Smallest wheel size you use for distance riding/commuting?

OK, since I’ve explored the 36" angle a bit, what about going the other way? For quite a while (about three decades) all I rode was a 20", and frequently I’d ride for many miles. It was certainly hard on my crotch as there was more leg movement needed to go a certain distance compared to larger wheels/shorter cranks, but it was a good workout regardless. On flat surfaces, climbing hills with it was nice too!

Obviously, the larger wheel sizes seem best for speed and distance, but I’m curious if anyone likes to ride long distances with a smaller wheel. What’s the smallest size you ride for long distances and/or commuting? Anyone using geared hubs on smaller wheels for this?

I’m not looking for specifics, so whatever you consider to be a “long distance” and “smaller wheel” is fine.

8+ miles one way on a 28" wheel, 3 to 4 days a week

I take the wheel on the bus. I don’t think a 36er would fit well or be tolerated by other passengers

58 miles on a Sem Cycle 26

Regular 10 - 12 miles on a Nimbus 26 muni

6 Miles on a Nimbus performer Giraffe (20" wheel)

Just came back from a 15 miles loop with my g26 (knard 26x3)
This loop contained very different parts: sidewalk, muni, bike path, road.
This kind of gmuni seams to be the perfect “do everything” machine.

Although i do commute on a 36" i have done so on 20", 24" and 26" as well. It just depends on the distance. The 24" and the 20" are good for public transport like subway, a bus or even a car.

The 36" requires some experience in traffic as it is sometimes necessary to maneuver around queuing cars when it is busy. Having no margin for error while free mounting with a rucksack at a traffic light is also a challenge. In these cases a smaller wheel is a big advantage.

700c makes a good highly responsive commuter unicycle for city streets. It will cruise along at 8-10mph and can idle and turn very easily even with 100mm cranks.

Unfortunately it also comes with it’s own learning curve.

I used to do all my riding, Muni or distance, on a 29er. I really liked it and always felt per, but I went ahead and upgraded to a 36er purely for the speed. I did 45 miles on the 29er once for an event, and did the same event the year after on the 36er and only managed a few miles more!

One day I’d love to upgrade to a G29 to get the control I used to have on the smaller wheel back, but the cost is prohibitive.

I commute on a G26. It works quite well.

Cool! I appreciate everyone’s responses. I was really just curious to see how small of a wheel size people were using for distance riding. It looks like so far, with maybe one exception, 26 is about as small as most go.

After going quite a distance on my 24" muni on mixed terrain today, I can certainly see why. I surely would not have minded a larger wheel. I’m wasted!

Janvanhulzen, I liked your comments about using the smaller unis for public transportation. That seems like a good idea. After riding there, I took my 24" muni into Starbucks today, and if felt big standing there amongst the other customers. I don’t think I’d want to take anything larger in a place crowded with people.

Smaller wheel do not mean that it is impossible, it is either just slower and/or more work.

Now for numbers:

  • I covered 9+ miles on a 24 in 1h (I could have improved the ride with shorter cranks and maybe a bar)
  • I usually cover 13 miles in 2h when doing an off-road session on a 26
  • The loop around the town I live in is 16 miles and I cover it in about 1h30 with my 29

You can adjust your setup to your needs and available equipment and be happy. I really enjoyed the ride on the 24 but it does not fit the same scenario as a 29 in my head.

I’m doing my 10km commute on G26 from time to time, but I did it on ungeared 27.5 lately and it was just a bit slower. Suprisingly I was still faster than some years ago at my ungeared 29.

Two aditional tips for carrying unicycles indoors:

  1. in the office make sure your wheel is dirty (fresh mud is ideal). Ride the uni on the floor leaving a fat trail once inside. Point towards the door of a co worker’s office. Lift your unicycle and carry it to your own workspace and hide it…

  2. I don’t know if there are any dogs in your section of the supercluster but be aware of the brown stuff dogs leave on the sidewalk or on the grass in front of the office…

I like my 26". Ten miles for me is a good workout. I like the height and I can comfortably run I can out of a dismount. I don’t ride on the street except in my neighbor hood. I ride multi use trails so there are 2 wheelers, walkers, joggers, and kids with training wheels. On the 26" I can maneuver easily. When I ride hard my height and speed is not intimidating to others. I added a fusion zero and handle bars.

If I get to the point I want to do a longer distance or go faster I believe I would gear a 26". I am just very comfortable with that size.

One other big reason I can get my 20" street, 24" muni and the 26" with all my gear in the trunk of a KIA Forte.

The tours with my 24" muni are usually between 10km and 45km. But I would not want to ride much more than 45km with this wheelsize.

I’m pretty hesitant to try a smaller wheel for distance. I’ve always ridden the 36. I even got a snow uni to commute with last year, and when the snow fell I still took the 36 every time, even in 5 inches… which turned out to be a bit of a mistake, but it got me there. I would have been much faster and more comfy on the small wheel with a 4" tire. my 7 mile commute takes me 30-35 minutes or so with stoplights without a stiff headwind, and I like that. I do have a geared 36 though, and find it takes more concentration, so it tends not to be used as a commuter as much as an evening or weekend blunderbuss. I’ve never seriously considered the short cranks on a 29er, but I do think that’s as small as I would go for a recommendation. I really think you get used to what you ride. It’s nice to change it up though, and I’m looking forward to trying something Jakob is making me for distance. :wink:

Agreed. I actually spent quite a while cleaning the mud out of my tire before going in there. I somehow doubt they would have kicked me out of Starbucks, but I thought it was be inconsiderate to track mud through the place. Once summer when I was a teenager I worked as a janitor, and ever since I’ve been a little more considerate towards the people that have to clean up after us.

I rode 8 miles on a 29er at the Prudential RideLondon Freecycle 2015. I saw voodoo unicycle team there.

I lost cound of how many people took a photo of me. Some guy with what looked like a TV camera filmed me for a few seconds, I was never able to find it though.

I also rode 2 miles on a 20". My legs ached after that. Never again.

Welcome to the forum, mtu! I am wondering if the reason for your aching legs, after the 2-mile trip on the 20" unicycle, had to do with the lack of resistance pedaling, combined with a possibly higher cadence (pedal rpm). The result may have been that your legs were flopping around, which could have caused the pain.

I typically ride more than 2 miles on my 20", but the goal is not distance, but rather to fart around on different landscape, and I make a lot of stops along the way.

In a couple days, I’ll be in possession of a geared 20" unicycle. The Schlumpf has been installed in a Nimbus Equinox frame. The logic behind this setup is untested, but my thoughts are the following:

  • It'll be easier and safer to learn how to shift (up and down) and to ride in high gear with a smaller setup.
  • High gear won't just be for cruising. I can experiment riding in low and high gears on the same terrain.
  • I'm intimidated by the face-plant potential of gearing up larger wheels.

Hopefully, I will be posting some pictures and reviews of the new setup throughout the summer. It could turn out to be an epic fail, though I hope not

Please do. There are a couple of threads on G20s, but not a whole lot of detail. I’ve long considered whether this might make a good travel uni.

A couple of years back, I worked in NYC for the summer. So I flew there with my 20" freestyle (100mm cranks) - the only one that would easily fit in my suitcase, yet let me take clothes and stuff. I ended up riding it many times around Brooklyn, doing 3 to 6 miles each time.
Totally doable, but not the best size outdoor where the ground is not always even.

I’d be interested too! Theoretically, it would be a 30" in high gear, but the small wheel won’t go over obstacles and imperfections as easily as most sizes above 20".