Which Coker wheel?

After reading about the different options for a Coker wheel, I’m now afraid to get anything. Clearly, the super wide wheel built by U Turn would be preferable. At Unicycle.com they sell a used Coker rim (bad) laced into a moderaltly wide Schwinn hub (good). They also sell an airfoil rim (good) laced into a more narrow Suzu hub (bad). Then, of course, you can get a stock Coker rim (bad) laced into a narrow Suzu hub (bad). Prices vary.
I’m 6’, 175 pounds and plan on general road riding. The question is, how unstable are the cheaper wheels, and would one ultimately be sorry for having bought one of them instead of springing for the high quality but pricy ones? It would help to know what would be the quality of wheels, in ascending order?

I have done a year’s worth of road riding and light Muni on my stock cheap rim and narrow hub.

It’s a fine unicycle, especially if you are going to be riding on the road. The pricier options are worth what you’d pay, but not always neccessary.

I think this would be the best way to think, going from cheapest to most expensive (and weakest to strongest)

Stock Rim and Hub
Airfoil Rim and stock Hub
Airfoil Rim and Wide Hub
Airfoil Rim, wide hub, and laced by U-Turn

But…don’t think you ‘need’ anything more than the stock wheel

I would go for more than the stock wheel. At least the airfoil rim. Nick’s coker wheel flexed visibly a couple of times. It popped back into shape, but it was scary.

Edit: Come to think of it, didn’t yours too Sofa?

There are 10 stock coker riders in Austin. Well I’m not really sure about that, but there are alot. They get a lot of use. They will hold up fine to all road riding. They will hold up to alot of abuse on trails. Only one us us has tacoed his coker. That was because of very extreme cokering down steep, rooty, rocky hills and it was amazing how long it took before the wheel gave up.


Well I’m only 5’ 7" if I gel my hair up, and I weigh 150 pounds with my pockets full of change (a rare event :0( ) but I’ve generally found my stock wheel OK.

In a year or two of riding, I’ve ridden it on and off road, with no drops except kerbs, and I’ve hammered it flat out for an hour at a time on single track as well as bashing my way through bracken and undergrowth in the forest. Twice I’ve had the wheel trued at the local bike shop.

Obviously, a hand built wheel will be better than a machine built one. Obviously a well designed aluminium alloy rim will be stronger and lighter than a crude steel one. Obviously a wide hub with large flanges will make a stronger structure. But…

The flywheel momentum of that big heavy wheel is part of the Coker experience, as is the feeling of riding with the consent of the wheel, rather than simply beating it into submission.

If you like equipment, go for the best you can afford. If you go for character, don’t overlook the basic stock machine.

How much will you use it? The stock machine is easy to ride for 20 - 30 miles on mixed terrain. For the difference in price, you could buy another nice uni too.

Yes it did, the very one I am still currently riding, no harm done :slight_smile:

My for recommendations would be to at least purchase the airfoil rim. The stock rim was fine when there were no other options but now, comparatively, the airfoil rim is far superior.

The first Coker to hit Rochelle was purchased by a boy in our club. We had it shipped to my house so I could put it together for him during my lunch hour and have it ready for him after school. When he arrived, he rode it around happily for about 15 minutes before he succumbed to my begging for a try. Having only ridden a Coker once before, I gingerly used a handrailing to climb onboard. But no sooner had I put weight (285 lbs) on the seat, the wheel folded in half.

As such, I later purchased my Coker with the Airfoil rim and haven’t had even a hint of taco problems.


Another option is to have Unicycle.com build up a wheel with their Chromoly wide hub and the Airfoil wheel. There is no difference in cost from the Suzue option.

My wheel is built up with the Airfoil and the Semcycle Deluxe hub. This has proven to be all I need. My Hunter36 has been subjected to singletrack, time trials, crashes, AccordNSX attempting to use it as a trials cycle, etc. It has held up fine. I have brakes on mine and notice no pad rub and it is still as true as the day I got it.

For the hard core rider, U-turn's SCWITW is the ultimate but not everyone will need it.

