The burnout of a 36er, or was 36er really meant to be ridden long distances?

Hi All,

You probably know already my previous posts regarding maintenance issues of my 36er - you’ve all done great in helping me out.
The reason I’m posting this is because last night I had a conversation with my wife on the question of whether I’m doing the right thing by counting on my 36er as a mean of commuting from home to work on a daily basis.

My wife says that it wasn’t meant to use for such long and hard distances in oppose to bicycle and that’s in her opinion the reason for burnout that caused my pedals, disk brake and recently “vanishing” spacer issues.

To be honest I don’t have a clear opinion - as I like very much riding it, but I can only tell that I have ridden almost 1000 KM on it (400 KM per month) - so is this burnout legitmate or is this the beginning of an avalanche where more and more parts will start to wear out?

I’d appreciate your opinion based on your experience as always :slight_smile:


It sounds to me like you need a new 36er to continue to study this phenomenon. Get one that’s a different type, to compare how they wear. One will be the primary, and the other can be your back-up.

The correct number of unicycles to own is n+1 (where n is the number of unicycles you have at the moment). :slight_smile:

Your wife is correct in that unicycles were not meant for riding long or hard distances. In fact, unicycles are impossible to ride and aren’t meant to go any distance. They are just there to annoy people who can’t ride.

And that’s why you need a new one.

If that is the case, then it means my unicycle has a very short lifespan.
Buying a new one of a different type is kind of a putting more money at risk.

I just wanted to know if from people’s experience in riding that intensively as I do - if it is reasonable or not to reach such maintenance condition, if it makes sense or not.

you have no reason to need a new one at all, keep on the way you are at the moment

the issues:

pedals - you have probably dropped this uni a lot as a 1st 36er. for pedals you need to find a happy medium between quality and replacability (why trials riders use rounded plastics i believe)

brakes - disc brakes on a unicycle are new technology, the current disc brake thread is full of issues with reliability but people are starting to get a grasp of what should work well.

the spacer: in still trying to work out how that could have happened. its entirely possible the spacer was missing from the word go. otherwise its a problem that should be noticeable if it returns. If it does return contact QuAx. This appears to be ‘the big issue’ as it could relate to a frame issue (hence contact quax if it happens again). The only way i can think of to check that would be to ask you to measure the distance between centre to centre of the frame bearing housings and check it matches closely to the 100mm on the hub.

At 400km per month using the 36 shouldnt be a problem. I dont believe you have had anything more than a mini avalanche with the spate of current issues.

the best of luck and i hope you get back to riding soon

People ride thousands of miles on 29s and 36s. I used to ride 10-15 miles a night 5 nights a week on the cheapest 36 in the shop and rarely had a problem. Look at the hard miles that Aspenmike does on his.

The pedals and discs are the same as they would be on a bicycle. Always use reasonable quality pedals.

Of course it requires some maintenance. Check all the nuts and bolts for tightness, apply lubricant where required, keep it reasonably clean, and ride it sensibly. Other than that, the only limit is your stamina.

I do 10 miles a day 7 days a week (Sometimes more if I feel like a weekend trip) And this is on a 29er not 36er… Mine’s lasted me so far (Admittedly just under a month…) And is showing no signs of wear whatsoever.

It sounds to me like you’re just being incredibly unlucky or perhaps have a few sub-standard :stuck_out_tongue: I’m no expert though :smiley:

Maybe QX isn’t the best brand of 36er. I haven’t seen much about them, except for your threads about trying to get yours tubeless, and the crank problem. Just another possibility, I could be entirely wrong.

I agree with John:

Also keep in mind the corollary: "The correct number of unicycles to own is s -1, where s is the number of unicycles that causes your wife to leave you. :smiley:

If this is your main mode of commuting, I think you can easily justify having a spare. They are way less expensive than cars in every way.

Also, one of the good thing about unicycles is their simplicity. There just aren’t that many things there to break. So buy quality replacement components when they do break or wear out, and before long you’ll know what your maintenance schedule should be.

Just keep pedaling. “Never give up! Never surrender!”

Um. I’m having trouble with your math. More unicycles = more fun. If your risk refers to whether or not you would get enjoyment from it, you are covered. If you mean financial risk, uh, are you by any chance an accountant? :wink:

Anyway, my post was meant to be fun. Look to the folks that posted below to see more immediately useful information. After that I saw your other post where you showed your spacer situation, which may have led to some of your other problems as well. My logic, of buying another one of a different type, is still sound logic. Also it’s good to have a backup one if the other is being repaired. In fact, if one or both of them have Schlumpf hubs it’s almost mandatory!

I still have my original Coker, which I got in 2002. I don’t ride it much, but it’s still in fine shape. It’s been on many mountain bike trails, down curbs, done thousands of miles of bike paths, ridden around Lake Tahoe 1.5 times, and was in Ride The Lobster. They can last a long, long time.

I also still have my original Big Wheel, a 45" that I got in 1982. The wheel was rebuilt once, but it’s still using its original, cotter-pin hub. However I hardly ever ride it anymore, because 36" unicycles with air tires are much, much better suited to long distance riding. I will always have at least two 36" unicycles, I hope.

Have you been reading that “Rules” page also? I had heard the n+1 thing a long time ago, but the s-1 was a new one for me. Actually, only new in its written form. For many years I have admitted to owning “thirtysomething” unicycles. I think the current total is somwhere around thirty-thirteen or so. :sunglasses:

No, she is not fooled.

So I’m not sure I understand the question…

Are you burned out or is the unicycle wearing out?

