Riding Cambered Roads

Okay gang I know the ultimate answer - more saddle time but was wondering if someone had some pointers.

I have a Titan 36 with the Nightrider tire. I got it July 20th and have ridden it pretty much every day since between 5-30 miles on our trails so I feel comfortable on it…until I’m riding on a steeply cambered road which seems common on many stretches of our county roads. I’ve read past threads about tire pressure and I’ve tried air pressures from 35 to 65 and nothing seems to make it comfortable. I find the unicycle tracks straightest when I lean towards the center of the road with the unicycle leaning with the camber. Not extreme but enough to make it just plain tiring and not much fun.

Any pointers? Would a handlebar make a difference?

Thanks in advance.

Todd

I just find myself uncomfortably twisting, and haven’t found a solution. Apparently the more rounded your tyre, the less the effect.

Good question, I’ve been looking at the effects of tire profile also. You’re Nimbus Nightrider tire has a quite a square profile. My Coker Non-Skid tire has a totally round profile so I’m on the opposite end of the scale. It is not effected at all by road camber but it does not turn small circles nearly as well as a more square profiled tire. I have to do some major jerky air swimming to do a u-turn on the road. The nightrider tire should be able to do smooth small circles and u-turns very easily. I’m thinking that the more square profiled tire is more effective at slight changes in direction by just shifting the hips to the left or right but I don’t know that for sure. So there seems to be advantages and disadvantages to each style of tire and I don’t know if there is a happy midpoint.

Just to be clear, does your unicycle tend to turn up the cambler and toward the center high point of the road? I’ve read both on this forum but I’m thinking that it would tend to trend turn up hill.

In your case I’ve read different suggested solutions including; changing to another tire, running lower pressure (as low as 25 PSI), ride on the other side of the road and turning your saddle a little on the frame.

I wonder if you could add some ballast weight on the left side of the frame or someplace on your person? Maybe a weight that could be shifted from the center line to the side as needed. Maybe a backpack that you could shift to the left when needed.

I don’t know but I’d would be interested in how experienced rider deal with it.

Jim

Ride the center line

The roads in your neighborhood are some of the worst I’ve ever ridden. I found riding the center line to be the most effective way to deal with camber except on banked corners, then riding the outside pavement edge of the corner usually works best.

My wife always recommends switching sides of the road when I’ve complained about knee issues on cambered roads. I’ve tried switching sides and it does help. Might work for you.

Joe Myers

P.S. - You already have found the solution. Try moving the seat over against the outside leg/thigh. Usually if you raise up and pull the saddle/seat toward the direction of the camber the saddle/seat will move a tiny little bit. This will help reduce the amount of body angle needed to keep balanced with the contact point of the tire near perpendicular to the camber so the wheel will roll straight.

PM me if you continue having problems or start fighting knee issues.
Have fun,
Joe Myers

2 Likes

LOL… I was hoping one of the STP riders would chime in because honestly I have no idea how you guys did it after getting out on some the roads in our area on the route. The STP is on my bucket list but seems impossible if I’m to ride the fog line.

Jim,
The nightrider tire is not very square but from pictures the Coker certainly looks more rounded. Does your Coker really have the “NON SKID” printed tread?

Overall it sounds like once again - more saddle time!

Road camber sucks, especially when I climb and decend for miles. i just suckit up and tough out the darn thing. The pleasure of unicycling is that most of the times it doesnt come easy. I beat myself up just to feel good afterwards…sounds a little sadistic though.

Here is what helps for me…
Slightly lowering psi,
lowering saddle so your torso an angle properly to the road,
Practice riding with arms behind back on flat roads with or without camber. It squares out my upper and forces me to use hips more for control.

Having both hands on the seat handle also forces you to use the hips for control. You don’t necessarily need to have your arms behind your back. I got better at it by riding with both hands on a T-bar, which is more comfy than both hands on the handle of the seat.

I’ll second JimT, in that I’ve always found round profile tyres to be much easier than square profile to ride on cambers.

Early 1900’s automobile non-skid tires did have a NON-SKID tread. The so called Coker non-skid tires have COKER in the tread.

Jim

Jim,

My dad has an antique motorcycle with the “non-skid” tread. I have attached a picture of the Nightrider tire for comparison. The Coker definitely looks more round.

I just went out and rode the road at 25 psi just to experiment. What I found is it didn’t make it better, just more sluggish so the reaction to differing camber slopes was slower.

The other portion of the ride I rode with both hands on the seat handle as suggested. It was evident that I need more seat time. I thought I kept my arms pretty still and pedaled pretty smooth but that exercise showed me different.

Todd

Here’s something that I think works.
I use it in an off-road (mountainbike/hiking trails) sense but I bet it works on road camber too. I also use handlebars which makes this easier.

