36 Inch Wheels: Update

About a year ago we reported on the 36 inch wheeled bike belonging to Ben Witt of Milltown Cycles. We got to ride it there and we also got another look at it in June at the Big Wheeled Ballyhoo. Since it has been awhile since we had heard anything on the “big” big wheels, we called Ben up and chatted with him. He told us about some recent developements in the wheels that might make future 36″ers a bit more practical.

Nightrider 36 inch tire and wheel.

Of course the really astounding and problematic thing with any 36″er design is the wheels. Ben was quick to point out to us last year that he was concerned about the stresses that a disc brake would put on the spokes and in particular, the spoke bed of the rim. Ben was concerned that a spoke might be pulled through the simple rim design he had to use, ( seeing as how it was about his only choice) and that the lack of eyelets to reinforce the area around the spoke drilling was to blame. Well, now it appears that another, more refined rim choice is available along with a better tire. Enter the Nimbus Nightrider tire and Stealth rim combo that will soon be available from Unicycle.com.

The Nightrider tire and Stealth rim have made many improvements over the original wheel and tire used on the 36″er we saw at Frostbike last year. The rim has reinforcing eyelets around the spoke holes and has a parallel machined brake track. Ben says he has not seen the rim yet, but the features indicate to him that the rim is of a better manufacture than he used before. It is also reportedly lighter as well. The Nightrider tire is of a 2 ply design, which Ben says will lead to a more supple casing, lower rolling resistance, and will be lighter. The cross hatched tread pattern will also make customizing the tread easier for Ben and will result in further weight loss.

It looks as though we will be seeing more developements in 36 inch wheeled bikes besides these tires and rims. Ben and others interested in this wheel size are playing with some ideas and pushing the boundaries of what is possible. Ideas that will be revolutionary and at the least, very interesting to check out.

Twenty Nine Inches will continue to keep tabs on the future developements in 36 inch wheels and bring them to you as they appear.


No Responses to “36 Inch Wheels: Update”

  1. dicky Says:

    I still sooooooooooo wanna try one really long race on one. If not for any other reason than to run over a bunch of stuff and other people.

    oh….. and to start rumors about the next BIG thing in cycling.

    Wonder if I9 would make me some really long pink spokes????

  2. mtroy Says:

    Now THAT looks like a 10.5 on the fun meter. OMGoodness, yes. Can you imagine showing up on a group ride with that bike?

    aaaanndd…..I want one for no particular reason at all but to be like dicky.

    Man, I just keep staring at that pic and thinking “roll, big daddy, roll”.

  3. dicky Says:

    BTW: Since you got your sticky fingers in the pot if there is any chance that anybody in the upper echelon of the BIG BIG wheeled movement wants some one to see how fast and far it can go let me know.
    I’m aware that were not talking big players with big money. I just really want to play a bike game on that monster truck of a bike.
    I’d be down.
    How hard would it be to carry two tubes for that sucker in a jersey pocket?

  4. Cloxxki Says:

    I cannot get over 36″ bikes. I want one more than I want a car.

    2-ply, wow! These tires I bet are going to require one to stell it as Rolling, with capital R.

    I shortly rode a crappy monstercruiser with 36″ tires, and the pure silence and stability were baffling.

    I knowBen’s frame design is SOOOO much better than the cruiser, and surely I’d be able to rip up pretty tight singletrack on a bike of Ben’s design. A couple extra pounds never scared me (from eating really fat butter cook pie for diner). With the weight in the wheels… it will be impossible to wipe on in corners. The bike would fysically not be able to wipe out quick enough to do it still in the corner. It would run a bit wide, and chop up the rubbish in the outside berm.

    One days I’ll ride a 36″er with customize gearing up some staircases, really slowly.

    I’ve got tons of idea to make these bikes even better than they are when doing it the logical way, and I bet Ben’s onto all of them and thinking up even more.

    My bet : most likely to be banned from any kind of competition, by being “faster than a bike”.
    And for being “more fun than should be possible with your pants on”.

    I hope Ben will have his set of rims/tires soon to report to us about them. Anyone with a couple grand to spend on a daring bike project, try and persuade Ben into making you one of these.

    My future 29″er will have V-brakes. Hey, these rims are ready for that! Place the brake studs a bit wider out on the frame and fork for this 38mm wide rim, and be golden. Try and heat those mothers up on long steep descends… It may be better than discs even.

    Really, if you have money to burn, don’t think, act! You know you want one.

    I cannot wait to see what knob patterns Ben will think up with these new tires. I bet grip will be uncanny…

  5. Travis Says:

    I want to roll this beast for three reasons 1. to crush small cars 2. to wreak general havoc on the local trails and 3. to cause a general ruckus. Its sooooo rediculous and awsome.

    Hooray for silicone implants and 36inch wheels. Daddy Likeeee

  6. Cloxxki Says:

    I want to ride one hard, on the local BMX track. And then endo over the tabletop. It likely will, you know.

