Been riding my Nimbus 29 for 6-weeks now (Doing 24-hour charity marathon on Nov’ 7) and am up to 20-miles each Sunday. Just bought a KH distance handle in prep for my big event and had my first day with it today. I am used to using both arms to balance, so holding the handle with one hand was a challenging experience. On the plus side, it seemed to reduce wobble, but I felt very underconfident. Questions: Should I persevere? Will the handle be essential to me on the 24-hour? Any tips on getting comfortable with it? Many thanks. Btw, for more info on my event - www.chuffed.org/project/unicyclechallenge
Practicing two-handed SIF on a 20" was probably the most helpful thing for learning to use bar ends. I now ride my 26" mUni almost 100% of the time with both hands on the bar ends. My elbows stick out sometimes and provide the balance which used to be achieved by outstretched hands. If you can already ride 20 miles with no bar ends, you’re probably accustomed to a more upright riding posture, therefore I would not recommend the ‘long’ setting for your bar ends. I have the t-bar setup on my 26" and the Shadow setup on my 29". It took me a while before I hacksawed off a bunch of the main section and started using the bars in the shorter position, which is great for XC/mUni. Once you remove metal, though, there’s no turning back. Do it, anyway; later you can buy another stock bar, should you decide to go longer.
On a b*ike, balance is maintained by using the handlebars to turn the wheel in the direction you are falling. Regarding left/right balance, the unicycle is the same. Keep practicing and experimenting with the bar ends. Once you get accustomed to them, there will be no going back. Once you get good at the bar ends, when people ask you to do a trick, you can demonstrate riding with “no hands”.
Just keep perservering! Riding a uni with a handlebar is weird and unintuitive in every way, but it’s completely learnable.
Before I got one, I mostly rode with one or both hands on my seat handle. This taught me to balance with my hips instead of waving my hands around, so when I went to a handle I didn’t struggle too much, except for the whole leaning a lot further forward thing, which took a bit of getting used to (And I still struggle with that, especially on imperfect surfaces).
Don’t think you have to grab the handle 100% of the time - I still don’t use mine for going up or downhills - there’s too much leverage, if I pull up a bit while going downhill I’ll fall backwards! Just use it when you’re comfortable using it, and the time you’re comfortable using it will naturally become more and more!
That was a good one.
I’d say just give it time. My first few rides with the handle I hardly touched it, but soon got to the point where I was most comfortable with one hand on it. For a while using both hands felt very uneasy, but I’ve been making more effort to do that when I hit a nice stretch of smooth pavement that is level side-to-side, and it is feeling more confident. It also gave me a place to mount a cheap cycle computer where I can see it…
Ultimately the point of the handle is to relieve your seat; I’ve found it less effective for that than I hoped, so have a feeling I’ll be making more position experiments in the future. Did you get the straight one or the one with a bend in the long part of the T?
On another note, you seem to be ramping up mileage at a good rate, but be careful. I pushed really hard last weekend and broke through a 12 mile habit to over 20 by setting myself up in a situation where that was the easiest way to get home. But I hurt my right leg and knee with overuse in the process, and ended up taking a week off where I walked a fair amount but didn’t ride at all. I rode a bit yesterday but it did not feel right, so will probably be taking it easy this week too. So be really careful - having to heal from an overuse injury could kill your training buildup more than being insufficiently ambitious will. But it sounds like you have greater background in serious athletics, so you probably already know that.
I’m sure I’m not the only unicyclist who notices a lot of young men riding bikes no-hands as they pass, and can understand the temptation from memory of other situations. My comment these days tends to be “Nice, now do a wheelie at the same time…” which usually gets laughs.
Thanks so much!
I’m so grateful for you all taking the time to respond to my question. It can feel quite isolating being the only person I know with a unicycle and as soon as I read all your responses I felt both relieved and reassured. Thank you so much! I’ll definitely persevere with the handle (it’s the KH distance handle, with no bend, btw). I have just got back from my second ride with it and already it’s feeling a little less alien. Good advice on taking it easy with the training too. I’ll watch that.