returning unicyclist questions

I would like to get a unicycle for fun exercise and would be riding mostly on streets and paved bike paths. After reading many helpful posts, I am thinking of getting a nimbus 29 road unicycle but still have a few questions.

Last weekend, after not riding a unicycle for about 40 years, I tried my sister’s 24 incher and was pleasantly surprised that after about 15 minutes I was able to ride about 100 feet.

Because it’s been so long since I’ve been riding any unicycle regularly, would it make more sense to get a nice 29er and re-learn to ride and freemount on the size I ultimately want, or should I get a cheap 24 incher and wait until I get good again before moving up to a 29 incher?

As an over 50 rider, I am somewhat worried about falling. On the 24 inch unicycle, when I fell I almost always landed on my feet. Does the higher ride height of the 29er cause more serious falls?

For a woman, is the Nimbus standard gel seat or the kh freeride seat most comfortable?

Thanks for any help you can give me!

Go big right away! I bought a cheap 28" uni to “prepare” myself for the 36" wheel I really wanted. I was bored with the 28" within two months and then bought the big one. If you can already ride 100 feet, I think you are ready to jump right to the 29" wheel you want. Sure, it’s scary at first. And then one day, it isn’t. Go ride! (This is not an endorsement for a 36" wheel; get what you want!)

Go ahead and get the 29r. It will take you a small amount of time to get used to it, but if you already know how to ride, this will be negligible.
Yes, falls from the 29r can be somewhat harder than falls from a 20" or 24", due to the additional height, but you will be wearing knee, palm, elbow, etc, protection, right? Plus, as you pointed out, most of the time you will land on your feet.
I came back to unicycling at age 60 after many decades of non-riding. You’re a veritable youngster.
The 29r will be great on road rides and is a great all-purpose uni.
Have fun!

(ps. Can’t comment on which seat is more comfortable for a woman, but I find the KH Freeride more comfortable than the Nimbus gel.)

Welcome to the forum.

I just got a KH Freeride. The only thing I don’t like are the Kevlar pieces on the front that rub on my shorts. I ended up wrapping that area with packing tape to make it smoother. It now looks ugly but works. I’m thinking of making a new cover. I haven’t tried the nimbus gel but would be interested in hearing more female opinions about that one. I’ve also wondered about that new KH Zero. Any women have that one?

I’ll echo the others and say go directly for the 29. Starting on a 24 “just until you re-learn” and then switching to a 29 doesn’t make sense to me, because (for one thing) it sounds like you already HAVE re-learned! You’re already there…. so get what you want: the 29.

I would advise wearing protection.
I wear helmet, shin/knee pads, elbow pads and wrist support gloves.
It certainly lets me concentrate of riding rather than worrying too much about falling. :slight_smile:

Thanks for the helpful and encouraging replies. Is there anyone in the Madison, WI area who has a 29er I could look at/try out? I’ve checked all the bike shops in the area and no one has anything bigger than a 26. I guess I’m still a little apprehensive about the bigger size, but maybe I just need to go for it!

I agree with the others. A 29 would be perfect, esp with dual hole cranks. It will take some time, but not much.

I am an advanced-intermediate unicyclist and when I had a 29 I would sometimes fall, but the falls were definitely more nasty than the 24. Get Hillbilly gloves
and a helmet. Possibly get knee guards and you should be fine. Make sure your laces are tucked in!

Madison, WI just happens to have a fantastic unicycle club:
They’ll be hosting the national unicycle convention next August, too. Look 'em up and go make friends. They’ll have more unicycles than you can shake a stick at.

Big wheels are easier to ride, once you can ride them at all. You should be OK on a 29 but it will take a little longer to get used to freemounting. It is mainly psychological. The seat of a 29 is only 2.5 inches further off the ground compared to a 24.

As for padding, I ride with gloves and a cycle helmet either on the road or on easy cross country. Don’t assume that you need or must wear wrist, elbow and knee padding, full body armour and an air bag vest just because that’s what everyone says. Make your own decision.

Hello Perri, welcome to the forum. The 29er is a great all round unicycle but so is 26er. Maybe start back on a 26er with 150mm cranks. When you feel comfortable riding then you can switch to 125mm cranks for more speed. You can buy dual cranks with two different settings as Kahunacohen suggested.

Remember that a longer crank setting allows you to lower your saddle height accordingly.

Experienced unicyclists are often over ambitious when advising learners /novices. :roll_eyes: So listen to the advice and temper it with how you feel.

Hope this helps.

Good advice. Thanks for being so welcoming, this is a great community. I found our old Schwinn 24” in my parent’s garage and have been having fun playing around with that. It’s a little rusty, the saddle is being held together with duct tape and I think the seat post is a little bent, but after about 2 hours I can ride about a block and a half and freemount 2 times out of a hundred.

I still haven’t found anyone with a 29er in the Madison area. The bike shops around here don’t carry any unicycles that big and I can’t get a hold of anyone in the unicycle club. It’s August, maybe they’re on vacation.

