Seat Height for off road

Should the seat height be changed (lowered) for off road riding? I watched a lot of Muni videos and it seems that the riders knees don’t straighten out as far as pavement riders do. I’m new to the sport and love to not learn things the hard way and even more so when it involves the Family jewels.

Peoples’ seat height preferences tend to vary, but in general I think muni benefits from slightly lower saddle, because you spend a lot of time standing up on your feet on the pedals when going over obstacles or landing drops. Same with trials and street/flatland – lower saddle is easier to pull out for jumps and tricks.
Road riding and freestyle tend to be more of a ball-of-the-foot riding position, so the saddle is a little higher.
Just my own observation and experience. As previously mentioned, I think everyone has their own personal preference. Try different positions and see which works best for you.
Cheers! :slight_smile:

I want the seat as high as possible, and at the same time low enough so I can absorb small drops without hurting myself.

The rougher the ground, the more important it is to lower your seat. I don’t do hops and drops, but I ride Muni/cross country with my seat about an inch lower than I would for riding distance on the road.

Perfect…I was wondering an 1 inch or 2 or 4. Knowing just 1 inch works for you gives me a good starting point. Thanks

So does that mean you mostly stand on the pedals or also sit on the seat. Today with my ride I focused a bit more on getting up from the seat. 10K on a trials uni gave me saddle aches, but just putting weight on the pedals, instead of the seat is quite an energy eater. I suppose with a lower saddle it will also be easier to change to SIF while riding and back again.

I’m 54: I sit down whenever possible! But when riding off road, I will stand for steep ascents and for particularly tricky obstacles, deep mud, etc.

About an inch lower than for road is about right. Unless you go for steep downhill, in which case it’s probably 3 of 4 inches lower, if not more!

For downhill, I have it fairly low, it’s actually less about saving your balls, and more about “suspension travel” at that point. I really find having the seat high not as important as most people do, even for long distance riding.

There are several funny things about unicycling and seat height.

On a bicycle, there is an accepted rule that if you sit comfortably in your normal riding position, the heel of your cycling shoes should reach the pedal at the bottom of its travel with your leg straight but not having to stretch. For most people, that is the most efficient distance from seat to pedals. However, nearly all bikes have cranks that are 165 or 170 mm long.

On a unicycle, the cranks are usually shorter - often very much shorter. If you apply the same rule to set your seat height, it works, but you are only using the last bit of travel available in your muscles and joints. Reducing to the absurd, if you had 10mm cranks, your legs would barely bend at all, you’d ride by twitching your feet, and all those big leg muscles would not come into play.

Therefore, there is an argument for having a unicycle seat a bit lower, so that you use more of the central part of the available range of muscle ad joint movement.

Keeping the seat high helps with balance, but having it low helps with “suspension” when you need to stand up and use your legs as suspension to reduce the “unsprung weight” when going over rough ground and obstacles.

A lot of it is therefore down to a mixture of crank length, the type of ground you will be riding, and your personal riding style. Having your seat too low is tiring and inefficient for any sort of distance. I recommend to anyone, use the “bicycle rule” then lower the seat a little bit more, but not by the full difference between standard 170 mm bike cranks and your actual unicycle cranks. Then lower it a little bit more - maybe an inch - if you will be riding uneven ground, and further still if you are going to be hopping and dropping.

I learned this the hard way today. I had mine at the “bicycle rule” height and when I left the pavement onto uneven ground I got “popped” off the set pretty quick. :astonished:

Very interesting post, but I’m not sure I understand your point above. While the feet were twitching on the 10mm cranks, the legs would have to be made rigid, and the big leg muscles would come into play.

Yes, but they would not be generating useful power efficiently.

The “right” seat height is a mixture of functionality and personal preference. In other words, any rules we might put out may not be what works for some people.

Probably the area of unicycling where people run their seats the highest is Freestyle. You are generally riding on a smooth, flat surface (often a gym floor) so there are no terrain surprises. A high seat is helpful for lots of moves, but there are also some where you might need it lower.

The lowest seat types of unicycling are probably Trials and Street. You need lots of room to absorb the shock of landings, and to compress for jumps (though the largest jumps are probably done seat-in-front). People who do those activities for most of their riding often tend to ride with a much lower seat, even in other activities.

Road riding necessitates lowering your seat from the “default” beginner or Freestyle position, because there are bumps out there! Hit one with your pedals vertical, and you can lose your foot from the bottom pedal and possibly be unable to recover.

For Muni, the 1" guideline is a pretty good starting point. You know you’ll be riding on bumps, so you have to make room. From there, as your terrain gets rougher, or as your riding style gets more aggressive (and/or faster), you will probably want to go lower.

When I ride my local Clementine Loop in Auburn, the first part of the ride is mostly uphill and not so technical. I usually do that part with my seat a little higher, maybe more air in the tire, and often with my leg armor strapped to my Camelbak. But once I get to the top, it’s time to let a little air out, put on the padding and lower the seat some. A low seat kind of sucks for miles of uphill, and though I often don’t change it, it’s worth doing. Then, on the bumpy downhill, while trying to ride fast (I’m not in the league of today’s fast Muni racers), I need room for the uni to bounce up and down underneath me without causing harm or catipultation. :slight_smile:

Legs for slow, bumps and ups

I find I gotta break all the rules when off-roading. You know the standard rule: tall seat/short cranks, back straight, look forward for maximum machine like efficiency rule.

When fighting for balance on gopher hole pocked grass, steep ups and riding in rock quarry I can’t do that. I gotta drop the seat and put more weight on pedals. Also, go long cranks and sit light on the seat and lean forward, a lot.

Works for me. Might work for others. Keep on.

Last time I rode in a similar configuration (flat and up, then down, then flat again), I thought about the dual quick release seat clamps as a good idea. I know it’s easy to fetch the Allen wrench, but out of laziness, I never really do it.
They’re a bit heavier though, anyone using one here?

That’s not breaking the rules, that’s following the age old, succesfull recipe for rough terrain. George Peck did that, Kris Holm did that, it’s the standard practice since forever.

I have one on my 36 but seldom need to adjust the seat height.

I have a Hope Tech single lever clamp on my 24 and change the seat height now and again, but not often.

All of my unis have quick release seat clamps of one kind or another. I can see no reason not to.

My Oracle 36 came with the double quick release clamp and it didn’t last long. I found that if you didn’t tighten it enough the seat would twist if doing a quick jerk movement when riding. On the other hand I found that if you tighten it too much the clamp gets too stiff. In other words: in my opinion it was more hassle that it was worth so when it broke I bought a KH seat clamp instead (allen wrench type). I couldn’t be happier: it keeps the seat post properly clamped in place and it is very quick to change the height of the seat if needed (the allen wrench is only a tiny tool to carry with you after all).

I also have those seat clamps on some of my unis, but since I always ride with a small backpack, then I might as well have all needed Allen keys in there. Mostly I keep the saddle height the same, but occasionally I change to see if it makes a difference.