Post RTL- verdict on geared 29 vs 36?

hi everyone,
Now that the big race is over and everyone has recovered and done their epic write ups i was wondering in any sort of consensus has been reached on the issue of wheel sizes for Gunis. I know this debate also needs to take into consideration the issue of crank length and type (double drilled kh) and the terrain it is being used for- as well as certain amounts of personal preference (ie comfortable cadences), but your opinions after training and competing with these new Uni’s would be really good.

Good question. I rode a 29 guni in this race, and at the end took a quick spin on the 36guni. I have no doubt that, for RTL, 36 guni was the fastest wheel. As people have noted, you have 2 functional gears. I very rarely downshifted on my 29, so basically used only 1 gear. Furthemore, nothing would be as fast on the flats or downhills as a 36 guni when geared up.

However, I’m keeping the gear in my 29 for muni, at least for now.


What verdict specifically are you looking for? In my mind, even though I raced on a geared 29, I think a geared 36 is the way to go for distance racing. There were plenty of times when I maxed out my cadence while geared up on my 29er. Look what first place rode.

For general (non-race) riding around home though, I still prefer the geared 29er. There are a lot more bigger climbs around here that demand a 29er. And, a 29er is much more flexible for trail riding, which I greatly prefer over road riding.

I still would like to get a geared 36 sometime for long road rides, but not until the new KH36 frame is available. Also, I would really like a narrower 36er tire made for road riding. (Coker or UDC, are you listening? :wink: )

I think it was pretty clear that the strongest athletes on geared 36ers were unbeatable. A strong athlete on a geared 29er could beat some geared 36er riders, and almost all non-geared riders, but in the long run the mechanical advantage of the geared 36 is just too much. The geared 29 has a few places where it outperforms the 36; mainly on uphills which are too steep to climb in high gear on the 36, but shallow enough that you can still power over them on the 29er, and also on uphills which are steep enough that a 29er in 1:1 mode is faster than a 36er in 1:1 mode (extremely steep, over 10% grade perhaps).

But if you’re really serious about competing to win an event like RTL, get a geared 36 and learn how to ride it.

Yet another geared 29er rider here - I think geared 36 has a big advantage for pure road riding over pretty much any terrain.

There is very rarely anything on the road so steep you can’t climb it on a coker with 125s or 150s.

I would say though, that the guys in the teams faster than us were faster because they were way fitter and had trained harder than us - those geared 36ers take a lot of fitness to ride fast.


I also have a geared 29 that I used throughout RTL.

I find it faster in high gear on most terrain I encountered than an ungeared 36. It is a bit slower on some uphills, but overall I felt a lot faster on it than an ungeared 36. I only briefly rode Chuck’s geared 36, but it felt really nice on the road. I can see how the geared 36 can outperform the geared 29, and as Roland said above, the geared 36 will have two usefull gears, whereas the geared 29 on the road only really has one gear (high gear). Very rarely will you use the low gear, but there are some instances as Tom pointed out.

The consensus seems to be that the geared 36 is the best set up for racing on the road. The ideal crank length is personal preference and is still yet to be discovered I think. The German team was using all geared 36ers, two riders used 125mm cranks, and one rider used 145mm cranks. Arne, the fastest of the three, was on 125s. Chuck and Corbin, however, were both using 150mm cranks and according to the time trial they outperformed the three riders with geared 36ers and 125mm cranks. They are both very fast riders though, so it is hard to really tell what crank length is going to be faster. Chuck liked the 150s more because he said they give him more of a power stroke and let him use the high gear more often, whereas Arne said that he liked the 125s more because he could spin fast on the flats and downhills and then simply switch to low gear when climbing hills. As with all unicycles, crank length is going to be a more personal thing, the goal would be to find the ideal size for your body and riding style. I think for me, the ideal size would be 137mm cranks, and KH is supposed to be coming out with dual drilled 110/137mm cranks at some point that would be pretty sweet on a g36 I think.

Even though the geared 36 seems to be faster on the road, there are still other factors to consider when setting up your guni. If you want something that is easy to pack and really versatile, the geared 29 outshines the geared 36. If, for example, I go to Unicon (which I am still deciding in the next day or two…I am a very very last minute decision maker), I would bring my geared 29 with dual drilled cranks and a muni tire. That way I would be able to compete in the 10k, marathon, and the muni events with the same unicycle just by changing the pedal position and tire. Talk about easy packing! Also, a fully assembled geared 29 fits in the trunk of my corolla very well, whereas a 36er is a hassle to fit in the trunk. I always dealt with that by just putting it in the backseat, but that becomes an issue when you are trying to get more than 2 people in your car. When unicycling to work with the g29 I can simply just bring it up into my cubicle and store it under my desk, but the 36" wheel needs to stay outside.

The geared 36 with dual drilled cranks will also be very versatile too. Mainly versatile on the road though, but you can still do coker muni in low gear. It also seems to ride more smoothly in high gear than the geared 29 does from my short experience riding a g36.

