Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Road Cycling
Reload this Page >

Road Etiquette Question: Hopping on a stranger's wheel?

Notices
Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Road Etiquette Question: Hopping on a stranger's wheel?

Old 02-15-18, 08:30 PM
  #26  
hipsterfixie
Newbie
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Feb 2018
Location: San Francisco, CA
Posts: 2

Bikes: Domane SL6, Marlin, various others

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Good stuff. Thanks, guys. I think the takeaway is don't do it, unless it's a super-temporary situation. I'm glad as this had been my approach generally.
hipsterfixie is offline  
Old 02-15-18, 08:48 PM
  #27  
79pmooney
A Roadie Forever
 
79pmooney's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 10,746

Bikes: (2) ti TiCycles, 2007 w/ triple and 2011 fixed, 1979 Peter Mooney, ~1983 Trek 420 now fixed and ~1973 Raleigh Carlton Competition gravel grinder

Mentioned: 115 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3554 Post(s)
Liked 2,350 Times in 1,539 Posts
Not OK in my book unless you ask. You are asking that guy (gal) in front of you to ride for the both of you. (Ie, not say hitting the brakes suddenly or doing a quick move to miss a pothole.) Now, if that guy in front does some such thing, crashes the guy behind and rides on unscathed, in my book, all's good. But if the guy in front suffers injury or damage I suspect he would have solid case in court for damages caused by a tailgater. (In Oregon, a bicycle is considered a vehicle.)

If you are going to do this (stealth drafting), look to make sure the person you are drafting isn't riding a fix gear. A good fix gear rider can do a slowing very quickly by simply applying back pressure as the pedal comes up. In a former commute, I used to ride through a park with several right angle turns at about 7am. Never saw another bike. One day I saw one a hundred yards behind me. Young man. The bike wasn't anything fancy. So except for the fact that it was indeed another bike, nothing that I gave another thought to. Two turns later I did my usual quick backpedal to set up for the turn. There was a huge commotion right behind me! Apparently this guy had caught up to me, very nearly crashed and certainly soiled his pants.

Ben
79pmooney is offline  
Old 02-15-18, 08:55 PM
  #28  
79pmooney
A Roadie Forever
 
79pmooney's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 10,746

Bikes: (2) ti TiCycles, 2007 w/ triple and 2011 fixed, 1979 Peter Mooney, ~1983 Trek 420 now fixed and ~1973 Raleigh Carlton Competition gravel grinder

Mentioned: 115 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3554 Post(s)
Liked 2,350 Times in 1,539 Posts
Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
Let's try a twist on the question.. someone passes you and then lets up on their speed once in front of you and you're stuck in the following position? Or, maybe doesn't slow down, but now you have a draft and you're easily now able to go that speed.. Happens..
If they pass and slow, rude in my book. If they keep going and I can get the draft, I might, but I also make sure they know and it is OK by them. If not, I just ease up, let them go and go back to my old speed.

Ben
79pmooney is offline  
Old 02-15-18, 09:07 PM
  #29  
nwrig004
Member
 
nwrig004's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2018
Posts: 25
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 7 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I hate this soooooo much! If I'm faster I pass and if I pass you, don't pump up the watts to hang on my wheel b/c your pride is hurt.
The worst is people that hang on your wheel and are playing music or the guys with expensive hubs that coast and you wish you could afford $2500 wheels
nwrig004 is offline  
Old 02-15-18, 09:10 PM
  #30  
memebag
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 1,597

Bikes: 2017 Cannondale CAAD12 105, 2014 Giant Escape City

Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 820 Post(s)
Liked 6 Times in 6 Posts
Also, if you can get close enough to draft, DROPE THE HAMER.
memebag is offline  
Likes For memebag:
Old 02-15-18, 09:22 PM
  #31  
SHBR
C*pt*i* Obvious
 
SHBR's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: Shanghai
Posts: 1,337
Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 596 Post(s)
Liked 52 Times in 43 Posts
Stranger jumps on your wheel?

