The 26-29 dilemma

I’ve been doing a lot of reading around the forum… And there is lots of great info on this topic. However I find it interesting that they are all at-least 5 years old, and wondering if people would still make the same recommendations 5+ years on. (5+ years more experience)

I’ve currently got a cheap 24" with a road tire and wanting to get good quality long term all-rounder that is ideal for my commute but still fun for weekend riding of all sorts. (nothing too technical tho, mainly fun)
I’ve practically decided to go for the 29", and yet whilst saving for the KH29 I keep wondering if a KH26 would be a better long term option for me.

I like the idea of slightly more portability - throwing it in the car, taking it on holidays…
Is the 29er a less practical size for the “all rounder” or am i thinking its going to be bigger than it really is?? I’m pretty sure my old b*ke tires are 26" and the idea of anything bigger than that on a unicycle seems like it would be quite a big tire to manage, generally, not just in riding.

I’m thinking a lot of my rides will often be short - to the shops, round the park or “exercise riding”, equivalent to going out for a run. My commute is 4 stints of 2k with public transport between rides… I walk them currently, time isn’t an issue… Its more about adding fun and a challenge to my commute than adding speed, and giving my legs and feet an alternative from running/walking.

I want to be able to get the most/best use out of this one for many years.
I might one day get a Schlumpf hub or a 36er and it sounds like the 29ers often picks up dust after that for most people?

Do you think the 26 would be more suitable for all of this?

Assuming you are keeping the 24 I would say get the 29. There just really isn’t a huge difference between a 24 and 26 or a 26 and 29, but the jump from 24 to 29 IS noticeable.

Depending on tire size on average a 29" wheel is only about 2.5" bigger than a 26. i would not worry about it being too big.

If I were to have only one unicycle it would be a 26 though.

That kind of describes my predicament in its self. I have no plans to sell my 24" that is for sure but I don’t really see it becoming much more than a spare I can lend to friends. I could take it when space is tight it’s true, but I’d rather be on my KH, I’m sure :smiley:

I also wonder if a 29" would make me more inclined to focus on getting to destination B. Instead of taking the time to enjoy the ride along the way, looking for fun challenges and things to hope on/over, ramps/banks to ride up and down.

Or is that all just as fun on the 29"

I have a 29" and it’s huge compared to my 20" so I think I probably need a 24" to ‘fill the gap’ :slight_smile:

I had a day out with the Unicycle NorthWest group and Julian kindly let me try some of his Unicycles to see what to buy.

I tried the 29" first and couldn’t mount it because I’d only ever ridden a 20 before, so he let me have a 24" MUni to try.

That one I managed and after riding it for about a mile and a half he suggested I try the 26. We stood them next to eachother and the 26 was only about an inch taller than the 24 owing to the tyres that were fitted so I tried the 29" instead and was able to mount and ride it for another mile and a half.

The problem I had was on the return trip. I was tired and the 125mm cranks were too short for me to ride it uphill so I switched back to the 24" MUni which I found much more manageable.

Perhaps a 26" might have been the better choice for me in the first place, but I do quite like the speed of the 29" once I get it moving smoothly on tarmac, although I have the original 150mm cranks and won’t be changing them for anything shorter as I STILL can’t get up some of the hills here on it. :smiley:

You couldn’t find any compare-contrast discussion newer than five years?

This topic comes up constantly, like monthly, but to answer your question:

“wondering if people would still make the same recommendations 5+ years on. (5+ years more experience)”

I ride a 29" as my main muni, a 36" as my XC/double track muni, a 26 x 4" for mud and snow. I do not like riding a smaller wheel because it’s too slow, even the 29" is slow at times, esp if I’ve been riding my 36er a lot.

Bigger wheels take more effort to ride, esp in difficult terrain, hills, etc… so for me it took a while to build up the skills to ride a bigger wheel.

I started on a 20", one week later I was riding a 24", one month later I was up to a 26". At one year I bought a 29", it was akward to ride and I didn’t have fun, itfelt like my riding went down a level, so I went back to a 26" for another year, then I successfull transition to a 29" at two years and never went back.

Some people find the 29" to be akward for muni or too small for road, but it really is a matter of what you get used to riding. Yesterday I rode my 36er for five miles on technical terrain, intermediate and advanced mtb trails, it was hard, I had more dismounts and UPDs than I would have had on my 29er, but it was doable and fun.

