On going fast

So after building a 9lbs uni (check my post history for some pics) I came to find I was faster on my muni 29 x 3.0 than I was on my lightweight purpose built road and gravel uni.

My thing is I find the bigger tire more stable over pumps and at speed and more control makes you more able to maintain a higher speed.

I also ran 100s for a long time, went back to 125s, got really good at spinning them and then back to the 100s.

I was wondering if anyone else has seen this too? I was able to average 14kmh on the light weight uni and currently do 16-18kmh on my muni.

I did have a handle previously but didn’t have the control to properly appreciate it and use it so now that I’m reaching a speed cap on my 29" I’m looking to get a handle to help me lean more forward to go faster. Any tips or thoughts on this too?

I do have a set of 90mm cranks I can run but 100s are my limit on my 29 as the 90s are difficult to stop and climb with, lowering the average speed on anything that isn’t flat with a tail wind.

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That makes sense to me. I get the impression that some folks feel that lighter weight is better for everything. I think that just like most everything, lighter weight has its advantages and disadvantages. Just have to figure what is important to you.

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A tire that is comfortably wide and you are used to can easily be faster than one that seems faster on paper, as you have just discovered. This is true of wheel size as well. My top speed on a 29 and 36 are 0.2mph different because I’m very comfortable on 29 since I have one but not on 36 since I don’t have one and rarely ride that size. Perhaps if you take the time to get comfortable on your lightweight thinner tire uni you could get it going faster than the 3.0 muni, but you have to decide if it’s worth your time or just enjoy the big stable tire.

You also have to differentiate between top speed and overall speed. A 36er with 89’s may be super fast on downhills and flat ground, but if you have to walk it up the hills is it actually faster overall? Longer cranks may give you enough of a climbing advantage to outweigh their disadvantages on flats and downhills.

Great point, I actually sold the lighter one during the summer. I’m with you that more practice probably would make the speed on it faster though.

Agreed, it’s why I find myself choosing the 100/125/150 cranks over my 90s. The 90s are hard to stop in traffic fast enough for my comfort zone and my city has enough hills I regularly ride that the extra climbing power on the 100s or one of the larger sizes for offroad sections really brings up the average.

Flat ground with no wind though, the 90s I can average 1-2kmh higher and raise my top to 22kmh from 20kmh on the 100s.

The more comfortable I’m on a given unicycle the faster I can I go keeping in mind that I’m not really a speed daemon and prefer lower avg. speed and slightly longer cranks so I don’t have to dismount (or UPD) on rough gravel sections and climbs. I currently have my 29" at 125mm and avg ~14km/h on flat sections.

I have tried different tires and also experimented with tire pressures and I think the issue is that it very often feels a little off the first time I change something and then I adapt to it over time. So it’s very difficult to immediately say what is “better” (or faster).
But I do believe that when switching to a less grippy (usually lighter) tire or increasing pressure significantly and thereby reducing the contact patch on the road the first impression is that the uni feels less stable and more twitchy likely reducing my comfort speed (at least short term).

I cannot imagine riding without a handle. It gives better comfort and control. Always with one hand on the handle - and on flat sections with both hands.
I think that riding with both hands on the handle (or saddle) enforces smoother pedaling but for me it also just that it feels great riding with both hands on a handle.
If leaning forward makes you more comfortable then it could make you faster - but the aerodynamic effect is probably negligible at the avg speed that is sustainable on an un-geared 29" unless it’s in a strong headwind.

I’ve found that as I continue to improve that my speed has also improved even without going to shorter cranks and that I can spin much faster now than i could a year ago. I’m not sure what the practical limit on this is yet, but I find I’m now able to descend trails on a 24" with 148’s at what would be a`fairly fast cross country running pace. Perhaps I can get another 25% faster with time?

I’m sure that shorter cranks or a bigger wheel would allow me to go faster, but I don’t want to give up the climbing ability for that.

Agreed on that part, it’s why I’m a fan of the multi hole cranks. I have the climbing ability when needed. I’m sure with more time on a larger crank size I’d be faster as well. The experience part is the biggest piece above all else as you’ll get used to the kit you have given enough practice