Well, after delaying a bit on our income tax returns, we finally filed them and got a refund, so the wifey says, “Hey, do you still want that new unicycle?” Don’t have to talk her into it, justify it, or anything else. Just like that. Before she could finish the sentence, I was at my computer putting in my credit card info on the unicycle dot com website for a new Nimbus 24" Mountain Unicycle. I thought the orange one looked really sporty, so I got it. I’ve only ever had 20" street unicycles, and my last new one was bought in the 80’s, so this was exciting! I’ve been wanting to get a muni for a while now, so this was my chance!
It came in today, and it was really mean lookin’. I love it! It was pretty easy to assemble, but cutting the seat post turned out to be a bit more of a chore than I thought it might be. I knew from one I tried to ride in a bike shop that the standard seat post was too long for me, and rather than buy a new one, I decided I would just cut it. Even though I know no one will ever see it, I wanted the cut to be as straight as possible, so I opted for a pipe cutter, as the instructions indicated.
The pipe cutter was actually very difficult to use on this. Someone may have a more professional one, but mine are just the consumer grade cutters for copper pipes. I actually have three, and the first one I tried didn’t work at all, and it cut and gouged the area around where I was attempting to cut. I eventually gave up on it and tried another cutter I had. The seat post is very well built and thick, and it took forever to cut through it. I’m pretty sure my cutter is trashed from it, but it did eventually work. Afterwards, I filed off the sharp bits, and it was fine.
Sadly, the two inches I removed wasn’t quite enough, so I decided to give the hack saw a try and take another inch off. I put the seat post in a vice with rubber inserts that won’t mar the metal, and it was a breeze. My hack saw blade isn’t very good, and it was still 10 times better than the pipe cutter. It wasn’t a perfectly straight cut, but it was very close. Again, I used a file and filed off the rough edges. When it was done, it looked a lot neater than what the pipe cutter did. Unless you have some sort of professional pipe cutter for cutting thick, metal pipes (not soft, thin copper), I would opt for the hacksaw if you need to do this. That said, seat posts are pretty cheap ($20 USD for a 200mm), and it’s probably cost prohibitive to buy tools just for this.
Riding it for the first time was a bit intimidating, but I did freemount it on the first try with no issues. Compared to the two 20" unis I have with little street tires on them, this thing is huge and bulky and I sit up noticeably higher. I found myself thinking that I was glad I got the 24" instead of the 26".
It WANTS to go off road and eat up some dirt. The tire is about 3 inches wide and about 3 inches tall from the rim. The tire alone is drop-dead sexy. I’m not usually a huge fan of orange, but it looks very nice and sporty on this unicycle fork. I’m glad I picked that over the black.
After getting the seat post cut and adjusted and a tire pressure that felt right, I took it for a ride. It feels completely natural to ride and I was able to instantly feel comfortable on it. Even though I feel like I’m sitting up a lot higher, in reality, it’s not that much bigger than what I’m used to. It is a bit heavier, though, and I can tell there’s a lot of weight in the tire, and riding that huge knobby tire on concrete is kind of funny. It goes, “thud-thud-thud-thud.”
It seems that when you really get going, there’s a lot of momentum in the tire, and it’s harder for me to stop and reverse it to go backwards, but I still really like it. It’s kind of like wearing some heavy-duty boots. They’re a bit heavier, but they get their own momentum, and they feel like you can put 'em though hell and they’ll be fine.
After I made it down the alley, I took off to the park across the street and rode down a grassy hill. That was pretty cool. I sailed down it very nicely. There’s not really any off road trails in the park. All the trails are concrete, so I took off in the grass. It was a bit tough. The grass is deep in places, and it makes it hard to see what’s under it. There are places where I got bogged down and had some upd’s and did a couple rolls. It was fun, and the grass is soft. I’m used to falling on concrete, so it was a nice change.
I decided to head uphill on the grass, and that was extremely hard. After a few seconds, I was completely out of breath and gasping for air. The grass is very thick there as well, but I loved it. I was hooked immediately. I could tell that this is going to be an amazing way to work out.
I did notice that climbing hills is a bit harder on this than on my 20" unicycles, and I know why (wheel size, crank length), and I expected it, but it’s not that much harder, and as soon as my legs are used to it, I’m sure it will be fine.
I also really like the pedals it came with. I was sure I’d want to get rid of those evil metal spikes, but I gave them a shot first and really like them. It’s a bit harder to re-position my feet after I mount, but the trade-off is worth it. It’s very grippy and keeps your feet connected nicely with the pedals. After I take a few chunks out of my legs, I may change my mind, but for now, I’m happy with them.
As I had hoped, going over obstacles was a lot easier as well. With the bigger, knobby tire, I was able to roll over things much easier. Since I only went up to the 24" and not the 26" wheels size, I wasn’t sure how much easier it would be compared to a 20", but it was significant, for the most part, but it some cases, it was a little harder, especially going uphill. I think my legs are still trying to get used to the length of the cranks and the size of the wheel. I haven’t measured the cranks on my 20" unis, but they’re pretty long compared to the wheel size, so there’s a lot of leverage there. I think the comparative leverage on this Nimbus 24" muni is a little different, kind of like being in a higher gear on a bike.
The other thing that was kind of surprising and really cool was how connected I felt to the terrain going off road. It’s kind of hard to describe, but it was like the difference from reading flat, two dimensional words on paper, and then reading by braille. It was a very engaging and intimate experience. Every little thing translated up through the tire, and I was able to instantly perceived of every texture of the ground and everything on it. Riding a mountain bike off road doesn’t give me that feeling, and nothing on concrete feels that way. Like I said, it’s hard to explain, but it was a really cool sensory experience.
Overall, I’m really happy with the purchase. If I could sum it up in one word, I’d say, “AWESOME!”