Who doesn't hold their seat for Muni?

I have watched plenty of videos of people riding and I am always surpsised of the amount of people who hold their seat whilst riding. Even when I am on the trickiest bits where I ride I see no advantage to holding the seat and if anything it makes it much harder!

I understand that you hold your seat when doing tricks but just for riding I don’t get it!

So why does everyone else does it?
Is there an advantage to it?
And who else (like me) doesn’t do it?


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Being fairly new (Nov. 2009) to unicycling. I have been practicing holding onto the seat handle while Muni-ing and my Pi Bar while on my 36-er. At first, I saw no advantage and it seemed to make me unstable but as I figure out the intricacies of it… I am realizing that it helps me control UPD-ing forward while going downhill and while sprinting. In addition, it’s forcing me to use my core and hips much more to maintain both fore and aft and side to side balance rather than my hands/arms which, by default, I use as a newbie.

In addition, it allows me to use slow sustained brake pressure when I need it for steep downhill muni control without feeling like I am losing my balance.

Almost everyone does it; the biggest advantage is that it helps you control the wheel so that you hit obstacles straight on. It’s also crucial for any hopping that you do.

The one really strong rider I’ve seen who doesn’t use the handle very much is Mike Tierney.

I see several advantages in holding the seat:

  1. The Uni can not turn because of bumps (you usually don’t hold the seat in position by pressing your legs against it, so it may turn a few degrees which can cause a UPD)

  2. Usage of brakes makes it necessary to hold the handle.

  3. If there is a “wheelspin” you can also prevent a UPD

  4. While riding technical trails you need as much pressure on the pedals as possible. Usually you stand up to achieve this and for further assistence you pull up on the seat to bring even more pressure on the pedals.

Holding the seat makes it less likely your feet will bounce off on any bumpy object or terrain. It’s hard to compare muni trails as they are different all over the world, so for a common example that everyone can visualize/try: stairs. Riding down a set of stairs is much easier than almost any muni terrain but it’s a good example of where holding the seat makes it easier.

Related to your question though, does anyone else switch which hand is holding the seat while muni riding? I find I instictively switch my hand depending on which way I’m losing my balance.


When climbing/descending you can apply greater force to the pedals by leveraging off holding the saddle (especially necessary on steep terrain).

It’s much easier to rolling hop while holding the saddle…

I’ve been on about ten rides now and I’m still feeling out how useful it is since I don’t have breaks. I find that it affords me a greater feeling of stability when I am going down hill and need a lot of leg control to keep from flying down the hill. I tend to press down on the seat with my palm when I feel like I losing control and it usually gives me that extra bit of pressure I need on my feet to keep myself on the uni. I’m not sure why this is but I don’t question it.

When I’m going slow down technical stuff I tend to use both my arms for balance and torque to turn the wheel around. I have yet to feel at all like holding the seat will help me maneuver obstacles cleanly (with the exception of drops, where it’s a confidence booster).

Now if someone can tell me how to keep the palm side of my knuckles from hurting like WHOA when training my hopping skills on my Torker DX, that would really help me out a lot. Using KH Pulse gloves (I really like them!) and I swear my hands are bruised after an hour of trying to hop.

I tend to use my left hand pretty exclusively to hold the seat (I’m right handed, so I’m not entirely sure if this is normal; I mount with my left foot) but I do switch every now and then if things get a little hairy. I just feel more comfortable balancing with my right arm waving around in the air, though I feel like I’d be able to hop better if I gripped my seat with my right hand. I’m not really sure what I am doing most of the time. :slight_smile:

Totally forgot this, too! This is 100% true, and what I think I meant to say up in my first paragraph: holding/pressing down on the seat really helps add some extra torque and stability while climbing up hills.

It helps you and your Uni be one, which is the ultimate goal now isn’t it?

Thanks for all the great replies. Unfortunately I live in a rather boring part of the UK for unicycling so I haven’t had many steep unicycle trails to ride on.

I will definitely try this out a bit more before I get myself a magura…


On the steepest of hills I hold onto the seat with both hands and pull up as hard as I can while pushing down on the back pedals and slowing myself down cos I don’t have a brake. The French have got quite a good idea for preventing breakages on old seats from this- they strap the front handle to the frame using a rigid strap and it holds it steady like a stiffener plate.