I think you should get the biggest wheel possible and learn to ride it because a bigger wheel is more stable and faster. If you are riding anything but super tech “hop a lot” muni, a 29er is a great muni.

In terms of set up, you’ll adjust your style to the ride or you’ll adjust the ride to your style. I rode 165’s on everything for the past few years, only recently “made myself” ride shorter cranks, now on 150’s, it works well for the 29er, it’s a struggle on the 36er, but spinning easy stuff is so much more fun on shorter cranks.

I’m a fairly strong rider, I enjoy climbing and I think I do it well, I run 150’s on the 29" and 150/125 on the 36". I can’t imagine being able to ride anything I ride now with a 125 crank, even with a 137 I would be walking more hills and for what benefit? You could run 165/137’s if you felt like a little extra length is helpful; my ideal crank would be a 160/140 but they don’t make those :frowning:

Get an Oregon, buy a second wheel (29"), ride both sizes as the conditions vary.

The 29" is a lot bigger than a 24" but only a bit bigger than a 26" with a decent sized muni tire. It wouldn’t say that the size makes it much less practical than a 26" for many uses. Though you do mention public transportation, in which case it seems like every inch can count.

Normally, I read “commute” and I’d recommend the 29" without a second thought but your commute is a bit different and I think either could work out. The 26" would be less of a jump from what you’re currently riding and that can be both good (less adjustment; will feel like it’s taking less of a step back in skill) and bad (not as much difference in speed).

The 29" can be very good for fun rides but for me, it took some time on a 36" before a 29" felt very playful. Longer term I think the 29" would be more versatile than the 26" but short term, based on where you are now, it may not work out that way.

Thanks! Lots of great replies… Even tho there is an undertone of “get a 29” I think the reasons kind of strengthen my justification for the 26"?

Whilst I’m wanting to add some speed… I don’t want it to become the largest focus in my riding…
Also i mentioned I’m currently on a road tire, the 26 would come with a 2.7 tire the 29 would come with a 2.3 this would close the gap further between them… And extend the gap from my 24" wouldn’t it?

Don’t worry about your speed, it’s a friggin unicycle! Unless your talking about a geared 36, it’s going to be slow :slight_smile:

The difference between a 26 and a 29 is pretty small if your out riding around the neighborhood. There really is no wrong choice for you here. I think the 29 is kind of the standard large size unicycle as compared to the 26. Both are fun, both will roll over stuff good, there are WAY more road tires for a 26. I think people may be pushing towards the 29 because you already have 24, so it seems to make more sense to get a 29.

My main ride is a 29, I love it. I was a bit frustrated with it’s off road ability, but the more I ride it the better I get, so it seems it was mostly my lacking 29er skills. I find it to be a great balance between speed and maneuverability out on the streets. You just want to be careful as you get out there more and your distance increases, you may like it more and want to go even farther… So if you get the 26, in a few months you may change your mind…


For as you describe being a touch of speed compared to a 24er and to fill in a wide range and last you as you become more proficient imao you will be happier with a 29er undoubted. Anyone agree?
Run a schwelbe big apple 48c for comfort on the road perhaps. Only thing is the pitch on the roads will lean you to the side the road a little.Off road run a light 2.3 like a Hans dampf, they are a sweet 3c muni tyre! Order one from chainreac tion
Flatten the saddle of what you choose and anything the get will serve you for many km’s long into the years. A 24er with a big tyre is almost a 26er. Don’t stress about 29er tyres there and more and more popping up on the market each week.
If your heart becomes set on a 26 still you will very quickly wish it were 3 inchs taller or geared
Gearing a 29er will be painful for:) upd’s but most thrilling none the less!
If the pocket permits go for a k h too!
And 29er will climb well with strong momentum as good as a 26.
All the best

Well said, I agree. I got a 29er before christmas and I can do anything I could do on a 24,maybe even more, with more speed.

A 29er is still very nimble you just have to get used to being high up. It’l take a little getting used to but after that it is awesome. The 29er will also open up more XC riding, which is doable on a 26" but not nearly as much fun.

