Road camber solutions


i have a 26" KH with a maxxis High Roller tire and ride about 8km to and from a spot where i ride off road. I run the tire at relatively low pressure to increase stability during off road riding. During the road stretches i noticed that the high roller is very sensitive to road camber. I can ride some stretches on the middle of the road to avoid this but this is not always possible.

I have found a lot of information on the site on camber problems but most of the information is about 36" tires and was wondering which tire performs well for the 26 inch?

Another solution would be to mod the tire. Has anyone considered this Perhaps by removing small top parts of the outer profile/knobs or by stiffening on one side by including something in the tire?

A 26" shouldn’t be too prone to camber. Have you considered a very small pump so that you can ride on the road at a much higher pressure?

A round profile tyre will handle cambers better than a square profile tyre, you’ll probably also find that slicks handle better than knobblies. Higher pressure also helps.

FWIW with a Big Apple on my 26" I barely notice cambers that are extremely uncomfortable to ride on the same wheel fitted with a Gazzaloddi.

Unfortunately, a good off-road tyre is never likely to give a comfortable ride on a road camber.

I ride mine with 2.3 bar (=33 PSI), below this it’s not easy to control and upper this it’s uncomfortable (I’m 75kg = 165 lb)

the Hans Dampf isn’t terrible for road camber, a fair bit better than the HR2.7 ime.

Since you have such a long ride to the trail, you might consider a more dual-purpose tire. I like the Maxxis Holy Roller for this. It’s pretty good at both, while admittedly not the best at either. Just a suggestion.
The suggestion to carry a small pump is really a good one also. Low tire pressure on pavement with a grippy tire makes for really difficult riding.

There have been many threads on the uni forum and elsewhere about road camber, and how it can pull the rider to one side or the other, including trails. I could never really gleen a consensus as to why this happens and/or how to solve it. Suggestions ranged from tire type, psi, saddle height, wheel dishing, favoring one side over the other, not having enough riding experience, and so on.

On the new trail that I’ve been riding with my G26er, I found myself fighting unbelievably hard against the downward slope, either to the right or left, of certain trail sections, and I was literally pulling so hard in the other direction to stay upright that it was taking all the fun out of the ride. The next day I decided to take my KH29er, which has a round profile Continental Race King 2.2 tire, which I had been using on the road.

I had been running about 60 psi and forgot to take some air out for the trail ride. Well, on the same sections where I had been fighting camber pull on the G26er, there was ZERO pull with this uni! It was a total joy not to have to fight to stay upright. I wondered if it was because of the tire profile being round or the higher psi, or a combo of both. On my G26er I run a maxxis ardent 2.25, which has a max psi rating of 65. It also has a more square profile, especially when running a lower psi for trail riding.

I theorized that where I had always been running it (at around 30-35 psi,) the footprint became so flat and square that that was what was throwing me in the direction of the side tilt of those trail sections, where the round profile of the 29er was apparently not subject to the pull of the slope. So I raised the psi of the G26er tire to a bit over 50, which kept the profile of the ardent rounder. The result was nothing short of dramatic!

There was suddenly ZERO pull no matter how much side slope I rode! I had never thought of running such a high psi on any MUni, thinking traction would be affected as well as making it harder to roll over stuff. To my surprise, this was not the case and in fact the ride was smoother and faster than ever. So, at least in my case, the camber issue was solved simply by increasing psi enough to keep the tire’s profile from becoming too flat/square. Of course, there are some tires that will still be affected by camber regardless of psi, mostly due to the profile being super square, tread design, or super fat tires, which can cause “auto steer” issues.

Camber is weird and challenging.

I recently realized that, while I can ride on camber which slopes down from right to left with no problem, riding camber that slopes down from left to right is currently a major struggle. I know all factors are equal too, because my current practice for this involves finding a section of trail or road with strong camber, and then riding it in both directions back and forth.

I think this is a result of my initially learning to ride on city sidewalks, which typically slope from right to left on the right side of the road. While it is frustrating and currently a major challenge, its nice to finally understand why certain section of trail are more challenging than other, seemingly similar, sections.

Sounds like you’re right footed and naturally use more force on your right foot. That has the effect of tugging the wheel (direction) to the right, and countering the camber. . . at least that’s how it feels for me. When I’m riding on a camber I shift more of the weight (as opposed to “floating” over the pedals, and picking your foot up on the backstroke if that makes sense) to whatever foot is on the high side of the camber and that seems to help.

I’ve also felt what Terry described above. I usually run my 36er at 55-60 psi and after a few thousand miles had worn down the middle of the tire more than the edges and squared off the profile. Got a new nightrider with a round profile and camber was again easy to deal with or entirely unnoticeable.

I never thought about it in these terms, but I suspect you are right. Now I’m looking forward to my next ride where I can try out your suggestion. I have high hopes, because I have noticed a tendency for my uni to pull right in other instances as well.

Frankly, this is one reason I love riding off road. I’m almost always off balance in some way which makes this problem less noticeable. :slight_smile:

More air, less square!

Here too!
I’m definitely right footed and I do know that I use it more than the other one (pain in the right knee and problem with left to right camber).
I spent a year or more only doing trails and the first time I went on asphalt was hell! The other thing with muni is that you can have more weight on the pedals without it being a real problem.
I’ve been fighting against all the bad habits I got from muni-only for about a year now. Things that are anchored in your body don’t come off easily!

