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Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

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Old 07-15-10, 09:18 AM   #1
cg1985
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Bike Polo - "The Skinny"

So in my town (Ann Arbor, MI) we have a Bike Polo group that plays every sunday (occasional wednesday games too). I have been thinking of giving it a try, however, I would like to know a little bit about the game before I start.

Basically it appears as if you have two goals, people with mallets and a ball. Assuming you score goals to win.

Is it basically like hockey then? passing, shooting, and goaltending?

Secondly, from an equipment standpoint:

It seems to be Fixed only sport, which is fine.

But it seems to me that any group sport like this is going to be hard on a bike, would it be in my best interests to find some ****ty old bike and Make a Polo-Specific bike?

Also, i see lots of lower-gearing when I see Polo bike pictures, I assume this is because acceleration and quick stopping is more important than top speed.

Also, where can I find bike polo mallets?

Tips, good sites to go to, Funny polo stories, Ann arbor locals?
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Old 07-15-10, 09:57 AM   #2
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Yeah, its basically like hockey, in the broadest sense. There are polo specific rules, but you can pick those up pretty easily by playing/watching.

You should go and try it out before building up a polo bike. The first few times I played I used my commuter bike. See if you can get into a game with at least one other new person on the other team. There should be some community mallets you can use. Later you'll either build your own or buy one from someone in the group who has/makes extras.

Most players use single speed bikes with a rear brake. Not as many fixed as you'd think. The bikes get beat to hell during play, so any gearing system won't survive very long. You're also right about the reasons for low gearing.

Tips: show up, hang out, make friends, play, drink, repeat. Not necessarily in that order.
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Old 07-15-10, 10:00 AM   #3
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I'm sure different groups play different rules all over, but maybe half of the local polo players ride fixed gear bikes. A bunch of them are single speed with a rear brake.


Really most basic rules that you'll wanna know before you go out:

- If you put your foot down, you've gotta ride back out to mid court. Usually there's a place on the wall you hit with your mallet.

- You can pass and dribble with any part of the mallet, but you can only score by hitting it with the end. Depending on the house rules, you probably have to actually "hit" the ball with the end, too, not just push it.


I'd just go out there and say "hey guys I've never played before, can I try?"

Chances are they'll have mallets to lend, maybe even bikes to let you borrow for a match, and they'll help you with the rules.

Make sure to wear a helmet, and gloves. Full fingered.
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Old 07-15-10, 10:24 AM   #4
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Thanks for the tips! Trying before buying anything is definitely a good idea.

The foot down thing explains why the fixed gear is a little more popular. Though the 'beating to hell' of my bike makes me scurred to bring my beloved fixie. That being said, hopefully they have someone nice enough to lend me their bike for a game or two.

Why full fingered gloves?
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Old 07-15-10, 10:30 AM   #5
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Because there is a lot of mallet swinging in close quarters, and if they swing their mallet and hit your mallet at a bit of an angle... it'll slide right up the shaft and smash your exposed fingers.

Good way to lose a fingernail or two.
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Old 07-15-10, 10:36 AM   #6
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Because there is a lot of mallet swinging in close quarters, and if they swing their mallet and hit your mallet at a bit of an angle... it'll slide right up the shaft and smash your exposed fingers.

Good way to lose a fingernail or two.
I played Street hockey bare handed for a while, never had a problem with that kind of thing except very occasionally. that said, you hold a hockey stick with two hands, so you have more control.
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Old 07-15-10, 11:01 AM   #7
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http://www.hardcourtbikepolo.com/

this site has tutorials for making a mallet, wheel cover, and good ways to set up your bike.
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Old 07-15-10, 11:27 AM   #8
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And now for the real skinny

johnprolly FLICKR
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Old 07-15-10, 11:57 AM   #9
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you make mallets out of pvc and ski poles.

here in seattle, polo is serious business. more people use non-fixed gears here than fixed gears. you can stand using the mallet as a 'leg' so fixed gear isn't necessarily any better if you have balance.
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Old 07-15-10, 01:00 PM   #10
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i ain't never played no bike polo, but if i recall, specifically don't use PVC plastic. PVC is known to shatter pretty quickly when used for polo purposes, and is a safety concern. ABS plastic is preferred.
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Old 07-15-10, 02:20 PM   #11
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Eighth Inch sells a polo mallet now. http://www.eighthinch.com/mallet_kit.html
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Old 07-15-10, 03:57 PM   #12
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make a mallet yourself or buy one from a fellow player. those eighth inch ones are too expensive and really are heavy, plus the diy aspect of polo is something that should be preserved.
rules vary from place to place. most places are stoked to see someone interested and are willing to answer whatever questions you have.
as far as fixed/free debate, its really what you are more comfortable with. there are benefits and drawbacks to both. also applies to front or rear brake. and the size of tires, and mountainbike vs road/track/fixie stlyle bikes. pretty much, if you keep coming back, you will figure out what works best for yourself. don't take anyones word as gospel, because nothing is set in stone.
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Old 07-15-10, 08:25 PM   #13
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I read almost this entire thread thinking about water polo. and I was all, WTF?

