Holding seat = faster.... but why ?

Hey … Jimmy has been road cycling for about 4 years now. He averages 40 50Km per week mainly flat bike path or suburban street terrain via 36" Nimbus
Only just recently, he has started to hold one hand (either left or right) on seat and noticed an increase in speed. Eg prior 30 minute ride would average say 13km per hour and now with hand on seat average is 14km per hour.

Can anyone rationalise the science and logic / link to increase speed with single hand on seat vs both hands free … ?? cheers Jimmy

You can apply more force to the pedals if you hold your body in place. When you go up hills on a bicycle you use the handle bars to help you put more pressure on the pedals. So, if you are on a unicycle and you hold on to the seat you are kinda doing the same thing. Well, that is my theory anyway.

You can ride much more on the edge because pulling on the handle will haul the wheel forward and put more pressure on the pedals when you might have otherwise fallen forward.

Try a handlebar for an even greater effect.

On a unicycle, your speed is almost never limited by the force you can put on your cranks. It’s almost always the cadence that limits us, at least on ungeared unicycles.

That is somewhat true. Pulling on the handle will allow you to put more force on the pedals, allowing bigger corrections. It doesn’t really pull the wheel in front of your center of gravity, though.

I think the main effect is that grabbing the handle helps holding your upper body more stable, and stops the wheel from wobbling side to side. That makes for a more controllable ride, which will enable you pedaling faster.

Reduces upper body movement and therefore ensures that you can pedal smoothly with less wasted effort. Also, feedback through the finger tips gives your brain more information about what adjustments are needed to your balance. Finally, on hills, up or down, it enables you to apply more torque.

Agreed. Personally, I noticed a significant increase in speed/cadence when I was first able to put both hands on the front bumper of my 20". The change was sudden and dramatic.

I wonder, though, if there’s not something else involved. There are a couple current forum threads about dealing with camber. One rider pointed out that the best way to cope with camber is to angle the wheel (when viewed from behind) so it’s perpendicular to the cambered road surface. That is much easier to do while holding the seat/handle than with the hands in the air. It’s easy to imagine being on a bicycle and achieving a right angle with the cambered road. Now imagine being on a bicycle on a cambered surface with your hands off the steering!

Beginners with their hands in the air ride more slowly, I think in part, because the side-to-side balance corrections they make with their hands are accompanied by small changes in clockwise/counter-clockwise steering. With one or both hands on the handle/bars, it’s easier to push the hips/center-of gravity to the left/right without having to change direction. A beginner, when falling to the right, steers to the right. With hands on the seat/handle, by contrast, a balance correction may be made without turning into the fall.

It is a class one lever system with the lever bent 90 degrees at the fulcrum.

The fulcrum is where you sit. Pulling up at the front of front of the seat will move the wheel forwards.

When I’m riding with both hands holding on, I typically adjust how I’m sitting so my sit bones are on the back end of the seat. When you say the fulcrum is “where you sit”, do mean where I sit, or in the scooped, middle part of the seat? While sitting on the back of the seat and holding the bars, it seems I have two forms of leverage on the seat, one with the hands, the other with my bottom. While I can push and pull with my hands, however, I can only push down with my bottom. For climbing which is on the edge of my abilities, I tend to stop sitting on the seat, and rather wedge the back of the seat between my legs just below my groin area while pushing the knees together to keep the seat from slipping between my legs. In this position, the leverage to move the unicycle frame forward is maximized. Most other riders I know, in the same climbing situation, stand on the pedals and pull upwards with the handle (I’m sure it’s more complicated than that).

Makes sense

Thanx all… the logic positioned makes sense. Holding seat is becoming habitual so be interesting to experiment further with the alternate types of how holding the seat … cheers Jimmy

It’s faster for the exact same reason (but to a lesser degree) as holding the handlebar makes you go faster on a bike.

The more control you have, the faster you can pedal.