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Old 2012-03-17, 11:41 PM   #1
napalm
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The ultimate Muni Enduro seat.

Hey everyone. I have been riding unicycles now for around 10 years and in that time I have witnessed an amazing level of development in relation to mountain unicycling gear. When I first started riding the first gen KH unicycles had just come out, before that you pretty much had to make your own muni (or buy a shitty overpriced pashley and import it from the US). Generally, the choices were limited to what you could appropriate from MTB gear or get make yourself. My first Muni, a custom 24x3 with profile hub/cranks and one off frame cost nearly as much as my current KH/schlumpf G24!

One area of development that has been interesting has been that of saddles, and more recently handlebars. In the last few years I have been getting into long distance off road riding and my interest in making the best saddle set up has increased as the distances in my races have. For many, the existing seats on the market may suit your needs. In the multiple 50/100km MTB races I have competed in- I feel new aspects of the saddle come into play that need to be addressed to make these races as enjoyable as they should be. My starting point in the development of this seat you are reading about now is a 2007 KH freeride seat.

The 2007 kh freeride seat was a big step forward in terms of seat design. It had a much flatter profile than all the seats before it, a relief channel for your nerves in those sensitive areas, a good front bumper with ergonomic grip. It did have its problems though. The foam used was quite soft and spongy meaning with rider weight (+ a few kgs in a camel back) the relief channel deformed too easily and was not as effective as it could have been. The seat was bulky and very tall, meaning that there was unnecessary leg contact with the side of the seat in pedalling motion which could lead to chaffing, and the plastic base of the seat would (given enough vigorous hill climbing and front bumper reefage) snap in two.

The solution to some of these problems could be found in the CF seat bases that were being built by companies like UDC. However, the CF bases were moulded to the same curve as the KH seats, meaning the issues of seat height, and curve would remain. I ran my 2007 foam on a UDC CF seat base for a few years and really liked it- it is the set up I took to UNICON XV and it worked well for the Muni tour of the south Island I did after the comp too.

It was around this time that I started to do much longer rides than I had been used to. This was primarily because I wanted to see what was achievable with a Geared mountain unicycle. The first addition to my saddle set up was a 2 prong handlebar (old lollypop bearing unicycle frame) clamped to a KH rail adapter. I ditched the KH front bumper in favour of this handle set up and mounted the Magura HS33 brake on the right hand side of the fork. The extra control and efficiency afforded by having a substantial handle on a Gmuni was amazing. The only downside of this set up was the weight. The steel frame combined with the KH rail adapter (which in itself is fairly bulky) ends up weighing more than my actual KH unicycle frame!

All the time while I was doing this other seats were hitting the market that looked interesting. The Impact Naomi was very low profile, but still maintained a curve and had no cut away. The KH fusion street was low profile, fairly flat and had a small cut away. I decided my foam needed replacement so went and got a KH fusion slim saddle to try out.

When I got it I was disappointed to see that the curve in the seat base was exactly the same as the UDC CF seat base. The seat cover and firm, low profile foam looked good though. After finding that both bases had the same curve, I decided to stick with my CF base to save weight and also because I had plans to mount a new version of my handle directly to the seat base.

I can no longer understand why having a substantial curve in a seat base is important (especially if you are using a handlebar to help with manoeuvring and control). I decided to mod my seat with a wedge of light weight balsa wood to help kill off some of the crotch cupping in the seat base. Because of the thin, firm foam of the KH street saddle I decided to carve the relief channel into the balsa wood as well, slice down the foam channel in the street foam, and glue the flaps into the balsa wood channel.

The result of all this is a relatively flat, low profile seat with firm foam that supports your weight on your sit bones and a relief channel that actually works. The next step in the development of my seat was to replace the ghetto handle/rail adapter with a cleaner set up. After approaching a few engineers and machining firms I decided the most cost effective way to go about this was to get a small stainless steel plate welded to the neck of the unicycle frame with the bolt pattern for the old KH front bumper. I initially wanted to get it made of Alu but could not find a place that was able to heat treat it for me after welding. This set up still manage to cut a lot of weight. For one, I was able to get rid of the heavy steel rail adapter (by using a top piece of a KH adjustable seat post with my Thomson- thanks NurseBen for the piece!). I also drilled out the arms of the handle cheese grater style and was able to cut off the excess material that constituted the neck of the unicycle frame/handle.

