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Old 09-20-07, 10:08 PM   #1
Tom Bombadil
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Who rides with "No Hands?"

I see the occasional trail rider whizzing along with no hands on the handlebars. Just the other day a guy who looked to be in his mid-60s and in great shape, blew past me with his arms on his lap.

And then there is Solveg's new avatar, which should have a disclaimer on it of "Do not try this at home"

I'm a real chicken when it comes to this. I did it in my teens, but haven't tried it for years. I have the image in my mind of me taking my hands off for like two seconds and my bike careening off into the ditch. So I haven't tried it for even a tenth of a second this year. Of course most of my riding is on graveled trails, and riding "no hands" strikes me as foolish when one is on gravel.

Do you ride with "No Hands" on your handlebars? If so, how long can you do so? 10 seconds? 60 seconds? For pretty much as long as you want to?
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Old 09-20-07, 10:13 PM   #2
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how long can you do so?
Depends on how far from where I start the ditch is

I can do it, and choose not to. Not because of some weirdo safety thingy reason, but because I have an active 'coward gene'. Never tried for more than long enough to stretch my arms (and scare the lad silly) so I don't know for how long, but it probably wouldn't be much longer before the brain cell realised what was happening and tried to toss me into the weeds.

I saw a bloke cruising along in heavy traffic the other day, no hands, hands busy doing something though I forget what it was. He came right through an intersection (with the lights) and disappeared behind me, all with his hands off the bars. That guy is NUTS.

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Old 09-20-07, 10:28 PM   #3
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Do I?....Not often.
Can I? ...Yes, on everything except the 'bent for as far as I want
though I haven't re-learned to negotiate the 90 degree
corners yet. That'll come with a little more saddle time.

It's nice to be able to let go of the bars and stretch the shoulders
out every 10 miles or so.
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Old 09-20-07, 11:02 PM   #4
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I do occasionally on the road or touring bike. I do more often on the mountain bike on a paved road.

Also, I have a scar over my upper lip and a set of crowns on my front teeth that are a direct result of riding with no hands...and this happened as a full grown adult in the 70's on a Campy equipped Raleigh....on a nice level road where the front tire hit something. To this day I know not what I hit. I only know I went over the handlebars real quick like.

So I'm not real inclined to ride much without hands.
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Old 09-21-07, 12:34 AM   #5
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I can't ride "no hands" for more than a few seconds...so I don't do it ever. It's beyond me how people can ride for minutes on end with no hands.
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Old 09-21-07, 12:59 AM   #6
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I can ride "no hands" for an indefinite amount of time, limited by things like traffic or steep hills (more downhill than uphill, it turns out). Some of it is just practice, some of it might be natural sense of balance (I don't think so) but I think that the bike makes a lot of difference. I have owned bikes that track really well and some that did not track as well. It is easiest if you sit upright, by the way.

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Old 09-21-07, 04:46 AM   #7
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I suspect that some of us show a touch of age in the innear ear area. I used to be able to ride a very long distance this way but in spite of trying I find myself unable to do it any more. But then I find it hard to stand on one foot with a finger on my nose either, or to walk on a balance beam.

I still try to take one special ride a week, not to go any distance but just to play on a dead end street. I chase acorns, practice weaving back and forth at increasing angles or even standing on the pedals. Like an old dog, I can't get a handle on new things with the bike unless I develope some sort of muscle memory by practice.

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Old 09-21-07, 04:54 AM   #8
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I could never ride no hands when I was a kid. Started trying it last year, for seconds at a time. I can now ride for many minutes at a time, around corners, while eating, adjusting clothes, etc.
I started trying cause I got tired of stopping to eat, or unzip jersey, etc.
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Old 09-21-07, 05:03 AM   #9
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I have never been able to ride "no hands". I've tried on road, cyclocross, mtn bike. It's a skill that I just can't seem to get.

Perhaps seeing my wife, when we were dating, hit a railroad track while riding "no hands" and go down hard has something to do with it. Fortunately she wasn't seriously hurt. Ever since then she has never been able to ride "no hands" either. That was 33 years ago.
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Old 09-21-07, 05:15 AM   #10
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I can't even pee with "no hands" anymore.
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Old 09-21-07, 05:22 AM   #11
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I do it all of the time. It is easier to do the faster you are going, it just takes some practice. I am now proficient at removing a wind breaker while riding at +20mph behind a pack. Riding no hands is a good way to stretch your back a bit. I have not been able to master the act of unclipping one leg at a time and stretching it back behind your saddle.
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Old 09-21-07, 05:32 AM   #12
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It depends a lot on the bike and the amount of "trail" the bike has. I can do it, but don't feel comfortable, especially on the roadies.