I quite often shift hand positions on my 36"- sometimes riding no hands, often riding with both hands on the KH bar and sometimes one on the KH handle and one on the bar, or just one on the KH handle. After a while you need your arms less for balance and it helps to use them as an extra connection with the unicycle, as well as reducing flailing movements by keeping them in place. I switch hands instinctively too during MU James- the KH handle is good for that.

Me and Kevin found the other day that holding the seat was not the most efficient way to ride in the snow in the crater of Taranaki- and by having both arms out we rode furthest without falling. Most other MU situations feel the opposite where holding the seat seems to help more - like riding down the scoria.

When I had an airseat I found that holding the handle was even more important because the airseat gives you less of a connection with the unicycle through your bum than a more solid seat. The reeder handle I had on my CF airseat made it harder to switch hands cos of the handle orientation but it still worked with either hand.

For steeper climbs and descents holding and pulling up on the seat is a big help for me. That said, I’ve found some instances where leaving both hands free made riding easier.

It wasn’t instinctive for me, but after some practice I also find it very effective to switch my holding hand based on the way I want to lean.

When I first started riding I would try to hold the seat but I was too wobbly. Later I began to hold on with my left hand on occasion. Now I almost always hold on with my left hand. It really helps on most climbs:). I find that when the climb becomes almost too steep to manage, I let go and use both arms for balancing. I’m hoping that I will get to the point where I can hold on to the seat in those steeper places since it would be helpful to power up the hard stuff. I get irritated when I can’t get up the steep sections without a UPD :angry: .

At first, riding the uni is enough, and you need your arms free, especially over the bumps.

Holding the seat becomes a challenge. One of various things to practise, like riding with your arms folded, or your hands clasped behind your back.

But when you can do that confidently, holding the seat becomes natural, and makes riding not only easier, but a more spiritual experience. Holding the front of the seat lightly gives you subtle feedback about what is happening to the uni.

Pulling hard on the seat is only for steep hills, up or down, when it can give you extra leverage or control.

And eventually you reach a stage where taking your hand off the seat for a tricky section becomes a “style fault” and you curse yourself, even though no one else knows.

You don’t ride a unicycle, you dance with it. It’s good to hold hands with your dancing partner.

Riding real MUni without holding the lift handle not only limits your ability to hop, jump, gap, and have more control and stability…it just looks kindof “noobish”, imo. Most everyone I’ve ever seen riding off road (or on) without both hands always free and flailing about, are almost ALWAYS new to MUni and usually just learning, without a lot of saddle time. They usually learn to hold the lift handle as they get better, and get a feel for it and how much it benefits them. :slight_smile:

There are plenty of cases where not holding the handle is better. Two examples I have found are…

  1. riding a narrow log/path
  2. riding in snow - it is easier to control the slide and stay balanced without using the handle I have found on my brief adventure down Lookout Mountain in the snow.

Holding the handle definitely helps for climbs, downhills, rolling obstacles, etc.

I am hands-free on rock-free sections of trail. There is a big advantage to using the handle on steep uphills to get that extra torque on the downstroke to get you through the “dead-zone”. For steep downhill, I am off the saddle, using my legs as shock absorbers, so holding the handle is required.

Terrific question and a breadth of responses …
It just feels natural to me to hold the seat front on a MUni ride.

It all depends. On typical smooth trails i don’t hold the handle. On steep downhills I hold to help keep contact with my muni. On slippery or rocky technical sections I hold the handle to help maintain control. i’ve found that the more bold and experienced that I get… the more I hold on.

It’s funny. I noticed a lot of people mentioning holding the seat for uphills. i can’t picture doing that. i tend to stand up on the pedals and almost pump my arms with my legs. i still ride like a bit of a noob though as our season is pretty short up here. Does anyone have any video of hill climbing while holding the seat?

This is the Famous Fargo street in Los Angeles. It is one of the steepest hills in the US at 33% grade! Many people can barelywalk up the hill, let alone ride up it on ONE WHEEL! I would not have stood a chance without holding the lift handle to stabilize and control my half-revving.