Are there any long distance riders that plain don’t use a handle? Why?
Two words: crotch relief.
Every unicyclist goes about this a bit differently, but I believe the employment of some quasi-ergonomic handle gives the most relief to saddle pressure during a long ride.
One needs to push onto something to remove pressure from his/her crotch. Unfortunately, the “stock” unicycle handles are designed for pulling. Pushing on said handles isn’t very comfortable and requires awkward hand / wrist / arm positioning.
I used a stock handle for some of my distance training and found it quite difficult to achieve sufficient comfort over a longer period of time. Once I built a handlebar onto my frame, I knew I’d found the solution I was looking for.
The choice is yours… added weight or pain and numbness in a very tender area.
In situations where I need “tight control” (bumpy sections, steep climbs, steep desents, very high-speed), I default to the KH handle. I use the T7 for comfort when I’m in cruising mode. I don’t think it helps turning, but then again, turning seems so intuitive anyways.
I feel that the primary benefit is comfort for long distance. I find that by adding a bit of forward pressure on the handle, my bum slides to the very back of the seat and very long distances become tolerable without numbness and little chafing. I also find that the forward hand positions are more comfortable.
I think the bottom line is, if you you don’t spend hours at a time in the saddle, you may never need a T7. I don’t think it improves unicycling skill, only comfort.
If you’re a weight weenie, maybe the T7 isn’t for you.
…buy since you already have one, why don’t you just try it and develop your own opinion.
I’ll be getting my new coker handle in about a week, according to Jamey at uniproshop. It does clamp directly to the seatpost, and not to the saddle. This is a good setup since you would really need a cf base if it was connected to the seat base, or you would have excessive flex and run the risk of breaking your plastic seat base.
In a word, Yes
I track much straighter when using a handle spending less effort keeping my ride smooth and am able to spin faster with confidence. It helps to make smooth corners and i find that it gives you something to torque against when climbing and a place to put your break for when descending. The one area that I find that it is a hinderance is when going real slow or hopping a lot.
I have a handle made out of an old bike frame and the front of a T7, I found that the T7 was a bit flimsy when mounting and climbing hills and eventually the front plate broke.
Like I mentioned before, I’ve never used more than the stock plastic KH saddle handle. This is because I’m cheap and I like the simplicity of not having a giant handle. Additionally, now that I’ve been using my geared KH29 almost exclusively for distance riding, I think the weight of the handle would be more noticeable because I regularly ride up big climbs.
Regarding discomfort, for me it seems to mostly stem from longer cranks and higher cadences. So, I ride short cranks and/or lower, geared-up cadences. I think it helps too that I’m relatively skinny and thus tend to stand up more than a heavier set person would. Also, while perhaps not as ergonomically, I can push down on a plastic handle like one would with a T7 handle.
I don’t know if you’ve seen the video, but based on that, the handle connects to the seatpost, and the connection looks pretty slim, so not much seatpost is needed.
My reasons were quoted above. Not real good?
Here’s some more, broken down into tiny pieces so they’re easier to grasp, in order of importance:
Like Maestro said, crotch relief. That’s got to be #1.
Variety of hand positions. The longer the ride, the more of a difference this makes.
A place to mount a computer/bell/bottle cage.
I can’t detect the extra weight of the handle when riding.
Possible improvement in wind drag riding in “tuck” position (not necessarily with T7).
Looks cooler than no handle.
If weight is more important to you than speed, and if aesthetics are more important to you than comfort, you don’t want a handle. To me, A 36" with no handle just looks like a big unicycle. Adding a handlebar setup makes it look (at least to a unicyclist) like a “road unicycle.” Something with a little more purpose, perhaps a little more serious.
I don’t feel that my handle(s) stabilize me at higher speeds, but I ride my fastest when in the “tuck” position with my Wyganowski handle. So it makes me faster. When I need stability I slow down, and usually hold the T handle. For cranking up really steep stuff (Coker MUni), I use the seat handle, which in my case is currently A Miyata handle on a carbon-base air seat.
The weight problem on today’s 36" unicycles is the wheel, and that’s not going to change until lighter tires and lighter rims are on the market. And then they’ll probably be weaker so take you pick…
Thanks zfreak for posting the link to the video. That would be a nice link to have on the Coker web site, but it doesn’t seem to be there. That handle looks like something I’d like a lot better than the T7 as you can still attach stuff to it, but you have more choices on positioning it. You can also attach it either high or low on your seat post (unless you’re really short) for even more positioning options.
Has anyone had experience with a handle that mounts to the seatpost like the coker handlebar? It seems like it would flex a lot more than if it was welded on like a T7.