Time for some intervals.

If they persist, let them pass.

If a train of two or more riders passes by, I find its difficult to resist the urge to hop on.
SHBR is offline  
Old 02-15-18, 09:32 PM
  #32  
canklecat
Me duelen las nalgas
 
canklecat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Texas
Posts: 13,225

Bikes: Centurion Ironman, Trek 5900, Univega Via Carisma, Globe Carmel

Mentioned: 196 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4389 Post(s)
Liked 2,430 Times in 1,578 Posts
This comes up a lot. I rarely pass folks on the MUP if they're riding at least 10 mph. I'll just throttle down and stay a few bike lengths behind them until it's either safe to pass, or they turn off, or we reach the end of that segment. I don't like crowding folks or surprising them, especially if they appear to be casual riders wearing ear buds.

For me, the MUP is just a transportation corridor. It's not my personal race track. I use it only when it's more convenient than the public streets to get where I'm going. Usually it's much faster to take the public streets, so that's what I'll do if I'm trying to make good time. If I'm on the MUP I'm usually loafing, saving energy for the next high effort burst on a long ride. Last night I rode a metric century, and rode a few miles of the MUP between public road segments as a shortcut and to loaf a bit. The 15-20 mph head wind on half that ride was exhausting.

As Doc I and other folks noted, you don't need to wheelsuck to get some benefit of drafting. About 3 bike lengths back, I can still feel some effect, which means I need to be even more conscious of not crowding the person ahead of me.

Part of the designated bike corridor includes some city streets with bike lanes or sharerows. If I'm averaging 16-17 mph, and the person ahead of me is riding 15 mph, I'll probably hang back. I'm not able to pass and stay consistently ahead enough that they won't catch up at every intersection. I never run stop signs without slowing and looking, even though most of us practice the Idaho Stop on the designated bike lane/sharerows. So there's no point in passing someone who's barely slower than I am. I'll just hang back a few bike lengths. I know from experience most folks will turn off in a mile or two and follow a popular route, while I usually continue on along a route that's a bit harder with a long gradual climb. So I won't be following them for long.

Part of my 62 mile ride yesterday was 20 miles with friends. One of my buds is a big guy. Strong rider on a fixie last night. I stuck to his wheel after about 15 miles into a head wind because he was still strong and I'd already put in nearly 50 miles that night. Good thing about drafting a steady rider on a fixie, you can instantly adjust to them by being alert to what their legs are doing. I ride my brakes and coast more, but I don't worry about running into them or herky jerky movements because they're very experienced and steady.
canklecat is offline  
Old 02-15-18, 09:33 PM
  #33  
canklecat
Me duelen las nalgas
 
canklecat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Texas
Posts: 13,225

Bikes: Centurion Ironman, Trek 5900, Univega Via Carisma, Globe Carmel

Mentioned: 196 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4389 Post(s)
Liked 2,430 Times in 1,578 Posts
Originally Posted by memebag View Post
Also, if you can get close enough to draft, DROPE THE HAMER.
I tried that last night but my mighty guads started cramping.
canklecat is offline  
Old 02-15-18, 09:45 PM
  #34  
canklecat
Me duelen las nalgas
 
canklecat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Texas
Posts: 13,225

Bikes: Centurion Ironman, Trek 5900, Univega Via Carisma, Globe Carmel

Mentioned: 196 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4389 Post(s)
Liked 2,430 Times in 1,578 Posts
FWIW, I don't mind if a stranger drafts me. As long as they're not on my wheel it's fine. Best to hang back a bike length until you get to know someone's style.

If we've ridden together before it's fine with me if they're on my wheel, even if we don't really know each other that well. If they feel confident enough to stick to my wheel, I'm doing okay -- I never think of myself as being strong and steady enough for anyone to actually want to follow closer than a full bike length.

On casual group rides I try to encourage folks to draft me if they're tired or out of shape. But they're usually not confident enough to try. I suppose we should discuss this stuff before the rides. Just tell folks if they're new or a little out of shape, just hang at the back and stay 2-3 bike lengths behind someone -- they'll still get some benefits of drafting without needing to be on red alert level focus.

But what I usually see is those riders will shift to the side, back into the wind, rather than take any advantage. Not sure whether they think they're being courteous, or just not confident enough and and prefer to see the road ahead themselves. I can understand that. On casual rides I avoid following anyone who seems to veer around erratically if they're not moving to avoid road hazards.
canklecat is offline  
Old 02-15-18, 09:54 PM
  #35  
SHBR
C*pt*i* Obvious
 
SHBR's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: Shanghai
Posts: 1,337
Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 596 Post(s)
Liked 52 Times in 43 Posts
Riding off to the side is safer than directly behind, and even then, some riders will hate it.

Overlapped wheels are what causes most crashes, so never do that.
SHBR is offline  
Old 02-15-18, 09:58 PM
  #36  
on the path
Señor Blues
 
on the path's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: upstate NY
Posts: 1,598

Bikes: Cannondale CAAD 10, Breezer Venturi Custom Build, IRO Singlespeed

Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 127 Post(s)
Liked 6 Times in 6 Posts
Two days ago a guy rides up behind me. Even if I couldn't see our shadows I knew he was staying right behind me. After a very short while he said "I'm on your wheel". I was completely ok with that.

Some people have enough friends already. Not me.
on the path is offline  
Old 02-15-18, 10:36 PM
  #37  
pickettt
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 411

Bikes: DiamondBack Podium 7, Focus Raven 1.0, Ritchey BreakAway Cross, (2) Trek 8500, Paramount PDG 90, Trek T2000, Redline Flight Pro 24

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 160 Post(s)
Liked 56 Times in 33 Posts
I don't trust the wheels of half the riders I know, I'll be damned if I draft a complete stranger.
pickettt is offline  
Old 02-15-18, 11:01 PM
  #38  
cthenn
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Walnut Creek, CA
Posts: 2,614

Bikes: 2015 Trek Emonda SLR, 2002 Litespeed Classic, 2005 Bianchi Pista, 2016 Devinci Hatchet, Some BikesDirect MTB I never ride.

Mentioned: 10 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 628 Post(s)
Liked 117 Times in 78 Posts
Excellent topic, I don't think it's been discussed before.
cthenn is offline  
Old 02-15-18, 11:59 PM
  #39  
Carbonfiberboy 
just another gosling
 
Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Everett, WA
Posts: 18,518

Bikes: CoMo Speedster 2003, Trek 5200, CAAD 9, Fred 2004

Mentioned: 112 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3413 Post(s)
Liked 1,381 Times in 1,010 Posts
These threads are just nuts. I don't understand why they occur/re-occur. I've probably jumped on 100s of strangers' wheels. I announce "on your wheel" loud enough that they hear. Most riders don't even look around. They certainly don't do anything different from what they've been doing. Why should they? The danger's on me, not on them. If anything, they're a hair faster for my presence. Of course I don't get on the wheels of riders who aren't holding their speed or line. Why would I do that?

A line or rider goes by me maybe 1-2 mph faster than I'm holding solo and I'll accelerate onto the last wheel. If the line wants to only be them, then the last rider always drops back and lets the rotating rider in ahead of them, so I'm not an issue. If it's a collection of strangers, which is usually the case, the rotating rider drops in on my wheel. I'm going to complain?

Every now and again, I'll catch a rider ahead of me who's going just a hair slower than I. I'll announce and sit on their wheel for a while, to rest and check it out. If they seem competent, I'll go around and invite them to sit my wheel. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. Either way, no one is worse of than before.

