Riding a bike with no hands is a common quirk in Amsterdam. Here are reasons why people do it with tips on how to try it yourself.
Why do people ride with no hands?
There are many reasons why people ride with no hands. Sometimes you have to make an adjustment, like buttoning up your jacket. You may need to send a text message. Or your hands may be just cold and you want warm them up.
Riding with no hands is also common among bike couriers. They like to do it as a jab when they pass other couriers. In fact, bicyclists who aren’t couriers will do it to couriers for the same reason.
Other times, you’re not doing anything specific beyond giving your posture a break.
Isn’t riding a bike with no hands dangerous?
There are risks with anything, including just riding a bicycle. Though there is a balance (pun intended) between risk and reward.
For militant cyclists, riding a bike with no hands in the city would be like jumping out an airplane without a parachute. There is no context to justify doing it.
Accidents do happen
I’ve witnessed dozens of wipeouts over the years and it’s never because someone was riding without hands. Accidents are often caused by not paying attention.
Of course, using both hands to text while riding a bike is never a good idea. Amsterdam recently banned using your phone while cycling.
But for the reasons mentioned earlier, there are reasons why people do it, if only for a moment.
How to ride a bike with no hands
It begins with a well-balanced bike, dictated by the front wheel. Not all bikes are equal. Some bikes are born this way, others may require some tuning.
1. Find a spot to ride
When it comes time to ride, find a smooth path without distractions.
2. Begin pedalling
You need to have momentum and you need to have some resistance when pedaling. Look ahead down the path and not at your hands.
3. Sit up straight
Loosen your grip. When you let go, sit upright so you create a nice, stable equilibrium. Relax your arms and keep pedaling.
4. Steer with your gut
Balancing comes from your gut. Put your focus there. Your torso does the work and will steer you in the direction that you want to go.
To ride or not to ride
What may seem like an ego-driven spectacle, doesn’t have to be. Riding a bike with no hands is just an evolutionary process on the mastery of your bike. If you’re going to try it, follow these tips and go easy at first. Happy riding!