    A 36″er should maybe get really fat tubing. Make it as big looking as possible. Like a thick seatpost running up as integrated seat post. Lost of paint surface. Custom CNC’d (I have the means, just not resourses) 200mm cranks to get things more in proportion.
    One of those oversize Titec downhill seats. Handlebar tape all over the wide thing picked for it, to thicken it up and add hand positions. A pair coke bottle cages, sporty big bottles inserted.
    And when I park it in a bike rack for a minute, I set the seatpost and bars even taller than I’d ride them.

  7. Guitar Ted Says:

    dicky: You’d have too much fun, lose your focus and be slain by some fellow Viking single speeder, no doubt. 😉

    Tubes? Ben says he uses 29″er presta tubes in his 36″er. Should be room in that Twin Six jersey for those, I’m thinking. 🙂

  8. adamB Says:

    I love all forms of invention and innovation that seem feasible. And especially fun ideas. It’s cool that Ben runs 29″ tubes in his 36″ wheels; I run 26″ tubes in my 29″ wheels. But why not just shoot for tubeless from the getgo?!
    Looking forward to reading more and tackling Dicky for a chance to ride one!

  9. Cloxxki Says:

    adamB : the 24hr unicycle record was set on a tubeless mounted 36″ tire. It may not work for all tires and rims though, and increased diameter also seems to take more from bead/rim tolerances. 29″ is harder to DYI tubeless than 26″. Especially in terms of blow-offs.

  10. Anonymous Says:

    Good lord who cares.

  11. Guitar Ted Says:

    Anonymous: You did. Enough to take the time to comment, anyway. 😉

  12. Dirt McGirt Says:

    I bet that sucker MOTORS! I want to try that pig and give er! See what she can do, mang!

  13. BearSquirrel Says:

    Do to the larger size of the wheel, the rear hub should be based on 150mm … at least. 135 mm on the front wouldn’t be a bad idea and 150mm if you actually want to use disc brakes.

    For the rear, I would definitely stick with rim brakes.

    Then there is the crank … Likely similar gearing would require an 18-26-39 crank. In other words you would probably be restricted to a 1×9 setup since your “middle” ring would have to go on the granny posts. Maybe a 2×9. But there would be no granny gear. This is not a long distance climber.

  14. bergjm Says:

    Drool, Drool….I bet it would take a pretty large C02 cartridge to fix a flat 🙂

  15. bodgit Says:

    talk talk – chat chat , just how much is it going to cost ???? i mean it does look like THE DOGS BO****CKS but how is it going to handle that UK single track?? as for the wheels just how strong will they be?


  16. Tyler - Nice Bicycles Says:

    I9 always says they can make custom spokes any length…call ’em up!
    Maybe I’ll build a frame around 36’s next fall…gotta be great in the snow, eh?
    I’ve ridden a 36 uni, and man was it fun; no problem going up and down curbs (and I’m no great uni- rider)…

  17. jeffrey oliver Says:

    I wish i could afford one. I want it i want it i want it i want it,Please may i have on,Please!!!

  18. Kaos Andy Says:

    I can say after building around 20 unicycle wheels (36″) that they will be fine.
    the new stealth rim is great and lighter than the orignal aerofil rim. I have not seen a buckled rim yet, and the uni guys use them off road all the time.
    I am thinking that the rim brake idea is a good one but i just hate them so discs will be on the one i am building here in australia.
    See you on the bike…. Andy

  19. nelson Says:

    48″ undished wheels are the best. 7″ hollow axles in 5″ wide hubflandes 4″ high.. 3.0 / 2.3 / 3.0 SS spokes

    2″ high rims with 1″ brake sidewalls , for 3″ long x 3/4″ wide brake shoes.
    Double sets of brakes for each wheel.

    Mavic will do the best job for these wheels.

    48″ x 70mm Schwalbe Big Apple Tires & tubes @ 23psi.

    Lugged Cr Mo steel frame ; seat tube bent to go around rear wheel ,
    & down tube bent around front.

    Let me know when you see this bike available , as i want to enter races with it !
    Thanks !

  20. nelson Says:

    After posting my 48″ design ideas , i read the posts here.
    Inventions & new desings require new appraoches to solve the quirks.

    A Shimano Alfine 8 speed rear hub , with a 3 cog cassette , chained to a Schlumpf High/Low bottom bracket & the regular double 39/53 Crank ,
    will make any hills , up or down , very easy to pedal.
    96 gears will work.

  21. Kaos Andy Says:

    We have just completed our 36er. It has a titanium frame.
    Many thanks to Ben Witt at Milltown Cycles for all his help.
    We now have Australia’s only 36″ mountain bike and possible the worlds only
    Titanium 36er.

  22. Tyler - Nice Bicycles Says:

    K.A. – glad to hear you got one built! Not to burst your bubble, but James at Black Sheep here in Colorado built a titanium 36er quite a while ago…check out their ZAMer bike under “out of step” at their website: http://www.blacksheepbikes.com/
    The bike actually won an award at last year’s Rocky Mountain Bicycle Show – scroll halfway down the page here: http://www.pezcyclingnews.com/?pg=fullstory&id=6454

    Ride on,

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