Author Topic: No-Handed


« on: May 17, 2008 »

    Although bicycles come with handlebars, there is no obligation to use them at all times.[1]

    It can feel very liberating to ride no-handed. The trick, as with everything else having to do with piloting a vehicle, is to do so without harming yourself or others.

    A bicycle follows Newtonian laws of physics.[2] Specifically, it wants to continue to go in the direction it's already going. Every wobble introduced into the equation has to be managed or counterbalanced.

    This requires you pay attention to your centre of gravity, which is located directly above the saddle.[3] Your entire lower torso must do the job more typically expected of your hands and arms. Fortunately it is equipped with the necessary muscles, which with practice can become adept at keeping you on a trajectory of your choosing. More or less. You cannot expect the same precision steering. The best you can hope for is to always have latitude for slop.

    Like riding a bicycle itself, the technique cannot be mastered by reading about it. You have to get on your bike and try it.

    Naturally, choose a traffic-free location for your first flight. It's up to you whether you hover your hands above the bars, ready for a quick rescue, or go cold turkey and let them assume an attitude of nonchalance. It all depends on your reflexes. You must be ready at all times to be able to grab the bars again - quickly. You might practice quick grab techniques by dropping a vase, dynasty optional. More sensibly, just get used to your capabilities.

    Your ability to cycle no-handed will also depend on your bicycle; correctly fitted, you will have a greater likelihood of success, though there's no guarantee. Some bikes demand to be held regardless. If you're having difficulty, check to make sure there are no mechanical faults, such as an unhealthy headset. If the steering is compromised in any way, so shall be your efforts.

    Once you have achieved success, it's time to assess the various options for what to do with unoccupied appendages. You can:

    • Fold your arms. This is probably the most popular.
    • Put your hands on your hips. Helps hide love handles.
    • Put your hands on your upper thighs. Good for massage, or encouragement to your legs to keep going.
    • Cross them behind your head. Best done without witnesses, who tend to think you're showing off anyway.
    • Let your arms hang at your sides. Not really much fun.
    • Hold out your arms like an aeroplane. Now you're flying. Watch out for crosswinds.

    Riding no-handed isn't a necessary skill, but adding it to your repertoire can enhance your cycling pleasure, if not necessarily your reputation. Just don't tell your ma you're doing it.

    See also


    1 - Morally. Legally might be another matter. Check if your jurisdiction is fortified with nannies in blue.
    2 - Objects in motion tend to stay in motion. As long as you keep pedaling them. Castor steering is also a rather big help.
    3 - So theoretically, the larger your centre of gravity, the more stable you should be. There are no data to confirm this, as researchers keep getting slapped.

    If your bike is stubbornly off-balance, sometimes it straightens itself out when you reseat the front axle in the forks.

    External links

    I give up [/list], you win.