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Look ma, no hands!

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Fifty Plus (50+) Share the victories, challenges, successes and special concerns of bicyclists 50 and older. Especially useful for those entering or reentering bicycling.

Look ma, no hands!

Old 09-16-21, 12:07 PM
  #26  
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I have never ridden with no hands on the handlebars. Just some unreasonable fear because, like the canoe, the bicycle is very stable as long as it's moving.

I've seen a guy moving very slowly with no hands. When the bike leaned one way, the front wheel turned in that same direction. So he doesn't fall but rolls in that direction until he leaned the other way.
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Old 09-19-21, 10:18 AM
  #27  
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When I was a kid I could ride a bike no hands. It seemed easy and did it even turning corners. Now at 60 and huge mileage of road riding I cannot ride no hands, or at least I am not going to practice it and try. I have enough trouble just keeping the bike moving forward in a reasonable line. I think as we get older our sense around us in space and movement just goes downhill.
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Old 09-19-21, 12:33 PM
  #28  
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We also used to call it "Look ma, no hands" and ma would tell us "Yes and no brains". (or the equivalent in Swiss German, the message was the same!)

Today SWMBO just tells me "you're nuts" when she hears about my downhill speed; on a bike or on XC skis.
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Old 09-19-21, 01:11 PM
  #29  
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I'm just relurn'in this old skill. The fun is coming back but I will draw line at put'in the wife on the handlebar though.
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Old 09-19-21, 03:14 PM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by Bald Paul View Post
When I was a kid, bike geometry included a lot more rake and trail in the forks. Riding no hands was a lot easier because of it. Newer bike geometry is a bit more "twitchy" ...
That's been my experience.

On no bike since the 1980s have I found riding without hands on the bars a simple thing. (But then, I've never had a "tuned" or "custom" rig, either. I'm sure a magician with framesets and builds could put together something that'd work.)

The heavier, longer-wheelbase pigs we rode as kids had a certain appeal. For some things. Much happier with the relatively contemporary crop of lighter-steel and better-made bikes. Improved performance, improved speed, sufficient stability, better drivetrain and accessories (IMO).
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Old 09-24-21, 01:44 PM
  #31  
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Good job. I agree it's a useful skill and a good exercise in centering and balancing. I did a beginners' day at the velodrome a few years ago and one of the things they had us do was to practice riding around the infield with just our index fingers on the bar. After we got comfortable, then just hovering the hands over the bars, and then finally sitting up. Because we were on fixed gears, we couldn't coast obviously, so you had to be smooth and balanced in your pedal stroke, and centered over the bike.

Keep finding fun and keep finding skills!
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Old 09-24-21, 01:45 PM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by big john View Post
I was riding on the bike path at the beach and it goes through a parking structure for a bit. A young woman was riding behind me no handed and she reached up to touch the structure and down she went. Lucky she wasn't hurt.

I sold a Landshark bike to a friend and we were finishing a ride and he was no handed through a parking lot and ran into a large potted plant buckling the top and down tubes on the frame. Since it was lugged and brazed Landshark was able to replace those tubes.

I don't have the skill or desire to ride with my hands off the bar for more than a few seconds. I also don't have the "wheelie gene".
That's my goal, to learn how to wheelie. I think I can do it on my MTB, I just can't control it for more than a few pedal strokes.
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Old 09-24-21, 01:59 PM
  #33  
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On my Schwinn Varsity, I could easily do wheelies on it and ride on the rear for a long time. Even up to the day I got rid of it when about 53 yo.

I wish I'd paid more attention to what the frame geometry was on that Varsity. The '91 schwinn Paramount or '79 Raleigh Competition GS I have seem to resist wanting to do a wheelie.

My Tarmac actually seems like it wants to do a wheelie sometimes. But it's been 10 years and I'm not certain I want to try.
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Old 09-24-21, 02:32 PM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
On my Schwinn Varsity, I could easily do wheelies on it and ride on the rear for a long time. Even up to the day I got rid of it when about 53 yo.

