The other day I was cut off by a car making a right-turn. I was riding at about 27km/hr. I was right next to him when he started to turn, and when I jumped off there was about 9" between his car and the curb; I landed on the sidewalk. I had no choice but to jump off backward, and I managed to grab the (“traditional” - non-backward) handlebar and pull the uni off to the side and not even touch the car.
I would never ride in traffic or for any distance on handlebars where I couldn’t jump off the back. I’m pretty sure it’s the best way to get off most times, intentionally or not: you end up going at a slower speed when you hit the ground (energy goes from you into uni instead of uni into you) and if conditions are right you can grab your uni, preventing damage. It’ll never come and hit you from behind.
I think mounting would be straight-forward on a 24 with those bars, but hard on a 36. I can do a normal free-mount on my 36, but not with any amount of weight on my back or uni, and I’m pretty tall with very long legs. Even then the seat is at a low angle when I’m getting ready; I think the handles would really complicate mounting. Also, sometimes (especially when I have extra weight), it takes more than one try to mount. I always dismount backwards on the failed attempt.
From a practical perspective, I think it would feel great for short distances. After a time though, I think hands/wrists would go numb. I get that on my T-bar when I lean hard for long times, and that’s less force than I think I’d want to use on these. I could see it being pretty comfortable with arm rests, maybe resting weight just below the elbow on some aero bar pads or something. I’d worry about my shoulders and neck getting sore there though, but perhaps not much worse than traditional aero bars.
Looking at the photo again, he’s got the grips vertical where he holds them, so he’s probably pushing back more than up, moving the pressure to his sit bones. I could see that working, at least in the same sense that regular uni bars “work”. I think a basic problem with trying to do distance unicycling is that the seat tube angle almost always ends up being close to vertical. Bikes are 72-74 degrees, so pushing on the pedals pushes you back into the seat. Handlebars are not meant to push you back into the seat on a bike, but at this point that’s about all we’ve got on unicycles. Until we start seeing offset pedals (shifted forward a few inches from the wheel), we’ve got to deal with numb wrists, sore shoulders and neck. I’ve done some research into this, maybe I’ll start a thread on it sometime.
These are my reasons for not going and investigating myself, but if you think it’ll work for you, do it! Your experience and reports will help inspire future unicycle handle designs, or at least clear up some ideas that have not been thoroughly investigated.
Oh yeah, and they look damn cool!