New Nimbus 24 ultimate wheel review

My old Nimbus 24" ultimate wheel broke at the weekend, and my new one has already arrived from - thanks for the quick service, as always.

This review is written from the point of view of an experienced unicyclist (29 years of riding, the last 15 or so quite intensively on all common wheel sizes) but I’m quite a novice on the ultimate wheel: still at the stage of counting pedal strokes, but good for regular rides of 50-100 pedal strokes, with the occasional figure eight or circle.

First things to notice: my old Nimbus had a steel rim and 4 oblong section steel spokes. The new one is aluminium, with a strange arrangement of 6 spokes in a sort of six armed swastika pattern. Practical advantage of the shape: it is less likely that you will put your foot between the spokes in a UPD. I have done that a couple of times on the old one and the fall can be quite ungainly and painful.

Second advantage: it’s lighter. The wheels including rim tape, but without the tyre or pedals: old steel one, 2.858 Kg, new aluminium one, only 1.587 Kg. As you can do a lot of carrying with an ultimate wheel, it makes a difference!

Next difference: the pedal sockets were brazed onto the surface of the old one, and experience showed that this was a structural weakness. On the new model, the spokes are pierced all the way through so that the pedal sockets are attached to both sides of the spoke, which is (a) a stronger arrangement and (b) reduces the Q factor, which is really important on an ultimate wheel.

More subtly, the spokes are slightly narrower too, which further reduces the Q factor.

Cosmetic difference: the old steel one had a rim that was drilled for ordinary bike/unicycle spokes. The new on isn’t drilled, so it looks more “purpose made” and less “improvised”. It’s purely cosmetic - in fact it possibly makes it a tiny tad heavier, but it’s clearly a styling improvement.

Pedals: the first thing you may change on any uni. However, the white plastic pedals are grippy enough for flat soled cycling shoes in the dry, and have the advantage of being less likely to damage an indoor floor than metal pedals. They are better quality than the originals on the old UW. A strange detail is that the bits that screw in are different colours, which is one additional clue as to which is the right or left of the wheel. This matters as if you ride it the wrong way round, the pedals will unwind and damage the threads. I did that once on some brand new alloy cranks. Ouch!

Tyre: bloody horrible. The old one had a 2.25 inch white wall tyre that was fairly smooth. The new one has a 1.5" tyre which has a serrated edge that is really uncomfortable when it chafes on the inside of your legs. I have swapped them over. In doing so, I discovered that the 1.5" tyre was the tightest fit on a rim I have ever encountered. I also discovered that the rim on the new on is a few mm wider than on the old one. American friends, read “tire”.

Definitely, the new one is a big improvement on the old one, lighter, better designed, smarter, stronger. The only criticism is the tyre, and I would recommend that you change that unless you are a good enough rider to need the extra grip and to avoid the extra chaffing.

The issue of the tyre has been discussed, see also my post in another thread i have included below.

I saw an unltimate wheel lying around on a dutch unicycle event which had a tyre with a very smooth sidewall made of some hard rubber compound. The owner was not around so i could not ask which manufacturer made it.

I would be very interested in learning which tyre is best though. So far i have invested some time in reducing friction but haven’t found a solution which allows one to hop on and ride with ease.

Are doing longer rides with an old KH leg armor (knee part cut off) with sides taped with duct tape. That, combined with a soccer ankle brace will make the ride almost comfortable.
But the leg armor is bulky and warm and the tape wears out quickly.
So the hunt for the optimal tire continous. On my regular 24er is a Schwalbe Kojak 24x1.5, Haven’t tried that yet, but I will soon!

A friend of mine built an ultimate wheel using old-school wheelchair rubber. This is the same stuff that made up the tires on “big wheel” unicycles before there were Cokers. It sat inside the rim, so the main thing rubbing your leg would be the sides of your rim. I suppose any form of narrow tire, especially if the rim sticks out from that, would work.

My old UW had a Miyata tire on it, which was a blue whitewall. These tires were fairly grippy when new, but if you leave one out in the sun, the UV light will take away a lot of that, and make the sides smooth and much more slippery. It won’t ride as well indoors, but will be much better for normal pavement riding.

Lastly, I think some people would combine smooth-sided tires with coatings. In the USA one product is ArmorAll Protectant, which puts a shine (and slickness) on your car’s dashboard, tires and other parts. Something like that will help, possibly even on a tire that isn’t so smooth on the sides.

I swapped the tyres the other night. I now have the Kenda 24 x 2.125 from my old UW on the new one. Immediate improvement.

Before today, my longest ride was around 200 or so pedal strokes and most rides were around 50-100. Today, I jumped straight on an did almost 600. After that, I stopped counting.

This success story was slightly dented by the puncture I got when I was half an hour’s walk from the car and I had to walk back through a sudden rain and hail shower.