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Choosing a 20" for skill practice

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  • #16
    Originally posted by slamdance View Post
    9 out of 10 "professional" unicycler's on youtube who do those crazy tricks or even basic tricks are all using high performance 19/20" otherwise known as "trials".
    That got me wondering what most "actual" professional unicyclists are using these days. Actual professional means getting paid, while not necessarily doing unicycling for a living, which is extremely rare. People posting videos might be super-experts, but not necessarily pros, even if they are sponsored by cycling companies.

    Back in the day, most people who performed on non-giraffe or "odd" unicycles used the more common (for the time) skinny wheels at 1.75" or so. These work well on hard surfaces like floors, stages, etc. But more and more performers are probably also using wider, drop-absorbing Trials-type tires, which requires wider frames. Most professional performers aren't bothered by a heavy unicycle; it's more important to have something that won't break. Not missing shows is a lot more important than winning a competition, which is where one is normally very concerned about weight.

    Anyway, in Lightbulbjim's case, he definitely made a good decision going with a wider tire, for his riding environment. Freestyle-type unicycles are best on a gym floor, or otherwise smooth, consistent surface. They're much harsher on bumps & things. Though they are lighter, they can be less forgiving to learn on, depending on the type of tricks you are practicing.
    Originally posted by elpuebloUNIdo View Post
    Maybe one day I'll get a true freestyle unicycle with short cranks. The ability to ride on short cranks is totally absent in my technique, and there are likely some holes in my technique as a result.
    That is also a common feature of serious Freestyle unicycles; very short cranks. It depends on the type of tricks that are most important to you. The short cranks allow for much smoother motion while pedaling fast, because your feet are making smaller circles. Top Japanese riders (and others) commonly use 89mm cranks. I would recommend starting with 110 or more though, and working your way down. I learned most of my tricks on 125s, and it even took me a while to get used to 114s!
    Originally posted by Albertosaurus View Post
    Things happen faster on small wheels.
    This is true. Extreme example: In 1982 I got my first Big Wheel, at 45" with 165mm cranks (6.5"). Then, in 1984 I got a Unicycle Factory custom-made 12" mini-uni. That is, with the seat really, really low. The idea is for it to look ridiculous when you ride it. I got more banged and scraped up with that 12" than with the 45", because falls happened instantly. BAM! You're down. Not as hard, but little time to react!
    Last edited by johnfoss; 2019-09-10, 04:38 PM.
    John Foss
    www.unicycling.com

    "Who is going to argue with a mom who can ride a unicycle?" -- Forums member "HiMo"

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    • #17
      I get nervous around small wheels because of how fast everything happens. My 36er doesn’t intimidate me at all. Go figure.

      The Athmos arrived yesterday but I haven’t had a chance to unbox it yet.
      Last edited by lightbulbjim; 2019-09-10, 09:26 PM.
      Unicycling is the fountain of youth.

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      • #18
        Just finished putting the Athmos together. First impressions are much as expected. Wheel and cranks are nice. Frame is ok. Bearing holders are not that great. Saddle looks nice but comfort is TBD. Pedals are cheap and not that nice, but I guess they're considered consumables in the trials world.

        As for riding - well, for the past few years all I've had are a 36" and a 26". And the 26" has probably had at most 5% of my riding time.

        In other words, it's been a long time since I've ridden a small wheel. It's going to take some practice before I can freemount it. Also the cranks feel ridiculously long (138mm) for this wheel.
        Unicycling is the fountain of youth.

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        • #19
          Originally posted by lightbulbjim View Post
          Also the cranks feel ridiculously long (138mm) for this wheel.
          Riders doing street type tricks usually go for 125mm or even 110/100mm on their trial based unis, as John pointed out earlier.

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          • #20
            On a 20" or 19" trials size wheel, I feel most comfortable riding 125mm cranks and I'm usually on pavement. I'm 6 feet tall with about a 34 1/2" inseam.

            114mm = smooth pedaling, but feels almost a little too short for me
            125mm = most comfortable overall and pretty versatile
            140mm = best torque for obstacles, but feels a little overly long and requires more attention to keep from wobbling

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            • #21
              Yeah, I think some 125mm cranks might be in order at some point. I have a spare set somewhere. They're not really up to much abuse (they're the old Quax silvers) but they'll get me started.

              I'll stick with the 138mm for now since they're on there. My reference point is 125mm on my 36er, so anything on the 20" is going to feel very light anyway.
              Unicycling is the fountain of youth.

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              • #22
                Originally posted by lightbulbjim View Post
                I'll stick with the 138mm for now since they're on there. My reference point is 125mm on my 36er, so anything on the 20" is going to feel very light anyway.
                Instead of adapting your setup to accommodate your customary riding style (i.e. shortening your cranks), I suggest you keep the 138mm cranks on for a while and try to adapt your riding style to the trials setup. If this is completely new to you, if you're struggling, that is a good thing. The twitch-iness of the setup will quicken your reflexes. Practice riding up impossibly steep hills with the 138mm cranks. Practice riding up a curb without unweighting (warning: even at high tire pressure you can hit bottom). Practice one footed still stands. Some new mounts may get easier with the longer cranks. Try to make the longer cranks the "right" cranks for the things you're practicing. Otherwise you will be, to some extent, trying to emulate the larger wheel technique on the smaller wheel. Just my two cents...

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by elpuebloUNIdo View Post
                  Instead of adapting your setup to accommodate your customary riding style (i.e. shortening your cranks), I suggest you keep the 138mm cranks on for a while and try to adapt your riding style to the trials setup. If this is completely new to you, if you're struggling, that is a good thing. The twitch-iness of the setup will quicken your reflexes. Practice riding up impossibly steep hills with the 138mm cranks. Practice riding up a curb without unweighting (warning: even at high tire pressure you can hit bottom). Practice one footed still stands. Some new mounts may get easier with the longer cranks. Try to make the longer cranks the "right" cranks for the things you're practicing. Otherwise you will be, to some extent, trying to emulate the larger wheel technique on the smaller wheel. Just my two cents...
                  I think you're right. I've left the 138mm cranks on and they don't bother me any more.

                  Today I landed a wrong-footed freemount. Took me a few days. Baby steps...
                  Unicycling is the fountain of youth.

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