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Biggest wheel practical for stop-and-go riding?

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  • #16
    Originally posted by elpuebloUNIdo View Post
    I know tholub is an amazing rider. I wonder, though, how many average riders could manage a 29/110 setup, not to mention in an urban setup with lots of potential obstacles. I may not be qualified to comment, never having ridden on cranks as short as 110mm, but it seems that you have to be well-balanced and able to ride in a very controlled fashion to manage with the above setup.
    I am not an amazing rider. Far from it! In fact my skillset is pretty much limited to mounting and riding. I ride twice daily but still… it seems that a lot of you have a much wider skill range.

    Originally posted by elpuebloUNIdo View Post
    A 29/110 setup will give you a good cadence/speed, but you would need to be an expert with a brake to stop suddenly without crashing or UPDing.
    I regularly ride a 26 with a 3 inch tyre and 100mm cranks, with ice and (light) snow in an urban environment, and I have no brake. If you scroll back to my earlier posts in this thread, I include pictures that show how close in diameter a 26x3 is to a typical 28" and 29" setup.

    In the summer months I also experimented with UniMyra's spare 29" and 100mm cranks, and for a short while, with my 26x3 running 90mm cranks. My primary issue with 90mm cranks was that the hills in Oslo felt just a little too hard and hence the average speed on my commute was slower than when I use 100mm but I didn't feel unsafe.

    With respect, I think you are overestimating the difficulty of controlling wheels in this size range with such short cranks. Certainly I have more fine control with wheels in this size range and 100mm cranks, than with my 36" and 125mm, which is actually my most regular choice into the city. Granted I don't go right into the very heart of Oslo, which is why I use the 36er. If I did, then I would be more likely to use one of the smaller wheels (26/29) with 100mm cranks.

    My 26, even with a 3 inch (road) tyre, carries nothing like the momentum of my 36 and it is far easier to turn sharply or drop off the back at speed. It is also still much easier to cycle at a very slow (walking) pace, which I occasionally have done around pedestrians. Plus I have the confidence that when slowly dismounting in a crowded environment it does not shoot forward nearly so much and hence is much less likely to hit someone.

    Originally posted by elpuebloUNIdo View Post
    I don't know anything about the riding ability of the OP. At the very least, the urban 29/110 setup seems like something you'd have to work towards.
    True but I really don't think it is that much work, in the grand scheme of things.

    P.S. You should try some shorter cranks if you do road riding!
    Last edited by ruari; 2020-01-09, 08:39 AM.

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    • #17
      Originally posted by elpuebloUNIdo View Post
      I At the very least, the urban 29/110 setup seems like something you'd have to work towards.

      I ride a KH29/117 most places, but I don't think it would be sensible, or fun, to commute. More so 29/110, which BTW will be my next crank set. I have enough saddle time to handle the footpaths and people with the 29/117, but why? Each unexpected stop is that much harder and a potential collision. Mounting is more cumbersome, even if you are a legend. Idling, hopping and stop/start are all less reliable. Sure, take a 29 commuting, but consider the terrain and the other people around (even if they do not consider you, like on today's ride )

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      • #18
        @BruceC To be honest your reply is a surprise to me if you use a setup like this regularly. Not least the comment about mounting. Sure shorter cranks mean it is more of a step up but you also get the advantage of less movement due to the higher gearing. You can can put down much more pressure and almost step onto short cranks on a wheelset of this size, while longer cranks would cause the wheel to want to move towards you. For this reason I find mounting with short cranks easier if anything, at least for a static mount.

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        • #19
          Originally posted by ruari View Post
          For this reason I find mounting with short cranks easier if anything, at least for a static mount.
          Well lucky you @ruari!

          I really prefer shorter cranks, and 29/117 is my preferred unicycle with many 1000's of km in that configuration and looking to go shorter. I've also been riding my 36 almost exclusively now for 2 months to try and improve my handling of this big, heavy beast, and am currently moving to a shorter crank, so now the 36" static mounting sucks.

          For me, perhaps not you, it's not the mount. As you say is easier as the wheel is less likely to move back on you. It is the move off afterwards where the failures occur. The shorter cranks mean pushing much harder and for me that means less subtlety in control. Hence the "mounting" issues.

          In regards to the thread's topic, it's also about maneuvering, slowing and stopping in crowded areas. I almost ran over an un-leashed dog today and only just stopped the 36" in time, in part due to trying to stop a wheel with shorter cranks. For a better rider this may not have been an issue. But the physics, unlike dogs and kids, is predicable.

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          • #20
            I love riding my 29" and can easily do 20kms with it. It is versatile for both road and off-road. I ride with 150mm cranks btw and have used it a few times for commuting, as well as a 26" and 32".

            As for McZonies initial question to me the 26" would be much more a stop-and-go uni than the 29". Smaller wheels mount more easily and a bigger wheel is only nice if you can also make some real distance.
            If you'd have to navigate around people, then to me shorter cranks introduce less control.
            Lately I've been riding the 32" more, because I intend to parttake in the Dutch Championships again with the same setup as last year. I ride with 140mm cranks and a T-bar. I wouldn't take the 32" on the pavement with lots of turning.

