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hands-free riding question

Old 07-30-09, 05:11 PM
  #1  
totalnewbie
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hands-free riding question

Hands-free riding is probably not something I would even dare to try learning, but I see people doing it all the time in the city. Isn't it kind of dangerous even if one knows how to do it? I mean, even if a rider knows how to balance, there is all the unknown condition of debris on the road, which could cause the front wheel to literally turn on a dime in a split second and result in a crash. Or is it really not as dangerous as I think?
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Old 07-30-09, 05:34 PM
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Not dangerous or as hard as you think. I sometimes do it when i want to adjust my cap, tighten my belt or wipe my glasses or whatever. If i roll over a crack at the moment or something, well tough luck. I hope i don't.
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Old 07-30-09, 06:57 PM
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When you become proficient at it, bumps are not a problem. i often ride over fairly badly root cracked pathways. As a matter of courtesy, i put the hands back on the bars when I meet other riders going the other way.
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Old 07-31-09, 05:01 AM
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man, when I was a kid on my ol bmx 1000, I used to go hands free all day long, over speed bumps, around turns, up on curbs..............now, I cant do it even if I wanted too.
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Old 07-31-09, 05:15 AM
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The front end geometry of bikes and alignment of forks vary greatly.
It is almost impossible to ride hands-free on some bikes.
A breeze on some others.
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Old 07-31-09, 07:07 AM
  #6  
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Originally Posted by Metzinger View Post
The front end geometry of bikes and alignment of forks vary greatly.
It is almost impossible to ride hands-free on some bikes.
A breeze on some others.
So true
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Old 07-31-09, 08:13 AM
  #7  
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Originally Posted by totalnewbie View Post
there is all the unknown condition of debris on the road, which could cause the front wheel to literally turn on a dime in a split second and result in a crash. Or is it really not as dangerous as I think?
It's not nearly that easy to disturb the front wheel. (atleast not on any bike I've ever ridden).

It might seem like your front wheel and handle bars are just waiting for the slightest imperfection to fling it sideways. This is not how it works. You have the rotating momentum of the rolling wheel and you have the forward momentum of the bike, both of which work with the tires' resistance from the road to keep you going in a straight line. The bike wants to go straight, and the bars/wheel resist being turned.

I run over lots of stuff riding with no hands. It never upsets the front wheel. It would probably take a curb to knock the front wheel sideways. Or slipping into a groove in the road, like at a RR crossing. Basically, something big enough to make you fall anyway, and which you should be able to see coming.

The most likely way to fall while riding with no hands is loss of balance. Remember, you steer at speed by leaning, not so much by turning the handlebars. So if you run over a branch, which upsets your course or your balance sitting up in the saddle, you may lean to correct your course, and then you may overcorrect and fall. That's much easier to do with no hands because your upper body is unsupported. But it's also possible to improve your balance through practice and be able to maintain your balance over bumps.

Last edited by Big M; 07-31-09 at 08:21 AM.
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Old 07-31-09, 11:36 AM
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I couldn't do it as a kid and certainly can't do it now.
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Old 07-31-09, 11:53 AM
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Originally Posted by coldfeet View Post
As a matter of courtesy, i put the hands back on the bars when I meet other riders going the other way.

this.
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Old 07-31-09, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by arej00dazed View Post
man, when I was a kid on my ol bmx 1000, I used to go hands free all day long, over speed bumps, around turns, up on curbs..............now, I cant do it even if I wanted too.
Yeah me too. I've lost "the edge".
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Old 07-31-09, 12:17 PM
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A lot easier on my hybrid than on my road bike.
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Old 07-31-09, 12:28 PM
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Texting while riding is a lot safer when you've mastered hands-free riding.
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Old 07-31-09, 01:19 PM
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Not as dangerous as you think - if you pay attention. Good skill to learn for times when you want to eat, dig stuff out of your pockets, make two handed gestures at offensive drivers. It is a lot easier to do if you shift up a couple of gears and pedal until you get the hang of it then you can do it without pedalling.
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Old 07-31-09, 02:15 PM
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Check the video near the top of this page:
https://ruina.tam.cornell.edu/researc..._and_links.htm

Direct link:
https://ruina.tam.cornell.edu/researc..._stability.mov

Even so, I still can't ride no-handed. I couldn't do it as a little kid, either. I've had moments when I was able to stay straight for several seconds, but that's it. I have NO idea what I'm doing wrong, but I also don't care enough about it to work on it.
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Old 07-31-09, 02:29 PM
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Rider weight distribution on the bike has a lot to do with it and so does bike geometry. I could never do it on the MTB's but easier on the road bikes.

