rethinking conventional muni wheelsize

i was just thinking about a trend in the mountain bike industry towards 29ers, and how a former niche market is becoming more and more common as riders try 29" wheeled mtbs and become adicted to the benefits: more momentum, better rolling over obstacles, and nice turning characteristics

this led me to think, why does EVERYONE recomend 24 (sometimes 26) for technical muniing. wouldn’t a 29, as well as being more efficient on long rides, roll over things more easily?
unless it was on a double-black-diamond run at northstar, riding over incredibly steep, rocky sections, i think a 29 would be better than a 24.



not enough torque in either direction
to high off the ground
not wide enough tires.

but yeah, for someone with balls and strong leggs it’s a good idea

I have ridden a 29er, but never had a chance to do muni, but I found it harder to turn on of the bigger wheels then turning a 20 or 24, maybe if I practiced more on a 29er I would be able to turn just as good as I can with a 20 or the 24, so maybe turning would be harder on a 29 Muni, but I havent tried it yet.

i just think that it is easier to control a 24" or 26" unicycle. a 29" will also be higher up and not as much torque, so more pressure on your legs.

a 29"er would also kill alot of pedal smacks you get with 24"s

I ride a geared 29er and a 26 as my munis.

The 29er is cool for singletrack and good for some surprisingly technical stuff, and a bit faster because it’s lighter. However, a 26x2.6 has pretty much the same tyre diameter, is much better at rolling over stuff than the 29"x2.1" tyre, better for hopping, better in mud, and not that much slower.

On the Dartmoor muni weekend, there were a bunch of 29ers, and they weren’t riding much less technical stuff than everyone else on 26"/24", some of them rode stuff no-one else managed on the smaller wheels, although that was just because they’re better riders, not because of the wheel size. Speed wise, there wasn’t much between the 26 and 29.

Everyone recommends 24" because it’s what they’ve got, because it’s what KH sells. 29" is a weird size whereas 26"x2.6" has most of the advantages of 29", without the disadvantages of tyre limitations.


To be fair on the 24, I think we’re looking at it as people who ride mostly cross-country, albeit pretty rough sometimes. I can see the point that a smaller wheel has advantages for really extreme nutter base-jumping muni, being slightly stronger and having more torque for really steep stuff or landing drops on a slope. For anything less mad, a slightly larger-diameter narrower wheel is plenty strong enough and has the advantage of being slightly faster. My 26x3" is a good all-rounder for me - nice fat tyre so I can bounce it off rocks without worrying about pranging the rim, and big enough to give a decent top speed (as long as I don’t fall off :roll_eyes: ). The lighter weight of a 29er or smaller-tyred 26" would be nice on climbs, but would take more concentration on the rocks.


Yep, I know that’s true for a small minority of riders. I still think that 90% of muni owners, whilst they may think they’re super-hardcore freeriders and need all that kit for what they ride, actually ride what would to a bike rider be at most slightly technical cross country riding. I know I’ve been on ‘hardcore’ rides that have been easy xc, and have run rides that were (okay quite technical) xc, and had complaints from people with all the pads and brakes and super-fat tyres etc. that it was too hard, and I’m not a fantastic rider by any means.

That’s also why no-one bought the KH xc, because unicyclists in particular have this odd idea that xc means riding flat fireroads, so that unicycle can’t be any good.

I guess it’s a bit like where I used to ride, people suddenly needed ‘freeride’ bikes to ride trails that people have been riding for years on carbon fibre cross country bikes. It’s definately easier to start riding harder trails on an overbuilt freeride bike, but once you get better, you’re limited as to how fast you can go compared to the person riding the more cross country setup.


I kno that Brian rides a Coker for muni and he loves it

Actually, I think you gain torque as you increase wheel size and increase the crank length proportionately. It would probably mean 180s or 185s or something, though, which gets uncomfortable on the knees. I have 175s on my Guni, and I don’t think I’d like to go any higher than that for anything. Not to mention the cranks are more likely to bend or break at that length.

Yes, I’ve noticed that too.

Whilst it might be a part of cross-country muni-ing, riding flat fire roads is really a lot like riding any flat road!

The fun stuff (for me) in XC is whizzing over lumpy terrain, going quickly but having to concentrate to react quickly and smoothly to the irregular surface. And my experience in this is all from a 29er perspective.

24" MUnis have 24" wheels.

