observation about unicycling

I have been riding now for 4 months. Tell me if my observations are inaccurate.
I started out on a 20 in and within a month went to a street 29 nimbus. I started out with a slightly underflated tire. 25-30 lbs. Minimun is 35. I recently increased it to 40 psi. It seems faster but more harder to control. I guess less surface area for the tire on the pavement. Hills require more balance but I can go a lot faster up them. downhills the same. I am able to go further each time w/o bailing but I have to concentrate more. Just observations. It would seem then that newbies should start out with slightly underinflated tires and increase the air pressure as they get better. Remember these are just observations and I realize I could be way off.

Mike A.

Funny, I just had the same observation tonight after work. I pumped up my tire to 50lbs and could not even ride it. Let it back down to about 30 and it was much better for me. I’m learning so it really helped to lower the pressure. It kept the wobble/twisting under control.

Yes, you’re both correct. Lower psi = better traction and controllability, while more psi = less traction and higher speed. Lower is easier, Higher is more difficult but generally better depending on your style of riding. I’m distance so I prefer high pressure, but a trials rider might like lower pressure, as it’s also conducive to higher jumping.

pressure too low can be the worst of both worlds. I haven’t noticed it being harder to control with more pressure, probably the opposite, but too low a pressure and it takes a lot more force to get back to center. The tire starts to “hold onto” the turn, so it makes things like idling much more difficult when you’re running tires low.

I generally ride the 36er with max (or just barely under) pressure. I’d rather have the efficiency on flat terrain.

Tire pressure will definately affect the feel of the ride. On slick gym floors you usually want to let out some air so there is more rubber contacting the floor, just the reverse for sticky floors. I’d never thought about it for new riders but I suppose an underinflated tire would be less responsive, thus being a little more forgiving. Once you get more comfortable I suggest adding more air as you will eventually have to muscle the tire around when doing turns.

This is assuming a new rider is essentially learning freestyle skills. The other disciplines vary widely on when to have more/less air pressure.

I liked very high pressure when I was learning because it’s easier to make quick adjustments. I noticed it especially when I was learning to idle. There was a point where I could do it, but only if my tire was pumped up to 60 psi. Anything less than that and I couldn’t recover in time if I started leaning to one side.

That seems to vary from tyre to tyre, and perhaps on the kind of riding you’re doing.

I use a Primo The Wall tyre for hockey. The hall we play in has the slipperiest floor I’ve ever ridden on (not counting Cardiff ice rink). With my tyre at 85psi I can usually slide quite happily in tight turns without coming off. At 60psi the unicycle is far more likely to slide out from under me, which in practical terms means I can’t turn as tightly.

Yep, on sticky floors you’ll definitely want higher pressure.

You’re absolutely correct. I found this when riding a 20" learner just after riding a 20" trials. The learner felt very twitchy, simply because I was riding using the same force as I did with the trials, which was not required.

BTW, Danny, is the Severn Wheelers night still going Wednesdays by the M32? And is it only hockey or kinda do what you want?

I was riding my 24" with the tire underinflated, but tonight i inflated it all the way and it is easier for me to ride. I have tripled my previous distance record and find the unicycle easier to correct when it gets off a bit.

IMO for learning and general riding, a high pressure is best, but mostly whatever you are used to is easier.

When I was learning it got so that I could easily ride @ 55 psi. I lowered it to 30 and I could barely ride at all. I kept the psi at 30 for a couple of weeks then moved it back to 55 and it was nearly as hard as when I first rode it at 30, butin a different way.

Lower pressures makes it absorb bumps and such better, but it can start to get squirmy if you go too low and increase chances of pinch flats. I often have the pressure low enough to hit the rim several times a ride, but have never gotten a pinch flat (30 psi on a 2" tire and no drops more than a curb, I weigh 155 lbs).

Yes, we’re still going. 20:30-21:30:

It’s pretty much just hockey. We play 4 games during the hour and people often do a little bit of freestyle during the 2-3 minute breaks between games.