Tag Archive for Bike Polo Equipment
The fine folks at RYB Denim (polo players and bike lovers, one and all) have just launched their Indiegogo campaign. As it says on the site:
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Go check out the web page and please do support this looks-to-be-awesome product launch!
Bike polo has been a sport of borrowing.
We borrow mallets from club mates when we start, we borrow face cages from hockey or baseball, we borrowed balls from street hockey and bikes from the track or mountain. We borrow and borrow and borrow.
Because of that, we often break the hell out of equipment because it’s simply not made to take the kind of violence that bike polo can dish out, and there’s no better example than the taco’d wheel.
Unlike other bike sport, bike polo makes wheels do all sorts of things that a wheel was not initially designed to take. It’s because of this that bike polo players generally roll through rims like butter on popcorn. But it looks like that tide may be changing.
The Velocity NoBS rim was made for polo–pure and simple. Inside and out, the rim was designed to take what you (and the opposing team) is dishing out. On paper it comes in 26 and 700c varieties, 32, 36 or 48 spoke count, and costs around $60.00 for the rim.
Here are some of the specifics from Velocity’s Website:
Rim Size: 700c
Tire Interface: Clincher
Valve: Presta 32 – 40mm
Bead Seat Diameter (BSD): 622
Effective Rim Diameter (ERD): 606
Tire Interface: Clincher
Valve: Presta 32 – 40mm
Bead Seat Diameter (BSD): 559
Effective Rim Diameter (ERD): 543
As you can see from the above graphic, the rims are designed to take lateral strikes and still keep true (you and I both know that any wheel will eventually fail under the right kinda stress, but the point is this rim was made to withstand more polo-appropriate punishment than other wheels). The internal reinforcement helps prevent denting and failure, leading you to spend less time trying to fix your wheels–and less money trying to replace them after every tourney.
Velocity sent a two of the 26″, 48 spoke variety to Lancaster polo a few months ago. As soon as I took them out of the box (imagine a small child opening presents on Christmas and you’ll have the visual), I could feel and see the quality of the build. With other wheels I’ve felt as though they were the weakest point of the bike (and they kinda are, really), but the NoBS wheels struck me as remarkably solid and strong.
Laced to Fixcraft’s Core series front disc and rear fix-free hubs (Which you can read all about in this post), the wheels looked like something that belong on the court just as much as any other piece of polo equipment. They are burly and act the part of a polo player’s wheelset.
And I just want to mention one thing here: these aren’t deep V, and frankly if you still think that matters for your polo bike, you’re horribly mistaken. Deep V, in my opinion, just means you have more chances to dent your rims. These rims are exactly what is needed: tight, well-constructed and hearty as a honey badger’s don’t-care-o-meter.
Testing Read more
Hubs are pretty basic pieces of equipment in the bicycle lineup. In this I mean they are generally just three components: a hub shell, bearings, and an axle. Sure, there are other elements, but that’s the core of what makes an axle work. When I was trying to gain support from some of the guys in my club to write this review (mostly to make sure that I didn’t sound like a complete buffoon), they all repeated the same thing: there’s really nothing that exciting about a hub.
But I’d beg to differ, and let me explain why:
When I first started playing this sport, I rolled around on whatever was available (I think a lot of us had that same kind of upbringing in bike polo). my first hubs were the ones that came with the ten dollar wheels I bought at a Velo Swap, and they worked. Not well, mind you, but if I turned the wheel on my front fork, it spun around for a few turns before slowing to a stop. That’s what I thought a wheel was supposed to do, and for a long time what I imagined hubs were supposed to do, too.
My first set of fresh-from-the-box hubs came from Fixcraft when Sean allowed me to purchase the HV1 prototype polo bike. It came with a set of the Fixcraft Core Series hubs (in particular, the 100mm 48 hole front disc and 135mm 48 hole rear disc). It was from that point that I realized how hubs/wheels were supposed to feel, and that has made quite a difference to me.
Build Read more
So why doesn’t the sport go to double capped mallets? I mean, it would eliminate some of the hooplah about scoop shots, for one thing, and if I could avoid hearing that argument (for or against) for the rest of my life, I’d be a happy Crusher.
