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.