Schlumpf vs. Livewire

I would like to know all the arguments between these two different types of unicycles, and which, ultimately, is a better piece of equip. to own.

Here are the issues I can see dealing with…

The live wire seems more user serviceable (open gears to get at, change ratios, etc… (can these gears (for size) be altered easily?

The Schlumpf has shift on the fly…is this really anything to care about? can you shift on the fly (providing you were in a high gear) in order to negogiate something (like a hill) that 'just came up?

Is the live wire (even though there is no shifting on the fly) better because it has a bigger range of gearing? can you guy one livewire and 4 gears and put in the gear (and I presume chainlength) as you see fit?

Re: Schlumpf vs. Livewire

Yes, being able to shift when needed is very nice. I usually shift down to idle at a stop or any time I need more control.

Re: Schlumpf vs. Livewire

Hi Brian –

The Outta Phaze isn’t finished yet, though it is showing good progress and should be really good. Some basic design specs that we are trying to meet, mixed together with some obvious characteristics are:

>> The gearing is external, not internal. All parts will be serviceable, yet exposed to the elements like a normal bicycle.

>> There is no shift-on-the-fly. The gearing is fixed, like a fixed-gear bicycle. It may be possible in the future to flip the wheel around to change gears, but that is not a current design goal.

>> Hopefully it will be possible to change gears/chains in the field. Ideally, it would be possible to change gears about as easily as it is currently possible to change square taper cranks in the field.

>> The drive train should be hugely lighter than the internally-geared unicycle drive train. I’m guessing about 50-75% lighter, although I don’t know the exact weights of any of the units.

>> The Outta Phaze gear selection will be very selectable. According to current design, a person selects the range and then can change between 4 different gear-inches within that range, from less than 1:1 to close to 4:1.

>> The hub width will be conducive to larger unicycle wheel sizes and will be suitable for use with brakes.

For longer trips, like choosing crank length, one would choose the gearing for the day and try to stick with it. However, there will also be at least 4 crank length choices, so that adds even more flexibility.

For attempting to set speed or distance records, one might start at a lower gearing, and build up to higher gears and higher speeds. The neat thing about this system is that one can actually determine a target speed and cadence and scientifically gear the unicycle for that target.

Hopefully, the final decision will be the rider’s needs. In both (all) cases, the goal is to choose between very high quality equipment.

I had the opportunity to test ride 3 different Schlumpf unicycles this month in Switzerland: 20, 24 and 29. Shifting on the fly (say as a hill comes up) is certainly possible. I could shift each of the unicycles either up or down, on the fly. On the 20" model, Beau was able to shift every half rotation which was pretty cool to watch.

Compared to previous geared up unicycles I’ve ridden, the gear slop on the Schlumpf is much less - barely noticable really. Of course the Outta Phaze has none though. I sure would love to try one of these for a while. I would also really like to try a 36" Schlumpf, just to see how it feels riding a 54" wheel equivalent, but with an air tire.


Re: Re: Schlumpf vs. Livewire

Hi Dave,

Could you please explain this part further, or point me to somewhere if it is already documented?

Is the option available for a Schlumpf hub (and would the schlumpf frame be required) in a stockton build?

Re: Re: Re: Schlumpf vs. Livewire

Hmmm… it’s not yet documented anywhere, really, Brian. The concept is this:

There are two sets of identical gears in the drive train. This constraint allows the chains to be of the same length, which greatly simplifies design and reliability. One set of the gears is fixed (welded in), while the other set is changeable (bolted in).

Those two sets of gears have different ranges. One set, the welded set, ranges from about 12 teeth to about 22 teeth, in steps of one. The other set, the variable set, ranges from about 20 teeth to about 26 teeth, in steps of two, for a total of 4 different sizes.

The welded set is essentially integral to the wheel. That may change, but for now that is the case. So the customer/rider chooses the number of teeth for that set upon purchase, based upon his/her application. The second set is the changeable set. Probably additional gears and chains will be an optional kit so people don’t have to buy a huge number of gears all at once.

A typical set might be 20 teeth on the fixed set, and 20-26 teeth on the changeable set. For a 29er with a 30" wheel diameter, that choice gives gear-inch numbers (effective wheel diameters) of 30" (1.00), 36.3"(1.21), 43.2"(1.44) and 50.7" (1.69). For a cadence of 100 cps, that results in speeds of 8.9 mph, 10.8 mph, 12.9 mph, and 15.1 mph. So overall, the range is 30"- 51" for that setup.

Since the fixed set is available in steps of one from 22 teeth to 12 teeth, one can finely tune the range from (24.8" - 41.9") to (83.3" - 140.8"). Every range has four steps in it, corresponding to the 4 changeable gear sizes. We move the range up and down by selecting the fixed set.

This approach makes the best possible use of commercially available parts and limits the need for parts that are specially-constructed for this unicycle.

I have a spreadsheet that you can look at, but it is not yet ready for public use, especially posting on the Internet. For most people, it would raise more questions than it would answer (in its present configuration), and confuse the issues.

The actual ranges may differ slightly from this, but the above numbers should be close.

As for LiveWire using a Schlumpf hub… certainly I hope to be able to do that in the future. My current belief is that the hub is too narrow for the 36" wheel, and marginal for 29", especially for brake use. I understand that the company may widen the hub in the future, and I look forward to that change.

Re: Re: Re: Re: Schlumpf vs. Livewire

pfffffffffft. is there another size of wheel?

Thanks for that info Dave!

The Outta Phaze is the one to go with if you’re thinking of trying to break the hour record or some other time trial style record. It has flexibility in the gear ranges so you can get it geared to suit your riding preferences and your goals for the ride.

I’ve been able to observe and even ride the Purple Phaze. It’s a good design. No play when built using quality components. I have confidence that U-Turn will do the Outta Phaze even better.

The neat thing about the Outta Phaze style gearing is that you’ll be able to gear it so you reach your planned cruising speed at a comfortable cadence of say 90 RPM rather than spinning like a hamster at something like 150+ RPM like you have to do with a lower gear or a standard uni. Pedaling at around 90 RPM is more efficient. So instead of being forced to spin fast to go fast you can choose the gearing so you can pedal at your favorite cadence at the speed you with to go.

How about a 36" Harper? I got a little present from U-Turn while you were in the Alps.

Mike - spill the beans! How fast is it??!

Well, I must confess, I havn’t put many miles on it yet, and I currently don’t have a computer.

…but it’s FAST, and much less skittish than it’s 26" incarnation. It’s a different experience because once you get up to speed, it gets more challenging to put enough pressure on the petals to accelerate further. It’s fun cruising at 12-15mph without spinning like mad. It’s also very heavy.