Furthermore, going to double capped mallets would remove a hefty chunk of rules from the rule-set, and that would help streamline the sport, as it were.
Do I think it’s going to happen? No, probably not. We’re creatures of habit, us polo players, and the greats have built up their abilities around a one side capped (or no sides capped) mallet head. The sport would need to relearn the sport, and who has time for that?!
Though I don’t think it’d be the worst thing to happen. Having open ends is a hold over from when we used to steal gas pipe to make our equipment, and because of that we learned to use those open ends to our benefit. When we started making our own (or making caps for those open ends), we learned that having that closed side made for stronger, more predictable shots.
But, we kept that one open side. Oh sure, there are some clubs that experimented with double capped sides, but in the end they were/are the minority. I don’t think it’s because it’s a horrible idea, I think it’s because bike polo doesn’t want to lose that scoopy skill set that it’s gained.
Just give it some thought: what would the benefits be to our sport moving towards having a closed mallet requirement? What are the negatives?
Okay, one negative off the bat would be how to attach the mallet head unless you have a removable cap on one side. Shut up.
I laughed myself to sleep last night.
Mallet Headz (who you all remember from a while back as those Brazilian sports writing, world-tripping bike polo equipment producers) are back with a new website and new products. It would seem that they’ve expanded their offerings quite a bit, actually, as they now have not only the “2″ standard mallet” but also a new 3″ standard mallet (which, I think, is illegal to use in tourney play, is it not?), a 2 inch diameter ultra light mallet (115 grams), and 3 inch diameter “UltraLlite” (misspelling theirs) at 190 grams.
I’d like to bring up, here, the language concerning mallets in the 3.3 version of the NAH ruleset:
§184.108.40.206 – The inner diameter of any hole on the mallet head may not exceed 57mm (2.25”)
Most notable are the travel mallets. Unfortunately, the website doesn’t explain how they assemble, but we can safely assume from the picture that:
Oh, well maybe we can’t assume anything, there.
The travel mallets come at about 27 bucks for the standard travel mallet, 28 bucks for the Ultra Lite travel mallet, and 30 bucks for the quite-possibly-illegal 3 inch Ultra Lite Mallet . Each of those has a 12 dollar shipping charge in the 50 states.
On top of those offerings, they still sell shaft grips, Aerospace T6 shafts, and custom end caps.
I think I might just pick up that travel mallet and do a bit of a review on it. You up for that, dear readers?
Let the games commence, and may the odds be ever in your favor, Malletheadz
Ted brought this to my club’s attention just moments ago, and I couldn’t pass up the chance to share it will all of the polo universe: the Trek Earl.
According to the website, this bike is the “affordable, get around bike built for…well actually let me just show you:
I’m not sure if they just made a mistake with terms when they wrote “polo field” or if they actually meant grass polo – I suspect they intended hardcourt (don’t worry, I’ll follow up with them). Coming in at 529.99 USD complete, the bike ranges from 49cm to 61cm and features an integrated bottle opener.
Bottle opener, guys.
I particularly appreciated that they allowed a recently graduated arts major to do the write up for highlights:
Anyway, check it out here and tell me if any of you have seen one puddering around.
The best part of bike polo is that anyone can come out and give it a try. The introduction to bike polo is often the phrase “You have a bike? Well go get it, we’ll give you everything else you need.”
And that in large part helps explain how people get hooked: you don’t really need any specialized equipment to get started. You can get a loaner mallet, you probably already have a helmet if you own a bike, and your two wheeled wonder-machine. You’re off to the races.
But as I’ve progressed in our little sport it’s become painfully apparent that this model works only for beginning. As much as I’m loathe to say it: your polo bike does have a great deal to do with how much you’ll progress in the sport. At least for us average players.
In saying this I’m excluding bike polo phenoms who could be on a wheel-less unicycle and still make five goals–I’m talking about the everyday polo player. It seems to me that you can start on any bike, but you shouldn’t continue to play on any bike if you’re aiming for competitive play.
