I was recently persuaded by Joe Rowing that a handle on my MUni would be a Good Thing. I have ridden unicycles with handles before, but only briefly, and I’ve always been a bit sceptical.
I ordered the Reeder handle from unicycle.uk.com. As usual, it was next day service. Thanks, Roger. The handle is made for the Miyata saddle, but can be made to fit the Viscount.
The handle is made of tubular steel, firmly welded to a circular metal base plate which is pierced with three bolt holes. I had vaguely assumed that it would fit directly to the seat post or seat post bolts, but it turns out you have to drill the saddle and all sorts of things - a daunting prospect for someone whose idea of DIY is GALMI (Get A Little Man In). If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth paying someone to do it well.
A brief telephone chat with Roger reassured me that the job could be done by a child of five or an idiot. Lacking a child of five, I went for the second option and did it myself.
First, sit on the unicycle and get a rough idea where you want the handle to be. I elected for as far forwards as reasonably possible. I aligned it so that the front bolt hole was central, and the other two parallel - this looked like the way it was designed to be fitted.
Now remove the front bumper. It’s only 2 screws, but nevertheless, one was spinning in its hole and took a few minutes to remove.
Now, carefully peel back the ‘leatherette’ seat cover, revealing the foam base of the saddle. Be careful at this stage, otherwise the foam tears. Peel pack the cover about an inch further than you think necessary.
Now, drill the three holes. This bit was surprisingly difficult as the seat base is made of very hard metal indeed. I used bolts I found in my tool box which were M6 size with 10mm nuts. This meant drilling big holes. With hindsight, smaller bolts would have been more suitable.
As it was, I had to drill small ‘pilot’ holes, then try again with a bigger drill. I actually burned out TWO drill bits, but they were El Cheapo quality.
Here’s why you peel back the leatherette cover a bit further than you think: if you don’t, then there is a danger that the drill will make 3 nice little holes in the cover. :0(
Then I pushed the bolts through from the top, placed the handle over the bolts, and fitted and tightened the nuts. This was a bit fiddly and I had to take care to let the bolt heads work their way through the narrow drill holes in the foam base of the saddle.
Then I pulled the cover back over the front of the saddle, and put a dab of silicone mastic behind it to hold it in place.
I then replace the bumper and found that I could only fit one screw in because the handle was partly blocking the other hole. I should have planned better.
So what would I have done differently?
- Used thinner, shorter bolts.
- Used a better quality drill.
- Peeled back the cover a bit further before drilling.
- Positioned the handle maybe a bit further back. (Only so I could get at the bumper hole.)
Riding? By the time I’d finished, it was getting late. I did a bit of idling and hopping in my back yard. I found that the handle offers a secure grip. It is well positioned for mounting (I previously held the front of the seat for mounting). Compared to gripping the seat bumper, it gives a much firmer control for hopping. I expect that it will give superior control on steep DEScents. I’ll see how I get on on AScents because holding the handle will impose an asymmetrical style, and I have always ridden with both hands free up until now.
The handle is painted bare steel and will need some sort of grip, and something to block the hole in the end.