No more 170s for me

I went out for a MUni ride today on ‘the tractor’ - that’s the 26 with 170mm cranks. The place I went to had steep hills and hard-baked mud with ruts and ridges. Challenging stuff, but ultimately rather monotonous.

And I noticed after half an hour or so that I really wasn’t enjoying riding the unicycle. In fact, I was disliking it. The cranks were just tooo looong. So yes, they gave more torque for control on steep descents - but at the expense of speed if I lose control on a short steep hill and want to ‘spin out’ at the bottom. But they seemed to give less ‘fine control’ when crossing the hard-baked ruts, and I was UPDing all over the place. And I really couldn’t identify any advantages on the UP hills - what I might be gaining in ‘maximum torque’ at one point in the pedal stroke, I was losing in smoothness and ‘sustained torque’.

In the end, I walked back to the car (a rare event for me), went home, put soem 150s on, and then went out and had a jolly good ride, with some difficult technical stuff, one or two steep descents, and a few short but steep ups that I was able to ‘rush’.

Don’t assume longer cranks will be better for MUni. Yesterday I had an hour’s fun off road on a 24 with 110s.

I’m 5’8" when I stand on a phone book, and I reckon 150 is my maximum useable crank length.

This is the second time I’ve reached this conclusion, but last time I put it down to inexperience. Now I know I have enough experience to be sure. So if there’s anyone in the UK who wants a nice set of used 170 alloy cranks for the cost of the postage, contact

An interesting post, Mike. I ride 170s on a 26. Something to think about.

Perhaps the fine control required to achieve smoothness with that much leverage and throw ends up costing the rider in terms of weight borne on the pedals and the loss of a bit of flywheel effect.

The longer cranks, for me, at least, do cost me in terms of speed, like you mentioned in your runout example.

I’m 5’8" without the phone book.

I do like the longer cranks in that they seem easier on my knees. I’m not sure about the rest, except that I don’t know of a strong enough shorter replacement for the Kookas.

I’m running Monte 158s. I don’t have enough experience - or talent - to be able to tell you how they compare to longer or shorter cranks, but they’re pretty strong and shorter (and cheaper) than Kookas. They come in 140 too, for trials.


Taste and terrain. These will have a lot to do with your preferred crank length. For years my friends gave me a hard time for riding with 150’s on my 26" wheels. They worked well for me, and they’re great on the flats. But I knew I was at a disadvantage on the steep stuff, both up and down.

Now I have 170s on my Wilder. It took me a while to get comfortable with the larger pedaling circle. At first, I couldn’t ride fast without bouncing all over the place. But having been raced by George Peck on a trail, and having had trouble keeping up with him in a sprint, I knew it was possible to pedal better with long cranks. So I gave it some more time and found the rhythm.

When I ride where it’s steep or technical, the 170s make a big difference (as does the 3" tire that came with them). The cycle is still slower the rest of the time, but I’m getting more used to it.

I’m 6’-0", no phone book. Yes, leg length is a factor in what size cranks work for you.

In Moab, the 170s were very welcome (as was the suspension in my Pyramid post!). The Slickrock Trail is all up and down, with almost no level, and lots of it is steep.

But when it came time to race, both the uphill and downhill slalom, I pulled out my carbon MUni with the 150 cranks and skinnier tire. This cycle is several pounds lighter than my Wilder (most of it in the wheel), and was much handier for those events. I had brought that cycle as a backup; the poor thing hardly ever gets ridden any more…

So when it comes to crank length, to each his own. It depends not only on the types of trails you ride, but on how you want to ride them. On my local trails, for the most part, shorter cranks would be fine. In Santa Cruz, however, long cranks, brakes, and lots of tire are the formula for maximum enjoyment.

im with Mikefule,

i found that anything that required 170’s to climb up just wasnt fun and i’d rather walk up it,saving my energy for the downhill.

ive be taking some super steep downhill stuff on my Profile 145’s and somtime i ache,but there so fast.

i do see some 160’s in my future but never 170’s again.

