Wider tire = more stable?

Newbie here to the single tire world. I’ve been doing a lot of reading and came upon the ‘fat’ uni builds. Besides an increase in off road traction and bump absorption (neither of which I need right now lol), I’ve read a few times that a wider tire is more “Stable”… And I have to wonder just exactly what they mean. Could a wider tire help a newbie like me get the hang of riding? I just picked up a 24 torker LX with the factory 1.95" and I’m wondering if there would be any benefit to going with wider rubber other than looking beefier, which we all like. The same tire it currently has (kenda k-rad) can be had in a 2.3", Or have also considered the maxxis stuff like a 2.5" Hookworm, but those are really heavy and make me wonder if a tire that weighs twice as much would have any other negative affect on a uni besides climbing effort.

For learning, the stock tire is fine. You won’t see the benefit of a fatter tire until you have advanced enough to notice the difference.

The stock tyre should be fine, but maybe try changing the pressure. I’ve found that makes more difference on a uni than I’ve ever noticed on a bike. Softer feels more stable but is harder to turn corners on. It’s also more prone to road crown autosteer. A wider tyre will emphasize that even more. Others who have more experience of different tyres may have better input than me on what works best, but I’d say again stick to what you have til you can stay upright long enough to notice the differences!

Fat tires can me tricky bc they are very pressure sensitive and often come with a bit (or A LOT) of auto-steering. Definitely not something you want to worry about when you’re learning.

Just my $.02

This is useful info for another newbie like me.
I have a 20" cheapy to practice on, and a 24" club freestyle stashed away for my birthday (end of Sept).
Both have 1.95 width tyres fitted.

We have a RV motorhome for holidays and the 20" Uni is easy to pack away, and good fun for messing about when we get there.
However - the narrow tyres don’t like soft ground, grassed areas, or gravel tracks.

I have a Kenda Kutlas 20x 2.25, and Schwalbe 24x 2.35 CrazyBob bought already to try to make it easier to ride over the rough ground.
In the meantime - I will drop the pressures down from 65psi on the 1.95’s, and see how I get on.

Time for another lame analogy!

Learning to ice-skate…have you seen those double-bladed skates they give to little kids…lots of stability, difficult to steer…if it’s a question of getting the kid out on the ice, then by all means, use the kiddy skates. Otherwise, give the kids the regular skates…they’ll look like a nightmare out on the ice, at first, but arguably, they’ll be learning more about skating.

One lame analogy is not enough!!! Learning to bowl…ever see those bumpers they put in the gutters…bump…bump…bump…smear…mom, I bowled a strike!

Yes, a fat tire will make you ride straighter, just as drawing a line with the aid of a straight-edge will help you produce a straighter line than attempting it free-handed (another lame analogy!).

In the above examples, something artificial is added to keep the trajectory straight. Sometimes, it’s better to learn the hard way.

On my trails uni, I pump up to 30psi, then bleed till it feels squishy enough.

On my bike, I run about 35psi. For races I bleed until I hit the rim once a lap, typically about 27psi. my bike has 31mm tires, so I can imagine 65psi on even larger tires is quite high.

I think the quicker turning that you get from a smaller tire outwieghts the “stability” of a larger tire, atleast for a beginner

Any tire will auto steer at the incorrect pressure.

Pretty much every choice in unicycling is double edged. You trade one characteristic for another.

Fatter tyres on larger diameter wheels generally suffer from autosteer on cambered hard surfaces. I suspect that a lot of riders use knobbly tyres on the road because they have less of a tendency to autosteer. But they don’t handle as well.

Maxxis Hookworms are notorious for autosteer on large wheels and they are incredibly heavy. However I have a Hookworm on my 20 inch and there is no autosteer problem at all so it definitely seems related to size.

The momentum of a heavy tyre can be good to keep rolling but its inertia is a serious disadvantage when you need to accelerate the wheel rapidly. I am not a fan of heavy tyres.

I have a Torker LX 24. I fitted it with a Maxxis DTH 24 x 1.75 tyre and never looked back. This tyre weighs only about 400 grams and the uni is so responsive. It handles really well with minimal autosteer even on serious side slopes. I ride on footpaths (sidewalks) across a lot of steeply sloping driveways.

On the strength of that experience I put a DTH 26 x 2.15 on my KH26 which came with both a Kenda and a Hookworm. It p155es all over the Hookworm in every way on hard surfaces.

This has been my experience with 4" wide tires on 24" and 26" wheels. I tried a few different tires at many different pressures and never got over the feeling that I was constantly wrestling it with my feet on such terrain. I found it frustrating and unenjoyable. I don’t get the same feeling on the 20x4" I have. I still want to try one more 26" tire before I give up completely but I have low expectations. It may be that my personal riding style is more slanted to keeping balance with my upper body and using my lower body for drive (vs. using pedal pressure for balance).

That ^^^, fat is harder to ride, stick with narrow until you know how to ride.

