An Improved Road and Distance Saddle – A Different Saddle Idea

The limiting factor of how far or how long a road and distance rider can ride is most often based on how long the rider can stand to stay in the saddle. Unicycle saddles in general have a reputation of being very uncomfortable. Over the years there have been some improvements in available saddles but all of these improvements deal with the same basic saddle. Differences in saddle shape, padding, and angles have made a significant improvement over what was available many years ago. However, even with the improvements many riders still find it is the saddle that limits riding non-stop and care free for hours on end. What if we could think outside the box and come up with a different and original idea to make the unicycle saddle more bearable for longer rides? My idea is to add a front support to hold the rider back in the saddle and take all the pressure off sensitive body areas and put it on sit bones and butt cheeks. Even with modern off the shelf saddle improvements there is still the possibility of chaffing and some pressure on sensitive areas.

I have about 100 miles (160km) on my idea of an added front support on different saddles. My longest ride was 20 non-stop miles (32 km) on my Nightfox with an inexpensive bicycle saddle (cost less then $20 USD). However the idea of a front support to hold the rider well off sensitive areas and onto the back of the saddle seems to work on normal unicycle saddles also. The only issue with the uni saddle is that the back of the saddle is not shaped as well as the bike saddle and there may still be a chaffing issue. Uni saddles need more curve/relief behind the legs and the sit area could be larger and shaped better. I did ride my normal uni saddle with the front support for 15 non-stop miles (24 km) with no issues. That is about five times longer then I normally ride without short “butt” breaks.

One advantage of using the front support on a normal saddle is that it is totally optional. The saddle works either way, just not as comfortable and need more butt breaks without it. For short rides or rides with frequent stops the front support would be of little benefit. Also if you need a free hand for cargo when mounting, the front support would be a problem because I have the front support in my free hand when mounting. On my Nighfox with the bike saddle, the front support is not optional but is required. A rider can not stay on the bike saddle without something to hold you back and pushing back on the handlebar 100% of the time is not an option (at least for me).

One disadvantage of the front support is that it is just another piece of gear. Even though my prototype is not heavy and weighs less then 1lb (0.45kg), it is still another thing to deal with. I find that mounting is a little harder/different on the Nightfox with the bike saddle, mainly because there is no saddle handle and I have to hold the end of the handlebar. Likely with time, I’ll get used to that. Then after mounting, riding is mostly with all my weight on the pedals and holding the handlebar (essentially no weight on the saddle) and trying to stuff the front support into place. Once the front support is in place, it stays in place very well and I’m good to go for hours on end with no saddle issues.

In the end my Nightfox with the bike saddle is many many times more comfortable then any unicycle saddle I have ever ridden. And the front support on my normal uni saddle is an obvious improvement but there still is room for improvement.


This is a very interesting idea. How does it affect you turning and tilting in the saddle?

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I seems to affect really tight turn backs some but normal turns and such as in the video I don’t notice any difference.

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Ideally having that front support looks nice and comfortable but the safety aspect of it in a upd seems like you could get tangled up or land on it in a dangerous way what do you mean by splits in a the event of a front upd?

It would appear based on the pictures and video that you mount with the support in one hand, get situated, and then position the support and put the forked end over the bar. It looks like when turning you would have to have a hand on the support at the bar end to keep it in place but that is just normal hand placement so probably not an issue. Essentially it seems like there is just enough keeping the support in place that it stays put when it should and just disappears when it needs to, sort of like a upd, there isn’t much keeping you on the unicycle and when all else fails you just hop away.

Yes, I believe that if the front support was fixed to the uni it would create a “bear trap”. A UPD off the front would be a face plant. In my low speed testing I actually did a couple bumpy road UPD’s off the front. The front support just separated and went flying its own way and I walked/ran free. In a major hit the road or roll out front off UPD I thought about what would happen if I fell on the front support. If I fell directly on it the HDPE pipe would likely bend where it connects to the flat part. It does flex some as it is in use.

Yes I normally ride with at least on the handlebar but it is not needed to hold the support in place. With the concaved surface of the support against my waist and the forked end on the handlebar it stays in place very well with no hands needed.

I added two more “no’s” on this image. No padded shorts or butt butter needed.