What do mean “welded on”? Both the T7 and the coker handle have welds, but neither are welded on to the saddle. The T7 requires a rail type seat post and the coker clamps directly to the seatpost. It wouldn’t flex any more than the T7, since the coker handle mounts directly to the seatpost-unless you expect your seatpost to flex.
Well on the T7, the critical point of flex would be the part where the front bar is welded to the rail-adapter, whereas with the coker handle, the critical point would be the clamp. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like there would be more handle movement where the handle attaches to the seatpost on the coker handle. Also, in a UPD, the handle might get wacked out of alignment, although I guess that could potentially happen with the T7 as well, but to me it seems more vulnerable with that design for some reason. Please feel free to criticize my opinions because I’m speaking from next to no experience with handlebars.
Both setups-including home made versions-have their own inherent flaws and weaknesses, but in the big picture, it’s just a friggin handle! I’m not at all concerned with “flex” and have never noticed any at all on my T7, and don’t expect any on the coker bar either. Plus, I’m not planning on putting any significant stresses on it, other than an occasional push up to relieve some pressure on long rides; and that stress, if any, would be minimal.
I might have to buy one of them off you soon Bryce, my T7 is going to snap pretty soon.
I would rather have the handle become misaligned in a upd than have it bend or even worse have my seatpost or frame bend. Something has to give and if something moves without damage to other parts I am happy.
I find the exact opposite. the front plate of a T7 flexes when you put a lot of up or down pressure into the handle. THis is its biggest design flaw and I have told UDC as much in an e-mail along with some suggestions for how to fix the problem. A flat bar will bend and flex much more readily than a round tube (like the collar of a seat tube clamp).
The flexing in the front plate of mine resulted in a broken handle in less than 1000km of use and I have heard stories (and seen pictures) of other people having their T7 break in the exact same place.
I find my home made handle on a boom much stiffer than my old T7.
edit: were T7s break
my handle setup
This is the handlebar setup I acquired from Pete (unisk8er) on his (now my) Florian Green. It’s quite sturdy, no flex at all. Very adjustable. I can raise or lower it and change the angle of the bars. Pete even made an alternate set of bars which I played around with. But I haven’t been able to make them work as well as the original set.
For me, the most important time for handlebars is when I’m in high gear. It really helps to have something to hold me to the seat and to push against. When I’m in low gear I use the handles at high speed and I usually put one hand on when I’m turning. I don’t use the handle bars so much to modify the balance of the unicycle as I do to stabilize my body.
When I’m climbing hills I’d like to have handle bars that are a little closer to the seat. With handle bars that are that far in front, pulling up on them tends to push the seat back out from under me. I’ve got some ideas of mounting some extra handle bar ends that point back toward the seat. But I’ll have to find a welder to help me out with that.
But most of all, these handle bars are sooper dooper cool! They catch people’s eyes. Great conversation starter. I pretty much start blathering about my guni in excessive detail to anyone who so much as raises an eyebrow. I don’t think I’ve gotten a single “Hey! Where’s your other wheel?” since I got the Florian Green. People are too dumb struck to do more than “Huh? Whu?” No more “Where’s the circus?” They realize this is one slick road machine.
Florian Green.bmp (900 KB)
I’ve done over 10,000 road miles by now - at least 4000 on a viscount, 5000 on KH seats and a bit over 1000 on the T7. I’ve recently dumped the T7 and gone back to the stock KH seat.
I think that the T7 handle has two big advantages, firstly if you don’t ride distance that much, it can make it more comfy. Secondly, it looks way cooler holding the T7 than crotch grabbing on a normal unicycle seat.
The first one you can fix by riding more, so your arse gets used to the shape of the stock seat whatever it is*. The second one, you can fix by not caring too much about it.
In terms of riding position - I did some experimenting last year, and by riding in a slightly lower position, going into a bit of a headwind, we were going about 1mph faster for no obvious extra effort. However, I didn’t really find that the T7 handle helped that much, I think it is just as easy to ride in a low position with the KH handle. Maybe some of the other handles help with this (I know Sam Wakeling’s insane aerobars let him ride very low indeed), but I don’t think the T7 has a massive advantage here.
In terms of control, hills etc. I think the T7 decreases control, decreases the ability to ride up hills, sucks for off road, and doesn’t have a massive advantage in speed terms. It does kind of feel nice and hardcore holding onto the handles though. I found my skill level jumped the moment I swapped back from the T7 to the KH seat, even after I’d not used the stock handle for 1000 miles.
I also think that braking on a T7 is nowhere near as precise as when you have the brake under the KH handle, although I’m not really sure why that is.