So for me, I should stick with the 1.95 until the tyres wear out.
Then try the 2.3’s sometime next year, when I have more of a clue how to ride, and I can cope with different surfaces.

Not my thread, but thanks for the advice.
And thanks to UniJav for asking the question.

Intermediate rider with Torker LX

I picked up an old 26" Torker LX to take on plane trips instead of my 24" wheel. It also has a 1.95" K-rad tire and 170mm cranks. I changed the cranks to 125mm and it feels much better. Now I’m thinking of changing the tire to a 2.3" K-rad because I’ll be doing some XC riding. Not sure if the K-rad will do ok on XC rides, especially if it rains. Unfortunately the Torker LX doesn’t have much room for a knobby tire. I’ve found threads about putting a knobby tire on these wheels but they’re all really old. So I think I’m stuck with a K-rad or equivalent.

On the 26’’ you should have no problems finding a good knobby MTB tire. I have no idea about the vertical clearance for a fat tire on the 26" frame, but I can tell you I had no problem fitting an Arrow Racing Prime Bite 24" x 2.75" on my 24" torker to turn it into something that is good for my muni skill level. My torker had a Kenda Krad mounted when I got it and it did ok on hard packed dirt and gravel. Not sure I would have wanted it in sand.

Since 26" is a relatively common MTB size, you can probably take the Torker to your local bike shop and see what they have that fits and would make a good XC tire.

That’s very true. I’ve just found that fat tires are more sensitive to even the slightest bit of pressure changes. Maybe it’s been the tires I’ve used.

A skinnier tire inflated to at least 40 psi will be more responsive, meaning it will take less effort to pedal and change direction. If it feels too “twitchy” you can bleed pressure off a little at a time.

That’s kind of a broad statement. It depends on a number of factors, largely road condition. Schwalbe did a study on this a while back and published a report. (It features their tires prominently, but the principles apply.) It’s available from multiple sites, here’s a link to one of them:

I started on an Avenir DLX with a 1.75" tire. Maybe that’s good for a light rider on a polished gym floor, but I had an easier time on my brick patio and the lumpy and patched asphalt street after switching to a 1.95" tire. So there’s an advantage to wider up to a point anyway.

I wasn’t really about stability though. Unicycles are unstable by design and that’s pretty much the point! It did let me run the tire at lower pressure so that I didn’t stall out at every little crack and bump I hit as I crept along. I have another 20" now with a fairly wide CST Operative tire. It’s better for hopping and bouncing around but I wouldn’t say it’s any easier for ordinary riding around.

Sounds like fun! There was plenty of room for a 2.4" CTX Cyclops on my 24" Sun. The rim is narrow compared to standard muni practice. I think that matters most to keep it from getting floppy at really low pressure, and I don’t do that kind of thing on the unicycle. A narrower rim might actually reduce self-steering by keeping the tire profile more rounded. Not a fair comparison at all, but that one’s way more fun on pavement than a 26" Hookworm on a Kris Holm muni rim ever was.

That was my experience with the 26" Hookworm. Mostly it was great off-road and I didn’t miss having lugs. Traction isn’t usually a problem since it’s a unicycle and you can’t avoid having all your weight on the wheel that needs it. The exceptions were mud, loose sand, and snow. Then it slid sideways out from under me. Mostly it meant walking a few extra yards to get past the trouble, and I’ll be walking some part of the way on any course worthy of being called muni anyway.

But given the choice, I’d rather ride off pavement on a more road-oriented setup than ride on the road on a wide heavy tire. The former can be hard but it’s also a good test of skill and technique. The latter is just a lot of extra grinding.

Some of the shops in my area have a box of “used once” tires to pick through. There will always be 26" MTB tires, not so much the fat downhill kind that we look for but usually in the 2.1" or 2.2" range. And in our case it’s not a problem if they don’t have a matched pair.

I read the study. What I found most interesting was a pretty straightforward explanation of one aspect of rolling resistance, which I will paraphrase, below:

Comparing two tires, one hard and one squishy: Rolling over a small object with a hard tire causes the entire unicycle to lift up in the air, while with the softer tire, the tire may just deform for a brief moment. It takes more force, translating into more slowing, to lift up the the unicycle, than it does to deform the tire, in bumpy conditions.

I am running the Maxxis Ardent on my 26" mUni. I have been pumping it up to the minimum pressure listed on the tire, 35 psi. I have not bottomed out yet using this pressure. The manufacturer rated the tire based on the scenario of a MTB slamming into objects at higher speeds, which mostly doesn’t apply to unicyclists. So, I will experiment lowering the pressure on my next ride (bringing a small hand pump if I don’t like it) to see if riding on bumpy terrain is faster, which is suggested by the study.

Thanks, LanceB, for bring this study to my attention.

Yes, the bounce from a harder tire is something to be aware of. I’ve got a sore upper left arm for six weeks now to remind me. Two closely spaced bumps on a shaded section of bike path, 50 psi in my 32" tire, water bottle in my right hand, and WHAM! No time to get my legs under me. Lesson learned.