Re: No more 170s for me

I’ve been suspecting that 170’s are too long for me on my new KH-24, but I
too put it down to inexperience. My height is 5’ 9".

I tend to prefer short cranks on my non-muni unicycles.

The question in my mind is where can I get 150’s or 160’s for the KH-24. I
see that has only 140’s and 170’s.


Mark Newbold
Montpelier, Vermont USA

Very interesting, I’m glad you posted a description of your experience with the 170’s Mike.

I am five feet four inches tall and my first MUni had a 2.5 tire on it and 152 mm cranks. I could bomb all over the place on that uni and then switch over, fairly readily, to my 127 cranks on the trials uni or the 140’s on my commuter uni.

Then I got my dream uni, the Yuni frame, 3 inch Gazz and 158 Monty cranks. Don’t get me wrong this is a sweet set up. But I found that I was fighting this big machine a lot. That extra few mm on the cranks really lead to all kinds of struggles and constant correcting as I rode, especially if I wanted any kind of speed on a smooth trail. The slow and technical stuff was working out surprizingly fine.

I was getting up the hills fine with the first MUni so the longer cranks on this new MUni aren’t really much of a help with hills. If I couldn’t ride 'em with my first MUni, I still don’t have the legs or lungs to ride 'em with this new MUni even if the longer cranks should theoritically allow me to ride steeper ups and downs.

I have given the MUni a good 12 - 15 hours of riding over the course of a couple of weeks but still I feel a lack of fluidity when riding which is not a familar feeling when I am mounted on my Monty trials uni or 24 inch commuter.

So my plan is to order up some Bicycle Euro 150’s and throw them on the Yuni MUni and see if I can regain the control and speed that I was used to having on my first MUni (and still enjoy that nice fat cushy Gazz tire on the Yuni MUni).

Hope this plan works out as I just love to MUni and really would rather enjoy the scenery and the ride than spend my time ‘fighting’ my uni.


On my stock KH24 muni, I have 170’s.
I find them great on downhills and for slow manouvre stuff, but to get a decent speed up my legs have to hammer like pistons on a very big turning circle.
How much control would I lose if I switched to 140’s/how much speed would I gain?

Mathematically, 170/140 = 1.21 so about 21% faster.
In practice, though, quite a bit faster than that because the “constant footspeed hypothesis” breaks down with very long or very short cranks.

I’d guess that you’d be about 1/4 to 1/3 faster in terms of top speed and average speed. You’d also have more ‘fine’ control. Mounting and idling would be smoother and easier too.

On a (true) 24, 150mm cranks will give you a 50% leverage. That’s about the same as a (true) 26 with 170s. I find 150s make a 24 go anywhere. 125s are good alround, and 110s are the lower limit of practicality. (102s are fun and 89s are crazy!) On this basis, 140s will be a good size. They’re only about 7% shorter than 150s, so the difference will be one of preference and fine tuning.

INCIDENTALLY, the free 170s have been ‘bagged’ by a lucky reader.

i was riding a pair of 180 cranks for several years and didnt really realize it until they broke. i couldnt find another pair anywhere, so i had to slightly downgrade to 175

170 feels a bit small. i guess i just have long legs


I agree with John, terrain and leg length are probably the most important factors to consider when choosing crank length. I’m 5’9" with a 30" inseam. My Muni came with 170’s and I was really having a hard time with them. Scott Wallis was riding behind me on the trails and watching my pedaling style and suggested that I try some 150’s. That was probably the best advice I’ve ever got regarding unicycles. I now run Nimbus X 150’s and love them. My pedaling is much more fluid and I feel quite a bit more under control is most situations. For anybody thinking about buying alloy cranks for their Muni, I highly recommend the Nimbus X’s for only $28

ahh…the good Ol’ days resurected once again.

Re: Re: No more 170s for me

Aside from getting a profile, hub, your options are quite limited.

