The Schlumpf dilemma

Hello Shclumpf owners and everyone else :slight_smile:

Like most unicyclists, I have been wondering about if I should or shouldn’t purchase the Schlumpf IGH.
However, mainly due to the relatively high cost of it, I usually say NO to myself and continue telling myself that I don’t really need it and that it is probably just a nice to have thing…

BUT, recently I’ve been rethinking about it and I put down a list of my “justifications” for buying the Schlumpf IGH against a list of “doubts” regarding this purchase.
I’d appreciate your advise about this from your experience and hopefully I’ll reach the right conclusion about it with your kind help.

So here are the two lists:

Justifications list:

1- I have been riding about 3 years. That makes me pretty experienced rider and I know a thing or two about what I want from my unicycle.

2- In the last 2 years I have been commuting to work (on a 36er).
Having a 26er or 29er would benefit my commute significantly with less effort and better performance.

3- The Schlumpf is the only commercial IGH for unicycle and no other alternative gives the same benefits.

4- I can save two unicycles for having just one (26 Muni and 36er commute - which will be sold eventually).

Doubts list:

1- Having Schlumpf requires purchasing a KH unicycle (new or used) and not using my current uni. This makes the expense even higher than purchasing only the Schlumpf IGH.

2- What about maintenance? No one in my country can give maintenance service to the Schlumpf IGH and it means I’ll have to manage on my own.
How often does the Schlumpf IGH suffers from technical issues that requires expert handling?

3- What is the average lifespan of Schlumpf hub? Or what is the average longest known distance that Schlumpf IGH would keep functioning properly (what is its End of Life mileage?)

Thanks a lot for your help; your comments are most appreciated!


One possible misperception to correct: Commuting on a 26 or 29 in high gear will not be less effort than commuting on the 36. It’s more physical effort and a good bit more mental effort.

There are no real lifespan numbers on Schlumpf hubs; the numbers are just too low. The current hubs seem more reliable than previous versions; if you maintain it properly it’s likely to last for a while. There are people with many thousands of miles on their Schlumpfs

The maintenance is more fiddly than fixed unicycle hubs; if you get the torque wrong on the buttons, the bearing holders, or the cranks you can cause yourself more problems. That doesn’t require expert handling but it does require a higher level of care than most unicycle stuff.

The next-generation hubs will probably be a little less fiddly (if only because they have a solid torque arm rather than the knurled bearing cover, which is a bit of a hacky solution). But it’s hard to say whether they’ll be more or less reliable overall; no data.

Best advice I can give is to try one first. They are not for everybody.

Pretty much the same dilema to me - Considering whether I want to gear-up my 29er when the new ones come out that’ll supposedly fit all/most frames, or just buy a cheap 36er for the times that I want to go faster :roll_eyes:

The maintenance is a big one for me. A 36er would be just the same maintenance as my 29er (In fact far less, because I would only ride it on road/smooth paths as opposed to MUni probably) whereas a Schlumpf would mean learning to, and then maintaining that thing properly. For the price of them, I would want to keep it in tip-top condition for as many years as possible! Not to mention I’m scared I’d ride to a friend’s house, stay over, then be unable to ride home because my hub needs retorquing. I could carry tools, but right now I don’t need to, so bleh.

To aleviate that last one - how long between rides can you go before you need to tweak it back? I’ve heard they can go into freewheel mode if left alone…

Yeah. i’m also right on the fence at the moment. The money’s no problem, but last week, I was riding home on a new route and rolled over a wild little undulation in the pavement–totalliy unexpected, just one of those rare, freaky incidents. It threw me off at about 11-12 mph, and i sustained the usual minor knee scrape–no big deal; i was back up and riding away after a minute or so. Of course, had i been doing 14-17 mph on the Schlumpf…well.
So, for now, since I’ve only been on unicycles for a couple seasons, I think I’m just going to stick with my stock KH36. I really love the simplicity of the thing, and even ungeared, it’s WAY funner than my bike. :wink:

For your justification:

If you are really enthousiastic about unicycling, and like to try different wheel sizes, crank length etc, then I think the Schlumpf is for you.
It is such an unique experience to ride a geared unicycle.

I have it in a 26 inch Muni. The best use for it are mixed offroad / road tours.
I have several other unis, that I all use. I wouldn’t sell any of them, since I like them all.

As for maintainance: I do a regular check on the crank bolts, since I don’t believe in loctite in the ISIS splines. It is a form fit,not a glue fit. And it needs some oil, once in a year or so. You just need a torque wrenche and you will be fine.

Since the hub is so expensive and don’t want to send it to Swiss for repear, I don’t use it in wet and muddy conditions. I have enhough other unis for that.
Allthought there are a lot of people that use a Schlumpf in all conditions, so maybe other people can comment on the durabitlity.

So, if the money is no problem, I would do it.



You either like them or you don’t. I was one of the first to get a Schlumpf, and I have three sitting in my shed. One hasn’t been ridden in four years, the other two gets ridden a couple of times a year.

