My riding buddy Zeke (Z Boisei) said I had to post some pics of my new ride I just finished building.
Lots of stuff is powdercoated KH Blue . . . .I figure if its worth building an obscure custom unicycle part, then its worthy of powdercoating too. The bar set is big and funky looking, but after building and riding several different prototypes of custom distance handlebars over the last four years and consulting with a couple of bike fitters here in Portland, I think I finally found a lightweight design that makes the 100/10/1 goal very possible (100 miles in 10 hours on 1 wheel) and MUCH more comfortable – even for a 200 pound Unicycle Bastard of dubious fitness level . . . . like me.
I just tried this out in October on a 75 mile and a metric century road ride here in Portland, OR. Here’s what I found:
The biggest benefits of this handlebar design:1.
Speed: With no other variables changed, this handlebar put a couple of MPH ahead of what I have been averaging on long rides. Part of this is the huge reduction in the need for taking breaks to relieve taint soreness. Was needing breaks every 5 miles on previous long rides, with the new handlebar now it’s like every 15+ miles.
Saddle comfort: It feels like approx 40% of your weight is off the saddle when you are down on the bars - and by grabbing the bar grips tightly and doing a double arm curl to pull yourself forward and up, leveraging the aero bars, you can take all your weight off the saddle - and hold it this way for quite some time. This is great for facilitating a more efficient “spin” for extended hill climbing and gives the taint a slurp of fresh red blood on a long ride- no matter how tired your legs are. The forward riding position lets you better distribute your weight off of the sit bones and feels more . . . bicycle like. No numbness in either long ride recently.
The mast acts as a “tiller” that stabilizes and eliminates the inefficient side to side energy wasting wobble that unicycles are known for and also lets you steer the unicycle with your arms to some extent.
The mast brace’s construction is similar to a go-cart tie rod end and forms the third side of a triangle to support the long mast extending from the rail adaptor. This design with the brace clamped to the crown of the frame results in a really stiff mast that feels solid over bumps and off curbs. Though just a bolted connection, the brace provides the rigidity that I wanted without having to resort to a more complex and heavier v-frame design like Unisk8er pioneered in the Seattle area.
The Thomson seat post, adjustable brace, longish mast section and various lengths/angles of threadless stems lets you dial in the ideal seat to handlebar distance, how much you want to lay down, and angle of the aero bars for different height and proportioned riders - across a wide range of seat heights.
The weirdness of this new handlebar set-up completely short circuits the tiresome “where’s your other wheel” questions we all get. It’s just too weird looking and seems to throw them off of their retarded-humor treadmill! They have more questions about the unlikely juxtaposition of aero bar and one wheel and what it does for you.
Though I dialed back my tendancy to over-build, it is still significantly heavier than a T-7 handle or GB4 handlebar. The entire uni with stretched 29er tube, ISIS hub, light weight QUAX cranks, 14 ga spokes, spoke washers and nipple washers, airfoil rim, cycle computer and Maggie brakes weighs in at around 17 lbs.
I ride almost constantly on the bars, but if you need to ride hands-free for some reason, the mast does tend to look and feel silly waggling between your legs.
You’re very likely to get snarled up in the aero bars if you dismount forward, so you have to develop a habit of rear dismounts only - and lord help you if you UPD forward and don't instantly do the splits with your legs.
Not hard to see that the aero bars are gonna take the biggest hit in a hard UPD. They may get bent or just spin on their short mounting (handle??) bar, but Its hard to tell how they will hold up since I haven’t yet crashed it. . . . yet.
The forward riding position tends to rob your body of one of the key benefits of a more upright unicycle riding position; the ability to quickly correct balance to accommodate for road bumps and dips. It’s this reason that I didn’t adjust it for a true ultra low triathlon bike riding position. I also keep the arms not as fully extended forward to reduce the feeling of being over extended forward (though a sharper rider than I could adjust it out as far as they felt comfortable). IMHO< Lifelong uni riders and those with really well developed sense of balance should have no trouble accommodating this small reduction in control, similar to the way we get used to the reduction in control with shorter cranks. (BTW: I run 125 QUAX ISIS)
For what its worth, I really do think the KH 36 narrower hub is problematic if you like to do any off road riding. Losing so much width off of the hub results in a more flexy wheel thats fine for road riding, but seems weak for 36"er MUNI if thats your flavor of fun.
