to be lugging less weight around!
UDC is good for worldwide distribution. Secondary to that there are some popular national distributors in parts of the world.
That would rock. It’s nice to have a 36er road tyre available since they’re well suited to distance riding, but proper offroad tyres really haven’t been tackled yet.
Even if it’s expensive to set up production for 36" tyres, there may be a market in low volume custom made tyres - for instance the tread job you did on the TA tyre. I’d consider buying one for my next tyre provided a) it saw good reviews and b) I good get them in the UK.
Previous discussions on this forum have included using industrial glue to stick treads from a 29er tyre to a worn-down coker tyre - would also be interesting to see tried properly.
A lighter 36inch inner tube for the Coker as well. The current Coker tube weighs 1 lb. Since it is possible to use the 0.5 lb 29" tubes with difficulties, it seems like a practical and lighter 0.7 lbs 36" tube should be possible.
Figure a production run of 1000, which would likely take a few years to sell off.
Gripes: Apparently the newer Airfoils have a fit problem, which I assume was not intentional. Are Coker still making 36" tires? Do they intend to? That would be nice to know. They are kind of up in the air about it. The ultimate tire would be great on the road, but would also require some tread for the minority of us that use them offroad. I think they need to be long-lasting because a large percentage of users of these 36" wheels use them as novelties, and don’t want to have to buy tires very often. Those of us that crank out the miles won’t mind, but as mail-order items it can suck to be stuck without one.
Weight: It’s probably going to have to be heavy to hold up. The larger a bicycle-type wheel gets, the more inherent weakness it has. If you build your rim/tire like the smaller ones, it’ll probably fold more easily than we want. I’d rather have a heavy wheel that can take a beating than a light wheel I have to baby like a racing bike wheel. That’s not (most of) us.
If you’re going to make rims and tires, please consider making something bigger than 36" instead. How about 42"? Longer frames can easily be made.
Start with Unicycle.com, then look for other distributors if you have holes to fill. Bike distributors might sell them also, if there are bike applications.
Tread: As I mentioned above, your largest market are probably casual riders, who aren’t too concerned about tread details but will be on pavement. Your second-largest segment will be road riders, who want a nice roll and (I’ll add for myself) something that rolls well on angled surfaces, like the edge of a highly cambered road. The off-roaders will be the smallest segment of your market.
I found out about the discrepincy a little while ago and I thought it was just really stupid. Why did they do that? It isn’t so bad because I would only use the road tire though. But to all those mountain 36ers that sucks.
I’m certainly no expert, but surely if the rim is as strong, wide and sturdy as the Airfoil then a high-pressure tire could be lightweight and doesn’t need to be too sturdy? For on-road use I think various people have dreamed about such as a 36"x2" version of the Schwalbe Big Apple - large and forgiving for soaking up bumps and giving stability, but light weight too.
Also, as John Foss said - even bigger than 36" would be brilliant. A strong, light pneumatic 40"-46" wheel would cause a lot of drooling.