Not an all around machine, (unless that is your ideal unicycle), but what comes closest to being what you think is perfect for muni, trials, commuting or whatever kind of riding you like to do. I know a lot of you have many years of experience at this and have probably experimented extensively with different wheel sizes, crank lengths, handlebars, etc… What is it you have come to prefer over the years and conversely, what are things you wouldn’t consider again? I’m kind of interested to see if there’s any kind of general agreement among experienced riders as to what works best or if everyone’s more of an individualist,
I may try clipless pedals at some point as I already have the shoes and several bikes with them. I don’t think I’m ready for them on a unicycle at this point though.
For anything off-road, my fatty (flansberrium light 26x4.0 with carbon sprinkles) is my stabilized best (I would just swap the tire in case of serious downhill and slap a brake on). It was in my signature in like forever but the new format is no longer showing it…
For road, I settled on an evolution of my original KH 29 from 2006 (pre-ISIS). There is not much left from the original parts but it is pick-up-and-ride and has the proper weight/size convenience (never tried bigger and may like it but I cannot picture myself with a radio-telescope to carry around ).
In my experience, you will slowly refine your setup overtime through a mix of experience and opportunities. The key is the rides not the machine
I’m a cross country/all mountain kinda rider on a 29+ and a 36. Both have 127mm cranks.
My preference is for a handlebar as I prefer to be ambidextrous in my riding and I find it very efficient and comfortable for riding.
I prefer a much more upright stance while riding so I have my handlebars quite high compared to others. I find this gives me a better balance perspective and keeps my chest open to take in more oxygen.
Both wheels have the exact same handlebar setup.
I prefer a brake to assist for long or steep descents.
I prefer (by a long shot) a KH Fusion Freeride saddle for comfort.
Good biting pins on my pedals.
Safety gear consists of helmet, gel elbow pads, bike shorts (no underwear), telekneesis knee pads, and hiking boots (but anything will do).
I like to ride steady and smooth.
It almost feels like riding a bike now but closer to a slow flying plane.
When I ride a trail I try my best to sweep it for a “no dab” ride.
That’s my setup.
My ideal setup is for XC/Muni: an alu frame (lighter than Ti and sotrnger enought nowadays), carbon rim, alu nipples, Continental Trail King (2.2-2.6) / WTB ranger light (3.0) Tire (depending on the rim), tubeless with half split tube, Nukeproof pedals with pins / Clipless pedals (I’m not ready right now!), handle saddle M size (maybe modifying the cushion), Kh seatpost which can completely adjust the handle saddle, Qu-Axle hub. 125 or 137 cranks
How do you find that a high mounted handlebar works while hopping? I’ve currently got a bent t-handle with those little rubber ends mounted right next to my saddle. My thinking being that I would be less likely to unseat myself while hopping with the handle close to the seat.
I do 90% of my riding on my 36er. The setup has been pretty stable for a number of years now. 127mm cranks, brake with 180mm rotor, DMR Vault pedals, Fusion Zero saddle and medium length Shadow bar.
It depends a lot where I ride. I mostly ride shared pathways, suburban streets and town footpaths (sidewalks). Typical outing about 12 to 15 km. My go to uni is a KH 26 frame with a Nimbus Stealth 2 wheel, Maxxis DTH 2.15 tyre, 114 Venture cranks. The tyre is only 550 grams and the whole uni weighs 5 kg.
With such a light tyre and zero Q cranks it feels like a small uni but with much better rollover, ride and speed and no need for a brake. Small enough to be very manoeuvrable including among pedestrians and going down reasonably steep slopes.
It really flies with 100 mm cranks but I like to be able to cope with the hills.
I love my KH36 with 203mm disk, Fusion One, bent t-bar, 110mm cranks, and a Nightrider Lite.
I think my ideal setup would be a change to a 32h hub and the Braus Alchemist carbon rim as well as a brake change/upgrade (currently using a Shimano XTR level with a worn seal so it has a variable bite point).
Looking to the future, I suspect a 36" but with the future Qu-Ax sprag clutch freewheel hub might be my favourite setup.
Low rotational weight: I am a not a smooth rider, and my riding conditions are not smooth. Any extra weight in the wheel / tire is going to work against me.
