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?
Sometimes you need your hands free to make an adjustment, button up a jacket or shoot off a text.
Riding with no hands is also common among bike couriers. They do it as a jab when they pass other couriers. In fact, bicyclists who aren’t couriers will do it couriers for the same reason.
But most of time, people just want to relax for a moment and give their posture or hands 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 the militant cyclist, the notion of riding a bike with no hands even for a moment is the equivalent to riding through a red light while blindfolded. For them, no context can justify what they deem to be a black and white situation.
I’ve witnessed dozens of wipeouts over the years and it’s never because someone was riding without hands. Of course, using both hands to text while riding a bike is never a good idea.
But we’re talking about small pockets of time here. No one is going to be swerving through traffic, making turns in this fashion for the majority of their ride.
How to ride a bike with no hands
It’s important to have a well-balanced bike which starts with the front wheel. 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 so pedal with some resistance. Look straight ahead down the path and not at your hands.
3. Sit up straight
Loosen your grip. When you let go, sit completely upright so you create a nice, stable equilibrium. Relax your arms and keep pedaling.
4. Steer with your gut
This may become a surprise to you, but steering comes from your gut. Hands on the grips are for micro-adjustments. Your torso does all 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, go easy at first. Stay safe and happy riding.