Anyway, that's why these threads are always ridiculous. Just ride your bike and don't worry about it. Be nice and others will be nice back.
__________________
Results matter
Carbonfiberboy is offline  
Old 02-16-18, 01:00 AM
  #40  
San Pedro
Senior Member
 
San Pedro's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Kota, Aichi, Japan
Posts: 1,277

Bikes: 2011 Giant Seek R3, 2015 Specialized Allez Elite, 2017 Giant TCR Advanced 2

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 344 Post(s)
Liked 3 Times in 3 Posts
Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
Let's try a twist on the question.. someone passes you and then lets up on their speed once in front of you and you're stuck in the following position? Or, maybe doesn't slow down, but now you have a draft and you're easily now able to go that speed.. Happens..


Originally Posted by popeye View Post
Feel free to hop on my wheel anytime. Nothing better than trading pulls with a complete stranger and never exchanging a word until the thanks at the end. It last happened two hours ago.
I hardly ever come across fast riders, but I also wouldn't mind someone sitting on my wheel for a while. (Maybe give me at least a foot though.) When I do come across someone if they're riding close to my speed, passing might be hard because of traffic, or like Sy said, a person gets passed by someone slightly faster and then they're in a slipstream and can keep up. I have blown myself up by catching someone, and figuring I need to pass them, and then going at higher pace (out of politeness letting them enjoy a higher speed lead out), and being done when I got to a hill.

If you're being drafted at least you can enjoy the 4% reduction in drag.
San Pedro is offline  
Old 02-16-18, 05:44 AM
  #41  
kbarch
Senior Member
 
kbarch's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 4,286
Mentioned: 21 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1096 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Originally Posted by Doge View Post
... I've been in pretty serious discussions and had the hanger-on jump in. I was not so kind and let them know it was rude.
Jumped in on your conversation? That IS a bit too friendly. There's a polite way to handle that without being unkind, but I know I don't have such well-cultivated manners, either.
kbarch is offline  
Old 02-16-18, 07:21 AM
  #42  
kbarch
Senior Member
 
kbarch's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 4,286
Mentioned: 21 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1096 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Originally Posted by SHBR View Post
Riding off to the side is safer than directly behind, and even then, some riders will hate it.
Not if the rider in front is a good rider. The rider in front has the BEST, most complete view of the road ahead and is in position to take the best, safest line. If you are off to the side, then chances are you aren't taking such a good, safe line. Besides, if you are trying to stay to the side rather than behind....
Overlapped wheels are what causes most crashes, so never do that.

Last edited by kbarch; 02-16-18 at 07:26 AM.
kbarch is offline  
Old 02-16-18, 07:43 AM
  #43  
evan326
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: RVA
Posts: 514

Bikes: 2013 Cannondale Synapse 6 Tiagra + 2016 Cannondale CAAD 12 Dura Ace

Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 231 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
These threads seem to pop up once every month or two don't they?
I ride alone, mostly at dusk, so I don't see many others out when I'm riding. Yesterday I saw a guy about a mile up the road and made it a point to catch up before I turned around to go home. When I caught up to him, we were in a section where it was too narrow to pass safely at speed. I stayed about 30-45 feet behind him till the path widend. Would you consider this riding someone's wheel? It seems some of you would, I always thought it was basically like tailgating on the highway. Riding inches behind the other bikes wheel.
I don't think it's very safe or polite to stick right on the back of someone without at least making sure they know about it and know how to ride together safely.
evan326 is offline  
Old 02-16-18, 10:37 AM
  #44  
Wspsux
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Vermont
Posts: 1,051

Bikes: Waterford, Salsa, Rivendell

Mentioned: 8 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 210 Post(s)
Liked 18 Times in 10 Posts
Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
Not OK in my book unless you ask. You are asking that guy (gal) in front of you to ride for the both of you. (Ie, not say hitting the brakes suddenly or doing a quick move to miss a pothole.) Now, if that guy in front does some such thing, crashes the guy behind and rides on unscathed, in my book, all's good. But if the guy in front suffers injury or damage I suspect he would have solid case in court for damages caused by a tailgater. (In Oregon, a bicycle is considered a vehicle.)