Review:
So I have now been riding this set up now for about 6 weeks (400km approx) and can say a few things about it. Firstly, the whole set up is noticeably lighter. I know it is not as important as rotational weight- but I can feel the difference in how heavy the unicycle is overall. I am now really excited to see what it is going to feel like once I get to build it up into a lighter 26” wheel (2.4 Ardent folding bead with Tubeless) in the next few weeks.
The handle is unfortunately not as stiff as it used to be- You can feel a small amount of flex in the CF seat base when you are really cranking on the handle in big climbs. Because of the new play in the system I was initially a bit scared of using the handle like I used to- I didn't want to snap my seat base in half mid way through a ride! But with time, my confidence in the design has grown and I am riding it now like I used to ride my old one. It has also survived a number of nasty high speed single track crashes and the CF base shows no signs of damage from it.
The foam is firm and offers support where it is needed. With a good set of cycling nics and some chamoix cream I've happily done 66km of tough single track without any discomfort. It would be nice if the flatness of the seat continued all the way to the front of the saddle. The upward lift of the saddle towards the front is not ideal- but better than any other saddle i've seen on the market.

If money was no object and I had the connections to do it, I think that it would be cool to machine a dead flat seat base out of aluminium (or mould a new CF base) that has the relief channel as part of the base. The seat post hardware could be located in the submerged channel and all you would need is some high density foam and a cover and you'd be laughing. A 4 bolt pattern on the front could be used for attaching the handle of your choice/design.

Get out and ride!
Mark
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Last edited by napalm; 2012-03-17 at 11:43 PM.
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Old 2012-03-18, 04:48 AM   #2
Nurse Ben
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That's pretty flat, get any hot spots yet?

I'm consider doing something along those lines, but I'm going to use some minicell foam and contact cement to beef up the base under the factory foam. My biggest grip is how the low point in the seat tends to put a lot of pressure on the jewels. If you get the right fit, you should glass the wood to the seat.
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Old 2012-03-18, 05:53 AM   #3
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Yet another great write up Mark! Do you ever feel the balsa when doing drops or anything?
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Old 2012-03-18, 07:38 AM   #4
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Old 2012-03-18, 03:55 PM   #5
leo
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That's funny; I was thinking about doing the same!

I have a Axel base and Naomi seat, and that combination is... sligthly too flat!
Though I find yours VERY think; too thick I think.
I was thinking about using the thin foam, like used in traditional window-framing. It's too soft for suspention, but enough for some lifting.
I also don't want to have the edges too sharp.

Anyway, in general I think it's an idea worth a try.
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Old 2012-03-18, 06:30 PM   #6
MrImpossible
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That's pretty cool, I'd been thinking about trying to flatten out the curve of my KH seat with some kind of filler, too. Balsa wood sounds like a great idea since it's so light and easy to work.
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Old 2012-03-18, 06:33 PM   #7
DavidHood
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Quote:
Originally Posted by napalm View Post
machine a dead flat seat base out of aluminium (or mould a new CF base) that has the relief channel as part of the base
a base with a built-in relief channel (instead of making it out of foam) is a really good idea. I have the "stock" KH fusion slim saddle atop a Shadow handlebar (allows for a 4 x 6 degree adjustment via an integral high tensile bolt) with the pivotal seat post in it's highest (front up, back down) setting on my geared 36er for road distance. I "learned to ride" on an Impulse with the Nimbus Gel saddle so the relief channel "for nerves in those sensitive areas" on the Slim makes a big difference in comparison. I probably won't buy a Nimbus Flat for that reason unless the Flat is offered as an upgrade (I will probably end up with another Nimbus Gel Saddle in the trading post) on my soon-to-be-purchased 26x3 Nimbus Oracle which will incorporate Nurse Ben's aftermarket customized grab handle (which is similar to Mark's impressive set-up) but I doubt I'll be able to Mark's drop dead sexy Ay-Up lighting system with my GeoManGear MagicShine.
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Last edited by DavidHood; 2012-03-18 at 06:34 PM.
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Old 2012-03-20, 01:21 AM   #8
napalm
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@ Nurse Ben- No real issues with hot spots yet with this seat set up. It did take about a week or so of riding to become completely comfortable on it- I was adjusting the seat angle quite a bit until I found a sweet spot. Not sure about glassing it in- not because its a bad idea but just because I don't have the time at the moment. I should really take it apart and give the balsa wood a couple of thick clear coats to stop it from taking on water/sweat and rotting. I initially thought i would have to do more modification to it so didn't do it with the first try. Not sure if i got it right on the first go or if i've just gotten used to it!