Long cranks: I am not young. As I said, my riding style and conditions are not “flowy”. Pushing hard on short cranks hurts my knees and hips. Occasional excessive force on short cranks wears me out faster than long slogging sessions on longer cranks.
Stiffness: When I started pumping my tire to a higher pressure, there was no going back. Yes, it means I must brace myself for every bump, root, rock, etc., but I like the responsiveness of a stiff setup over the mushiness of a big fat tire under low pressure.
Low Q factor: I noticed early on that my feet hugged the inside of the pedals. I prefer 100mm spacing over 125, and would be interested to try something even narrower.
Shadow handle: This is an awesome piece of hardware. I push and pull very hard on the handlebars while riding. I had earlier owned the KH T-bar, and it wiggled around too much, even with the stiffening plate, and I couldn’t tighten the hex bolt enough to keep it from occasionally moving. Part of my ideal setup is a lower placement of the handle setup. Over time, my setup gradually moved down, and it felt like I was interacting more with my core. I could push, pull, twist with more weight, more strength.
2.1" tire: I like the combination of a narrower tire on a wider rim. I keep the tire at 38 psi, with no resulting damage to the rim. There are plenty of sandy and gravelly sections in my neighborhood, and the narrower tire has forced me to improve my technique, rather than rely on a large surface area. Fat tires aren’t really popular in SoCal for MTB, though I see them a lot on E-bikes. My Impact 24" frame has limited inside width. I’m not sure it would handle a 3" tire.
Plastic pedals. I like to be able to reposition my feet by wiggling them. Over time, my riding style has evolved into staying more in the seat
and keeping both hands on the bar ends, and those changes have mitigated the need for more aggressive pedals. I don’t do giant drops.
Saddle: Currently I have the Impact Naomi on both my 19" and 24" unicycles. The Naomi is stiff. I have a softer Nimbus saddle on my G26, and its softness seems to diminish the responsiveness of the unicycle. I sit on the back edge of the saddle, and I wear padded bike shorts. If I sat in the center of the Naomi, I would start feeling pain after about 30 seconds. I bought a Mad4One handle saddle. The end where my hands go is too narrow for my taste. There is a limited range of adjustment, compared to the Shadow. I used it with some DIY foam attached to the back, but with a proper saddle attached, I could tolerate it. My general beef with saddles is that they are too small in every dimension, made for kids and smaller people . I am taller and have wider sit bones. I’d love a saddle that was about an inch wider and longer.
Brakes: My 24" has no brake, and I’m not really missing it. I achieved basic brake proficiency on my 26" Oracle, being able to apply the brake with either or both hands, going down steady, non-technical terrain. I never learned how to feather the brake like some riders on technical terrain. Since I’ve been sitting more in the saddle and holding onto the bars with both hands, this has allowed me to ride down steep hills brakeless and in-control.
I’d go 27.5", 125mm cranks, tire somewhere inbetween 2.5" and 3.0" with my DIY T-bar for a downhill/enduro Muni. (I think aside from my T-bar setup, that is relatively normal for that riding style.) I think the only mistake I made is buying a series of cheap brakes which I never was really happy with, I think for the total money invested, I could have just gotten myself a hope e4 and it would be perfect…
19" with a slick(cut) tire, square fork, and carbon base seat for a flatland/street/some trials allround unicycle. 125mm cranks. I had a round fork (Impact gravity) for years, wouldn’t do that again - I think it’s better to adapt my riding slightly to not get my knees hit, but maintain the ability to do tricks on the frame.
I think for each discipline, there is a range of “normal” setups, which has established itself through collective trial and error. Some different cranksizes etc. but fundamentally, most people end up in a similar place.
Most riders don’t test out everything in order to find the best, but if something doesn’t work well, there will be experimentation and better solutions found. (Muni handle setups would be my example, where recently there has been quite some development with the handle saddle, (small)T-bars, Ursli bar etc. because a lot of people weren’t happy with the plastic handles.)
Honestly, the realisation I wish I had made earlier is how important all the random equipment is. Backpack, helmet, clothing, shoes… I still maintain that Adidas Sambas are surprisingly good allround riding shoes, but I recently got myself some proper flat pedal shoes, and it does make a difference. Same with backpack - I had a decent one, but my Camelbak Kudu is just better.
