Handle review

A few weeks ago, I posted about the process of fitting a handle to a Viscount seat. since then, I didn’t do more than a brief test until yesterday.

Fitting it was a lengthy and irritating job, needing a drill.

In normal riding, I find that the end of the handle can slightly catch against my left thigh. (Right handed handle.) However, this isn’t intrusive.

When standing on the pedals, but NOT using the handle, it can become intrusive.

This problem could be reduced by mounting the handle at a different angle, but then it would be less useful as a handle!

I have always relied on the balance and arm-waving approach to ascents, with occasional tugs on the front of the seat. On descents, I have always pulled up on the seat - at least since my first projectile dismount on a steep descent.

I have previously ridden unis with handles, but only briefly, and without ‘testing’ them. However, I have never been very convinced.

So, against this sceptical background, last night’s tough ride was an interesting experiment.

First, the handle gives better control and back-torque on steep descents, compared to pulling up on the front of the seat. It’s hard to quantify, but I’d say the difference is approximately the same as using cranks ‘one size longer’. It’s worthwhile.

On uphills, I didn’t find that I was pulling hard against the handle to gain more torque. I pulled a bit, but it was only made a small difference.

However, what I did notice is that the handle gave me better control over the unicycle, so that I could stomp on the pedals a bit harder - a bit like ‘honking’ on a bicycle. (Honking is when you stand on the pedals, and throw your whole weight onto the top pedal, relying on the handlebars for balance, rather than for force.)

On the whole, I’d say that the handle increased two things:

  1. The maximum gradient I could climb - but only slightly.
  2. The distance I could make it up a given gradient before flopping or falling.

The combined effect was noticeable.

And across rough ground, with a slight incline, the handle made a big difference.

I put it to the ‘existential test’: I rode a variety of surfaces and slopes, and observed whether I ‘chose’ to use the handle. Did my hand naturally look for the handle, or did I naturally use the arm waving technique? The handle won most of the time.

I did notice that when I used the handle, my free arm had to swing a lot more than usual, but it seemed to fall into a fairly natural rhythm.

Conclusion: although as a natural ‘purist’, my inclination is against the handle, I found it surprisingly useful, and it makes a real difference to what can be achieved on a MUni. As regular readers may recall (!) I ditched the 170mm cranks and reverted to 150s; the handle has made more positive difference than the 170s ever did, and has none of the disadvantages.

One disadvantage is does have: it hurts your heel a lot more when you UPD and it catches you.

did you use it for hopping at all?

I can hop on the spot. I have never, not even once, hopped for any ‘practical’ purpose when MUniing. Wheels are round so they roll more easily. Call me old fashioned, call me carp, but hopping isn’t in my repertoire. So it never crossed my mind to try the handle for hopping. I guess it would make hopping a bit easier.

One day, I will work on hopping, but only because the rest of you make me feel inadequate for not hopping.

I had a Reeder on my Viscount for quite a while, and posted about it at muniac.com. The link still works: http://www.muniac.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic&f=1&t=000047

Just trim off yours, Mike, with a hacksaw so that the end of the handle is flush with the flowing seat line. About 1/2 - 1". This will eliminate most, if not all, of your leg chafe problems with no loss of grip. Use a “fork cutting saw guide” or similar tool to ensure that the cut is perpendicular to the pipe’s axis.

Then add a Primo end cap or end plug and you’re all set! The one pictured is the cap; I like the flange because my hand is more secure. The cap is flush with the pipe surface and is very nice looking. One or the other is necessary to keep the end of the handle from chopping up your leg on unplanned dismounts.

The picture is of my MUni’s current seat/handle configuration. The Viscount is gone but the Reeder worked well on it.

After a while I found that the ODI grips didn’t work that well for the MUni (they’re on my Coker now); what you see pictured is some cheap adhesive-backed cloth tape which works great in all weather.

end-on view of reeder handle (tiny).jpg


Your post about the handle is like Jagur selling his coker after trying it once :wink:

You found the handle to only benefit you slightly on the ups. Take it out for a few rides, learn all the body english that goes along with holding the handle, and the new, lower center of gravity you can achieve because of it, and you will find it to be VERY beneficial.

Oh, and start hopping over /onto things dammit, it’s quite practical

My post was intended to be cautiously optimistic. I’m a natural purist - I took a lot of persuading to buy a handle at all, but I have found it surprisingly useful. So far, I have about 5 miles of handled MUni under my belt, and I was riding better at the end than I was at the beginning. I expect to get better as I learn more about how to use it.
As for the hopping… I guess there might be odd cases when it would be useful, but hopping onto tables and stuff like that just isn’t for me. I’m impressed when I see it done, and can appreciate the skill and courage involved. I dare say there are hoppers and droppers out there who feel the same about teararsing around on a Coker.
As for your dog - related anecdote in the signature, it reminds me of the man who walks into a junk shop, and the owner’s dog jumps up, knocks the man to the ground and starts to eat his hat.
The man shouts, “Oi! Your dog’s eating my hat. That cost me 50 pounds.”
“Serves you right,” said the junk shop owner. “You shouldn’t go walking into shops wearing a hat anyway. The dog thought you looked like a shoplifter. Now get lost.”
“Oh, that’s your attitude is it?”
“No, sir, it’s your 'at 'e chewed!”

I wouldn’t be without my handle for Muni. I was almost convinced after one ride and my conviction just got bigger the more I learned to use it. I’ve been practising hopping more lately (for which a handle is really useful) and I’ve found hopping rather useful for getting over obstacles on a Muni ride without having to dismount. I’m sure my handle has accelerated my learning curve, at least for Muni riding.

Cheers, Gary.

Re: Handle review

I dont think it’s called MUni if you dont have a handle.