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No Hands riding..

Compton77Compton77 Posts: 139
edited July 2008 in Road beginners
I was watching Le Tour yesterday and there was a shot of Alessandro Valverde putting his jacket on and almost losing control of his bike whilst doing it, so i thought maybe it isn't only me that struggles with riding along (at pace) and not feeling comfortable enough to ride along no handed. I'm ok with taking a bottle from my cage, but to put a jacket/gilet on I really struggle. Anyone got any tips regarding control of bike no handed?? Is it a technique or confidence thing??



  • redddraggonredddraggon Posts: 10,862
    Confidence thing, keep trying to take your hands off the bars, eventually you'll be able to do loads of things hands free. It just takes practice - find a nice quiet stretch of tarmac.

    For some reason I struggle on winter bike - it seems far more unstable, on my carbon bike I can go round corners with my hands off. I can't take both my hands off the bars going up hill on either bike yet though :cry:
    I like bikes...

  • geoff_ssgeoff_ss Posts: 1,201
    After coming off my motor bike whilst riding no-hands removing my goggles (it hit a pot hole) I've never been comfortable taking both hands off the bars. It's what stopped me taking up road racing - well that and the inevitable pain ... and lack of speed and ...

    I was envious watching a 10 year old girl in France pedalling along whilst nonchalantly pulling a anorak off over her head with complete confidence :oops:

    Old cyclists never die; they just fit smaller chainrings ... and pedal faster
  • Jez monJez mon Posts: 3,809
    Take both hands off the handle bars, but keep them close to the handlebars. Keep doing this over a number of rides and eventually it'll get better. But bear in mind that there are bikes which seem hard to ride no handed, so if needed just use this excuse.

    Also there are a number of things which you can just about do with one hand rather than riding no hands.
    You live and learn. At any rate, you live
  • biondinobiondino Posts: 5,990
    When I was a kid, maybe 11 or 12, we spent a weekend with some friends in a quiet corner of Godalming. They had a bike, an old, heavy racer, that was small/big enough to fit me and my friends, and we devised a circuit around local roads. After a while, we decided that it would be a rule that you had to do the whole thing without any hands. And, despite not being that great a rider, I was soon able to do multiple laps including half a dozen turns at a fair old speed without holding the bars at all.

    Wouldn't dare to try it now, mind. Is it easier the heavier the bike is?
  • kerzkerz Posts: 37
    i`ve always been fairly good at riding no handed , until the other day. i had just left work and i sat up to adjust the cinch fastening on the back of my helmet with both hands off the bars. i didn`t realise how windy it was , a sudden gust made my handlebars wobble, i then hit the kerb and fell over unable to get my cleated shoes out of the look keo pedals. i ended up smashing my head on to the pavement as i tried to protect my beloved carbon frame. my giro helmet saved me from knocking myself unconscious and luckily the only mark on my bike was a scratched quick release skewer. however i had an enormous dent in my pride as i scuttled back to work to straighten my bars and saddle.
    i still ride no handed but am a little more aware of the wind speed and direction !
  • boyse7enboyse7en Posts: 59
    Make sure that you sit pretty upright as you let go of the bars (shoulders over hips), that way your body weight is biased over the rear wheel, whcih allows you to steer the front wheel by leaning gently in teh direction you want to go.
    If you lean too far forwar (trying to keep you hands near the bars, for instance) you'll weight the front wheel, making the bike unsteady
  • redveeredvee Posts: 11,922
    What about stood up no handed so the only contactyou have is your feet on the pedals and the saddle between your thighs?
    I've added a signature to prove it is still possible.
  • nolfnolf Posts: 1,287
    Can just about do that Redvee. haven't tried steering like that yet though...

    It's definitely a skill worth learning. On a chaingang or a race no-one will wait for you to take off a gilet (I find it's usually taking things off rather than putting them on) or coat.

    Also sometimes a bit of a stretch or a quick drink/gel can be easier sat more upright no handed. Quicker anyway.
    "I hold it true, what'er befall;
    I feel it, when I sorrow most;
    'Tis better to have loved and lost;
    Than never to have loved at all."