If you like a pick up and go unicycle, then it’s not for you. It really needs to be checked before each ride- everything needs to be torqued just right (I’d never bothered with torque wrenches before, despite racing bikes for over 20yrs); because a hub that goes into freewheel or locks up at high speed will make a huge mess of you. For instance, if your cranks loosen during the ride, it WILL put the hub into freewheel. If you overtighten and destroy the bearings, you’ll looking at sending your hub to Switzerland and waiting months for it to be fixed.

Durability- too hard to answer with low numbers. I had a barely-used hub rebuilt, but without knowing that the flange was directional, my bike shop had the spokes the wrong way, and it cracked within a week. That problem is fixed now with thicker flanges.

If I want gears, I normally ride my bike (which has ten times more gear ratios, closely spaced), whereas I ride a unicycle because of lightweight and simplicity. I can’t be bothered checking bolts with a torque wrench every time I go riding. A Schlumpf doesn’t ‘feel’ like a regular unicycle, it feels like a two-speed DH mountainbike…heavy and drags.

That said, everyone should have one, particularly if you’ve already got the full set of unicycles (Muni, road, 26/29/36 etc). They can be fun to ride and you do have a higher top end speed.

Hi All,

Thanks a lot for your responses.
You made me understand that the Schlumpf is not the “magic” solution to my commute and that a great deal of responsibility comes along with it - as the famous sentence: “With great power, comes great responsibility”.

So for the moment, I think I’ll give up this adventure - although, who knows maybe some day I’ll take my chance and go for it.


I think you made the right decision (at least for now), but I don’t think Ken’s experience is universal. I just have the one Schlumpf hub’d uni, but I use it every day. (I wouldn’t have it as my only uni, but it’s the one I use most often.) I just check for bolt tightness periodically, and haven’t had any troubles. You do need to keep your cranks tight, as Ken mentioned, I had them come loose once, and forturnately I wasn’t going very fast. But I keep an eye on them, and no problems since then.
The usefullness of the overdrive is very subjective. I’ve only been riding it for 6 or 8 months now, and I just now feel like I’m getting used to it. Someone on the forum said he thought it takes a year to get used to it, and I don’t disagree with that. Some riders probably take to it like a duck to water, but I don’t think that’s all too common. At any rate, on many rides I don’t use the overdrive at all. Depends on the road and conditions and my mood at the time. It’s not easy to ride, in my opinion. It takes practice. (I only use it for road riding. As suggested, I don’t want to hasten its wear factor by taking it off road.)
Just my opinions, YMMV.

This answer really speaks to your question, a Schlumpf is not ideal for anything, it’s heavy, complicated, expensive, unreliable, finicky, and it could be more dangerous than a fixed unciycle. It most definitely does NOT make unicycling easier or more efficient.

But, if you love unciycling and you can afford the expense, it is a singulalry unique product that has to be ridden to be expereinced. I expect that I will have another one someday…kinda curious what the newest hub will look like in terms of design (disc brake, crank stop, torque arm).

That said, in my most recent round of wheeled expenditures, I chose to buy a fat bike and a fixed 36er over getting a Schlumpf, it was a matter of what was more practical and what would get more use.

Ha! Ben and I have very different opinions about the Schlumpf. :slight_smile: I love mine. It was made in 2007 (serial #00079). I’ve put over 10,000 km on it since I got it in 2008. It works perfectly. No fuss. Simple. Low maintenance. (I’ve tightened the cranks once this year. Oiled the hub two or three times this year.) Elegant.
Riding a 36" guni in high gear on smoothish flattish roads is a dream. Hitting top speeds over 20 mph is exhilarating! I’ve ridden two centuries on in, and I couldn’t fathom riding 100 miles on an unGuni. What a nightmare that would be. All of those unnecessary pedal strokes.
It’s the perfect machine that I commute to work on every day and take on 10 or 20+ mile dirt road/single track rides on the weekend. Yes, I ride this allegedly delicate and finicky machine in the dirt. Although it’s not really a muni, I make it perform like one. With the long cranks (165 mm) and Magura rim brake I can ride up and down pretty steep hills but the flats are still fun because I can pop it into high gear. You’ll have the control and hill-climbing ability of long cranks with the speed of short cranks. A 36" muni/guni/commuter all in one beautiful efficient versatile machine. It’s the best of all worlds. Get one! But wait until the next generation comes out.
My hub is so old that it has the torque arm (pre-knurled bearing). It never slips and the bearing caps can get all loose and almost fall off without risk of slippage and the wheel will still stay on. Miraculous! Torque arms are the way to go. That’s what you want.
Get a Schlumpf! Get one! :sunglasses:

Yes, yes, go get one! If money isn’t a problem then you will most definitely enjoy a geared hub! It just opens up such great possibilities. I feel it nearly doubled the fun of riding. There are a few things to consider though: it will add significant weight to your setup, disc brakes could be problematic and you need to pay attention to the correct maintenance. I have a geared 36 and 26 and I can’t see myself going ungeared at all. It’s just too much fun cruising along in high gear.

I bought a Schlumpf hub for the purpose of getting to and from the trails more effectively. I have put it in a KH 26. I have never even considered putting it on a 36’er - don’t have the nerve for that.