So, this is another less expensive option. I think the total cost of my complete wheelset (w/cranks, tire, tube), was $325.
If the Uni.com wide chromoly hub was available at the time, I probably would have opted for that due to the internal crank bolts vs. the external thread on the Sem.

  • Frank

Yes, it makes no sense to go with the Suzue hub. The new Unicycle.com CrMo hub is wider and will make for a better wheel.

Who built your wheel with the Semcycle hub?

I have a Unicycle Factory wide hub on my Coker. I had the wheel built here in Seattle. When I put a brake on my Coker last week I noticed some very slight brake rub so I took it back to the wheel builder to get some more tension. I’ll get it back tomorrow and I’ll find out if the added tension solves the brake rubbing problem.

It seems that the wheel needs a lot of tension no matter what hub you’re using. I would suspect that with the narrower hub that you’ll need even more spoke tension than with the wide Unicycle Factory hub to keep the brake from rubbing. You must have a highly tensioned wheel.


Actually, I did tighten the spokes up. I had forgotten about that.
John Kovachi built the wheel. When I first set things up, I had the brake pads pretty close to the rim and the pads would rub every time I mounted. I adjusted the brakes and things got better.
But I knew it could be better.
I discussed it with John Kovachi and he coached me on what to do. The wheel was always running true but I went around the wheel, spoke by spoke and gave them each a 1/2 turn. Then repeated the process. I’ve never measured the spoke tension but I’m sure they are nowhere near as tight as U-turn’s wheels.
At any rate, for me to experience brake pad rub, I have to try to make it happen and frame flex probably has something to do with it too. But the wheel has been working out very well. As I mentioned, I wish that the internally threaded hub was available when I got this wheel. Some cranks don’t allow the nut to grab as many threads as I would like, and as luck would have it, it’s the worst with the cranks I like the best.

  • Frank

I have no experience with the U-Turns super strong Coker Wheel, but my stock deluxe coker with airfoil rim and Suzue hub holds up pretty well to hammering off-road. I do small 1 foot drops with no problem (I’m about 60kg). I’ve done two a 12hr MTB race and a 24hr MTB race, and 500km through Vietnam and Cambodia and it’s still true.

I might rebuild it with a Uni.com hub because you can screw on an allen bolt (like on bikes) instead of using that silly nut to tighten the axle. If you are using brakes you might find some flex and the wheel rubbing on brakes, unless you go to a super strong Coker wheel. I don’t think I’ll put brakes on my coker though.

Question for Dave Stockton: Does your hub increase the Q-factor of the coker much? That’s probably the main reason I’m sticking with the narrower hub at the moment…

The wide hub is 38mm, or 1.5", wider than the Suzue hub, Ken, or about 3/4" a side. At first that was the big question from everyone. However, anyone that has tried one has said that it’s a non-issue. Including people who ride fast on the road, such as David Stone. Nathan Hoover, too, addressed this and found that it was not a riding factor. In fact, some people, including myself, prefer it. On the stock Coker my knees were getting holes in them from the tire and I consciously had to work to keep my feet on the pedals since they would drift outwards. On the wide hub wheel my feet stay in place quite nicely and my knees are much less abraded.

If you want to experience the Q without a wheel purchase you could try your wheel with the Paceline pedal spacers, which are 3/4" per side. That won’t give you the sense of tight strength that you get from a Strongest Wheel but you’ll get a better sense of the Q.

If all you plan to do is ride, no drops or jumps, go ahead and get the stock rim with the Schwinn hub. It will do just fine and save you a lot of hard earned money. If you want to do anything more start with the Airfoil rim and a brand new credit card. carjug

I have the wide hub on my Coker. At first I thought the wider Q-factor would be an issue. Once I rode it, it quickly became a non-issue. It took one ride to get used to it. After that one ride it felt normal.

The wider Q-factor did cause the seat to feel different. This can be either good or bad. If it makes the seat more comfortable then it’s good. If it makes the seat less comfortable then it’s bad. You may have to tweak your seat a bit to get it to feel right after switching to a wide hub.