    Alfred Tennyson
  • neebneeb Posts: 4,448
    I could ride no-hands on a fairly upright bike when I was 12 years old, somehow lost the ability as an adult commuter in my 20s and 30s, and have now regained it on my road bike after a year of "proper" cycling. It's just confidence and a feeling of "oneness" gained from time on the bike, and maybe core strength has something to do with it.
  • neebneeb Posts: 4,448
    P.S. remember when your hands are off the bars and occupied with something else they're also off the brakes...
  • biondinobiondino Posts: 5,990
    I don't think core strength does, since the more relaxed you are, the more it's likely to work.
  • dealdeal Posts: 857
    i used to practice doing big circles, figure eights and slalom courses as a kid, its really easy once your brain understands the bike naturally wants to stay up and it actually takes a bit of effort to cause a fall, sit back, relax and keep the peddles turning. Try and make small gentle reactions rather than over reacting which will just make the bike even more unbalanced.
  • batch78batch78 Posts: 1,320
    I personally believe straight bladed forks have made riding no handed a lot harder, could ride anything no handed as a kid, racer, folding shopper, rigid mtb, now its all a little scary, can still do it but tend not too unless absolutely necessary.

    The faster your traveling the easier it is (obviously!).
  • nickwillnickwill Posts: 2,735
    I think it partly depends on how well your bike fits. If your bike is set up properly and your weight is properly distributed it becomes a lot easier. My best bike has a custom built frame, and no hands riding is fairly easy. My ill fitting Winter bike makes it a lot more difficult.
  • NuggsNuggs Posts: 1,804
    When I was a kid, I could ride anywhere no-handed. Potholes, kerbs and corners? No problem.

    In the intervening 20 years I appear to have completely lost the skill (and the nerve) :oops: !
  • BelvBelv Posts: 866
    edited July 2008
    I think sitting bolt upright (shoulders above hips) is the most important thing.
  • Compton77Compton77 Posts: 139
    I think it's something i'm going to perserve with as it's handy to be able to ride no handed, would you say it was easier when pedalling rather than freewheeling?
  • redddraggonredddraggon Posts: 10,862
    Compton77 wrote:
    I think it's something i'm going to perserve with as it's handy to be able to ride no handed, would you say it was easier when pedalling rather than freewheeling?

    Yeh, it's easier to keep pedalling, I actually tend to speed up a little (if I'm not trying that hard ~14mph on the flat) when I go "handsfree" to about 17mph, perhaps it makes it easier.
    I like bikes...

  • Compton77Compton77 Posts: 139
    Yeh, it's easier to keep pedalling, I actually tend to speed up a little (if I'm not trying that hard ~14mph on the flat) when I go "handsfree" to about 17mph, perhaps it makes it easier.

    Cheers, that's probably where i'm going wrong, i'm focussing to much on what might happen rather than just making it a fluid movement. I don't know why my mind makes me tense up when i think about removing my hands, when go around 20mph or so my hands are barely resting on the hoods anyway, not doing much to control the bike!! If anyone is in the Tooting area tonight and sees a Cervelo topple over you know who it is!!
  • I can't think of many instances where the risks of riding a bike no-handed don't outweigh the benefits.

    As my Grandma used to say: ``Look -- no hands! Look -- no legs :(''
  • madturkeymadturkey Posts: 58
    I can barely ride one handed let alone do anything complicated like having a drink on the move :oops:
  • MettanMettan Posts: 2,103
    Compton77 wrote:
    Is it a technique or confidence thing??


    It's both - ideally you need to be going at a reasonable speed, and pedalling helps - the difference I find between riding no-hands on my Road bike, relative to my BMX/other bike days etc etc, is that the Road bike front end is much lighter/ more skitish than a BMX and the saddle height is much higher relative to your handle bars on a Road bike - both of these factors make a Road bike feel more skitish - it's still straightforward though with a little practice - I certainly wouldn't go the level of changing a jacket or similar on a Road bike though nor doing it on extremely poor road surfaces.
  • drenkromdrenkrom Posts: 1,062
    The fact that the people most comfortable without hands also seem to be most comfortable downhill hints to me that confidence is the biggest factor. Like anything, practice makes perfect. When I was a kid, our coach taught us to get comfortable by taking us to a nice, smooth, slightly winding, not-so-fast descent and getting us to let go longer and longer until we could do the whole hill with our hands behind out backs. Needless to say it was quite nerve-wracking at first. If your bike loses steadiness when you move your weight back, try getting your hands off while staying in your tuck. Remember that you steer with your hips, not your upper body position.

    It's a skill well worth practicing, because the benefits totally outweigh the costs. Just have a good sight-line of where you're going and keep away from those potholes.
  • will3will3 Posts: 2,173
    There's also the small matter of the caster built into the bike (ie how much beind the line of the steerer tube is the contact point on the road) The further back it is, the more stable the bike.
  • drenkrom wrote:
    The fact that the people most comfortable without hands also seem to be most comfortable downhill hints to me that confidence is the biggest factor. Like anything, practice makes perfect.

