Really Big Wheels

Me lovely kid bought me a great book on the early history of (gasp) BI-cycles. The section on big wheels was great.

But it quickly became apparent that 36 inch wheel was only a beginning…real wimp stuff for dedicated riders. 48’s…54’s etc. TO THE LIMIT OF YOUR INSEAM!!

So…whilst I love me Coker…I do wonder what the “membership” can say about REALLY Big Wheels. How are they to ride? Are they all solid wheel chair rubber tires? Are there any around? Any cool trips? Where can you get em? etc. etc.

Ride on!

Santa Monica

With few exceptions, everything bigger than a Coker has a solid rubber tire, like penny-farthing bicycles. I have a 45" wheel, but if I want to go anywhere, it’s going to be on the Coker. My old big wheel is now only used for parades and other forms of performing. It’s most excellent for parades.

The only air tire I’ve seen used on unicycles bigger than a Coker is a 43" (or so) rickshaw tire. I know a few people who have had these made, though I don’t know how or where to get the parts. The rims are very heavy duty, being made for full-time industrial use. And the tires are obviously heavier than Coker tires. Tom Miller (the Unicycle Factory) has made big wheels out of some of these over the years. Takayuki Koike used one of those wheels for his 100 mile Guinness record.

I have ridden wheels up to 63.5", all with hard rubber tires. The biggest one in the world is 73".

As wheels get bigger, they also get weaker. This needs to be considered when designing bigger wheeled unicycles for higher speeds. But a larger wheel will be a more stable ride than a smaller wheel with a gearing system. The rotating mass of the wheel will help keep you stable.

So when is somebody going to talk to Coker about making a larger diameter, skinnier tire for the serious roadies? We already know we can get rims made to whatever size we need. I think the hardest part is the tire. Of course we’ll need tubes also…

I wonder which way is best to go for a roadie: a larger wheel or a geared system? The prototypes for gears seem interesting, but I wonder if the delayed response would make them harder to ride. On the flip side, a larger wheel leads to greater wind resistance, and I’m not sure I’d like to be side swiped with a strong gust of wind on six foot wheel.

Any thoughts on this?

Click on this link , look for antique replicas and then look for the unicycle. Available up to 52" but all come with a solid rubber tire. Very cool (and expensive) nonetheless. :sunglasses: