New Unsupported Tours? KH Air Saddle?

My wife and i just completed an 85 mile tour on the Denali Hwy last week (between Cantwell and Paxson AK). It was a blast, but I was wondering if it wasn’t also a bit masochistic. by the end of each day the Nimbus gel saddle felt like a 2x4 on a wheel. The KH freeride on the Oregon was quite a bit better but still… I think the weight of the packs made both seats feel worse. Luckily we had 2 dogs along and couldn’t do more than 30 miles anyhow and had to get off for water stops. Questions: Anyone have a any unsupported tours they have recently done (we are now hooked on touring)? and Has anyone used the KH Air Saddle on longer tours? Your thoughts or review on how it did on your tour?

Here is a link for some of the photos from my Picasa site if anyone is interested in them.


Oh yeah, what would be your choice of setup (uni or gear) if you road this tour? we are thinking about a pair of 29ers.

Love the pics

What a great looking ride. The dogs are the icing on the cake.

A 36er is on my wish list; I think most riders in this forum will advise you to use the biggest wheel you can get on for a trip like this.

I have a 29er… I have no desire to ride it much more than 25 miles in any single day.

Really nice looking adventure. Well done.

Thanks Biped,
yes it was nice taking the pet dogs on the ride. the cars and campers were very polite and i think we made some peoples vacations.

I have heard that the 36ers can be quite a sail in the cross breeze. Has anyone done any custom wheel builds with fewer spokes to reduce this effect? I should have read the reviews on Air ride seats before posting. doesn’t sound like anyone has had anything good to say about them as far as them staying put.

We are potentially planning a 450 to 550 miler from Tok, or Delta Jnc. to Haines next summer. quite the leap but without the dogs we can do more mileage per day. Also, after seeing some of the distance riders’ posts has inspired me to push the distances.

Great to see your pics!

I’m super excited to see other people interested in unsupported touring. I know a bunch of riders are interested in uni-touring but are not convinced by the unsupported aspect.
For the seat, so far, I’ve been using a KH seat, haven’t had a chance to try the air yet but I’m planning on it, there is one kicking around…

For the size of the wheel, I like the 29". I’m lucky that mine is geared… I already have difficulties to mount on my 36 without a 10kg backpack (mostly because I’m lazy and don’t try enough, but also because I’m pretty short) and I know that when I’m tired after a long day and that the weight in the back makes it harder I don’t want to mount on a 36". And when you’re touring, it’s not always easy to find a pole for help…

So far, my adventures have been mostly for a weekend or a long weekend. Hopefully soon, I’ll be able to go for a little longer, and then ready for a really long unsupported one.

Oh and if you don’t know yet about the great divide by Gracie and Matt, there is a lot of info on there and that looked like a great uni-touring adventure!

A bigger wheel would be faster and more comfortable. I have an Oregon, it is not my first choice for a distance ride. A 29er would be a good choice for more difficult terrain, but for gravel roads I’d choose a 36er. The dogs would not keep up with a bigger wheel though…

I tried an air seat, I could never get it to be comfortable. You could try modifying your KH Freeride, I trimmed up the waist on all of mine to reduce crotch rub.

Also, if you found the Oregon to be more comfortable, that may be due to the wider foot position (wider hub), so maybe you should focus on building a bigger wheeled uni that uses the 125 mm hub, like the Oregon or an Impulse 36er. I ride an Impulse 36" built for off road use, it has an Oregon hub, off road tire, handle bar, it’s super comfy for distance riding; well, at least as comfortable as you can be on a unicycle.

There’s a new tire /rim combo coming out this Fall from Surly, a 29 x 3" tire called the Knard and a 50mm rim that is super light. You could get that rim and tire built up on an Oregon Hub, that would give you a taller tire that rides like a Larry, but has less resistance and is a little more versatile. The Oregon frame is the only production unicycle frame that will fit that tire.

In terms of a 36er acting like a sail, that’s not really a problem, at least not when you consider the added air resistance of a pack on an upright body. The nice thing about a big wheel is it really smooths ot the bumps and holds momentum, so you can ride more relaxed.