I wish I'd paid more attention to what the frame geometry was on that Varsity. The '91 schwinn Paramount or '79 Raleigh Competition GS I have seem to resist wanting to do a wheelie.

My Tarmac actually seems like it wants to do a wheelie sometimes. But it's been 10 years and I'm not certain I want to try.
I keep seeing more posts with high praise for the Schwinn Varsity as it seems to make a nice transition to a gravel bike. Will have to check one out some day.

On the topic of wheelies, do you ever watch the pro racers do them as a victory celebration? The idea of doing a wheelie on a road bike, while clipped in terrifies me!
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Old 09-24-21, 02:43 PM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by caloso View Post
That's my goal, to learn how to wheelie. I think I can do it on my MTB, I just can't control it for more than a few pedal strokes.
Me too. Have you seen those "wheelie boxes"? It's a fixture you put the bike in and it teaches you the balance point. There are videos on youtube that show you how to build one out of wood.
I rode part way up to Onyx Summit with this guy and he kept doing this.


Last edited by big john; 09-26-21 at 08:49 AM.
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Old 09-24-21, 03:06 PM
  #36  
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Some of my friends can do it too.
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Old 09-24-21, 04:16 PM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by gthomson View Post
I keep seeing more posts with high praise for the Schwinn Varsity as it seems to make a nice transition to a gravel bike. Will have to check one out some day.

On the topic of wheelies, do you ever watch the pro racers do them as a victory celebration? The idea of doing a wheelie on a road bike, while clipped in terrifies me!
My circa 1977 Varsity was bought new when I was 18 or so. I lived in the flatter part of the state, so I never experienced any thing negative about it's 46 pound weight. It was a very smooth riding bike and handle rough road very well.

Might be partly the 630 x 32 mm tires (27" x 1") as to why the ride was so comfortable on bumpy roads. I even rode it on a few solo 100 milers. However I quickly learned that in the more rolling terrain that I live in now, that weight can be more detrimental to my performance and desire to do long rides. And certainly the shallowest of hills were more of a challenge on it if speed to the top was a goal. However it was the bike I owned and rode the longest of any. Around 35 years.

Though I watch some of the classics, tours and grand tours, I've never really noticed many doing wheelies. Being clipped is one of the considerations why I don't try it on my Tarmac. And I'm too lazy to change shoes and go back out to try. The Varsity has a one piece Ashtabula crank and I never found anything but plain flat pedals that would fit it's 1/2x20tpi threading. So getting my feet off the pedals wasn't any issue on it.

Last edited by Iride01; 09-24-21 at 04:21 PM.
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Old 09-27-21, 05:12 AM
  #38  
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I observed the same and determined it was the new bike geometry vs my skills. Then, I decided that those few seconds saved wasn't worth the the potential of a crash, so I just stopped. I could ride a wicked wheelie on my flat bar Raleigh, but haven't tried with my drop-bar Salsa. Wheelies will always be cool.
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Old 09-27-21, 06:18 PM
  #39  
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Being coordination-challenged, it was all I could do to balance a bicycle at age 12. I wouldn't dare ride no-hands then, and I certainly won't now, almost 60 years later.
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Old 09-28-21, 05:06 AM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by gthomson View Post
I keep seeing more posts with high praise for the Schwinn Varsity as it seems to make a nice transition to a gravel bike. Will have to check one out some day.

On the topic of wheelies, do you ever watch the pro racers do them as a victory celebration? The idea of doing a wheelie on a road bike, while clipped in terrifies me!
My first new bike was a Schwinn Varsity that I got for my 12th birthday in 1977.
I rode that thing everywhere for many years.
To this day it was the best gift I ever received and I could not love a human baby more than I loved that bike.
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Old 09-30-21, 07:13 AM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by gthomson View Post
I keep seeing more posts with high praise for the Schwinn Varsity as it seems to make a nice transition to a gravel bike. Will have to check one out some day.