For short riders the extra Q-factor may be exaggerated because your legs will be out at a wider angle than a tall rider. But again, I think that will turn out to be a non-issue.

I don’t like the outie threads either. My wide hub is made from a Suzue. The outie threads aren’t the best match with some alloy cranks.

It would be cool if Tom Miller could use the new Unicycle.com CrMo hub (with the internal threads) rather than the Suzue hub to make the wide hub.

Then there is also Steve Howard’s little wide hub project. Mmm… Internal threads.

I don’t agree, John. The CroMo hub is only first generation AFAIK. The Suzues have gone through many many formula adjustments. Also, what advantage is internal threading when the external works fine? The key is proper installation. I haven’t had any problems with the Suzue, narrow or widened. Widening the uni.com hub would be an unnecessary step backwards IMHO.

Having a fully-integrated hub made from scratch would be really nice. In this case switching to internal threads makes some sense. Three of us are working through prototypes right now on this. Hopefully it will work out. If not, on to the next idea.

  In my experience, certain cranks work very well with externally threaded hubs. But, there are some cranks that will not mount far enough on the taper to allow more than a few turns on the nut. Visually, only about half of the nut threads engage. This doesn't inspire alot of confidence.

My most recent attempt was with a pair of generic aluminum unicycle specific cranks made in Taiwain, 152mm in length. I wanted to try these for the wide “Q-factor”. They feel great but even with using a large clamp to mount them on the axle, only half the nut will thread. This is with the Semcycle Deluxe hub on my Hunter36. The BE steel cranks I had on there before allowed the nut to grab quite a few more threads.

Is there a technique other than machining the crank taper that will help in a situation like this?

  • Frank

I agree that that situation doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence. In that case, I’d simply not use the cranks on that hub. Although there are limitations to the widened Suzue hub, there are so many fantastic advantages over the previous situation that the limitations are minor. There is a huge set of cranks that work just fine. If it is only Q that you are after, either using the wide hub or using the pedal spacers should work. I should qualify this: I have just installed a pair of pedal spacers on my 29er to try out, but haven’t ridden them yet.

I’m not a machinist, but I imagine that the cost of machining the tapers would not be worth it. Machining new pedal threads on a set of Kookas to make 150s would, though. The Kookas have a really nice Q and are shaped so that heel strikes are not as catastrophic as they are on most other cranks.

All in all, there is a huge range of cranks that are suitable for and match the current wide hub. I haven’t yet even tried to list a reasonable set; but thanks! That’s a great idea. They could be categorized by length, weight, basic strength, and cost. Another project for the list.

I have used Kookas and Bike Euros so far, and the Miyatas/Torkers should work fine since they do on the standard Suzues. I can also try a pair of the new aluminum alloy Nimbus Xs. I also have a pair of Doteks to install soon. I’m sure that there are riders out there that have used others as well.

This is the Suzue that I am referring to, not the Schwinn or Semcycle Deluxe.

I have been considering having a set of Kookas shortened to 150mm as Sofa did. I already have a set of Kooka Razor cranks that are 150mm. They are the identical shape of the DH cranks but are machined out on the backside. They fit very well on the Sem hub but one of the cranks have a slight bend or the taper has been worn in some way. I’m not sure what the problem is but it is enough to cause a rotational irregularity which irritates my problem knee.

I like alot of Q factor on the Coker, I would’ve been a good candidate for the wide hub but as you may remember, at the time I was having my Hunter36 built you had not yet announced your testing phase as complete.

  • Frank

Hey Frank. From what I’ve seen on the MB boards the non-DH cranks really didn’t work that well and their returns program wasn’t very good, so my guess is that’s why Kooka went under. I understand about knees; I think I have a problem body overall. I remember a little vaguely about your build. It took a long time to get the wheel tested but it finally happened.

I just got back from a little test ride on a 29er with the pedal spacers installed. They seemed to work really well for road riding. They were really hard to get on; I had to clamp the pedal wrench in a vise to get them on the (new, HQ) pedals. But so far so good. I’ll start a thread on them sometime soon because the topic is a little complicated. But if you aren’t hopping or riding off-road my guess is that they would be great for you.