Note: Contains two-wheel-related content from the start.
Short question: Is there something about bikes which makes them less efficient to pedal up hills than unicycles?
Longer explaination: I’ve been getting tempted by the benifits of bikes (for road/touring) lately. You get exactly the gearing you want, less wind resistance, loads of luggage space, freewheeling down hills…
But uphill seems much harder on a bike than a unicycle - even a 36er with short 102mm cranks. Everyone seems to describe passing bikes uphill on unicycles.
I had an experiment when I borrowed a lightish road bike (little heavier than my 36er), and pushing hard over an 18 mile route with 300m+ elevation I could only manage an average of 13.5mph, where I’ve averaged 15.3mph on my uni on the same route before now. I was sure it would prove to be much faster, as on the level I was cruising fast and, well, it’s a bike!
Shifting down gear to go up hill seems to make everything go wrong on a bike - I didn’t have the energy to stay standing on the pedals despite trying to tell myself to, so was reduced to using only thigh muscles and near granny-gear spinning speed (bottom of the middle set of 27 gears).
Can bike-riding unicyclists (I know you’re out there) explain this for me please? Is it the geometry of a bike (less upright than a uni, so using less body weight on the pedals?), or the efficiency of unicycle’s direct fixed drive? Or is it simply in the mind - pushing a uni up hill can be burning murder, but when there are no other gears you just keep pushing? I used to assume it was just the weight of a bike, but on a light bike this is not significantly different?
P.S. This experiment has convinced me to stick with one wheel - much easier!