On the topic of wheelies, do you ever watch the pro racers do them as a victory celebration? The idea of doing a wheelie on a road bike, while clipped in terrifies me!
https://twitter.com/uci_cycling/stat...634291714?s=21
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Old 09-30-21, 07:59 AM
  #42  
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that's awesome! I bet the crowd loved that!
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Old 09-30-21, 08:42 AM
  #43  
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Old 09-30-21, 09:20 AM
  #44  
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In my teens and twenties I could ride no hands without problem. Sometimes rode several miles that way. I don't have the confidence in my ability/balance to do that anymore. Sometimes I'll practice riding with no hands. Can ride a few yards but then it don't feel right.

It's weird when you think about it. When you ride with just the fingertips of one hand on the bars, sitting erect, there's no problem. Take your hands off and it's different. Mostly don't think about it.
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Old 09-30-21, 08:11 PM
  #45  
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My old '75 Fuji S-10S - is easily ridden 'no hands' due to long-ish wheelbase, slack angles and low trail fork. The '86 Miyata 710 is a bit more 'twitchy', but it can still be done... IF I ride with a smooth pedal stroke.

I swear that a smooth pedal stroke is essential to cycling efficiency. 'Mashing' or an otherwise jerky pedal stroke leads to early fatigue. I've found that training on non-parabolic rollers helps to develop the more efficient riding effort. Any transgressions result in being thrown off one side or the other! I seldom vary more than an inch or two to either side when riding. Other (non-acquaintances) when encountered on rides have commented on my riding 'line' and several have mentioned that 'you must ride rollers' to which I heartily agree...
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Old 10-01-21, 06:36 AM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by Cougrrcj View Post
My old '75 Fuji S-10S - is easily ridden 'no hands' due to long-ish wheelbase, slack angles and low trail fork. The '86 Miyata 710 is a bit more 'twitchy', but it can still be done... IF I ride with a smooth pedal stroke.

I swear that a smooth pedal stroke is essential to cycling efficiency. 'Mashing' or an otherwise jerky pedal stroke leads to early fatigue. I've found that training on non-parabolic rollers helps to develop the more efficient riding effort. Any transgressions result in being thrown off one side or the other! I seldom vary more than an inch or two to either side when riding. Other (non-acquaintances) when encountered on rides have commented on my riding 'line' and several have mentioned that 'you must ride rollers' to which I heartily agree...
What on rollers with no hands?
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Old 10-01-21, 06:37 AM
  #47  
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Originally Posted by Cougrrcj View Post
...and several have mentioned that 'you must ride rollers' to which I heartily agree...
Excellent point. The four rainy seasons I spent on rollers, in the Pacific Northwest nearly 40 years ago, definitely improved my cadence and balance. I remember noticing it at the time but completely forgot about it. It took nearly a year of roller riding before I could ride them no-handed, a huge leap, considering I couldn't even shift gears for the first few weeks. Since then, it's been easy to ride the white line confidently. I watch others in front of me weaving back and forth, very slightly, with every pedal stroke. That's gotta be inefficient.
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Old 10-01-21, 07:33 AM
  #48  
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My childhood bikes had very relaxed geometry, and I could ride them no-handed whenever I wanted. My current bikes have steeper steering angles and are almost impossible to ride that way. And my recumbents? I'm doing good if I can coast no-handed (no pedaling!) for 3-4 seconds at a time. They're not hard to steer, but they won't do it themselves based on my upper body movements.
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Old 10-01-21, 05:10 PM
  #49  
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Originally Posted by gthomson View Post
What on rollers with no hands?
With that old Fuji I can...
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Old 10-01-21, 05:34 PM
  #50  
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I can still ride no-hands, but to be comfortable I have to shift back in the saddle and sit straight up. As soon as I lean forward the slightest bit, I start to feel unstable and have to grab the bars. It's great for a quick back stretch, would never consider trying to take my jacket off.
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