But now I get it.
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Old 12-15-10, 09:49 AM   #14
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Here is a great article about Bike Polo in Boston http://www.montaguebikes.com/folding...y-a-big-stick/
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Old 12-15-10, 10:02 AM   #15
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Just do it. It is fun as hell and the rules take no time to learn. just go and play
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Old 12-15-10, 10:16 AM   #16
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I probably know some of those Ann Arbor kids, I used to live up there. good people, certainly they'd be welcoming of you.
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Old 12-15-10, 10:33 AM   #17
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Just do it. It is fun as hell and the rules take no time to learn. just go and play
ever do thursday night polo Downtown?
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Old 12-15-10, 11:06 AM   #18
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No, but I've hung out and played a few times.
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Old 12-15-10, 11:53 AM   #19
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Waterford builds a polo-specific frameset, the FleetVelo "Joust".
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Old 12-15-10, 12:16 PM   #20
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Only $650 for a polo frame? I'll take six!
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Old 12-15-10, 12:24 PM   #21
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im full time full finger.
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Old 12-15-10, 01:25 PM   #22
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A lot of people are actually moving on from the full fingered bike gloves to lacrosse gloves. They provide much more protection than the regular bike gloves, but allow for much more hand mobility than hockey gloves.

As one of the few remaining fixed gear players, get a freewheel.

Jousts are a great bike, and amazing for polo. But unless you have been playing for a long time and are traveling to major tournaments, its probably not worth it to buy

PVC is not the right kind of plastic to be using for a mallet head. Its too brittle and will break apart dangerously. ABS is usually easier to find, but is really soft. Capping it helps elongate ABS's life. HDPE is the polo standard, and I am sure if you come out and play some one in Ann Arbor will be able to help you get some.

If you want to buy a capped mallet head, dont get the Eight Inch one, its very poorly made. A player in St Louis(who is moving back to Chicago this weekend), makes and sells very high quality HDPE heads with heat fused caps. They are the standard for capped mallet heads, and I have never head one complaint about them. http://stcagopoloworks.bigcartel.com/

Lastly Ann Arbor will be a great place to start playing. Its not an old very established club, so there wont be the intemidation of playing in Seattle or Philly. But it has some pretty good players. Plus you arent terribly far from Cleveland who has a really good club, and Grand Rapids who has some really rad dudes and good polo. The only issue is in college towns there is a high turn over of players, and its very seasonal, meaning good games are sometimes hard to get around finals and in the summer.

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Old 12-27-10, 11:36 PM   #23
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I just now saw this thread. Contact me by PM or email about A2 polo. We have been playing since 07' and anyone is welcome. I have a golf bag with mallets for anyone to use. We play every Sunday no matter the weather @4pm. When it is nice we play outside on the paved area of Palmer Field. When it isn't and during the winter with play in the thunderdrome (pm or email for directions). We often play during the week one night as well, but no formal day at the moment.

And, as for the bikes to polo there are kind of two schools of thought. A beater bike that is cheap and you don't give a **** about. Or a dedicated polo bike that can take a beating. I was of the first school of thought and built a polo bike completely out of parts bin parts. It served me well for a few years, but then this summer we traveled to some tournaments and I knew I needed something quicker and more robust. So I built a new bike that can take the abuse that I put it through. Most of us that play in a2 have a dedicated polo bike that is just for polo or sometimes doubles as the winter beater. If something does break it is good as a number of our players (including me) are bike mechanics so we can often fix the usual problems (tires, tubes, wheels, and spokes).

When we started almost everyone was fixed. Now most of us are single speed with only a few fixed hold outs. Single speed with low gears and a good brake(s) with a lever on your non-shooting hand are what make the best polo bikes.
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Old 12-27-10, 11:48 PM   #24
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Seems like there's a couple instances where fixed is preferable, like around the goal and tied up on the boards and stuff. But on the whole yeah I think SS is the way to go.
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Old 12-28-10, 02:57 PM   #25
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And now for the real skinny
Here is a nice example of a DIY polo mallet which seems to be made from an old golf club.



Anywho, Ann Arbor isn't too far from me and i actually have a friend who is a professor at UofM. Im up at CMU and would love to drive down to AA one time and try out a game of polo!

I'm glad this thread popped up! I had no idea there was an interest in polo at all in this state. But i guess if any city would have it, Ann Arbor would be it! It was voted 14th most bike friendly cities in the states!

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