If you are going to do this (stealth drafting), look to make sure the person you are drafting isn't riding a fix gear. A good fix gear rider can do a slowing very quickly by simply applying back pressure as the pedal comes up. In a former commute, I used to ride through a park with several right angle turns at about 7am. Never saw another bike. One day I saw one a hundred yards behind me. Young man. The bike wasn't anything fancy. So except for the fact that it was indeed another bike, nothing that I gave another thought to. Two turns later I did my usual quick backpedal to set up for the turn. There was a huge commotion right behind me! Apparently this guy had caught up to me, very nearly crashed and certainly soiled his pants.

Ben
Lol, Us FG guys are always givin' them a scare it seems
Wspsux is offline  
Likes For Wspsux:
Old 02-16-18, 10:48 AM
  #45  
TenSpeedV2
Senior Member
 
TenSpeedV2's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2014
Posts: 4,347

Bikes: Felt TK2, Felt Z5

Mentioned: 21 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 943 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 19 Times in 19 Posts
Had a guy do this to me one day heading home. Think he wanted to cat and mouse me. Would speed up and pass and then slow down and I would pass. Repeat. Then he jumped on my wheel as I picked up a slightly faster pace to distance myself from him. Well, I got tired of his coughing and snot rockets that he was shooting behind me. We came to a fork where the road continued and the MUP started. The MUP is a straight shot for the first mile and a half. As we crested the small hill onto the MUP and he was still behind me drafting, it was time to go so I dropped him. Not a single soul on the MUP that time so it was full steam ahead. Think he got the idea and didn't try to catch up.

Don't hop on a strangers wheel. Not sure that many of us out there enjoy that.
TenSpeedV2 is offline  
Old 02-16-18, 11:24 AM
  #46  
ririder
Senior Member
 
ririder's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Rhode Island
Posts: 93

Bikes: Giant Defy Advanced 2, Giant Talon , Specialized Sequoia, Fuji Crosstown

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 30 Post(s)
Liked 65 Times in 32 Posts
Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Just ride your bike and don't worry about it. Be nice and others will be nice back.
This works for me.
ririder is offline  
Old 02-16-18, 11:36 AM
  #47  
indyfabz
Senior Member
 
indyfabz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 35,099
Mentioned: 202 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 16032 Post(s)
Liked 10,454 Times in 5,080 Posts
The first waving thread of 2018 cannot be far off.
indyfabz is offline  
Old 02-16-18, 12:05 PM
  #48  
Carbonfiberboy 
just another gosling
 
Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Everett, WA
Posts: 18,518

Bikes: CoMo Speedster 2003, Trek 5200, CAAD 9, Fred 2004

Mentioned: 112 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3413 Post(s)
Liked 1,381 Times in 1,010 Posts
There's also a philosophical side to riding with others. On your bike, you speak with your bike and you speak your truth. Your bike will show your soul to other riders. That's what's so cool about riding with a group. People don't normally bare all in that way. And that's also why tandems are called "divorce machines." If you can ride tandem with her or him, you're good for life.

So be careful what you say about yourself.
__________________
Results matter
Carbonfiberboy is offline  
Old 02-16-18, 12:30 PM
  #49  
bikecrate
Senior Member
 
bikecrate's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: LF, APMAT
Posts: 2,738
Mentioned: 12 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 608 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 360 Times in 206 Posts
I don't like wheel sucking. I always stay about 2 bike links away and out of their line. I only pass if I really feel stronger than the person in front. Also don't like wheel suckers behind me.
bikecrate is offline  
Old 02-16-18, 12:42 PM
  #50  
AlmostTrick
Tortoise Wins by a Hare!
 
AlmostTrick's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Looney Tunes, IL
Posts: 7,397

Bikes: Wabi Special FG, Raleigh Roper, Nashbar AL-1, Miyata One Hundred, '70 Schwinn Lemonator and More!!

Mentioned: 21 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1548 Post(s)
Liked 928 Times in 500 Posts
Hopping on a stranger's wheel?

Avoid at all costs. Besides being dangerous, it's also cheating. Be a man, woman, or whatever the case may be, and ride safely and honestly in the wind.
AlmostTrick is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2021 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.