The other thing I noticed is that it’s easy to forget you are on one wheel after just a few minutes tucked up and riding on the handlebars. It feels like a road bike.
That looks pretty good. I have had the opportunity to try a similar setup with aerobars (eenwieler sander’s 36er), and it was quite comfortable. But there is some sillyness in the optics too… I think maybe one could shorten the handle a bit to make it a little less strange looking:). Oh, by the way, does that mean your previous handle is no longer being used? If that’s the case I might want to to buy that one from you. I mean the home made aluminum one with bar ends.
The one I’m selling now is this steel one based on a GB4 handle and rail adaptor. Still a sweet commuter set-up, but a level below the KH set-up in long range comfort. This is the post in the trading post for this and some other 36er stuff: 36" er garage sale, custom distance handle, Thomson seat posts, etc
I gave the aluminum bar end one to another rider here in Portland.
Wow, I would love to give that thing a try, It makes my handlebars look short
One question, Why did you go with rails? When I had a T7 the rails were the first thing the bend, then the plate broke. Sure the brace takes almost all the up/down stress off the rails but I still think a standard seatpost design is stronger and ultimately more adjustable (when you adjust the seat, the handle doesn’t move and vice versa.
I would be tempted to try a bike seat with that setup
Rails = adjustable angle with a bike seat post. I originally built this without the brace - opting to reinforce a rail adaptor bracket with six plate steel gussets that rinforce both the plate and the rails, partially seen in one of the pics (also see below) This attempt at a steel moment frame wasn’t stiff enough and I’d say would have broken the thomson post at the rail clamp if I kept riding it.
The brace works really well and now if I were to build again, I can forgo the tedious gussetting of the rail bracket.
I have ridden a t-7 handle and I’d agree that it is kind of a weak design, tho a Thomson post help shore up the bounce a bit.
Yes, I’ve thought about the bike seat bit too since the mast effectively keeps you from sliding forward while riding
I was going to ask what your plans were for bars on the KH36 when I saw that you were selling the other one. I’m interested in a handle for my KH36 but something suitable for both on road and off road, along the lines of a GB handle.
Some pics and video showing your new kit in action would be good to see.
That’s beautiful! As I’ve been riding on the road I’ve been thinking that I want something way out there to lean on… that seems to be just the ticket. I’m thinking that I’d somehow leave the existing T7 bars there, though, and simply extend the bottom horizontal bar like you did (without removing the original T7 handles). That way I could still ride upright in high gear on hills and things that make me have to push and pull on teh handle.
That setup sure would beat leaning over the T7 handle with your hands on the bars and your elbows squished up against your sides!
and @brycer, yeah, I welded my T7 too, and it made it WAY more stiff to put a gusset on the front bar where it attaches to the front plate, as well as another gusset at the 45° bend in the front bar. But it got messed up somehow, so now my leg and bike shorts ges sliced by the bottom right corner of that front plate where the front bar attaches to the rails. It sticks out too far now.
Haha! I can feel that already with my T7. All in all an interesting build. I’ll be curious to know about your long-term experience. And it would be nice to see a photo of someone riding the bowsprit uni.
this is a step forwards in big handlebars on unicycles
i alsow have a big handlebar setup and i must say i like it way better than a t7 bar.
yours looks very good.
i have seen those areo bars before at my local bicycle shop where i work but havent orderd them yet.
but now i see that it looks good i will order them i think, currently alsow working on a better handelebar setup.
does the tube helps much to stop the flex or is it just there to be sure its stiff?
only thing you may want next is a geared hub;)
I made a set of close-in handlebars that slide down and clamp on the mast close to the seat, but I haven’t used them much and didn’t like the extra weight for long rides. As you can see, its total re-purposing job with used bike parts on this one, so the weight is higher than I liked.