From Sheldon Brown, of course:


http://sheldonbrown.com/gloss_tp-z.html#trail

"Trail

Trail is the distance from the contact point of the front wheel with the riding surface to the intersection of the steering axis (head tube) with the surface. The trail is a function of the head angle, the fork rake, and the tire diameter. Trail has a major effect on the handling of a bicycle. More trail increases the bicycle's tendency to steer straight ahead. A bicycle with a largish trail dimension will be very stable, and easy to ride "no hands". A bicycle with a smaller trail dimension will be more manuverable and responsive."
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Old 09-21-07, 05:36 AM   #13
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Old 09-21-07, 06:09 AM   #14
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I will, on my road bike, for just a few yards sometimes, but not for any length of time. My mtn.bike, maybe because of geometry or whatever, doesn't take well to being ridden with no hands (you'd think the head angle would be slacker, so maybe it's the knobby tires.)
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Old 09-21-07, 06:18 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maddmaxx View Post
I suspect that some of show a touch of age in the innear ear area. I used to be able to ride a very long distance this way but in spite of trying I find myself unable to do it any more. But then I find it hard to stand on one foot with a finger on my nose either, or to walk on a balance beam.

I still try to take one special ride a week, not to go any distance but just to play on a dead end street. I chase acorns, practice weaving back and forth at increasing angles or even standing on the pedals. Like an old dog, I can't get a handle on new things with the bike unless I develope some sort of muscle memory by practice.
+1, I do the same thing now, I've been trying the no hands thing and seeing how long I can stop without putting my foot down. Also making very tight turns.
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Old 09-21-07, 06:27 AM   #16
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Wow, I never got the hang of riding without hands either.

soma5 makes a good point about it being easier depending on the bike geometry.

I commute on a folder with 20" wheels. If you can ride that without hands you have my respect!

I can track stand indefinately, though....
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Old 09-21-07, 06:45 AM   #17
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How the bike is setup in terms of weight distribution can make a huge difference in ability to ride no hands. Experiment with it for yourself. It can be like two completely different bikes. Many people are just too far forward on their bikes to be able to easily ride no hands. Try saddle a bit further back, even if you have to shorten your stem accordingly.

I've always felt that even if you don't ride no hands, a bike setup in such a way that it allows it is generally a better bike for most riding.
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Old 09-21-07, 06:47 AM   #18
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I only rided no hands long enough to complete a specific task, such as removing arm warmers.
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Old 09-21-07, 07:11 AM   #19
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I do it rather a lot. Wind conditions and speed are the limiting factors.
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Old 09-21-07, 07:58 AM   #20
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I only rided no hands long enough to complete a specific task, such as removing arm warmers.
I totally agree. I can ride no hands but only actually do it when taking off a jacket, removing or putting on sunglasses, re-folding my route-sheet as the ride progresses, or taking the wrapper off an energy bar.

All of these are relatively short-duration tasks, so a very small part of any ride is "no hands."

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Old 09-21-07, 08:28 AM   #21
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On the Madone, no problem...I regularly do it to eat, put on/take off jackets, etc. With a little practice and a wide enough road, you can even do U-turns with no hands.

On the TT bike - no way. It's far too twitchy.

On the new Surly LHT build, with it's long wheelbase, I could probably ride no hands all day.
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Old 09-21-07, 08:32 AM   #22
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Only on surfaces I've been over many times or can see clearly well ahead, and only if there are no bikes or people anywhere near me, and only to do tasks or give my back and arms a break on long rides.
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Old 09-21-07, 09:24 AM   #23
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I do for very short lengths of time, seconds in fact, just when I need to unzip the jersey or open a stuck water bottle nipple. But, only when it's safe, ie: no cars coming or unsafe roads etc. I have noticed it depends on the bike geometry as to how sensitive or touchy the steering is.

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Old 09-21-07, 09:52 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Bombadil View Post
Do you ride with "No Hands" on your handlebars? If so, how long can you do so? 10 seconds? 60 seconds? For pretty much as long as you want to?
As other posters, it depends on the bike. The Bacchetta recumbent will not tolerate hands off and is pretty unhappy even with a single hand. Same with the Giant Stiletto chopper. The Hard Rock can take brief periods of hands free riding, but it's not happy. Ah, but then I get to the American Eagle/Nishiki. You can ride hands free all day!(Assuming you don't have to brake or shift gears )
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Old 09-21-07, 09:57 AM   #25
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I must have very responsive bikes - they react immediately and drastically with the removal of my hands. As a teenager riding a Raleigh Rodeo muscle bike with ape bars and bannana seat I was able to ride without hands for several seconds and do passable wheelies.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DnvrFox View Post
It depends a lot on the bike and the amount of "trail" the bike has. I can do it, but don't feel comfortable, especially on the roadies.

From Sheldon Brown, of course:


http://sheldonbrown.com/gloss_tp-z.html#trail

"Trail

Trail is the distance from the contact point of the front wheel with the riding surface to the intersection of the steering axis (head tube) with the surface. The trail is a function of the head angle, the fork rake, and the tire diameter. Trail has a major effect on the handling of a bicycle. More trail increases the bicycle's tendency to steer straight ahead. A bicycle with a largish trail dimension will be very stable, and easy to ride "no hands". A bicycle with a smaller trail dimension will be more manuverable and responsive."
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