@ Outdoor junkie- I don't really go out seeking massive drops to launch myself off on my Muni (mainly because i don't want to screw up my schumpf) but I'll happily roll 2-3 ft drops on the trail if its part of the line. For most of the bigger obstacles I won't be sitting on the seat in the first place- so coming into contact with the Balsa wood isn't an issue.

@ Jamey- A piece of thick balsa wood cost about $8 from Bunnings. You can shape it with a stanley knife/ box cutter. That and some tape and you can start experimenting too!

@ Leo- Could you post a picture of your Axel/naomi foam seat? I have heard a lot about the Axel bases but never seen one in person- how is the curve compared to the current line of KH seat bases?
My seat is a lot thinner than the current KH offerings and would be as thin as the Naomi if it were not for the Balsa wood insert. The insert in the nook of the saddle unfortunately does make it taller- but it flattens out the seat to make it more comfortable.

@ davidhood- I've seen the thread about the new nimbus 'flat' saddle but don't hold much hope for it changing the curved saddle trend. KH and nimbus seem to have a deal about sharing elements of the manufacturing/design process and I think the plastic seat bases from both companies would be identical apart from some branding.

What i would like is something along the lines of this bike saddle but with a longer nose that flares slightly outward at the end.

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Old 2012-03-20, 03:57 AM   #9
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Funny, I was looking at this thread last night, mainly about handles and the overall set-up but I did notice that these guys (Gizmo amongst others) were using bicycle saddles.

http://www.unicyclist.com/forums/sho...ighlight=frame

Clearly once you go for a handle there isn't the same need for the traditional uni saddle. So Napalm's general idea seems to hold good for both road and muni.

Excellent write up btw, thanks for putting in the time.

Cheers
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Old 2012-03-20, 09:15 AM   #10
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I used to use a bike saddle on turtle's V but changed with a impact saddle with fibre glass base (use this setup for muni, street, trial...) because i've much more control.

so i think mark's idea:

"What i would like is something along the lines of this bike saddle but with a longer nose that flares slightly outward at the end."

would be perfect! who's making it?
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Old 2012-03-20, 11:39 AM   #11
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Part of the problem with uni saddles is that you can't be supported on your "sit bones" unless you are in somewhat of a sitting position. It's easy to see - just squat down, feel around until you find the bones, and then stand up - you can feel them disappear back into your flesh.

Bicycle saddles work out pretty well because the handlebar and crank positions give you a good bend at the waist. A road uni with a touring handlebar extended way out front could approximate it, and I could see a bike type saddle working out well there.

But for muni, where you are pretty much stuck in a vertical position? I dunno. Flattening out the saddle so that the nose isn't rising up into your soft parts is a good start, but I can't figure out how you are supposed to get into a position where you are supported on anything but soft tissure.
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Old 2012-03-20, 09:16 PM   #12
leo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by napalm View Post
@ Leo- Could you post a picture of your Axel/naomi foam seat? I have heard a lot about the Axel bases but never seen one in person- how is the curve compared to the current line of KH seat bases?
http://www.unicyclist.org/blog/show.cfm?serial=01013
On top is a original Naomi, below the Axel base, but I think -from this angle- especially the middle section looks some wider than it is in real.
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Old 2012-03-22, 02:41 PM   #13
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I am interested to hear what you think of the 26 guni vs the 24 guni when you get it set up. I have been pondering making the switch myself.
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Old 2012-03-20, 05:21 PM   #14
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It's good to see that someone finally tried this. It's been on my todo list for quite a while. I was planning on using some scrap pine, but balsa is a good idea if it lasts.
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