It’s about time for me to get a new unicycle. I’m in a bit of a quandary.
I have an old Coker that’s pretty rusty but functional. And I have an old geared 29. Over the years, I have found a lot of uses for both of the unicycles, but I have never ridden a geared 36. Keep in mind that I live in Manhattan, so my only chance to use it would be around the Central Park bike path, which is 6.2 miles and has some hills.
So which one would you get? I am leaning towards the geared 36, but a geared 29 seems equally practical or impractical, depending on how you look at it.
My opinion is that if you already have a geared 29", then it would seem most logical to make the new one a geared 36". Then you can instantly compare the two.
The only problem is that then everyone on the forum will be hugely jealous.
I think for urban riding, a 29er is more practical: easier to take on the subway or throw in the trunk of a car, takes up less room if you want to bring it into the pizza joint, etc. It doesn’t have the Wow Factor of a 36; do you care if people Wow you?
If not, and if you don’t do big long rides (20 miles is my fun limit on a 29er), go for the 29er.
Normally I would say to get the 36" but living in Manhattan would make it harder to get the full effect much. It’s still awesome on the open road or bike path, but otherwise hard to deal with in traffic. On the one hand I would consider it a challenge, but even as someone who’s pretty comfortable riding one, I don’t think I would use the high gear much on Manhattan streets (if at all).
Your avatar still says New Paltz. Do you spend the work week in the city or have you moved back?
Also I know your existing 29" is an early generation hub, correct? I think yours was one of the first ones I ever rode. It may or may not last forever in street use, but I can understand your wanting one of the newer, beefier ones. If it were me, I’d put it on a 26" MUni. But I am not you. MUni much?
I’m not planning to ride it on Manhattan streets, but there is a pretty good bikepath on the Westside, and the Central Park bike loop is pretty good, too.
I would love to ride around New Paltz, but I am moving back at the end of the summer. I don’t Muni at all, really.
I usually go on very long rides around the park. Generally I ride for about 2 to 3 hours. At that point, a geared hub is fairly irrelevant, since I’m only really going in the loop. Still, I thought it might be fun to ride a bit faster. I’m really torn.
I really do love the feel of a Coker, though. It smooths out the bumps and has a softer ride. So this point, I’m leaning that way. The next question:
Very much a personal choice. A 29 is more practical and versatile, but a 36 is more fun. Geared hubs are expensive and you either like them or you don’t. I have never had a unicycle with a brake and have never felt the need for one.
My only advice is go for quality rather than features. Always buy the best quality you can afford. Better to have a the right tyre, rim, frame, cranks, pedals and seat than spend the money on flashy gizmos.
For the distances you have described, any wheel size will do. It’s just a case of balancing speed and fun against safety and versatility.
Geared 36ers are awesome for bike paths. Definitely worth giving it a try. Bronson Silva can build one for you (silvacycles.com).
No MUni? Sad. Get out to the Nassau/Suffolk Greenbelt trail some time if you’ve never been there. That was one of my early MUni spots. And that was before there were unicycles made for it, so my vehicle of choice was my trusty old 24" Miyata (no serious MUni required).
Hello Dave. Reading your first sentence makes me think that you’re looking for a new buzz from your unicycle. Why repeat what you already have achieved. So a geared 36er is what you should buy. Think of the excitement of exploring your limits on this machine. A six mile cycle path is plenty, even for a geared 36er.
I bought my geared 36 off of a friend in Minneapolis. He found it too much for the city. Once I got it I could immediately see why. After a few hundred miles I tamed it somewhat. After some more mileage I feel comfortable enough to ride it around our urban areas, but it isn’t fully automatic.
We built a geared 26 for my wife and I to share. I was immediately comfortable on it. It feels like a completely different machine. MUCH more controllable (at least initially).
The 36 has a Magura rim brake. Nice and simple.
The 26 is disc. It was a real pain to set up. It stops well and is nice for muni when things get a bit sloppy. That being said, if you don’t muni much, it is a lot of hassle to set up. It might be worth skipping for a bit- especially since you were not thrilled about working on the Schlumpf before.