Naturally this is a new development: at the founding of our sport there was no such thing as a “polo” bike, but now there are, and they can give players an advantage over other players who are not on a bike with the best geometry, ratios, and other engineering type words. The polo bike is going to become more and more a part of “starting” in this sport, and to give this example, I point to our very own Lancaster United club.
When I first started, I was on a Specialized Hard Rock. I rode that beast around for a year and then moved to a Redline 925 (yes, going from 26 inch wheels to 700s). I then, about a year later, again moved to my current Fixcraft Prototype (26 inch again). It took about 2 years for me to get to a bike that had what I needed to play my polo game – a polo specific bike.
Rodney (one of our newer players), now has a polo specific Peruvian beauty after playing for less than six months.
I think it’s great, of course, that bike polo bike are becoming more ubiquitous on the courts–but there is also a sadness in writing this: the sport is angling away (out of necessity or the times or the advancement of equipment) from a time when whatever bike you had was good enough. Is it good or bad, I don’t know; but it’s certainly happening.
When I first started playing bike polo, My mallet was made by none other than Karl (the Godfather of Lancaster Polo). It was dinged up to hell, had a yellow gas pipe head, and stickers all up and down. The grip, if I remember correctly, was a type of rubbery cloth that held up surprisingly well.
With the building of my own first few mallets, I used lacrosse tape (or hockey tape, if that visual helps more) and enjoyed being able to make my own gripping surfaces by twisting the tape and covering it. Didn’t do a lot for comfort, but certainly did the trick when it came to stopping someone from stealing the mallet.
Next came the experimental phase in my mallet grip career, where I used field hockey tape (easy to tear but so soft and squishy), Bat tape (both of the leather and “shock absorbing” variety), and torn tire tubes (which, to me, feels great but gets so bloody heavy).
I know this all comes down to preference, but for the sake of making it a bit more visible, let’s break down the pros and cons of each system.
- Hard to remove
- One time use
- little to no shock absorption
- Recycling (no cost to buy, as you already have it
- long lasting
- amazing shock absorption
- easy to remove
- kinda hard to work with
- needs secondary attachment system (tape or zip ties or sumfin.)
- no variety of color
Field Hockey Tape Read more
A little while back I got an ARC mallet head by Modifide bike polo, and I was excited/interested by the unique hourglass shape. Modifide–along with fellow Canadian, Northern Standard–has developed and released the first not-just-a-tube shaped mallet head in bike polo (okay, produced by a polo company, sure sure).
When I first reviewed it (linked below) I was impressed with the power off of the shot and with how the hourglass design seemed to make the ball more predictable when receiving a pass. Now that I’ve had it for a month or so, I can speak more on playability and concerns.
My primary concern after playing with his mallet is the shape it’s taking. In particular, the way that the outside, striking/scooping surfaces are doing. Take a look at this picture:
See that caving on the top right? That’s got me worried. I think that’s happening because of the increased pressure on the outside points due to lack of contact with the middle. What I mean is: when I’m posting in goal/trying not to fall over, I’m putting pressure on my mallet. With a tube shape, all of my weight is being distributed across the mallet head (presumably). with this head, it’s all focused on the ends, which might be too much for the material–yes, go ahead and post all of your fat jokes in the comments area, I’m asking for that to happen.
So the scooping end is caving in, but the shooting side seems to be holding up better in terms of shape.
As far as wear on the rest of the head goes, it’s at about the level I’d expect. While I’d like to keep that sharp point on the shooting end, that simply isn’t in the nature of polo mallet heads, and there is certainly some deep rounding happening as you can see. The flat surface of the shooting end seems to be staying relatively flat, however.
That being said, I heard that Kyle (who got one of these as well) had something funny happen with his: the shooting side caved in – like a little cup. looking at the pictures of it, it may not seem that dramatic, but I don’t think having that sort of change to the shooting end is a benefit, necessarily. The picture of his cupping action can be seen below:
So that’s where I produce my criticism: both sides are reacting to, I figure, increased pressure from the shape. This pressure is causing the ends to fail, and that’s causing the mallet head to lose it’s shape.