I’m not sure what to do, so I’m asking for some input in addition to my previous thoughts.
My situation is the following: I own two Munis, an old heavy 24" and a geared 27.5". Since my daughter was born last year, I don’t ride that much any more. But when in ride, i only use the 27.5". The 24" has been less and less used over the last years. It feels too slow and to heavy. But in technical terrain, the 27.5" is too big for me, then i prefer the 24". The 27.5" is also heavy due to the schlumpf hub. In races where no gear is allowed, i just “deactivate” the schlumpf since its still better than the 24".
I’m now thinking of abandoning (maybe selling or just keeping some parts) the 24" and replacing it with something different that I will hopefully use more often. My first thought was to build a lightweight 26". I’m not sure how i’d like a 26" in technical terrain but is shall be better than the 27.5". I could also go for a new 24". I’d feel safer with the small wheel, but in not so technical terrain, 24" is really slow. On the other hand, 26" is not so much different from 27.5". Does it even make sense, to have my two munis so close together in wheel sice?
Regarding tires, i really like the Duro feeling. I ride it on the small wheel and on the big one, i use the Schwalbe nobby nic in its APX version, that comes quite close to the duro feeling but with less weight. tire choice for 27.5" is great. But what’s with 26" and 24". Are there good and light tires in these sizes out there (around 2.8" to 3.5" wide) that can compete with the duro regarding grip and dampening/forgiveness?
Also, there are not much 26" frames out there. I could use a 27.5" frame, but as the legs are not parallel, the frame will allow less tire width in 26" as it allows in 27.5".
Maybe somwone has ideas that bring some new input to my thoughts.
You can get a Mad4One frame that fits both 27.5 and 26" wheels and that would solve your 26" issue.
As for lighter 24" tyres, here are some options.
Specialized Big Roller 24 x 2.8" 835g
Kenda Slant Six 24 x 2.6" ~750g
Maxxis Holy Roller 24 x 2.4 (not sure availability new)
Admittedly, there’s a high chance you will have to do some real searching to find them. Try some kids MTB for sale groups, occasionally you might come across someone wanting to sell the tyres because they bought too wide for their kids bikes.
Also check how heavy your hub, inner tube and cranks are. You might be able to use lighter ones.
Yeah, the Mad4One frames are really nice as a universal option. One frame can do all different wheel diameters and widths, with flexible brake options, in the colour of your choice.
If you have young kids don’t underestimate the utility of a 20". You can practice skills indoors if your space permits and when she is older and learning to ride a bike it’s nice to have something slow to accompany her with.
Fun fact: Most frames can take a variety of wheel sizes, not just Mad4one/Unarouta and Nimbus hatchet, although they are the only ones specifically advertising it. Unless you are really pushing tire width, I’m pretty sure any 27.5" frame will fit 26" wheels quite nicely, the rim only sits 12.5mm lower in the frame.
I would personally choose 27.5" for tire choice, as I personally don’t feel a massive difference between 27.5 and 26, but a lightweight 26" sounds like a decent plan. I think the lack of a schlumpf hub will make enough of a difference when it comes to riding feel to at least justify owning a second wheelset. (That would be my budget way of trying it out, get a wheelset and fit it in your frame).
I say 24" because it fits your bill perfect. (absolute control, safer for a family man, it’s what you know)
As LBJ said, a 24" would be slower to accommodate family pace and style (slower with a child’s bike, maybe your other half might want to try, and all around more portable).
I’ve only had Nimbus and now own KH’s, so I can’t comment on others.
My favourite tire is the 3" Maxxis Minion for absolute grip but I’m really starting to like the 3 1/4" Duro Crux that came stock with my KH29.
Oh ya… you do have to, at least, get a bitty wheel for the new one.
Something she can learn on before 5 years!
The problem you will have with 24" is tire choice and availability. There’s a lot less going on in that size category than a few years ago.
The (first) problem with 26" is that it seems to be headed in the same direction as 24" in terms of mountain bike tires, but there are still lots more choices at the moment. I learned this as I bought a KH 26" right before they stopped being made. This was because (I thought) that’s what Kris was riding, but he was already into the 27.5 then, and apparently so is much of the mountain bike market…
The second problem with 26" is that it’s not very different in size than 27.5. If you do get a second Muni or wheel, consider another 27.5 without the heavy hub, and you may like it a lot. If you want the whole uni, you might be able to get a deal on a 26".
Another idea is to go smaller; every tried a 20" for jumping around? While some people use them for Muni, I could never get into going anywhere on such a small wheel. But if you love tackling difficult obstacles, nothing beats the 19/20" size. Basically a Trails uni. Very different type of riding.
And I have a set of 29" wheels for my 27.5" bike! The 27.5" with plus size tires is pretty similar to the 29" with normal tires.
More on topic, my 27.5" unicycle with a plus size tire feels more like a 29" to me, and not much at all like my 26" with a downhill tire. I use the 27.5 for cross country, and the 26" for more technical terrain. The 26" is much more maneuverable and better at stopping and starting and hopping, and also easier to mount.
So I vote that you choose a 26" wheel!
(and I don’t think tires will become unavailable; there are tons of choices now, and with so many high quality 26" bikes out there, I think there will always be good tires available).
I think @finnspin’s suggestion shouldn’t be overlooked. Just buy or build a light 24" or 26" wheelset to go in the 27.5" frame you already have. Then just switch out the wheelset when you want something smaller/lighter. Certainly cheaper than a whole uni and takes up less space.
But if you are not concerned with saving space and money then I think a 24" is more interesting (despite the small tyre selection) because 26" and 27." are just too similar.
P.S. Playing with shorter crank length (or multi-hole) may allow you to retain some speed, while still working for muni. You may not need to have something as long as your 27.5" for such a small, light wheel.