It doesn’t look like there is much agreement on anything except most of you prefer shortish cranks in the 110-137 range.
So far, I’m just learning what it is that I prefer. I’ve got 170mm cranks on both my Nightfox and 27.5 RGB and I like them on the Nightfox. I find muni to be far more interesting than road riding and even though its obviously more difficult on a 36er I enjoy trying to offroad it and like the leverage the longer cranks give me. Speed isn’t my thing. I’ve got a. D’brake, 180mm rotor and Deore caliper on it and I’ve got the handlebar cut down and positioned right up against the saddle where the grab handle would normally be. I’m not sure if I like this handlebar setup or not yet. It’s definitely not a distance riding setup. The large Mad4one saddle looks pretty ideal to me. That would give me a handle further out for riding distance and still close by the saddle for muni.
I’m not so happy with the long cranks on the RGB. It just seems like too much leverage with the smaller wheel. I think 150’s would be perfect, but I’ll probably swap back to the original 137s and try those for a month first and see what I think after 50 miles or so. So far the Deore/160mm brakes have been more than adequate and while I originally did not like the saddle and found it crushed my balls, as I have started riding more out of the saddle and with one hand on the grab handle I have found this is less of an issue. I switched out the pedals for a set of these, https://www.amazon.com/Mzyrh-Mountain-Colorful-Machined-Cycling/dp/B07GNLNYHC/ref=sr_1_4_sspa?dchild=1&keywords=nukeproof+pedals&qid=1614536823&sr=8-4-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUEyMkZKSzdOVzczRk4mZW5jcnlwdGVkSWQ9QTA5OTU1MTVOWVJOVDNYSlMzRVYmZW5jcnlwdGVkQWRJZD1BMDQzODM1OTM0VEVEUExaRkwwUzUmd2lkZ2V0TmFtZT1zcF9hdGYmYWN0aW9uPWNsaWNrUmVkaXJlY3QmZG9Ob3RMb2dDbGljaz10cnVl and so far am happy with them. Way more grip than stock. Other than the too long cranks I’m pretty happy with the RGB.
At some point I’m probably going to pick up a trials uni as well, (when my wife is cool with me spending more money on toys). I notice I can learn far faster on the 27.5 than on the 36er and a 19" trials uni would probably speed up my learning curve considerably.
I don’t do anything close to a trials hop but I don’t have any problems with static or rolling hops on either wheel.
So far I see different use cases in almost every answer, no surprise that they don’t all use the same setup…
Nimbus Oracle 36 , air saddle and carbon rim with three hole cranks. This uni is my go to road ride. I like everything about it after two Cokers and the standard Oracle, I have no desire to add or change anything. I like to ride light so no bar, just the seat handle.
I have no favourite unicycle, although my local riding conditions make the 36 my most common choice, I have also had some of my best rides on the 24, the 28 and the 29 — and years ago, on my old 26.
In all cases, though, I go for simplicity. Yes, I’ve tried handlebars, and a luggage rack, and light brackets, and bottle cage bosses, and a mudguard (fender) but right now, every unicycle in my garage is very simple: wheel, tube, tyre, frame, cranks, pinned pedals, seat post, seat.
I see the unicycle as a simple machine of few variables: wheel diameter, tyre section, crank length, and overall weight and quality. I like my points of contact (seat, grab handle, pedals) to be reliable and comfortable to use.
After that, it’s all about the simple savage joy of riding as well as I can manage on the machine I have chosen for the day.
When I had bars and bits, I felt that I was trying to make the unicycle more like a bike. If I want something more like a bike, I have 2 bikes.
Like Mikeful says, I also don’t really have a most ideal setup. Mostly I ride the KH26 and Nimbus 28 and my latest addition,. the 24" is also very comfortable for shorter distances, though I also did 15km with it at one time which was a very comfy ride. And I also like my 32" very much, because it mounts as easily as the 29" and is very free and smooth. On the 32" I have the Fusion Freeride seat, which is the most comfortable seat I have. As for pedals I prefer those with pins, because I wear shoes with flat soles.
The T-bar I have on the 32 and 36", but I don’t need it on smaller wheels. It is just to have another place to keep my hands.