I am pissed off that I can’t find a decent place to mount a bell on my stock KH though. Bells are so handy for commuting.
*I’ve done 80 mile rides on a hard viscount seat, which weren’t a massive problem as I was commuting on that seat too. Wouldn’t recommend viscounts generally, but only because they have no handle at all.
I experienced an improvement in many aspects of my riding when I put the T7 on my ride. I won’t give an exhaustive list since they’ve been covered. In addition to simple comfort, the different leverage it allows while riding immediately improved my energy economy. If you’re concerned about weight you can cut off the back of the T7 - I see no compelling use for it. I’ve had my bottle cage there since I’ve blocked the bottle cage braze ons up front with an attachment to mount a light, but I seem to arrive at my destination without my bottle often that way ???
Hey Brycer1968 - whatcha call that thing???
A judgement made on assuming similar materials, workmanship and scale of components. The flexy part on the T7 appears to be the rails themselves, though breakage seems to have happened at the welds. But is this breakage a result of impacts (dismounts), or being flexed through riding? Probably both. Handles need to be built to handle both in any case.
The borrowed T7 handle I’m using has chewed-up grips on the end, the only evidence of what has probably been many dismounts as the owner was learning how to ride with the Schlumpf hub. Whatever’s on the end of your handle is guaranteed to take a beating on dismounts. No sign of bending or other issues on my T7. With the Coker handle, it looks like off-axis dismounts may be more likely to knock it crooked, just like a seat that’s not tight enough can go crooked. Fortunately this is easy to straighten out. But as we learned with the original Cokers in the early years, judging a product by looking at pictures of it gets you nowhere. We’ve got to get out and ride with them to see how they hold up.
As for flex, a little bit of flex might be a good thing. On a long handle, what I’m looking for is a place to take the weight off my crotch. This means I’m putting weight on my hands/wrists. A little bit of “give” in a handlebar system is probably a good thing in those terms, as long as you have something stiffer you can grab hold of for hard cranking.
I can ride up hills that aren’t steep while staying in my “tuck” position. If the going gets steeper I sit more upright and hold the T handle. but when I hit the really steep spots, generally on trails or at the top of Mt. Diablo for instance, then I hold the handle on the front of my seat.
Naturequack, please stop flaunting your beautiful green machine in front of us. Me jealous! “Green” with envy! I knew I was going to regret not bidding on that work of art…
Boy, everyone seems to have an opinion on the Handle bar for a 36! Mine conflicts with a few other people’s opinions, so it may end up being “whatever works for you”, and you’ll have to try out things yourself.
Regarding your question on weight – you could cut off the curly part of a road bike’s handlebar to save weight, but no one does this. That’s because it is a more comfortable and faster position to ride in. In essence, it is essential.
A handlebar on a 36" wheel is essential for any distance riding. A design that incorporates high torque abilities (for steep hills) and forward leaning abilities (for going fast) seems essential.
I like my design of the UniBar - http://picasaweb.google.com/corbin.dunn/UnicyclesAndParts and http://picasaweb.google.com/corbin.dunn/UnicyclesAndParts/photo#5167244969778501186 for a case. Look at the picture, as I’m going to reference things on it.
Having both hands on the handlebar can make you go faster. Louise (my girlfriend) finally realized this, and also believes it to be true (I had been telling her this for ages). Having one hand (or both hands) off to the side waving in the air can make your wheel twist side to side, and prevent you from going fast. In addition, that uses more energy and makes you more tired. This is true with any handle.
A forward leaning position cuts down on wind drag, and it seems easier to do this with a T7 or my UniBar. Granted, you don’t need a handle for that, but it helps.
For going up steep hills, your hands are used to apply counter torque on the pedals. Heck, George Peck realized this and mentions it in his “Rough Terrain” unicycling video. To get good torque, you want your hands close to the seat, so the power is more directly inline with where your legs are applying a force to the pedals. A KH handle works well for this, but it isn’t large enough for both hands to fit on at the same time. I solved this in my UniBar by having “power grips” that I can grab with both hands. I use these for cranking up really (really) steep hills. I can alternate the force from right to left hand depending on which foot is applying the downward pressure (sort of like on a bike).
A handlebar lets you take pressure out of the seat. That makes long distance riding more comfortable.
20 miles used to be painful for me, and now I have no pain after a 20 mile ride.
I use my handlebar for all kinds of 36’er riding. Fast, street riding, and fast single track riding (generally, in the 1:1 gear for that). It works well for all kinds of riding, and hasn’t gotten in the way when doing coker muni.
Side note: when I hit 26 mph I was slightly tucked forward with both hands firmly on my far away grips.