I do get worried when the pilot on the Tandem does it though.
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Old 07-31-09, 02:58 PM
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I'm not that great of a rider and I can do it on my road bike easily. I also rode no hands on my bmx bikes as a kid. I was a lot better rider back then with all the bmx racing I did.

But 15 years later I do it on instincts to give my back a stretch and rest my arms every now and then on flat straightaways.
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Old 07-31-09, 03:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Big M View Post
Remember, you steer at speed by leaning, not so much by turning the handlebars.
Actually the physics of steering at anything above about 5-10 (depending on wheel rotation speeds) mph are even weirder. You turn by counter steering. That means that if you want to go left you actually push the bars a fraction of a degree to the right. I used to be a motorcycle safety instructor where this is both easier to see and harder to accept. We fought with students all the time trying to convince them that this is how things work. Finally they got us a good video of counter-steering taken at very high camera speeds. We would also have the student stand with us in front of someone riding and let them see the motions.

What happens is you turn the bar to the left for example. This causes pressure on the right outside edge of the tire which causes the bike to lean over to the right. That leaning combined with the pressure forces the bike to curve to the right.

I promise it works, and wish I could provide the video.
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Old 07-31-09, 05:31 PM
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are you saying we all instinctly do this countersteering without realizing it? Or is it a separate skill to learn?

Originally Posted by Blindrage View Post
Actually the physics of steering at anything above about 5-10 (depending on wheel rotation speeds) mph are even weirder. You turn by counter steering. That means that if you want to go left you actually push the bars a fraction of a degree to the right. I used to be a motorcycle safety instructor where this is both easier to see and harder to accept. We fought with students all the time trying to convince them that this is how things work. Finally they got us a good video of counter-steering taken at very high camera speeds. We would also have the student stand with us in front of someone riding and let them see the motions.

What happens is you turn the bar to the left for example. This causes pressure on the right outside edge of the tire which causes the bike to lean over to the right. That leaning combined with the pressure forces the bike to curve to the right.

I promise it works, and wish I could provide the video.
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Old 07-31-09, 05:47 PM
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I find it to be a necessary skill. Especially when I need to open the wrapper on a bar so that I can eat while riding. I don't like to stop very often as my legs tighten up. Much easier to eat while riding.
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Old 07-31-09, 05:57 PM
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When I was a kid I was able to do it pretty well, but I too have lost the ability. I practice sometimes on safe sections of road and parking lots. I'm getting better. I can go no-handed for about 5 seconds at a time.
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Old 07-31-09, 06:14 PM
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i guess it's one of those things that seem hard to do but when you actually do it you realized how easy it really is. Same for trackstanding or juggling. Juggling especially is so simple to do , although it took me a few days to "get it".
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Old 07-31-09, 06:25 PM
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Originally Posted by aMull View Post
i guess it's one of those things that seem hard to do but when you actually do it you realized how easy it really is.
True. I used to think no-handed riding was very hard. Yet the first time I ever tried it, I could do it just fine. That happened when I was riding on a bike path behind my now-boyfriend, and he decided to impress me (that's what I guessed at the time and he later confessed that it was indeed the intention ) by getting his hands off the bars and riding no-handed. Then I decided that such mastery deserved a round of applause... so I just started clapping. He said at first he actually thought I was expressing admiration at his superior riding skills. And then it hit him...
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Old 07-31-09, 06:59 PM
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I've never been able to do it on any kind of bike.
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Old 07-31-09, 07:01 PM
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Originally Posted by chephy View Post
And then it hit him...
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Old 07-31-09, 08:41 PM
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One thing i found, it got easier when i got my Brooks??
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