A 24″ GUni is a cool idea in theory – in 1:1.5 gear it becomes a virtual 36″ wheel. A 24″ and a 36″ uni in one small tough package, sounds great.

When talk started about 24″ GUni’s I wasn’t overly interested in the theory. I just wanted to know how the feeling of riding a 24″ GUni in 1:1.5 gear compared to riding a real (single speed) 36’er. Would it feel similar to riding a 36’er with the same crank length? Could you crank along the trail, climb and descend on a virtual 36’er as comfortably as on a real one? A real 36″ wheel feels SO good once it’s spinning and due to it’s large diameter rolls smoothly over bumps that unsettle smaller wheels, it’s a great machine for long, fast XC rides. How would pushing a 3″ wide 24″ Duro tire along as a virtual 36″ feel?

36er vs 24" GUni
36er vs 24″ GUni

I had a break from uni yesterday to shake the sick bug, so today I had a go at flushing it out of the system with a ride on the 24′ GUni – a much more enjoyable treatment 🙂

With shifter buttons checked (don’t want to loose one again!) I headed out to a few of my favourite local trails. Due to the distance from home I’d never bothered to ride out to them on a single speed 24″ but a GUni changes all of that.

I’d been running 165mm cranks on the 36’er GUni. Not having huge feet meant shifting required a deliberate number of steps. A bit of a hassle but it did mean accidental shifts during riding were highly unlikely, just as well too as I tend to fidget around with my feet while on the move. Like on the 29’er GUni the 150mm cranks on the 24″ make shifting easier for sure, but there is definitely potential there for accidental shifts while bumping along trails, especially unexpected shifts down to 1:1 from 1:1.5. I’ll probably try two things – firstly, just be more disciplined with my foot position especially on the down shift side, and secondly adjust the shifter button on the downshift side so it protrudes a little less.

Gear changing is going ok overall. I’m still getting used to the opposite orientation of the hub compared to my 36’er. I’ve got to remind myself to change gears, especially changing up. If I’m spinning too fast in 1:1, might as well be in 1:1.5! Just like on the 36’er GUni my ankle bones do most of the shifting (I love my 5.10 Sam Hills but for me anyway they’re not ideal on a GUni). I found my old basketball style sneakers the other day that cover the ankle with padding and they made shifting gears much slicker and more comfortable so the plan is probably to get some smid style shoes for GUni, probably something like the 5.10 Karver which looks ideal – high only on the shifting side.

Taking a break in the wattles
Taking a break in the wattles

Some guys prefer to spin insanely fast on a uni, with little if any feeling of muscle load in the legs. Given the choice I prefer to spin slower and feel load, just like on a bike. GUni’s are GREAT for that.

Climbing on a virtual 36’er (24″ GUni in 1:1.5, 150mm cranks) is fun. Getting out of the saddle or seated, grabbing the handlebar with both hands and cranking like you’re on a bike feels great. BUT it definitely takes more energy and effort compared to spinning away on a 36’er with 150mm cranks. It’s not better or worse, but different as you’d expect really as there has got to be some extra work involved squeezing 1.5 wheel revs for 1 rev of your legs.

When the going got tough today there was always 1:1 on the 24″ GUni. I haven’t climbed much on the 24″ uni in the past, it definitely requires a different approach to climbing off road vs a single speed 29 or 36’er. The 24″ in 1:1 has so much torque and so little speed compared to bigger wheels – there’s no point trying to rush or power up longer hills, just relax and take your time and let the big fat Duro tire do the work!

Descending on the 24″ GUni in 1:1.5 today was good fun too. Either let the uni roll, go with it and go enjoyably fast (not scarey ‘I’m going to die’ fast like on the GUni 36), or use the brake. Either way you still need to be smooth, more so than on a single speed (but less so compared to a GUni 36), part of which means not trying to brake too much with your legs. No need to do a lot of heavy leg braking anyway, as using the hand brake on a 24″ GUni in 1:1.5 is smooth and easy – not as intuitive as in 1:1, but a lot easier compared to braking on a GUni 36 in high gear.

The big Duro tire was a lot of fun in 1:1.5 gear, much more fun off road at speed vs the narrow 36’er tire and in 1:1, the big Duro is as fun as always. Funnily enough too, the tubeless 24″ Duro makes a very cool hollow hum at speed. The tubeless setup is still working no probs too, I’ll experiment more with tire pressure over the next few weeks. The 24″ tube is thick and heavy – tubeless is a worthwhile saving IMO.

Today was probably the most fun GUni ride I’ve had which straight up makes me think the 24″ GUni was a great choice. Don’t know if it will ever replace my single speed 36’er but the GUni 24 is a LOT of fun off road and super versatile.

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