    I suspect you're right, up to a point. I am very cautious on downhills, and you won't find me riding with both hands off the handlebars.

    Where you're wrong, I think, is to equate both of these things to lack of confidence. On the contrary -- I have been cycling for more than thirty years, and I think I know the limitations of my bicycle and my brain pretty well. So I really don't think I have any problem with confidence.

    I just don't like foolish and unnecessary risks. I've got two small children to raise, and I don't want to do that from a wheelchair if I can help it.

    I can't help but think that what some people describe as `confidence' is what I would call `bravado'.
  • redddraggonredddraggon Posts: 10,862
    I just don't like foolish and unnecessary risks. I've got two small children to raise, and I don't want to do that from a wheelchair if I can help it.

    I wouldn't say riding no hands was "foolish and unnecessary", maybe riding no hands on a busy potholed roads on a blustery day might be though.
    I like bikes...

  • Well, yes; I guess like most things the cost/benefit position depends on the circumstances.

    For some people, I guess, the benefit of taking a risk lies at least in part in the sensation of danger itself. I can't really understand why anybody would take part in, say, bungie jumping otherwise. Or maybe the sensation of speed is a sufficient reward to offset the risk of going fast (on a bicycle or any other time)? Dunno reallly. It's not the way I'm made, anyhow.

    I suspect that many people draw the cost/benefit line in a different place to me because they underestimate risk. Or perhaps they've never hit tarmac hard enough to break bones, as I have :( Or perhaps I'm just naturally risk-averse?

    Anyhow, I don't mind being thought of as risk-averse, or over-cautious, or even cowardly. I take part in a lot of potentially dangerous activities -- flying, rock climbing, diving, and others -- and I like to tell myself that my cautiousness is why I am still alive and better men than me, sadly, are not. Of course, it might just be good fortune.

    Anyhow, it does miff me a bit when cautiousness is equated automatically with inexperience or under-confidence.
  • neebneeb Posts: 4,448
    Risk assessment is a weird thing. Very few of us are completely consistent in being careful or cautious to an extent relative to the real risk of any given activity/situation.

    Bungee jumping is an extreme case in point. If you do it with a professional organisation it is actually hardly risky at all, and yet it feels extremely risky. Great value if you are a cautious adrenaline junkie!

    You mention rock climbing, CrookedCucumber. I've done quite a bit of un-roped scrambling in Scotland (nothing extreme, although I did the curved ridge on the The Buachaille once - scared the sh*t out of me!). That really got me thinking about risk. Sure, it feels very risky and it IS risky, because you are occasionally in a situation where if you decided to let go you would have a good chance of dying. But of course you don't let go - that would be silly! If you think about it, you take that sort of risk every time you cross the road. If you just wandered out without looking, you'd have a good chance of dying. But you don't of course - you are in control of the situation and you know that as long as you always look both ways the risk is minimal. On the other hand, I've also been in plenty situations that don't feel particularly risky but in fact are. Scottish winter hillwalking on my own, for example, where a simple slip on frozen snow is likely to leave you unconscious or with a broken leg in sub-zero temperatures in the middle of nowhere towards nightfall...

    Actually, cycling fast downhill and cycling hands-free are probably relatively risky activities, or at least can be. I think your cautiousness is completely logical, CC. On the other hand, the degree of risk will be considerably lessened by practice and an accurate assessment of a particular situation and one's own abilities. It's up to everyone to decide for themselves whether 1) they really know what risk they are taking, and 2) whether it's worth it.
  • oldwelshmanoldwelshman Posts: 4,733
    You can either do it or you can't, it's co ordination.
    Unless your in the TDF and risk loosing time stopping to remove a jacket, why is there need to ride no handed? If you cannot ride no handed and need to remove a jacket, then stop.
    Anyway if you have a jacket on the chances are its too windy to ride no handed :D
    Thats what nearly brought off Valkverde.
  • Iain CIain C Posts: 464
    I am rubbish at it. Don't have the confidence to risk trashing a bike if I get it wrong.

    What really annoys me is people who insist on riding no handed towards me on cyclepaths...if they were on a serious looking bike with a helmet on and somehow exuded an air of "I really know what I'm doing" then I might be more comfortable, however when they come pedalling towards me, iPod on, cranium protected by a hoodie, and the front Vbrake not even connected properly I get very, very nervous.
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