Anyway, with all that said, I am going to be building up a geared 36 with the new KH frame when it becomes available and after I send my hub to Florian to have the new beefed up planet carrier and bearings.

I never got a chance to ride my Sclumpf 29" which I lugged half way around the world for Ride the Lobster. But having ridden it on similar terrain to RTL, I think you’re right in saying that you only have one useable gear with a 29" Sclumpf.

RTL was pretty flat, with some rolling hills. However, they was never anything steep enough that a 29" in 1:1 mode would have gotten up them quicker than a 36" in 1:1 mode. You’d really need probably a 15-20% hill I think to get an advantage with a 29’er in 1:1.

GizmoDuck, the main question I’d like to ask is if you are going to get a geared 36?

I think it’s fair to say you must be one of the top three fastest riders on an ungeared uni, I’m curious to know which way you’re leaning.

I don’t know about that…there were some very fast riders who were not at RTL. Roger, Patrick, Daiki, Yuta, Dustin off the top of my head. At RTL there was Sam and Tue. I don’t think there is very much between any of us.

Interesting thought…but I would have nowhere to put it. I’m fast running out of space :smiley:

I’m going to build up a V-frame though. Maybe could bolt on one of them fancy hubs as well.

Like this?

How comfortable are they to ride? The riding position looks uncomfortable to me but I’ll reserve judgment until I’ve tried one.

That brings me to my question on the 29er/36er debate. Speed considerations aside, which unicycle “feels” nicer to ride? I’ve done timed comparisons on ungeared 29ers vs 36ers with different crank lengths and the difference in speed over a timed course was very small BUT the difference in feel was very noticeable. I was ever so slightly slower on a 29er BUT I felt way slower than on a 36 and also felt like I had to work harder to keep that speed. I will be using my Schlumpf primarily for general day to day communting. I can afford to be a minute slower into work if the rider is that much more enjoyable. Also there will be a fair bit of stop/start at traffic lights etc.

For those who tried both a 29er and 36er guni, was the ride more enjoyable on one than the other? What would you use for practical daily commuting?

I’m in the process of building up a 29er guni. I am wondering whether to consider switching to a 36" when the KH36 frame arrives?

This discussion is great. I was going to start a similar thread, that would have been a little more general about all equipment related conclusions resulting from RTL experience. Couldn’t figure out how to start a new thread though:o

I am also struggling to decide between geared KH29 or geared 36er. Obviously I would get both if I could, but it will have to be one of the two. At this point I own four unicycles: KH24, carbon fiber 26, KH29 and Nimbus Nightrider Pro 36er. The most rational thing would probably be to gear up the 29er first… and then, who knows, maybe in a couple of years Schlumpfs get so much cheaper, that I’ll just get another one for the 36er. It would be awesome on the 24 too, I guess, for doing serious technical mountain tours. I should get sponsered by Schlumpf:D

Another question: Does it feel a lot more stable on a geared 36er with handle than on a geared 29er without a handle? Because I really don’t want a handle on my 29er, but I love it on the 36er.

Click this button.

Thanks GILD! It’s kind of obvious actually… so here’s a thread about RTL equipment in general:

Everything is obvious if you know about it and a mystery if you don’t.
If you have any questions about functionalities on this site, don’t hesitate to shout.

I think the 29er geared is awesome for commuting - in high gear it’s pretty relaxing to ride - now I’ve got the lightweight tyre (marathon supreme 28x2.0") I find it way more relaxing than the stock coker, and a bit faster. I hardly ever shift it - just hop on the spot if I need to at traffic lights.

There is also an emergency low gear for if you’re completely knackered, ill etc.

Having said that though, I did ride a 36 with 150s in low gear recently, and that is so awesomely easy to ride yet has a reasonable amount of speed (my 36 has 110s on), I’d be a bit tempted by the geared 36.

The 29er is so much more convenient than a 36 when you get to work though.

The real answer is that you want both. One for convenient commuting purposes, one for very long distance riding. If I was a distance / road rider rather than mainly a muni rider & commuter, I’d certainly be saving up for the geared 36.


For practical daily commuting I think the ungeared 36 is great. It is simple and doesn’t cost anywhere near as much as something with a gear in it so you don’t have to worry as much about locking it up outside. It depends on how far you are commuting and what the terrain is like I guess, but the ungeared 36 is really nice for commuting.

Of course that wasn’t one of your options though, so that won’t help you decide between the two.

I agree, as long as the commute isn’t too far. Riding a geared uni feels a lot more serious, and high speed UPDs are a lot more dangerous. I’m willing to accept the risk when I go out specifically for a ride. However, these are the types of things I would avoid for a daily commute, before and after a hard day of work when it’s not uncommon to be tired or distracted by other things.

I disagree; I wouldn’t have even considered the 20 mile commute to my work without a guni 36!


I think a geared 36 can always beat a geared 29, unless the hill is steep enough to require 1-1 riding on a 29’er (ie: mt diablo, CA steepness). But then, the geared 36 would blow away the 29’er downhill.

In my mind, there’s no question about it; a geared 36 is the ideal machine for road riding, especially road racing.