If I’m riding on a trail that is sloped down to the right I will slightly pull on the right handlebar and push on the left. I can do the same thing if I grab both handlebar ends (or between them) with one hand and twist clockwise.

If it slopes down to the left then I would pull left hand and push with the right. Causing a counter-clockwise force on the handlebars.

This seems to take the pull of the slope away slightly. I find the slope tends to pull me to the uphill side so I pull the wheel downhill to counteract this.

Let’s see if this makes sense to anyone else.

1 Like

If all you are doing is riding the camber, I would slightly twist my seat TOWARDS the direction it is being pulled. This points the frame/tire to the desired direction.
I once was riding a bike lane that had a lot of camber. I was trying to lift myself off the seat to sit askew. It helped a little, but was still a fight.

If you are riding a variety of slopes, I can’t help you.

The more I struggle and become more competent with muni and climbs, the much lesser of an issue road camber is. I always look at it this way, it maybe a pain in the ass, but in the end, its always a good challenge😁

Earlier, today’s ride on the g36, 127mm, with arms in the back for 10 miles was simply awesome, for me anyway… it really smoothed out my cadence, with nearly zero back pressure corrections. I regained my “sticky pedal” feeling, meaning, my shoe grip never feels “floaty”, and sloloms effortlessly with the slightest shift of weight. Also, regained my experience of the perpetual falling foward, to gain great amount of speed without sacrificing much control. I was able to effectively lean way forward, with good control, and zipped through the gravel trails filled with gopher holes, with or without bar. ( those gophers were running for their lives :slight_smile:
At first it feels unstable, but when you get warmed up and relaxed, it’s all control at the knees, ankles, and hips. So when youre proficient at it, your arms and handlebar becomes extra control, extra balance apparatus, when the terrain gets rough and calls for it.

Versus, being used to relying on the handlebar and feeling hadicapped without the use of them. (Dont get me wrong, the bar is great and I like using it)

Arms behind back definitely works for me (might not work for everbody) .
Especially when switching to an unfamiliar wheel or crank size. Im soon to be back on the 110 and the 88s are crazy challenging fun, freemounting can be tricky though, much better done with a rolling mount than static mount.

I’d be interested to know what saddle you’re using and what angle you have it set to for barless riding. I use a Zero set horizontally, which is great with the bars but lacking in control and comfort when I’m hands-free.

Yesterday my g36 ride was nice but in most of the last 1/3 I was feeling the camber of the curbs so bad.
On this g36 I have a King George tire on a nimbus stealth2 rim (42mm), kh frame.
On my ungeared 36er I have a nightrider tire on a old qu-ax thin rim that has pretty much a V shape. The frame is an old chromed qu-ax frame.

I feel camber more on the g36 than on the ungeared 36er, I don’t know why : tire? Rim? Tube? Schlumpf hub? frame? Rim brakes?

I have a kh freeride saddle and long and short handlebar on both, I hold my handlebars with both hands 99% of the time when I ride.
Before getting the hang of holding a handlebar with both hands, when I rode with my arms free I used them for balance purpose and I was twisted all the time, with or without actual camber.
now when I ride with my hands free I don’t use my arms for balance and I am no more twisted.

Back to my yesterday ride: near the end I was encountering cambers a lot more than on the other parts of the ride and felt it pretty much when holding the handlebar, short or long one, but when I released the bar (free arms) it was a bit better.

I also played with the amount of air. With both 36ers but I don’t have any conclusion for now.
I tried max PSI on the KG tire but still felt the camber, maybe less than when I removed some air latter in the ride.
I suspect the larger rim, but i’d have to swap tires between my two 36ers to be sure it doesn’t come from the tire.

Another detail: I use a schwalbe 29er tube on the qu-ax ungeared 36er and a michelin butyl (even lighter :170gm) on the g36.
The michelin tube is not supposed to fit a 2.25" tire, it’s a 29x35/47 tube. 47mm=1.85"
I don’t know if it plays a role in the behavior of the tire.
of course it inflates to the tire’s dimension but is it torn or something more than the schwalbe tube when a roar/curb is cambered? I don’t know

The schwalbe tube (on the 36er that is less prone to road camber) is a AV19 60-622 compatible, so it fits 2.35" tires.

Edit: and here is the King George 36x2.25 tire:
less square than the NR, but less round than the Cocker.
now, when I’m seating on my uni, even with max PSI (50 PSI) the surface in contact with the floor is flat anyway.

When inflated to the max I feel like it’s ok with reasonably cambered surfaces, but beyond a certain degree it suddenly become sensitive to camber.
contrary to the cocker tire that is round everywhere, the KG and NR has limited area where it’s more or less round, but then there is a gap .