Get a 29", you wont regret it. Just ask Nurse Ben.

most concure that a
26 is a dh/fr muni
29 fr/xc
36 xc/touring

Dh down hill - down only
Fr free ride - down mainly, light uphill
Xc - cross county mostly flatish
nothing you can’t basically run up full pace
Touring- touring, touring. Maybe high tail commuting
and terrorising the streets and get amongst those guys with too much
Carbon fibre and a training wheel

Anyone with a 36 would tell you get a 36 and be done!
Anyone with 29 says get a climbing and nimble 29…

Eventually you will probably get one off each like most of us, its just a matter which one first really!!!

dunno if its off topic,but I got into BMX cruisers(no racing,a little jumping,drop offs,nothing extreme) and went from a 24" to a 29" Big Ripper and it felt great.
It basiclly just rolls over everything,plus its aluminum so its really light.The jump I used to mainly do was a bout 3ft hi,have no idea the distance and the 29r felt the best.Even on my little box(1/4 pipe,8’deck,landing ramp) I’d fly over the whole thing and land flat.
I have every size,16"(pitbike),20"(never gets ridden),24"s,a 26",and 2 29rs.So I’ve rode them all quite abit and the 26" is the most awkward in the air.Which I find weird cuz its a nice bike and rides great.and “seems” like a 26 would be the best fit.

I’m looking for my first uni and Im gonna start w/ a 24",might go 26" if I can find one for the right price.I’d love to be able to ride a 36".

From my zero experience I’d go w/ the 29"

I can fit both my 26 and 29 in the trunk of my car (it’s not a huge trunk either) at the same time. The small difference in size between the 26 and 29 isn’t going to make the 29 any less portable, so don’t worry about that.

I’ve worked myself up to riding the 29er on trails and for me there’s really only one disadvantage to the 29er when compared to my 26:

  • Tire selection. I like the duro on my 26 because it can take some abuse. The tire has a lot of volume… and weight unfortunately. This disadvantage is going away with time as a wider selection (pun) of fat tires are now available for 29ers. The only issue there is that I don’t think the new 3.0 29er tires can fit in the new KH frame. My 29KH is a few years old and there certainly isn’t enough crown clearance to fit a 3.0 tire in there.

That probably doesn’t matter at all for XC/light technical muni. You’re not going to need or want a 3" duro wildlife if distance over light technical terrain is your thing. My 26 only gets called in for one duty these days… technical downhill. Other than that it’s the 29er.

I’ve found the 29 to be a great, versatile unicycle. Great for easy to moderate muni, great for road rides 3 miles or less. If you started riding recently getting used to the size will take some time.

If I had a 24, and were looking for another uni, I’d go 29. Check out the Oracle it comes with disc brakes. There’s very little difference between a 24 and 26.

Well yeah, I love the 29" wheel, it has just the right combination of speed and nimbleness. I rode the 29er last night, the day after a big 36er muni ride, and it was sooooo nimble :smiley:

The only caveat for me is that I struggled going from a 26" to a 29" in my first go round, so it depends on how easilly you adapt. I’m not sure why it was so hard to adapt, but I had the same problem with my first 36er, so apparently timing counts for something.

Too bad UDC doesn’t have a loaner program.

Did I mention getting an Oregon and owning two or more wheelsets :wink:

The thing is for the price of an Oregon, you can actually get a 26 AND 29 :stuck_out_tongue:

The difference between a MUni tire and a XC/road tire is larger than the difference between the wheel sizes. A 26x2.3" will ride a lot more like a 29x2.3" than like a 24x3", while a 26x2.7" will ride a lot more like a 24x3" than a 29x2.3". It’s not the diameter, it’s the ride characteristics, which are based on weight and sidewall stiffness.

If you want a slightly bigger MUni, go for the 26". If you want an XC machine, go for the 29er.

Ok I’m convinced… Thanks for all your replies… Ill be ordering the kh29 tomorrow.

My want of adding “speed” is not to be able to go faster per say… More an attempt to increase efficiency at the same speed… I feel like I’m peddling far too rapidly to call it “efficient” :slight_smile: (as I mentioned, time is not an issue)

I’m not worried about the learning curve… Its not meant to be easy… That’s all part of the fun

Thanks again all… I feel confident now
I’ll report my experience in the near future

I went thru the same delema, went with a 29". I ride a mix of xc and moderate to dificult MUNI and the switch was relatively painless, my 24 is collecting dust now.

The size difference was definitely noticeable freemounting and UPD’ing, but gets easier every ride, I dont really think about it anymore.

Riding distance is amazing and very do-able on the 29 compared to the 24, I cant speak to the ride ability of the 26".

As to size and getting it in a car, I drive a 2 seat Hyundai Tiburon, and with 1 of the back seats folded down it fits no problem.

Whichever way you decide to go enjoy!