One Wheel--Many Spokes: A question...

Discussion in '' started by Carl Barrentine, Aug 16, 2004.

  1. I'm turning pages in Part 3 of Lars Clausen's book, "One Wheel--Many
    Spokes." An enjoyable book, I think, and recommended reading for the
    Coker-owners and/or touring types. Gosh, I'm inspired to crank-out
    some longer distances on my unicycle. (I've pedaled just over 50
    miles over the last two weeks on my new Coker. Thanks, Martin!)

    Anyway, I'm writing to learn a bit more about the strange saddle and
    handlebar arrangement Lars used on his 9,134 mile trip. I've seen the
    photos in the book and on his website (, but these
    are not helpful. Can anyone out there (John Childs, Lars Clausen?)
    provide more information about his saddle-n-bars? A couple of
    up-close photos would be wonderful. (And, gosh, it sounds like he was
    bustin' an inner tube 'bout every 100 miles on that air saddle. Is
    that typical for air saddles? I gotta get past that 30-minute time
    limit on my KH saddles, and so I'm now in-the-market for the air
    saddle and handlebar conversion.) Thanks! --carl (North Dakota)

  2. john_childs

    john_childs Guest

    I don't have any closeup photos of Lars' setup. There are some pictures
    in the 'Lars Clausen rides to the Seattle Center 2004 gallery'
    ( The photos are high
    resolution so you can zoom in to see more detail.

    Lars did say that he gets lots of flats in his air seat. His air seat
    is a bit unconventional. The tube is inflated a lot and there is not a
    lot there to keep the tube from rubbing. Air seat flats are often
    caused by the tube rubbing. The constant rubbing makes a weak spot in
    the tube. Lars' air seat is just slapped right on top of a standard
    Viscount seat. I'm not sure what he's using for the seat cover to hold
    the tube. I've had two flats in my various air seats. One was on my
    muni and the other was on my Coker. Both appeared to be because of the
    tube rubbing.

    The handlebar setup is also a bit unconventional. It makes mounting a
    bit challenging. You cannot do a rolling mount. You first have to step
    inside the handlebars and then do a static mount. Not easy with short
    cranks. It also wouldn't be easy to mount on even a slight uphill.

    Experimenting with a handlebar setup like Lars' wouldn't be too
    difficult make. A MTB stem, a suitable handlebar from a children's
    bike, and possibly some shims is all you'd need. Not having tried a
    setup like that I can't say how well it works.

    Lars' setup works for him and that's what matters.

    john_childs - Guinness Mojo

    john_childs (at) hotmail (dot) com
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  3. joemarshall

    joemarshall Guest

    About air seats, Matt Herbert has a kite buggy inner tube in his
    viscount air conversion and says that it's much more stable and less
    wobbly than the 12" inner tubes that many people use. It's about the
    right size, but a fat small wheel tube rather than a thin tube. Unlikely
    to get broken too, thicker than a kids bike tube.

    I don't think most airseats get flats that often though. I can only
    remember one ride I've been on where an airseat has flatted.

    About riding a long distance, the big thing (that you're obviously
    doing) is riding a lot. That's what makes the big difference to seat
    comfort. Even on a standard saddle, the 30 minutes can go up to more
    like 2.5 hours between breaks if you're doing a lot of riding. I ride a
    40-50 minute non-stop commute twice a day and feel fine at the end of it
    now (on a standard kh saddle).


    joemarshall - dumb blonde
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  4. mscalisi

    mscalisi Guest

    I got to meet him a couple weeks ago, and was pretty impressed about the
    setup he rode over 9k miles on. I'm pretty sure I'd hurt myself trying
    to mount his unicycle.

    john_childs wrote:
    > *
    > You first have to step inside the handlebars and then do a static
    > mount. Not easy with short cranks. It also wouldn't be easy to mount
    > on even a slight uphill.
    > *

    Lars has 125's. I think this is what he used for pretty much the whole

    It should also be noted that he used a stock frame and stock wheel. So
    for everybody who wants to jump right into an upgraded coker, take note
    about what can be done on a standard.

    mscalisi - Not such a newbie anymore
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  5. johnfoss

    johnfoss Guest

    I was looking at some of the Lars-cycle photos. Yes, it looks like a
    large piece of foam over a Viscount seat, with fabric over the top of
    that. Not sure where the air part fits in, but like John C. said, if he
    kept getting flats it was probably because something was rubbing or
    pinching. I have way less than 9000 miles on my three air seats (or
    1000), but all of them are on the original tubes. I think the key thing
    to do is make sure the tube will not be pinched or otherwise compromised
    when you ride on it. It's possible Lars even had a rough edge somewhere
    in there that he couldn't detect, that was causing all the flats.