In the picture with the three saddles and the red areas, the last one should be Nose DOWN with front support, I think?
It’s an interesting concept. Isn’t the constant pushing against your stomach/belly area annoying?
Aaaand, couldn’t the same effect be achieved more conventionally with a longish handlebar that you push on with your hands?

That’s what I thought too, it gives a way of counteracting the torque from the pedals (about the vertical axis) in the same way as a handlebar. It also stops you slipping off the front of the seat though, but I suppose a handlebar does that too (or at least your arms hold you on the seat).

The second issue (keeping your butt on the back of the seat) was actually what I thought of. For the first issue, the handlebar (that is still there) seems more effective, given that the belly support swivels freely at the front and a belly isn’t rigid enough to prevent swiveling either.

I think that would depend on the general shape of the saddle. If the saddle was very flat then the nose down a little would make sense. The uni saddle I tired it on has a medium curve so a nose up on the front of the saddle put the back part of the saddle on a gentle slope to the front.

In my case the belly support is shaped to fit me and up to at least 2 hours non-stop it was not annoying at all. I did not even notice it at all. There is not a lot of pressure on the front support, just a little to keep me back on the saddle.

Yes you can push back on a handlebar to hold you back on a saddle. However with the bike saddle I used it would take a constant force and the mechanics don’t work well. At least if you are sitting relatively upright the hands,arms and body are not in line with the force needed to push back on the saddle. Because of the downward slope of the saddle (required to eliminate any pressure on the perineum area) there is a constant back force needed on the saddle.

If the handlebar is far enough forward and the uni rider can rest quite a bit of weight on the handlebar (like a bike) then that may be enough to hold a ride on the saddle. Of course the saddle would have to be angled forward even more because the pelvis would be rotated forward also. I have not had any success with putting much down or back force on my handlebars. I prefer a more relaxed upright ridding style to a hunched over racing style.

I got the “nose down” from your second picture in the original post, and from a general understanding of this idea.
I understand your points about deriving backwards force through arms and handlebar.

One remark still about upds: if in a forward upd your belly keeps pushing the rest, it would not fall away. Not sure if in a real upd the constant forward pushing would be realistic though.

Anyways, the “JT belly rest” (or do you have a better name yet?) is a nice concept. And surely out-of-the-box thinking!

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Yes, I thought about a UPD off the front and actually did a couple during testing. Of course being unplanned I did not get a video but the support simply disengaged from the handlebar and went flying away from me and the uni. I ran or stepped out as normal on a low speed UPD. I don’t see where it would be different with a major crash and roll out or slide down the road at speed UPD. Of course there could be a possibility of falling directly on the separated support. I don’t know if falling on the road/gravel or support would be worse but the main pad and support tube will flex and collapse if forced. I do believe that attaching the support firmly to the uni would present a major problem in a front off UPD. With the width of the support it would create a problem similar to a penny farthing UPD off the front.

There are a few videos of UPD’s off the front and if advanced a frame at a time it is clear that the uni moves down and away from the rider. This motion disengages the support and it is free take its own path. A recent UPD video can be seen in Terry Unigeezer’s video here. To really see what is going on in YouTube you can stop the video and advance and reverse one frame at a time with the “.” and “,” keys.

The other option I thought about and would likely work is having the support pad attached to the rider with a fixed narrow support on the uni. Kind of like a weight lifters belt that the rider would wear. A narrow fixed support would not present a problem in a front off UPD. It would be similar to my groin support thingy but would only bear on the belt worn by the rider.

On second thought, I think the uni falling faster than the rider will almost always be the case. It is a matter of physics, somewhat along the lines of “shorter pendulums rotate faster”.
To mitigate the risk of getting pierced by the support tube if it would happen to be perpendicular to a soft body part falling on it in case of a upd, you might want to pre-bend it. And perhaps make the end of the tube less pointy.
In any case, I like the idea!

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I added another handle close to the saddle. This is used for mounting and allows me to ride without a hand on a handle till the front support is in place. I don’t hold it and my legs/body does not contact it when riding. It could be used to pull on for very steep up hill grades.

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Is that a regular (but cushy) b*cycle saddle? Do you have to half yourself back against it as you ride, like I understand one does with a Mad4One Handle Saddle?

Edit: Never mind! I had to go back and re-read the thread to remember the entire progression.

Congratulations on beating your personal “distance without a dismount” record!