What Goat said. If part of what you like about unicycling is the challenge, get the geared 36" because it’s hard. For me it was a whole new area of unicycling, which bridges more of the gap between unicycles and bikes in terms of distance you can cover in a given amount of time.
So I went ahead and ordered the geared Coker. I do like a challenge, and I like the idea of covering a great distance on a unicycle. Lately I’ve been riding marathon distance each ride, basically covering 20-30 miles over 2 to 3 hours. It would be nice to cover an even greater distance in that time frame!
So just how much harder than a 29er guni is a 36er guni? Right now I’m still not totally comfortable on the 29er, though I presume I just need a lot more time on it - it’s certainly been a much bigger step up to that than to any other uni I’ve ridden, I’ve only had a quick go on a 36er (ungeared), but that felt a lot easier. Still hope to get a 36er guni at some point, but maybe I should wait a while.
I think you are going to like it. I certainly like mine and I can vouch for Bronson Silva as a master wheel builder. Our out-the-door-and-up-the-road route has a lot of big hills but there are still several opportunities to shift into high gear if for only a few minutes. Where the Schlumpf really comes in handy is on the Louisville Loop (100 miles of rails-to-trails greenway) along the Ohio river where it is very flat for miles on end. A prefect substitute (with the added challenge) for when the Mountain Bike trails are too wet to ride proper MUni.
It’s nice to hear people vouching for Bronson’s work. He sounds like a very nice guy. My brother rode the Alps with him a few years ago, as it happens.
It will be interesting to discover how often I shift on a geared 36. I was never very good at downshifting on my 29, but that might have been due in part because I had the old shift buttons. Maybe the 36 will be easier. There certainly are parts of my bike loop that I could not do in high gear.
When I received the geared 36 it had 137s on it. To me it felt pretty scary. I switched to 150s. I can use high gear more (on the terrain around here) and it pulled the top speed down (still been at 22+ mph). An added bonus of 150s was I can climb 15%+ grade hills in low and then cruise in the mid teens in high. I should note I wear a size 12 shoe and found shifting to not be a problem. I’ve talked to riders with smaller feet that couldn’t get the shifts with the 150s.
If things go wrong at speed on the G36, I can’t run it out. It’s happened once (early on- I was buzzed by a pickup truck) and I shredded my glove and took the skin off of the back of my finger. I felt lucky to have escaped with minimal damage. Pad up and be ready to tuck and roll with the G36.
I raced the G26 for the first time yesterday. I’ve been doing the Fat Tire Challenge for 5 years now. Even flying along off road at speed in second gear I never felt the fear factor that the 36 had. I might not be able to run out every UPD, but it feels a whole lot less scary to fall much less distance to the ground due to the axle being 13" off the ground rather than 18". I can’t vouch for the G29 as I’ve never ridden one. Almost every MUni race over the past 6 years has been on an ungeared 29. UPDs between the 26 and 29 don’t seem too different. Between the 29 and 36 is a different story.
Compulsion Cycles is also an authorized Schlumpf dealer. Our G26 hub came from Joe. He deserves extra credit in my book as he talked me OUT of buying a new hub the first time as he knew the used G36 was coming up for sale from a friend. He noted the move wasn’t the greatest for business, but trusted it would work out.
I’ve got size 7 UK (8 US) feet and find shifting on 150s tough (on my 29er, but wheel size shouldn’t make a difference to shifting?) - had to move my feet back further than I’d have them for riding. A lot easier with 140s. Something I’m going to have to work out when I get a gmuni where I’ll almost certainly want to use Spirit cranks leaving me the choice of 137 which I can shift but are a bit short for muni or 150 which are my ideal muni length but difficult to shift.
For the road, my geared 36 is first choice. My geared 29 is super fun for XC trail riding. I was on a swoopy, smooth section of single-track the other day cruising at 12-15 mph with a couple of bikes behind me. Super fun. Haven’t even really considered the geared 29 for road riding.