That’s very interesting. Dealing with camber is a pain, it really wears you out, and for me has a lot to do with the tire I’m using. Oddly enough, the best tire I have for dealing with camber on any surface is a Duro Wildlife Leopard, even on concrete at lower pressures like 25-30 psi. I have really worn that tire down, and that might have something to do with it. I seem to remember it not handling camber very well when it was new.

I have noticed that the Nightrider tire on my 36er does better on camber with higher pressure. I upped it from 52 psi to closer to 60 psi, and that made all the difference in the world. It’s a much better all around ride with the higher pressure.

That’s really cool that you found a good solution for camber. It’s always good to experiment with tire pressure!

I made an interesting observation tonight while crossing a couple of steep driveways that produce short but extreme camber.

These twin driveways have long been part of my regular route and long given me trouble. Over time I had developed a method of dealing with them using a series of virtual still stands where I reoriented the uni using inertial resistance from my body each half revolution.

I have had a long break where I have not ridden much but I’m now coming back. To my surprise I have found my skills have not only returned but have quickly advanced well beyond where I left off. Part of the skill improvement has been a necessity to overcome loss of the strength I had a couple of years ago. The last couple of rides I have started to feel really good again as my fitness returns.

Tonight’s ride felt great and I crossed the driveways with gusto. Rather than the series of discrete corrections I noticed my foot on one of the rising pedals was pointing toe down and I was steering by pushing backwards quite forcefully. Most of my weight was on the front pedal.

Maybe there is something in that as a way to compensate for camber. Try pointing your toes down and pushing backwards during the cycle on whichever rising pedal will overcome the camber effect.

The problem with camber isn’t usually that it makes a section impossible to ride. It’s that it makes riding a section very annoying. Some tires seem more prone to “self steering” on cambered sections, some less, and threads like this attempt to figure out why, or which tires work better.

What you were doing, is, while it’s nice that you figured it out and are able to put it into words, simply countering the forces the camber enacts on your unicycle with your feet. Which is how almost everyone countersteers against camber. Maybe your discovery will help some more “mind based” riders though. I personally can’t translate very complex movements from my mind to my body very well.

On a flat road the rolling resistance of a rolling tire is in part determined by the distribution of the load. This distribution is not equal and some of it introduces a moment counteracting the moment introduced through the pedals. Another source of energy loss is rubber deformation.

When experiencing road camber the resulting effect is that a moment about the vertical axis is introduced and needs to be corrected somehow. On a unicycle this is very annoying since counteracting these forces is done by leaning which in turn messes with the forces on your legs (and rubbing between the saddle and inner thigh).

So an ideal unicycle tire should resist unequal deformation and thus minimize moments about the vertical axis.

For those interested in tire forces:

I just happened to notice this one time after five years of riding. I shared it because I thought it might help someone. I have not seen anyone else post any observation about what they are doing with their feet to counter camber though many have asked for suggestions.

Some people like me learn skills very effectively through intellectual analysis followed by “forget what you were thinking and just do it”, letting the subconscious use the whatever resources are available. This time the process happened to pass information in the other direction.

Of course it might not be what other people do and it might not be the best way for some. It might not even be what I do next time or in other circumstances.

I guess a lot of people “over think” unicycling. Trying to describe the mechanics of fighting camber, however, doesn’t make OTM a “mind based” unicyclist. The word based implies that the mind initiates the action. OTM’s thought process could have been, instead, reflective; his mind picked up on what his body was already doing.

I agree with finnspin’s point about complex motions. My mind can only give one or two simple instructions to my body. In the case of OTM’s camber solution, pointing the toe of one foot toward the ground and pushing backwards…is not too complex.

My only suggestion for dealing with camber is: Find a very short section with extreme camber. Session on it in both directions. Experiment doing different things. What happens if I lean this way with the hips? Does one or the other hand on the bar ends produce a better result? Find out what works. The reason I suggest practicing on extreme camber is so the rider may discover every available solution, rather than just the solution to deal with a small amount of camber.


Exactly again.

Crossing these driveways are my extreme camber test beds.

Launching up the steep sides onto the driveway isn’t a trivial challenge either.

Camber — I’m assuming most of you don’t know JACK!

Here in the Pacific Northwestest United States, we unicyclist of Washington and Oregon have a sort of right of passage ride that a few complete (I think it’s still five) and many aspire to try (I feel confident over a dozen have voiced it as a goal or attempted).

It requires road camber for 204+ miles on a unicycle in two days or less.

And JACK pioneered the Seattle to Portland (STP). Some argue he never completed it. If you know JACK, you’ll probably agree with me, I’m sure he’s a finisher.

Knee issues become an issue for any who try seriously to master centuries worth of road camber. I’m proud of any who traverse even a steep driveway or stretch out a few miles of the “real” open road instead of doing loops on flat paths or tracks.

Most serious open road unicyclist develop their own peculiar methods of conquering camber. Many a post has been made about contact patch, angle, friction, turning forces, shimming, turning the seat, and tricks.

I glad each of you found something to say and something that works for you. Now that you’re all experts I invite each of you to come follow up behind JACK and do a couple of back to back centuries between Seattle and Portland. Let the 9,999 bicyclists know a unicyclist can ride camber.