I would agree with you Nurse Ben for supported touring (I had a 36" for the Mediterranean unicycle Tour, 1000km) but for unsupported touring, I believe it’s not so obvious.
I’m convinced that a geared 29 is the best if you can afford it.
But I guess it’s one of these preference things (like seats, adjustable seatposts…). Some people like Dave Cox are on 36ers, others like Gracie and Matt, are on 29ers…

Nice photos and trip. I’m also looking for some unsupported ride next year, but I plan it to be quite montainous, so I tend more to 29er. Especially that currently it’s the only one (not taking 20" into consideration) that I have.
I have a question why haven’t you put any luggage on the unis? Especially Oregon looks like it is made for it. I really liked how they were packed:
And for currently ongoing ride on great divide look here:

Looks like a great trip from your pics!

I’ve done mostly supported tours, but also a couple of unsupported ones where I’ve had heavy packs.

I think the air saddle would be my torture device of choice. Softer doesn’t mean better. All it does is redistribute your weight from where a saddle should be supporting (the ischial tuberosities of your pelvis- ie the ‘sit bones’), to places where it shouldn’t (the rest of your perineum- ie the soft squishy bits).

I’ve used air saddles in the past. They’re great for short rides, but I wouldn’t use them for a long tour, especially weighted down with a heavy pack. Get a flatter narrower slimmer saddle like the Impact Naomi.

There’s a reason you don’t see air saddles on bikes.

Thanks vookash for the link to the newest great divide, I had heard about it but had not seen the website. I haven’t spent much time on it yet but there is one thing of great interest to me, it’s the gear list. I’ve spent tons of hours in the last 3 months looking into light gears, trying to find the right balance of what I want and what I need, so this is great additional info!

For the naomi, I know you swear by it, Ken, and that’s the reason i gave it a try during a one of my unsupported escapade and I really didn’t like it. Maybe i did not give it enough time… But as I was saying, people have preferences, you don’t see the point of the adjustable seatpost, I swear by them (well, actually mostly for Muni, not sure for distance).
I’m not saying the air one will work but since I have one available, I’ll give it a try…

I know, but the thread author was asking for opinions, and I gave mine, the reasons why, as well as my experiences :slight_smile:

There isn’t a right or wrong…it’s up to people to see what suits them.

We just can’t all rave about air saddles or else it becomes a rather unbalanced thread.

that trip looks like it was a blast! Having the dogs along must have been fun as well :slight_smile:

I’ve done a fair bit of unsupported unicycle touring, though never off-road. I found that for distance a geared 36 is the weapon of choice for me, since it cruises so well on pavement. I find that while it is a bit sail-like, I’m willing to take that tradeoff for the ability to do consistent 100km+ days.

That is pretty independent of your issues with the seat though. There are a couple of coping mechanisms for saddle soreness that I tend to use, and in order of effectiveness they are: moving weight off my back and onto the uni, using a handle (like the kh t-bar), wearing bike shorts, and reducing my load overall.

I have always in the past tied my sleeping bag, sometimes my tent or tarp, some of my food and water - basically all the heavy items - to the rear underside of my seat. This is really uncomfortable if you don’t have a good handle, because it pulls the seat back into your crotch, which sucks for obvious reasons :wink:

Once you add a handle though, you can lean into it (or put counterbalance weight off the end, I know benoit in quebec keeps his food attached to his handle) and this allows for a couple of different riding positions so you can move around when you feel sore, as well as put some of the weight into your arms.

Finally, I’ve been slowly changing my camp kit to the best ultralight versions I can find that still work for me. You can get sleeping bags and tents in the 900 gram (2 lbs?) range, eat lighter, make your unicycle lighter, etc. This one isn’t as high on the list because it’s expensive! But it can really help you out to get the right gear.

One more note on seats - I tend to use stock KH seats but I’m about the same size and weight as Kris, so I bet we find the same things comfortable. Seat preference is very different based on the person and what works for one may not work for another. Keep trying until your butt is comfy! And of course, putting 30 lbs extra on your seat is going to make even the coziest seat feel like a pile of thumbtacks after a couple of hours, especially without a handle to distribute the weight.

I hope that’s helpful! All the best in your future trips, it really is a great way to see the world.

