My first unicycle, a Pashley UMX, had a very crude seat which consisted of a slightly curved oblong of metal, 2 inches (50mm wide) with an oblong block of foam on top, all covered by thin nylon cloth. It was horrible. The padding was useless, so it was like sitting on a metal bar. the cloth covering tore. Eventually, I found a longer than normal bicycle seat from a child’s bike and found that better, but not perfect.
When I bought my second unicycle, 15 years later, I was well impressed by the Viscount seat - clearly a purpose made and well designed piece of unicycle equipment. The detachable bumpers were a nice touch, I thought.
Then I was surprised to read in this forum that many people find the Viscount to be a horrible seat. Perhaps it’s perspective: anything woul be better than my first seat. However, I kept reading about the wonderful Miyata seat, and I realised there were options.
My next saddle was a Velo (without the handle) and just recently I bought a Miyata.
So, to help anyone who’s thinking of upgrading, here are some comparisons.
The Viscount has a glued on cover, which means if you tear it, it’s torn, and that’s it. It also means fitting a handle means spoiling the look of the saddle a bit - you have to remove the front part of the cover and glue it back on. Also, I guess an air seat conversion is difficult.
The Viscount has removable bumpers, front and rear, held in place with self-tapping screws. These easily work loose, so much of the time you find at least one screw is missing. This is irritating, but you can cure it by using nuts and bolts.
The cover of the Viscount is smooth vinyl, and the saddle has a curved profile, so it’s easy to position yourself so that your anatomy is er… comfortably divided… and chaffing is seldom a problem. I find the Viscount most comfortable if positioned as far forward as possible on the post, which tips the saddle’s nose up a bit. The saddle is good for up to an hour of sit-down road riding, but later stints on the same day get shorter and shorter. I’ve managed just a shade under 2 hours without a dismount… but I knew about it afterwards!
The VELO was an impulse purchase, a luxury item. I bought it without a handle because that’s the one the shop had.
The foam is much deeper. This makes the saddle higher, which means you need less seat post showing. In extreme cases, this could be a problem for riders with short legs. At first, the saddle seems very comfortable, almost like an armchair. However, I find two comfort problems with it. First, it’s a bit wide at the back, which means that there is too much weight on the wrong part of my ‘sit bones’. This may be a personal thing. For comparison, I’m male, 5’7" (170cm), slim build and 145 Pounds approx. (66kg.).
The second problem is exclusively male. On a long ride, I find that as my main body weight sinks into the foam, the thick foam at the front lifts my danglies and pushes them up into a most uncomfortable position indeed. I will not provide weight or other measurements for comparison…
So I find that the VELO is not good for long rides. I did 40 miles (64km) on the 28 the other day, and half way through the ride, the second problem described above was what made me turn back. It was enough to inspire me to buy a Miyata a couple of days later.
The VELO is well made, and the bumpers are attached with stout nuts rather than screws. The whole look is of a much better wuality piece of kitthan the Viscount. Part of the cover is cloth rather than vinyl, which means it attracts and holds dirt, so perhaps it’s not ideal for off road riding. The cover is stapled on. I believe a handle is available. Without the handle, the seat is too short to pull up on the front on hills etc. By comparison, the Viscount is longer and provides a good place to grab and pull even if you don’t have a handle.
So, the VELO beats the Viscount on quality and durability, but not on comfort or practicality.
And the Miyata? It’s a smaller, more stylish seat. It weighs about 2.6 pounds compared to the Viscount’s 3 pounds (these weights include the standard length seat post. It certainly feels lighter.
The Miyata is much shallower, with less padding. However, it isn’t uncomfortable. I managed an hour and 15 the other day with only one very brief dismount to retie my shoe lace. The total ride was 2 1/2 hours and at the end, seat discomfort was not a major problem - I put a short extra loop on the ride, rather than taking the most direct route tothe car. On balance, though, Ithink the Miyata is slightly less comfortable than the Viscount. It feels thinner and the profile feels ‘squarer’, so your weight is mainly supported on two small parts of your sit bones.
The Miyata caused none of the love-plum problems which arose with the VELO.
The Miyata has a moulded plastic handle which is nicely designed for holding when riding, and is strong enough to pull up on. However, you can’t really lean on it to take the weight off your backside because it’s too flexible. The Viscount wins out on this last point, as it is long enough torest the heel of your hand on the front to lift your weight.
Although the Miyata handle is nice, there are two things I’d say: it’s soft plastic, which means it may scratch and develop sharp edges if you UPD on concrete, and it doesn’t give as much control as a proper metal handle. This is partly the flexibility, and partly because a metal handle tends to stick further forwards.
The Miyata’s cover is held on with metal clips. This means that it looks like you can strip and replace the cover fairly easily. The Miyata is clearly a good quality piece of kit.
The Miyata needs a different seat post. On the plus side, the post is marked with little lines so it’s easy to readjust the height exactly. On the minus side, the seat post appears to allow for no adjustment of the position of the saddle fore and aft. then again, i always have my Viscount saddles in exactly the same position, so perhaps one ‘right’ position ismore important than a range of ‘wrong’ positions.
And of the three?
For MUni, when you’re not sitting for long periods, the combination of the strong metal base of the Viscount, and a good handle probaly wins.
For distance riding, possibly the Viscount or the Miyata, but definitely not the VELO. I prefer the Miyata with the handle to the Viscount without for cross country.
For freestyle, trials etc.? I’m not really qualified to comment in detail, but my gut feeling is the lightness of the Miyata, and the good ‘pull up’ handle would win out.