Size Matters?

Hi There, first post, please be gentle!

I’ve decided to move to unicycling from mountain bike trials, but need a little help choosing my first cycle.

I want to ride freestyle, which I’ve read will be best on a 20", right? So I go looking for a 20" freestyle cycle (I figure in the long run it’ll be more beneficial than learning on a cheap starter cycle then buying a better one as I progress).
The problem is, I’m 6’3, and over the max leg measurements for most of the cycles I’ve seen.

Will a couple of inches make a huge impact? I presume so or it wouldn’t be a “maximum size”. So do I need to go to 24", at the sacrifice of some freestyle abilities, or can I get a seat post extension? As a unicycle noobie, I’m not sure on the possibilities of these things, and coming from a different discipline know there are some do’s and don’ts on this kinda thing that more experienced people could easily solve for me.

So, am I going to need a 24" cycle, or will I be better able to “freestyle” on a 20" with a longer seatpost, or is that just not the done thing?

Thanks in advance, sorry if my ettique is poor, I’m experienced in the forum business, but am more have an itchy buying finger than a forum finger right now!

Hi there.

There are several “standard” sizes of unicycle. Expressed as wheel diameter in inches, they are:
12: Children, novelty use.
16: Children, novelty use.
20: Trials, freestyle, learning.
24: General purpose, MUni, learning.
26: MUni, commuting.
28: Commuting, road riding.
29: Fast Muni, road ridng, commuting.
36: Coker - fast big machine for those who like them.

These are generalisations.

The accepted wisdom is that learning on a 20 is easiest. Accepted wisdom is not always right. It was once accepted wisdom that the Sun went round the Earth, that the Earth was flat, and that riding a unicycle was impossible.

At 6’3" you should be able to learn on a 24. (Assuming 6’3" is your height!:wink: ) A friend of mine who’s 5’10" learned on a 24. At least one person in this forum learned on a 36.

Smaller wheels are lighter and more manoeuvreable. If you want to do hoppy droppy spinny stuff, then a good solid 20 may be best for you. Bigger wheels are faster and roll over obstacles better. A 24 with a very fat tyre is therefore good for MUni.

This is only my opinion, but a 20 may be easier to sell if you don’t take to unicycling. If you do take to unicycling, you will almost certainly upgrade and end up with 2 or more unis anyway. Problem solved!

i f you have never rode a uni before, and you are SURE you want to do fonly freestyle, I’d buy a longneck 20in. If you want a more versitle uni (i.e. being able to ride it some distance) i would go with a 24in.

BTW- are completely giving up bike trials? what kind of bike dom you have? I ride an Alibongo

I’m 6’5" and I learned to ride on a 24" Torker CX. I now ride a 20" Torker LX.

You should have no problems with a 20" and it would be better (in my opinion…maybe?) for trials and freestyle, if that’s what you want to be doing.

I also find that people you meet are more willing to try to ride a 20" than a 24" :stuck_out_tongue:

I thought you might also like to know that the standard 400mm seatpost is long enough to accommodate for my long legs.

You can learn to ride, and do good freestyle, on a 24" wheel. For a tall guy like you the difference in learning will be pretty minor. 24" lends itself to some sorts of tricks better than 20", but 20" is better for others.

There are some who prefer larger wheels on tall riders because it looks a lot better. Like Sem’s father-in-law (and probably Sem as well; he has only ever used 24" for performing). I used to do Freestyle on a 24" as well.

If you’re going to perform on small stages, then 20" is going to help you out a lot (more wheel turns for any given amount of space).

Size Matters?

Size DOES matter…to most women.

Here’s another way of looking at it. You’re a bicyclist, right? When I used to do fairly serious cycling (as a tourer, not a racer) I set my bicycle up so that the gears were as near to 10% apart as possible. On the size of rear block that I had, that was more or less one tooth difference between adjacent cogs.

A 24 is 4/20 bigger than a 20. That is 2/10, so a 24 is 20% bigger than a 20. That’s equivalent to about 2 gears on a touring cycle, or maybe 3 gears on a racing cycle. The difference will be noticeable, but not life changing.

I only put it in these terms because as a bicyclist, it might make some sense to you.

There is also the intimidation factor of a bigger wheel. However, the extra height is only half the difference, because the distance from axle to seat will be the same, and the distance from axle to ground is the radius of the wheel. So on a 24, you will be 2 inches higher than on a 20 - other things being equal.

And other things may not be equal. It is common to have 5 inch (125 mm) cranks on an off the shelf 20. It is common to have 6 inch (150 mm) cranks on an off the shelf 24. You set the seat height according to the distance from the bottom of the pedal travel, so if the crank is an inch longer, you have to set the seat an inch lower to be able to reach the pedal.

So, the 24 has a 4 inch bigger wheel, but you end up with a seat height only about 1 inch higher. That’s negligible.

Then there’s the control factor. A six inch crank is equal to half the radius of a 24 inch wheel. A 5 inch crank is equal to half the radius of a 20 inch wheel. Therefore, the leverage that you have is the same, so you have about the same amount of control. A 24 isn’t harder to pedal than a 20.

Some people find 150 mm cranks a bit long and unwieldy. You are a bicyclist used to (I guess) 170 mm cranks. You are also over 6 feet tall. Therefore you should have no difficulty with 150 mm cranks.

So what this boils down to is that you would notice very little difference between a standard 20 and a standard 24 when learning to ride.

Where it matters later is with things like sharp turns, and idling, where the bigger wheel is noticeably less manouvreable. It’s not a huge effect, but it’s there.

Remember that new cranks cost only a small amount (on a standard uni) and are easily swapped. The choice of tyre can make an inch or so difference to the effective wheel size. A pedals upgrade will give you more control, and so on. If you buy a 24, you can even buy a 20 inch wheelset to swap into the frame, rather than buying 2 unicycles.

In short, worry less.

Thanks a lot for all the speedy replies, they all helped a lot. Some very logical things there I hadn’t thought about.
It’s kind of a shame there’s not a big difference though, because I’m still left with the choice of which to buy! I think I’ll go with the 20", mostly for the reason that it’ll be easier to shift whould unicycling not float my boat.

But I don’t think that’ll be a problem. I’ve bought a guitar and a power kite this month, neither of which I’ve ever used before (or used much now even), I just like having material things!

Thanks again for your help, much appreciated. I’ll keep you updated, and will probably pop back occassionally.
Cheers, Leigh

Re: Size Matters?

Its not the size, its just how you use it.

I think that because of your height it may be better to get A 24" because in porportion it will feel right, you have more weight muscle and size so you will need a 24"

Also in response to mikefule said 20" ones are easier to learn on, I myself learned on a 24" one and i progressed very very quickly. And to help you learn i suggest not using a tennis court to learn, I have a screened in area at my house with several pillars and so i was forced in the first days to learn to free ride and then when i ran out od space after a few days of help from someone else outside my house, i started learning to free mount quite quickly.

hope that helps
-Whim