I have yet to wear out a unicycle, but then I don’t keep them long :roll_eyes:

But seriously, I do have parts that have many rides on them and I have yet to wear them out, even two year old pedals which are “disposable”.

I’ve broke a few things, was going through brakes for a while, but seem to have that worked out, have wore out some seat foam and put holes in covers, but even that sort of thing is typical wear stuff.

If you’re asking about the practicality of riding a 36er as a daily commuter, I know of many people who use a 36er for long distance touring and commuting.

Personally, I love my 36er BUT it is a lot of work spinning that big wheel, so there are times (now for instance) when I feel that it takes more energy to ride the 36er the same distance as it takes to ride a 29er.

I think it has a lot to do with relative rotational weight:
Compare two similar tire types with similar construction:

29" Ardent 2.25 EXO Tire 745gm, ~91" Circumference, ~8.2gm per inch
36" TODD 2.25 Tire 1500gm, ~113" Circumerference, ~13.3gm per inch

In order to make the 36" tire equal to the 29" Ardent, you would need to reduce the 36" tire by nearly 600gm, to ~950gm.

Keeping in mind that rotational weight is a significant factor in maintaining wheel speed, I think this is the “500# gorilla” in the room.

I have been riding a TODD tire on my 36er for a while now, I like the tire in all ways, so I hadn’t really thought of it as “heavy” until I rode it back to back with my 32" Maxxis Advantage Silkworm “frankentire” which weighs in a ~650gm.

Though the TODD tire rides better than the Advantage due the difference in casing design; the Advantage is an ultralight casing, the Advantage is significantly easier to ride over time.

The difference is so significant that I am going to build a frankentire for my 36er, an Advantage EXO or Ardent EXO.

I believe the OP Is riding a TA, which weighs >2000gm!!

I think the original post is all about parts wearing out…

… but for rotational inertia, remember that it’s proportional to the square of the distance from the axis. A 36" tire that was the same total weight as a 29" would still feel about (36/29)^2 = 1.5+ times as heavy from an inertia standpoint. You would need something like a 500gm TODD for it to feel the same! And similar calc for the rim.

Bottom line is that inertia makes bigger wheels get klutzy and sluggish a lot faster than pure size would suggest.

Hi Ben,

Yes, I meant for the wearing out of the unicycle, not me :slight_smile:
There have been too much (IMHO) technical issues with my 36er in a relatively short period of time.
Even the latest incident in which one of the wheel’s bearings drifted towards the crank and caused the fork to stick to the crank and scratching it all over put me in a state which made my closest people start wondering if I’m not asking for too much from my uni as a mean of commuting daily.

It’s like in the last month, I had visited my LBS 3 or 4 times!
It doesn’t seem right…

I also still haven’t received answer from QU-AX and I’m starting to feel like I’m alone in this story…
It’s kind of takes all the fun out of commuting that way.
I wish it could be more reliable and less sensitive to all sorts of mechanical malfunctions, like the ones I’ve witnessed so far.

Comparing your reports against the experiences that I’ve heard from other 36er owners… it sounds like you ended up with a lemon. In that light the advice to get another 36er may be the soundest. The cost analysis comes down to the price of a new 36er vs. the price of time lost to repairs, running the risk of more mechanical failures at inopportune moments, etc.

And believe me, if you want to stay economical I don’t think ditching the uni in favor of a bike is going to save you any money.

I must have missed the bearing drift issue.

That happened to me when I was first learning to ride muni, I was not running spacers between the cranks and bearing, so my bearing pushed off the spindle. Sorry you were hurt in the incident.

Maybe it isn’t the gear wearing out so much as figuring out the proper set up.

I rarely work on my set up unless I’m changing tires or crank lengths.

All my munis are plug and play, maybe I’ll drop or raise the seat on a ride, add a little air pressure, but really not a lot more is needed.

Unis are fair lower maintenance than a bike.

So, are you like an engineer or something?

Okay, so I can’t make a 36er to as “unklutzy” as a 29er; a 500gm 36er tire is not going to happen, but I can get closer with a 900gm tire.

Well no Ben I’m fine and wasn’t hurt in that incedent, just my fork lost some color layer.
If you are familiar with such issue, can you tell why no spacer is used between the bearing and the crank?
And is it the right solution to add a spacer to fix that although it wasn’t design that way in the first place?

There absolutely should be a spacer and if there is not a spacer then it was forgotten. Yes, add spacers, make them slightly narrower than the existing gap, this way the cranks will still go on snug.

Is this an ISIS spindle or a square spindle?

You should just assemble it with spacers after you make sure the loose bearing is repositioned appropriately. I had this issue with an early Nimbus (24", ISIS), that came without outer spacers and the cranks started to rub against the frame. After stabilizing the bearings with spacers, I have had not problem with it for years. It is a cheap and easy fix.

Go buy yourself an assortment of spacers and reassemble it.


Hi Shay,
Sorry to hear about all the troubles you’re going thought with the 36er :frowning:

I’ve checked that on my 36er, and it definitely has spacer between the bearings and the cranks, I’m quit sure it’s 4mm spacers.
Maybe you can try with Rafi and ask if he has them in stock - good luck with that!

You don’t have to run and buy another 36er. Qu-Ax are pretty good unicycles. I have 2 Munis (20" / 26") which I use to abuse, and they very durable, Your 36er should be fine too.

Don’t get frustrated, install the spacers and get ready for the coming TLV race :slight_smile:

Keep in touch,

Yes, it is ISISr
Again, as I mentioned earlier both my local dealer and told me it doesn’t come with spacer between the crank and bearing.

That’s really weird, because Rafi told me it shouldn’t have the outer spacer.
So I don’t know what to think as we both got the same model at the same day.