Thanks for all the replies guys…but… I was sure hoping someone would post “Just get more saddle time and in a few months you won’t even notice road camber” :slight_smile:

But then again, after being an avid cyclist for years I guess the challenge of these things while out riding is what is keeping me so engaged with unicycling. My bikes now have flat tires and are gathering dust.

Todd

I probably ride with less than 35lbs, and softer seems less sensitive to camber.

I think tire shape is a factor, but I know “roadies” who use all different tires and seem to have conquered the camber problem. I haven’t ridden the Coker Non-Skid, but the old Button tire was better on camber (though worse on wear).

That weight would be the actual rider. No sense adding extra, non-functional weight, especially if the camber is going to move around (like on my local bike path).

I think those are good, though the hands-behind-back thing can also be practiced by using both hands on a handlebar if you have one.

For those not familiar with the Coker company, they make tires, including lots of specialty ones for antique cars. Their button tread is a classic design that can be seen on old cars in museums, probably all around the world!

That can also work, but you may have to adjust if the camber switches sides or intensity. Just a slight twist of the seat, not more than 5 degrees or so.

Of course. and what did those riders do during those few months? Probably variations on the above. I think that what works best for me is leaning into it, as described above. It also seems to help me by pushing down/forward on the handle I need to turn toward. Presumably this has a countersteering effect; pushing left handle forward pushing bottom of tire to the right, which puts the uni into a left lean.

Best advice I’ve ever read for camber!
I went for a ride shortly after reading it and put it to practice. I love it. I didn’t quite remember which way I should twist the bars so I experimented and quickly understood that it’s a natural way to point the shoulders in a direction (twisting clockwise made my upper torso turn to the left) or in the other (twisting ccwise pointed my shoulders to the right). Which also helped me figure out the best use of bars when turning, something I had not quite worked out - honestly, why would one twist the bars to turn, especially after years of biking/motorcycling!

I think I ended up doing the opposite of Canoeheadted’s suggestion - on a camber to the right, I would push down the right bar whilst pulling up the left, effectively making my torso turn left, against the slope then. Made sense to me as the slope would want to drag me to the right.

1 Like

After seeing a post from earlier today about twisting the seat for road camber I thought I would give an update on this thread I started back in November when cambered roads were kicking my butt.

Joe Myers (bundeejoe) has been a huge help to me in my understanding what is happening. As a professional engineer, it made sense to me but it has just been taking a while for me to get used to it.

There has been discussion of which way the wheel wants to turn, up the slope or down the slope? The wheel wants to turn up the slope and yes I understand some disagree but read on to see why it feels that way.

As Joe pointed out, the wheel will turn towards which ever angle it is leaning (and this is the important part) from a line perpendicular to the surface. So if you have the wheel straight up and down on a slope, it wants to turn up the slope. The trick is to get the wheel as perpendicular with the slope as possible so it doesn’t want to turn upwards.

                                          ..OR....

Wheel turns up the slope, next pedal stroke you turn it down the slope which ends up being a cat and mouse game but it works. The people who twist the seat make this easier.

I’m still relatively new at unicycling and I can turn left a lot better than right. Tight left turns no problem. It hasn’t been the same for me turning right. Heck I used to feel like I was twisted 90 degrees on the seat to the right and the unicycle would still go left! So for me, camber roads sloping down to the left was easier because the wheel wanted to the climb slope to the right and each stroke I would correct it to the left without much thought. Cambers to the right were impossible. I’d end up all twisted and UPD.


Back to getting the wheel perpendicular to the surface. Lets say the camber slopes down to the right. You have to get the unicycle seat, and therefore your hips to the right. For me it is easier for me to just think to lean my shoulders left which makes my hips go right. I believe this leaning uphill is why some believe the wheel wants to turn down the hill. After all you are leaning left and on flat ground leaning left makes you turn left. In this case, your hips are just to the right to make the wheel more perpendicular to the surface. And just when you think oh that’s easy enough you find out if you lean too far left, suddenly your center of gravity is not over the wheel contact point and the wheel will turn left! Exactly what you were trying to get it not to do. Hey but isn’t that really the fun of unicycling?

I attached a couple pictures I took while out on my lunchtime ride today on a tight 50 mph corner that has lots of camber. You will notice that when going away from the camera with it sloped to the left, I’m not leaned over as much. As mentioned above, I can correct the right turning tendency easily. With the picture of me coming at the camera, the camber is to the right. I have to lean the unicycle a lot more because I’m not as fluid in making the needed correcting right turn. It should end up being a nice combination of the two…with practice!! Can’t wait!

Regards,

Todd Mason

1 Like

Great explanation with photo backup Todd.
Can definitely see what your explaining!