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            • #21
              Originally posted by BruceC View Post
              For me, perhaps not you, it's not the mount. As you say is easier as the wheel is less likely to move back on you. It is the move off afterwards where the failures occur.
              Ok yeah I can understand that because when trying to mount pointing up hill I can certainly hit this problem

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              • #22
                Originally posted by BruceC View Post
                I almost ran over an un-leashed dog today and only just stopped the 36" in time, in part due to trying to stop a wheel with shorter cranks.
                In my opinion, unleashed dogs should be allowed to run over. ^_^ Do you think using a brake on a 36" with short cranks would make a difference? Definitely stopping to get off a uni with short cranks takes some getting used to. I feel that very much in my knees.

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by BruceC View Post
                  Well lucky you @ruari!
                  I'm reading this again and I'm wondering if I annoyed you or perhaps I came across sounding arrogant, like "Oh it is EASY for me". If so my apologies. That was not my intention, rather it was a comment of genuine surprise.

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by ruari View Post
                    I'm reading this again and I'm wondering if I annoyed you or perhaps I came across sounding arrogant, like "Oh it is EASY for me". If so my apologies. That was not my intention, rather it was a comment of genuine surprise.
                    Not at all, just my frustration showing at my own lack of skill especially after today's 36" ride. As the ride progressed the mounting standard decreased...

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Setonix View Post
                      In my opinion, unleashed dogs should be allowed to run over. ^_^
                      Never the dog! But the inconsiderate, uncaring, mobile-phone-obsessed owners sure should. The look on that little dog's face, staring up at a 2 metre wheeled monster that was about to squash him, was what I wanted to see on the owner's face.

                      Originally posted by Setonix View Post

                      Do you think using a brake on a 36" with short cranks would make a difference? Definitely stopping to get off a uni with short cranks takes some getting used to. I feel that very much in my knees.
                      For me stopping is just knees and weight shift, no way I'm using a brake to stop at this time. That's just a dream for me. I once saw a YouTube video, can't find it now, of a guy doing max braking emergency stop on a 36". Phenomenal skill.

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Setonix View Post
                        Do you think using a brake on a 36" with short cranks would make a difference? Definitely stopping to get off a uni with short cranks takes some getting used to. I feel that very much in my knees.
                        I have to preface that I have been riding with brakes a while now and thus only have beginner brakeless experience.

                        But for me a strong brake is essential for being able to handle the 36 with short cranks (I ride 125mm and 100mm urban and off-road). On the 36 with short cranks it is really difficult to slow down abruptly using the cranks only.

                        As to the original question: it's a lot relative and subjective based on riding environment, the rider and the goals (how fast), but with my muni setup of 127mm on my 29+ (30.5" diameter) I feel at ease in urban environments, can ride at pedestrian pace, idle, hop, etc. I think 110 would be similar although I don't actually ride that short on the 29 (but 100mm on the 36" and 89mm on my 20"). On the 29/127 I can idle well but not indefinitely like on my 20" and I would expect with 29/110 I could also idle a few revs reliably, but not sure if I could regularly idle for a light cycle (but I could always switch to hopping).

                        Although I ride the 36 a lot in the city with 125mm cranks, if there are too many people close by then I dismount or walk a bit, as due to the height and space required it is just much more unwiedly and can be too much to handle if there a lots of people (even the space requred front/back to dismount is more than pedestrians realize you need).

                        Thus, there is a world of difference between my 29+ and 36".
                        36" Nimbus Oracle, VCX 100/125/150, 200mm disc
                        29+ KH, Maxxis DHR II 29x3, 127/150 Spirits
                        Schlumpf (KH29) Duro Crux 29x3.25 137/117 Spirits
                        26" Nimbus, Maxxis DHR IIx2.8, 117/137 Sprt
                        19" Trials Impact Athmos
                        20" Qu-Ax Profi Freestyle, 89mm VCX

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                        • #27
                          I experimented a lot with crank length during the first couple years after beginning to unicycle. I was more likely to feel sore and over-stressed after riding on shorter cranks. The problem, as I understand it, was that, while everything mostly felt fine and smooth on the shorter cranks, I had to make occasional, sudden, forceful adjustments. So, at the end of a ride on shorter cranks, I had technically used less energy than I would have on longer cranks, but I still was more tired/worn-out, because of all the times I had crossed a certain threshold of effort trying to move the shorter cranks. I frequently do a 12 mile on/off-road loop through my community. When I do it on my G26 (which emulates, to some extent, having shorter cranks), I feel more spent the next day, for the same reason: When I'm in high gear and have to make sudden corrections, I'm putting a lot stress on my joints. Part of the problem is that I don't ride the G26 enough. So, long story short, the "efficiency" of shorter cranks needs some qualification.

