i’ve always been intrigued and when we saw the crazies in moab this spring, i was sold! i ride fixed on and off road and for my 43rd b-day, my wife decided that i needed a muni (i love her!). my only question to the board is, she gave me the choice between the kh24 or 29 (we get a qbp deal). i plan on learning to ride then use it mostly for trail riding and commuting. i skated pools back in the 70s and have broken too many bones to consider true freeriding an option at this point in my life, so the 29er seems the best option for my needs as well as it has a longer moment arm so potentially learning might be easier. additionally, we have tons ‘o’ climbing here in slc, ut so the extra rolling radius couldn’t hurt. does this seem like good reasoning? am i limiting myself with the 29? is the 24 more versital? i’m 5’6", does that factor in? i saw someone converted a kh29 into a 26; that seems to expand options as well…anyway, thanks in advance for any input. seems like a great community.
A 24 will be easier to learn on, but a 29 sounds like it might be better for the riding you ultimately plan to do (less extreme terrain, mostly cross-country).
The 24 would be the better choice until you feel the urge for more speed, then you’ll know whether you want a faster xc machine like a 29er, or perhaps get drawn into more technical muni and stick with the 24 (or both :))
I’m a great fan of the 26x3" for mixed semi-technical cross-country, but I’m definitely in the minority. Most people would say ride a 29er and be careful in the rocky bits or ride a 24 and be a bit slower on the quick bits. The speed difference isn’t really that huge anyway (only a couple of mph or so either way).
I think the 24" is more versatile, a 29" can be cumbersome on the trails, but for a person that already rides a fixed gear bike, the size-over-distance won’t really be an issue unless you want to do excessively long commutes. Plus, even though you might not go completely hardcore on the trails, there’s a lot of aggressive riding that you’ll likely evolve towards after a while- I ride a 24" most of the time, muni and urban commuting, I have a 29" that can be a lot of fun on some gradual terrain, the speed opens some doors, but it really limits the bag of tricks you can work with or at least raises the bar, with the exception of some really great riders that can do a lot on any wheelsize, the 29" still seems like a niche. But that said, putting a 26" in the 29" frame is good idea, you’d have to build another wheelset and then there’s an argument to pit 24" against 26" and at 5’6" you might be more comfortable on the 24"…
…and you really don’t want to learn unicycling in general on a 29".
The 24" is certainly more versatile and will be easier/less scary to learn on though in the end, I think for the type of riding you plan to do that the 29" might be a better choice. Commuting on a 24" can become tedious and longer rides are certainly more enjoyable on a larger wheel. It’s possible to do the more technical off road riding on the 29" it might just be a little scarier since you are sitting up higher and a little more difficult to control. It’s definitely a difficult choice I’d say. The ideal solution for you would be to first purchase a cheap smaller unicycle to learn on and then step up to the 29"
Your first unicycle is unlikely to be your last. If you take to the sport, you will end up with two or three.
Right now, you are in the same position as someone saying, “I am about to buy my first bike. Which gear should I use when I ride it?”
Because that’s all the difference is: gearing. A big wheel goes faster. You can get a similar effect with shorter cranks, but the big wheel will always be faster than the small wheel, because it’s smoother and rolls over minor obstacles etc.
A 24 with a fat tyre is almost 26 inches diameter. A 29 is 3 inches bigger: about 11% or so. Call it an eighth bigger. 8 miles an hour on a fat 24 becomes 9 miles an hour on a 29. Whoopee do.
People ride quite extreme terrain on 36 inch wheels. I used to ride MUni on my Coker. Other people ride long distances on small wheels. I’ve done 20 miles on a 20" and 24 miles on a 24". I preferred doing 36 on a 36" though.
For versatility, the 24 with a fat tyre is hard to beat, but it can be a bit of a slug on the long straight boring bits. For long straight boring bits, you need a big wheel and moderately short cranks. Either that or avoid long straight boring bits.
In your position, I’d buy a 24 with a square tapered hub instead of splined. Replacement cranks then cost about the price of a pizza and a beer per pair. As your riding develops, you can fine tune the crank length. Eventually, you will know whether a bigger wheel is for you.
If you go straight to the 29, you will be able to ride it easily, no doubt. However, freemounting can be very tiring until you get up around 100% success. In my early MUni days, with a freemount percentage around 20%, I used to fear UPDs because of the enormous physical and spiritual cost of a dismount in the middle of nowhere.
Hey Catbutt, get the KH24 like your wife suggested. Once you are able to ride it well, you will probably decide that a 29er isn’t large enough and you’ll want a Coker or other brand 36"er. As Mikefule said, your first unicycle won’t be your last.
I’d agree in getting a 24" w/ a cotterless hub. Like a Torker LX, or a Nimbus II (my prefference)
When/if you start to exceed its capabilities you can give it to your wife to learn, loan it out to friends to learn, or put small cranks on it for commuting.
I ride to school every day (2.5 mi each way according to Yahoo Maps) and the fastest I’ve done it is in 22 min. w/ 170 cranks. I usually take a slightly longer route (prob 2.6 mi) and challenge myself the whoe way w/ 10-20 UPD’s and takes about 45 min.
Edit: If you get the Nimbus and start to ride rougher terrain, you can upgrade to a splined hub and 24X3 tire. It also has a much more comfortable seat.
They are both great unis. I have been riding about 2 months. I started with a KH 24. The last few weeks I have been riding around on a 36.
I say go for the 24. It’s got a cushier fatter tire (don’t over inflate, try 20 psi )
You said you have "tons of climbing " in your area. A 24 muni will go down hills better (at least without 200$ brakes ). I find the 24 easier to do everything with.
Finally, there is wide agreement here that the 36 is to small. I am 5’ 9 " and wish I could buy an air tired 50 “. So at 5’ 6”, don’t think a 36 won’t be a simple transition once you have some experience with the 24. So really, you will want a 36 sooner then you think.
Finally, the 24 is good to learn all sorts of stuff on (better then the 29), and can be used to teach your wife and friends.