For now, I think I’ll wait and get some more experience on the old 24” and hopefully will find a 29er I can check out before too long. If not, I’ll probably just go for it!

Greetings, My recent experience sort of mirrors yours.
I was in a bike shop in Tucson about 2 months ago and saw a 36" hanging on the wall. I was curious. I use to ride all the time as a kid in Tempe, Az. in the 70’s and was a good rider, but haven’t spent more than 10 minutes at a time on one in the last 30 years! (I am 53)
They asked if I wanted to try it and I did, so I went out in the parking lot
and got it going on the second attempt. It was a Nimbus with a fairly bulky wheel. My impression was that it was like a super tanker, slow to accelerate, slow to turn and especially slow to stop. You needed to think ahead of your ride and plan the movement. It was not fun… I think it would be fun with a narrow, light weight road wheel that doesn’t have so much momentum…
So, I took it back in and asked if they had a 30". I had bought a 26" about 5 years earlier, but never liked it because it had HUGE cranks (195s) and that defeated the speed aspect of a larger wheel.
They showed me a chrome Sun “Uni Classic 28 Which actually seems to
be a 29”…
I took it out into the parking lot and found myself flying around faster than I have ever been on a unicycle.
I was afraid to ask how much, but did and when she said it was on sale for $100 I almost shouted SOLD! I left with it and went to the U of A campus and logged about 5 miles as the sun was setting. It is the most fun uni I have ever had and built better than the ones we rode in the 70’s.
I did have a high speed wipe out the first night. I was saved by the ability to do a very nice shoulder roll, so the instant I realized I was going over forward, I dove into it instead of fighting it.
I came out of the roll jogging and only scratched the top of my foot.
I was wearing flip flops…
Where is this going, you ask?
I would suggest that you find a martial arts dojo and learn how to do shoulder rolls. The same skill saved me 35 years ago when I ejected myself over a car from a motorcycle going about 35 MPH. I wasn’t even scratched…
Learning how to fall is important!
I am glad I stumbled on this forum, are there any listings of members by cities?

Welcome to the forum, onaroll. There is a “map” button up on the top bar, which lists members by area on the map, but I don’t think it’s very up-to-date.
You could list your city in your avatar space, and people would know where you are.
Good advice about rolling with falls. I try to do that myself, and people often think I’ve hurt myself when they see me rolling, but it’s actually just the opposite. The times when I land flat are the times I hurt myself.

See what you did there?


Oops, well I guess I really am on a roll!

I had a great 5 mile ride around the U of A campus tonight.
Although the terrain is not great for night riding, I found myself jogging
a few times…

The Madison club might still be recovering from Unicon too :wink:

When you go to the 29" (or 36", whatever you’re planning on riding) I’d recommend long cranks at first. The wheels that size take a little more effort to get rolling than the smaller ones, and it can take a few tries to get used to it. I was riding on my 20" behind my son as he learned to ride his bike all weekend, then Monday I tried to ride my 36" and it took me 3 or 4 tries just to get going… It doesn’t roll as easily :wink:


definatly go with the bigges wheel you can afford, a larger wheel makes long rides easyer, but the only drawback is tire size availability, 26 inch and 29 inch are both easier to find tires for than a 24 but there are very few 36 inch tires, and i have never seen a 36 inch tire in a store. I only seen them speacial order on websites like udc, or coker.

29 is very popular mtn bike size. i would seriously skip 26 and go right for the 29.


For anyone who might be interested, here’s an update. I went for it and bought a nimbus 29 road unicycle with 150/125 dual cranks and I love it! I try to ride every day. I alternate between riding for distance on bike paths one day and practicing turns and free mounting the next day.

First impressions: The 29er with the longer cranks is not very much taller than the 24 and it didn’t take any time at all to get used to the extra height.
I love going straight and the ride is smooth and easily goes over small bumps and sticks. I’m up to more than half a mile before falling off and that’s usually because I just get tired. I also practice on the grass because the posts and trees I use to help me up are usually on grass.
Free mounting is still very hard and I can do it about 1 time out of a hundred. I’m most consistent on grass, going down hill.
Turning was hard at first but is getting easier with practice.

The gel seat is not particularly comfortable but I don’t have anything to compare it with.

I am having tons of fun and getting a lot of exercise which is exactly why I wanted to get back into unicycling. I hope this helps anyone else who might be in the same position. Thanks for all the advice.

Glad you are having fun. I’d switch to a KH Fusion Street saddle. It’s the best I’ve tried for road-riding. A bit less padding than the Freeride, but that’s better sometimes. It also allows you to more easily stand up on the pedals when going up steep hills.

I’ve yet to try the flat saddle. Someday maybe. But I’d try someone else’s first, before investing the money.

After about 12 or so miles, any seat’s gonna start bothering me a bit. So I take a few min break or at red lights I hold on to a post and stand up to relieve pressure.