Got to get that one out of the way first. When people recommend 24" as a wheel size for MUni, they generally mean rim size. The tire is around 26". So this thread is really about the difference between 26" and 28/29" wheels. Not that big a difference.

I have a 29" that does double duty as a road machine (with Big Apple tire) and a MUni. But I had two major blowouts using it as a MUni, so I was starting to doubt the whole idea of using 29" on technical rides. I already knew it was great for easy-to-medium rides. But on further examination, I think it’s just that my rim was too narrow. So I’m going to put a wider rim on there and see how it goes on some more pointy rocks (that’s what got me both times).

The 29" is not too high. What am I, an inch and a half higher? It’s definitely not too heavy, as my 24" MUni is a Wilder with Gazzalodi tire and Sun Doublewide rim. That’s definitely heavier (but bombproof). Torque? Yes it’s different, but entirely manageable. I have a pair of 160mm cranks I was using when in MUni mode.

In conclusion, my thought is that a 29" wheel (700c with fat tire) will be great for most trails, as long as it’s not too weak or skinny. When the riding gets into the higher percentiles of technical, a smaller, ligher, more maneuverable wheel will have an edge. So if your 24" wheel is lighter and more maneuverable, it will probably work better there.

But if you have my two MUnis described above, the smaller one isn’t any lighter. It is, however, indestructable, so I’ll pilot it into places I won’t take my 29er, and not fear for the hardware (just me).

I think 29ers will become more popular for MUni as wider rims and more tire choices become available. They are especially good for rolling, non-technical rides. Perfect for the Flume Trail at Lake Tahoe, for instance…

A 29er would lower hopping height considerably.

The wheel diameter and crank length are the nearest we have to gears (unless we spend a fortune on a geared hub). My car has five forward gears. My old tandem had 12 or 18. A uni has one.

It follows that it is unlikley that any one uni is going to be inherently better in all circumstances. I bought a KH24 on recommendation/consensus opinion. It’s light-ish, manoeuvreable, capable - and slow. Most of the people on the Dartmoor weekend had bigger wheels, and I suffered on the easy sections trying to keep up. On the other hand, young Tom was on a 20 and blew me away by relying on courage, skill and resilience.

The cliché is “horses for courses”, but I can’t think of a better expression. A 29er would be a go anywhere machine except for steep hills or very tight nadgery stuff. A 24 is a go anywhere but quite slowly machine. Is a 26x3 the best of both worlds or the worst? Depends.

We are talking about preference, fashion and availability. I sometimes ride my 700c x 28mm on 110s or 125s on stuff that some people wouldn’t try on a bicycle.

Yes, I agree. I have both a KH24 and KH29. The 24 weighs a bit more and is definitely better for trails with plenty of natural trials oppurtunities. But for any other trail, I much prefer the way the 29 rolls.

Probably a lot easier to jump/hop/gap with a 24", just as a 20" is easier in this regard than a 24".

a 24" wheel is also much stronger for handling drops, and much more capable at handling other fun stuff like natural trials, and is probably the most versatile unicycle for someone asking about what MUni size to get.

By the time you get around to deciding a 24" MUni is too slow and you need a bigger wheel, you are typically in the market for 2 or 3 more unicycles anyways.

I’m haven’t ridden my 24" MUni in ages, but i still always recommend to n00b’s that a 24" is what they probably want

A 24" wheel is much easier to be a beginner on in the woods

I think this is good advice for those getting into muni via unicycling. However, for those like me with a XC mountain biking background, I’ve found the 29" much more comparable. I still use my 24" for practicing natural trials and riding with others on 24" wheels, but when I’m in the mood for an epic ride the 29" feels much more ideal. In fact, if the hills around here weren’t so big and steep, I’d go for a 36" muni.

This is how I got into it, so I got the ‘ideal’ wheel size: 26x1.95 :frowning:

This annoying thing comes up every time people say something about rim size. Whilst it’s true that a 24x3 is not exactly 24" outer diameter, it’s significantly smaller than a 26" tyre of the sort most people ride with, which is smaller than a typical 29" tyre. There’s no point pointing out that tyre size isn’t exactly the same as the notional tyre size, because the relative size is what people care about.

It’s easy to put a 24 next to a 26x2.6 or 26x3, the 26" tyres people tend to ride with, and the 26 is significantly bigger (by approximately 2 inches), and then a 29x2.1 is significantly bigger than that (by just over an inch).