Wow what an awesome trip! I too am very interested on how and what gear like minded folks are carrying. I’m planning a ~two week long all mountain unicycling epic for next summer. Right now I’m experimenting with riding with a larger pack and weight and trying to really hone in on what I’ll need to carry and what I can leave behind. Fortunately for me I won’t be completely unsupported as I’ll pass through a few trail towns and will have the occasional support from my wife and friends. But I’ll probably need to be able to pack enough for at least two full days of riding before any resupply. Would you mind sharing your gear list? One resource I’ve found very helpful, though not a unicyclist is Andrew Skurka’s site:

In addition to his lofty experience at unsupported treks (on foot) he does share a lot of his wisdom and more importantly his gear lists/weights for his various expeditions. I’m leveraging a lot from what he’s shared.

As for an air saddle? I had one a long time ago and hated it. As others have said moving weight off your back, taking more frequent walking breaks and having the ability to adjust the saddle tilt along with having a good set of handle bars is really the way to go (at least in my experience).

Thanks for sharing and awesome pictures; looks like a very fun place to ride!

Thanks for all of the feedback and links. Unfortunately, were we live there isn’t a lot of chances to test ride other uni’s. If there is anyone in the Alaska area that wants to get together for a ride let us know. We get down to the lower 48 about once a year, and if it is ok, I may put out a message for test rides.

Nurse Ben, what tire are you using on your off road 36’er? Dave, what is your set up on your 36’er?

The impulse and Oregon do look like they have a lot more tie down options on the frame. Not sure why we didn’t think of that. it is unlikely we will be getting geared hubs due to cost, our other passion literally eats up revenue.

We did like riding the Oregon on the trip. even though we had to increase the tire pressure the Larry floated over the gravel making for a cushy ride, which makes the idea of the Knard appealing. Being a bit thinner it might not have quite the pull on the off cambered sections. We initially got the Oregon for winter riding when we aren’t running dogs. Fat Tire (bike) winter riding is quite big up here (pardon the pun), as a lot of unusable summer-time trails open up.

Thanks, and if anyone is up in the Fairbanks area feel free to contact us.

I think it was mostly what I was trying to say… and I’m interested in the different opinions around too. Sorry, Ken, perhaps I didn’t express myself properly.
I actually have doubts that I will like the air (I’m not the one who bought it) but will try. And will probably re-try the naomi for distance (love it for freestyle)

I think I got too excited to see this thread about unsupported trip just now because it’s almost the only thing that occupies my mind right now when I’m not working…

Spruce, my setup is a Schlumpf 36 GUni with a KH T-Bar and the new lightweight 36 tire. If you’re happy on the MUni though, no reason to change it :slight_smile: It’s definitely all about what you want and what works for you in the end.

Here’s a link to my flickr album from when I attempted a cross-canada trip. You can see the stuff tied to my unicycle as well as the size of my pack. The pictures are a few years old (and no gear! sad!) but it’s still a really good representation of how I ride unsupported.

I know the 36er off road concept is not exactly a trend :roll_eyes: but I am finding it be a great all around muni and totally capable of technical terrain. The tire I am using is a prototype, wire bead, 1500gm, similar in design to the Vee Rubber Speed R: The tire will be available in the next month or two.

The Surly Knard 29 x 3" should be a nice compliment to the Oregon, some big tire float without being excessive, a larger diameter for improved speed and rollability, and light weight. Josh at UDC has been riding one for a few months and he’s convinced it’s the best 29er muni tire he’s ridden. The 4" tires do tend to be a bear on camber. Once I’m rolling the Knard, I don’t know that I’ll run the 4" tire except for mud and snow. The nice thing with the Oregon is wheel swaps are a breeze.

Try using the rear of the frame on the Oregon as a shelf, use a pad or a sleeping bag as the base. A long as it’s secure and doesn’t move around, you’ll get used to the weight and balance accordingly. I don’t mind having weight on my back, but too much weight on the uni makes for wierd off road handling, probably because the weight can only be mounted high versus using low riders on a bike.

When you get to the lower 48, where do you go? We’re out East, but there are plenty of 36er riders in WA and OR, so for sure try to hook up with someone and do a test ride.

thanks for the post to your flickr album. looks like a great trip. did you ride the entire trans-Canada?

thanks for the link to the Vee Rubber site. I will try some packing of the Oregon this weekend and see how it goes. My wife’s family is in the Seattle area and most of mine are in VA and VT. I will certainly put up a post when we get down there next. Probably in November.


It isn’t? That’s news to me…