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by elpuebloUNIdo View Post
                            I experimented a lot with crank length during the first couple years after beginning to unicycle. I was more likely to feel sore and over-stressed after riding on shorter cranks. The problem, as I understand it, was that, while everything mostly felt fine and smooth on the shorter cranks, I had to make occasional, sudden, forceful adjustments. So, at the end of a ride on shorter cranks, I had technically used less energy than I would have on longer cranks, but I still was more tired/worn-out, because of all the times I had crossed a certain threshold of effort trying to move the shorter cranks. I frequently do a 12 mile on/off-road loop through my community. When I do it on my G26 (which emulates, to some extent, having shorter cranks), I feel more spent the next day, for the same reason: When I'm in high gear and have to make sudden corrections, I'm putting a lot stress on my joints. Part of the problem is that I don't ride the G26 enough. So, long story short, the "efficiency" of shorter cranks needs some qualification.
                            I am a data geek who races bicycles very poorly... so feel free to ignore. It sounds like what you are talking about is what some training sites call normalized power. They use magic calculations to take those short efforts into account because the stress really does add up and cause you to feel more tired at the end of the ride.

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                            • #29
                              Originally posted by elpuebloUNIdo View Post
                              I know tholub is an amazing rider. I wonder, though, how many average riders could manage a 29/110 setup, not to mention in an urban setup with lots of potential obstacles. I may not be qualified to comment, never having ridden on cranks as short as 110mm, but it seems that you have to be well-balanced and able to ride in a very controlled fashion to manage with the above setup.

                              A 29/110 setup will give you a good cadence/speed, but you would need to be an expert with a brake to stop suddenly without crashing or UPDing. If you ride in a busy environment with this setup and run into something, it's your fault...for riding when you should have walked the uni across the street and for picking a fast and hard-to-stop setup.

                              tholub mentioned being able to idle on this setup. I would like to know how many riders on this forum can monitor the 360 degree space around them while idling. My point is that it is not nearly as safe as getting off the unicycle. I can only imagine, too, that the sight of a unicyclist idling must be confusing to drivers.

                              I don't know anything about the riding ability of the OP. At the very least, the urban 29/110 setup seems like something you'd have to work towards.
                              Shorter cranks give you a slightly higher cruising speed, but may not always increase your top speed or your average speed on a journey. The uni is less responsive and you need to plan further ahead when stopping, and take more care on hills (unless you have a brake).

                              I have ridden a 28 with 90 mm cranks. I could do miles and miles at a brisk cadence, but it was always a handful on bumpy tracks or when I might need to stop suddenly.

                              If on a given unicycle your speed is 10 mph, then a 10% increase in speed is only 1 mph, and there are very few circumstances in which that will make a signifcant difference to your total time for a ride.

                              Having tried everything from 90 mm (and, once, 75 mm) and every wheel size from 20 to 36 (except 32) I finally arrived at:
                              150 mm for general riding on the 36, and off road on the 29.
                              125 mm for general riding on the 29.
                              114 mm on the 28.

                              I may lose out on an extra 1 mph somewhere or other, but I always have full control. I can idle the 36, freemount the uni confidently even when tired, and ride through crowds or stop in an emergency, without the danger of the uni going off on its own and mowing people down.

                              If you're mixing with pedestrians, you need to be able to move like a pedestrian. If you're mixing with bicycles, you need to be able to move like a bicycle.

                              Remember that if there is any sort of accident or incident, the general public and possibly the police and insurance will start off with the presumption that the person riding a unicycle is the odd one out and "was being stupid".

                              We know that a well ridden unicycle is a safe and predictable mode of transport. No unicyclists don't. Only last week, I had a woman shout at me and call me a tw*t after her dog had attacked me. In her mind, the problem wasn't that her dog had attacked someone, but that I must be an idiot to be unicycling where there are dogs.
                              My first novel, Bridge of Otherwhere, Michael Wilkinson, on Kindle. A tale of subtle magic, mystery, friendship and love. Tinyurl.com/Bridge-of-Otherwhere For US$ page: TinyURL.com/OtherwhereBridge

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                              • #30
                                Originally posted by elpuebloUNIdo View Post
                                I know tholub is an amazing rider. I wonder, though, how many average riders could manage a 29/110 setup, not to mention in an urban setup with lots of potential obstacles. I may not be qualified to comment, never having ridden on cranks as short as 110mm, but it seems that you have to be well-balanced and able to ride in a very controlled fashion to manage with the above setup.

                                A 29/110 setup will give you a good cadence/speed, but you would need to be an expert with a brake to stop suddenly without crashing or UPDing. If you ride in a busy environment with this setup and run into something, it's your fault...for riding when you should have walked the uni across the street and for picking a fast and hard-to-stop setup.

                                tholub mentioned being able to idle on this setup. I would like to know how many riders on this forum can monitor the 360 degree space around them while idling. My point is that it is not nearly as safe as getting off the unicycle. I can only imagine, too, that the sight of a unicyclist idling must be confusing to drivers.

                                I don't know anything about the riding ability of the OP. At the very least, the urban 29/110 setup seems like something you'd have to work towards.
                                It's really not hard. I don't have a brake and don't need one for urban riding. Hopping is easy, idling is fine, going walking pace is not difficult. If I don't know what's behind me at a stopping point, I'll hop instead of idling, but it's really not a problem to idle in the traffic lane or on the sidewalk at the corner.

                                Try it.

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