The only known non-KH crank arms known to work with a KH are the Haro Sub-C cranks. You can get 165’s for about $90 (comes with a bottom bracket for a BMX bike).

I’ve had mine on order for months now. I’m using sub-c 140’s on my summit, and I quite like them. They are angled out slightly, and the nub is very small. (no more ankle bites)

…I can’t find them on the website anymore, but check with a local Haro dealer, and don’t let them sell you anything but the sub-c’s.

edit: ]Here’s the link

Originally posted by
[B]I’ve been suspecting that 170’s are too long for me on my new KH-24, but I
too put it down to inexperience. My height is 5’ 9".

I tend to prefer short cranks on my non-muni unicycles.

The question in my mind is where can I get 150’s or 160’s for the KH-24. I
see that has only 140’s and 170’s.


Mark Newbold
Montpelier, Vermont USA [/B][/QUOTE

I find the argument that if you ride big hills you need long cranks particularly specious. It simply is not true! Any hill I could ride on my 24" muni with 170s I can ride with 152s. Since ditching my 170s I have never looked back. For me the ideal 24" muni crank length is 150mm. They are so much smoother and faster.

In my opinion munis should come with 150mm cranks as standard - not the tractor-like 170s which regrettably seem to be the most commonly specced crank length.

I rode 158 monty’s on my muni for a very long time. Then I switched over to 170 profiles. Maybe I’m just a crappy or inattentive rider, but I honestly didn’t notice much of a difference in the torque or speed. At a “mini muni weekend” in Santa Cruz, I was able to ride up some hills that others on 170’s couldn’t (I was still on my 158s). I wasn’t any faster or slower. Now, I don’t expect to notice any difference between the 145s and the 140s I had on my previous trials uni. For me, I like the idea of having the extra torque for steep hills, since a flat is boring on any muni. Someday I’ll stick my 145s on my muni and see what hapens, but other than that the shortest I ever plan to go is 160s. I am considering a 26" commuter uni with 145s, though. That would be very interesting.

False. False. False.

I “bought” the “shorter crank” arguement.
I ordered 145mm cranks for the 24" and rode them.

Then, using a cyclometer, I raced for time several times.
The 145 cranks were NOT much faster. Nothing that practice could not overcome. And, when I tried to super idle for a neighbor, I got thrown off the unicycle. I sent the cranks back finding them not worth the cost in performance.

If I were riding “mini Coker” (that is to say 24 miles on a 24") I would definately use the 145mm. And, I found that the 145 will help the rider with courage (because they lose the ability to stop quickly before rolling drops, etc.).

However, they seem to be a liability with stopping, sprinting, idling anything where one has to change or slow the speed of the spin.

Buy the shorter cranks like I did - and see for yourself.
Feel insulted by the fact that the cranks are only about an inch shorter.

Make excuses for poor riding performance - rather than practice and you too can be happy with less.

Now, I am off to change the air pressure in my tire a pound or two so that I can ride the trail because the air pressure recently changed because of the climate change. Don"t ya just hate that?

Where are they fast?
Jagur: “there so fast”

and they were.

I thought you’ve been riding with 160’s or so lately…? I remember commenting that I was one of the only ones left on the forums who prefered 145mm cranks for muni.

I’m actually saving up for a pair of either 160 or 165mm Profiles for my muni though. I’m thinking probably 160’s now that I have a brake and since on the local trails there are lots of roots, ruts, and rocks to catch your pedals on.

I decided this after recieving this very helpful reply to an email from Kris Holm -


I think that is a smashing idea.
Lately, I have had a riding “style” where I take sections faster than I can pedal. If I could just pedal at 18 mph for 5 revolutions or so - the passages would be brilliant. I think that 160-165 could be a deciding factor in those situations - without the same penalties of shorter cranks. And, it would probably make doing 24 miles of paved road easier.

i was thats why i said “they were” not for the roots and ruts though

im currently on 150’s now because in riding a Torker DX hub