SIF, muni and handle saddles

Lately I’ve been practicing riding SIF a lot, (great leg workout), and have been making good progress. On my trials uni sif works great with the trials handle saddle because it’s just a barely padded handlebar both front and back. It’s not comfortable, but you can grab that thing any way you like. On my muni however I have a medium handle saddle and it does not seem to be well suited at all to grabbing it by the back of the saddle, especially not with a saddlebag mounted below it.

What I’ve been practicing is riding sif while holding the front of the saddle instead. My thinking here is that it will make it easier to switch the skills to the muni later. It’s a little harder to ride this way, but very easy to transition back and forth between sif and normal riding.

How many of you actually use sif when riding muni and for those that use handle saddles what’s your experience with riding them sif?

Sif riding is to me a flatland/street or trials skill. I learned it just because it looked fun but realized that it is pretty useless unless you’re gonna be doing big jumps where you need full leg extension or lots of flatland/street tricks. I suppose trials oriented muniing could require sif sometimes but for typical muni I wouldn’t think it a necessary skill. One footed riding for those times when a foot bounces off a pedal is a far more useful skill for muni in my opinion.

My muni is defined as rolling cross country so I don’t understand the need for sif.
It’s a trials skill that really only gets used on the smaller wheels.

That being said, I have tried it twice on my 29 and both times found it easy to go from handlebars to my left hand on the front side and my right hand on the rear of the seat. Pedalled a few revolutions and got back on the seat.
This was on pavement though and I was just trying it to see if I could.

I think it was easier for me because I’ve been riding with handlebars forever and it felt similar to riding, while standing, with handlebars.
… and I use the Force.

I’ve been practicing it because it seems like it should be a way to hop higher and it seems to be a core part of trials. I’ve got no interest in actually competing in trials, but I’d sure like to be able to do a little bit of what they do. Hopping over medium sized obstacles would be a sweet skill to have.

Learning SIF on the trials uni was pretty simple, but it seems to be about an order of magnitude more difficult on the bigger wheel.

I’d recommend to learn rolling hops if you want to hop higher on a Muni. I’ve never even considered using SIF on my Muni, but can get over most objects on the trail (30cm or so without much prep, 75cm with perfect run-up) just fine.

I’m fighting back a snarky remark about unicycling being practical.

I suppose some riders view technique as a means to an end, while other riders consider it an end on its own. In my own experience, experimentation has produced many improvements in riding, but the improvements were not always direct or immediate. Sometimes, just learning something new is enough, it doesn’t have to translate into a measurable outcome.

SIF on my 20" is much easier than on my 24", despite the relative closeness in sizes. Part of the reason may be due to the longer cranks on my 24".

I’m not sure on the physics of it, but the difference in difficulty riding SIF between my 19" and my 27.5" is extreme. I can ride 200m+ SIF using a forward grip on the handle saddle of the 19". It’s basically a matter of when my legs become too weak to continue that I have to stop. On the 27.5 I have problems getting two revolutions. On the 27.5 I generally grip across the center of the saddle. The forward grip just gives less control, despite having a great gripping surface. Across the center gives a reasonable grip and is closer to my body, while the back of the saddle gives a terrible grip.

I’ll guess that the teeny weeny wheel keeps your balance spectrum small and it’s easy to personhandle the wheel to suit the needed correction for balance.
Your body doesn’t need to be in the perfect position and you can be sloppy.

The larger wheel has a larger balance spectrum and this makes it harder to personhandle just the wheel to the correction position.
Now the body position comes more in to play as it has to be in the exact correct position to complement the corrective action with the wheel.


You have worse leverage between your hands on the saddle, feet on the pedals and tire contact patch the larger the wheel is - that’s the physics you have to fight.

I’m pretty sure you’re right about that. I also think the higher center of gravity and the greater weight of the wheel make it harder to make quick corrections.

Or maybe not! I had a bit of a breakthrough today and suddenly SIF on the 27.5 just clicked and I was able to ride about 100m. It’s still harder than on the smaller wheel, but I was doing it. Now if only I could have the same kind of breakthrough riding backwards.

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For me, different techniques have different learning curves. For example, wheel-walking took many of hours of practice, and the learning curve was quite linear and shallow. Maybe that is the case with you and backward riding; the progression is linear, it’ll take a lot of practice, and you won’t necessarily have a “breakthrough” moment.

SIF and BW riding are related for me. I learned BW riding the conventional way, with hands out. However, once I improved at 2-handed SIF, I was able to incorporate that into my backward riding. I can trace a pretty accurate BW figure-8 while riding two-handed SIF. I’ve trained myself never to throw my hands up for balance during a UPD, and that means I avoid awkward UPDs.

The best advice I ever followed was from Jamey Mossengren (@unicycle6869). I rode with him as a beginner muni rider, and he told me to work toward getting both hands on the bar ends / grab handle. As a result of following his advice, I can now ride 100+ feet along a curb and perform L and R pirouettes and ride BW up and down hills in the “4-points” position (2 hands holding on, both sit bones firmly on the seat).

Keep experimenting, @Duff!