The Schlumpf is fun to ride, but I find it quite difficult uphill and on uneven surface. After a while I swopped the KH 26 for an Oracle 24 for muni. I now use a bike (or car) to get to the trails, so the Schlumpf doesn’t get much use anymore. If it was stolen, I probably wouldn’t replace it in the near future. I’ll hang on to it though.

Well only in the sense that a unicycle isn’t ideal for anything. Sure it’s heavy, complicated and expensive compared to a fixed wheel uni, but not compared to a bicycle. Unreliable? Depends what you mean - there were issues with flanges breaking on early models (mine has broken and been bodged), but that’s been resolved and I don’t think I’ve seen reports of internals breaking. Aren’t pretty much all the issues related to installation, in which case calling it unreliable is a bit unfair?

So if we come back to the idea that you’re riding an impractical unicycle in the first place, then a Schlumpf is ideal for covering ground as quickly as possible. I think why Ben doesn’t see this as an ideal is that like me he’s one of the few on here who also rides bikes a lot, and if he wants to get somewhere fast he’d just ride a bike - I have a certain sympathy with this point. However let’s assume that you want to ride a unicycle - there are definite advantages over riding a bike, in that it’s more interesting, manoeuvrable, compact, fun, a better view etc. and to be honest when riding with my kids I’d get the uni out rather than the bike every time - if you then want to go faster you need a Schlumpf. If I was better at riding it, it would be my choice for riding with the kids a lot of the time as they’re getting quicker. I’m also hoping to get good enough to be able to ride one off-road, where it will speed up the boring easy stuff (have had a knee injury for 6 months, so learning is on hold).

How big are your feet? :astonished: Personally with my US 8, Euro 41s I’m using 140s having struggled with 150 - is definitely one case where small feet are a big disadvantage.

had a bit of a break from riding unicycles in the last year. Jumped back on the old 26" schlumpf the other day for a quick burn around the trails and realized how much I sucked. It’s one of those things- the more you ride it and perfect your trail sense, your shifts etc the more fun it is. The other day was pretty rough- lots of missed shifts, bails, struggling through sections in high gear that should have been done in low and vice versa. You really do need to invest the time on it on a regular basis to get the most from it. When everything is humming- its like a meditative, physically intense, ego suck. Just ride and ride and next thing you know its been hours and you are shagged but feeling awesome

The schlumpf hub revolutionized my riding. I went from doing small loops in the local reserves to huge races across the world against bikes (and not doing too shabby either). For that reason i don’t think i’ll ever get rid of it. Got to put some hours in though to make it a worthwhile piece of kit.


I assume you’re talking about foot position here, as it pertains to crank length and the distance from the heel to the shift button. I struggled with this issue until someone suggested the ankle shift. Once I tried that everything changed. Shifts no longer a problem, no matter the crank length. My riding shoes are ankle boots, so that helps, but I’ve done it in regular shoes also and it doesn’t cause injury to your ankles. Besides curing the heel position problem, I find it also puts the cranks in a better shifting position. More “forgiving” of minor riding flaws. I recommend giving it a try, if you ride longer cranks, or have experienced issues with the “heel-click” shift.
(As always, my opinion only, YMMV.) Cheers!

I know about eight Bay Area riders with Schlumpfs. Between them they’ve had to send probably 10 hubs back to Switzerland for internal failures. But most of those were earlier-generation versions.

Er, that might well have been me. Unfortunately it doesn’t solve the issue of small feet - even using that technique I found I had to move my feet to shift when using 150s.

Sorry to hear that. If the problem is that your ankle is now below the shift button when it swings around, perhaps it might be possible to strap something to your leg that protrudes at the right position and allows an easy button push. Just a thought.
(If that was you with the original suggestion, thanks! Very helpful!)

Just to add to the discussion, I got a Schlumpf 26" muni in April of 2014 and it took me a few weeks to learn how to ride what was effectively a virtual 39" wheel. I have 165mm cranks and these, I find, give me good leverage when in high gear. Being able to change gear whilst moving was the next hurdle, which again took a few weeks to sort out. However, once you have both of these skills nailed, you can go long and short distance rides, up steep gradients, over rough terrain, down hills quickly - the list goes on and on.

I’ve taken it out in torrential rain and mud, and no issues with dirt getting into it, and the maintenance is so far … zero! You have to put a blob of oil into the hub once a year, but that’s it. So, clearly reliability has improved a lot since the earlier hubs (from reading the other posts on this topic). I’ve now ridden in excess of 450 miles on it and no issues at all with the hub.

In terms of weight, my KH G26" weighs the same as my Nimbus 26" Muni.
If there is a difference at all between the two riding sensations, then if I’m doing to do lots of hops or over tricky terrain, I’d opt for the non-geared hub as everything is ‘tight’. On the geared hub, there is a little bit of play in the gearing system which is fine when moving at speed on it, but maybe not so ideal when going at slower speeds.

A final point, a geared 26" can go fast and if you need to hop off it at speed, it’s less far to fall than on a 36" !!