    His handlebar system is interesting. I can imagine a very stable ride,
    once you get used to having your hands on those bars. You can lift your
    butt right off the seat, and the hands-down position is probably very
    stable. It's not very aerodynamic, but at country-crossing speeds aero
    is probably a relatively minor thing. Except in a headwind.

    I was surprised to see how his whole rack and handlebar system was
    attached to the seatpost by what appears to be a single, basic weld.
    Looks like a weak spot there, hope he didn't have problems with breakage
    on his rides (haven't read the book yet).

    It's easy to look at the cycle now and see ways to improve it. I don't
    know if Lars started out with such a setup, or it was developed over the
    course of much riding. It should be easy to take a couple of pounds of
    excess metal off his setup without changing any of the ergonomics. The
    Viscount seat base could be replaced by a lighter one, and the handlebar
    setup could be done with a lot less tubing. Upgrading to the Airfoil rim
    would also probably save a pound or so. But by using the stock wheel,
    Lars has shown the world just what a plain Coker can do.

    Not having tried side-handles myself, I'm comfortable with my own handle
    setup. For longer rides, I think I'd want something to rest my elbows on
    while keeping my hands in front of me, like a triathlon bike setup. This
    would allow me to lever my butt off the seat as desired to reduce saddle
    weight, and be more aerodynamic. I don't know if I'd get a sore neck
    (like other ultramarathon cyclists have) or have other problems. The
    triathlon position is also what Christian Hoverath used on the European
    Unicycle Tour.

    johnfoss - Walkin' on the edge

    John Foss, the Uni-Cyclone
    "jfoss" at "" --

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  6. John-n-Joe-- Thanks for the responses to my inquiry. John, thanks for
    the pointing me in the direction of more photos of Lars's Coker.
    Thanks too for pointing out the limitations for mounting a Coker with
    a rear-mounted handlebar--hadn't thought about that! Yet, my sense is
    that Lars may have benefitted from the unique arrangement under
    certain circumstances (e.g., pedalin' the steeply-banked, wriggly
    coastal highway in Oregon). My sense is that the hand positions
    afforded by the handlebar might also be helpful when navigating
    against a strong crosswind. I'm thinking here that the leverage might
    be a bit better than one might get with either a GB4 or Reeder handle.

    Joe, Thanks for the encouragement to keep pedalin' longer distances.
    I'll resume the efforts, no doubt, at least until the snow begins to
    fall. ;) The smaller innertube notion (from a kite buggy) sounds
    intriguing. I'll have to look into that option. Right now I'm a
    little hesitant to rip open the KH saddle to mess about with the
    innards. I'm going to consult with an upholster-type person to get
    the nod before pulling out those staples. ;)

    Does anyone have a pattern for a roach saddle? I've a swell hunk of
    leather that I'd like to massage into a cover for the KH air saddle.
    Thanks! --carl
  7. AlbertKarel

    AlbertKarel Guest

    I can add a few things about Lars' Coker. Of course, he can
    provide the complete details about it. He should
    be crossing the Mexican border Friday, Aug. 20 on his trip from the
    Northwest. My boy and I had the pleasure of riding with him a bit
    here in Santa Monica. The Coker was a stock Coker with a welded-on
    portion of a bike frame and handle bars to the rear of the seatpost.
    The rear position accounts for his wonderfully straight riding
    position. He rode my Coker around a bit and said that he missed his
    handlebars. He wheeled it around in tight circles. He showed us how
    he freemounts his Coker (as he has done thousands of times across the
    country). He lays the Coker back and steps through the bars. Then
    right foot up on the pedal, right hand holding the saddle. Then a
    mighty swing of the left arm, stepping up onto the Coker ("just
    straighten the leg"), releasing the right hand to balance, and
    pedaling off. The hands are always on the bars which he says makes
    steering and climbing easier. He was most interested to see if the
    tire would make it to Mexico. Threads showing. It'll either make it
    or blow. If it makes it, he says he'll send it to Coker. Lars is
    another very interesting and friendly uni rider like many of the
    contributors to this group.

    All the best. We cranked the new 5 foot Torker together last night
    and my kid rode it up the block, around a couple circles and back into
    the driveway. Good boy. I fell onto the washer/dryer while trying to
    climb it in the garage and have a sizable posterior bruise. Ah, the
    difference 50 years makes. But I ain't givin' up.

    Santa Monica
  8. After wrapping-up his 1,800 mile uni/book tour, the riding portion
    which I understand will end in Mexico, Lars Clausen will fly to the
    midwest. Details follow:

    Thursday, August 26th, 7:30 p.m.
    St. Martin's Table Book Presentation
    2001 Riverside Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55454 • (612) 339-3920

    I'd love to zip down to The Cities to see him, but the nearly 600-mile
    round trip would be too cumbersome to pull-off on a week night. :(

    "Beyond a certain point there is no return. This point has to be
    reached." --Franz Kafka