Road Bike Skills 201: Riding with No Hands
Why would you want to ride a road bike with no hands? Practicing riding with no hands in a safe, low traffic area will help improve your balance and control, enable you to add or remove layers without getting off the bike, fuel on the bike with more confidence, clean your glasses, get in a quick stretch, and it will even help you be ready for a victory salute should you win your next race!
We’ve asked Leah Kirchmann, Team Sunweb pro road racer, for a few tips on how to ride with no hands.
Tips for Riding with No Hands
Before you learn how to ride with no hands, it’s important to know when you do not want to attempt this skill. You should try to avoid riding no-handed in most race scenarios, as you need to be able to react quickly to movements in the peloton and don’t want to endanger other riders. If you are training, then you should always have your hands on the bars in busy areas of traffic and pedestrians. You never know what kind of obstacle might present itself.
Learn how to ride with no hands by practicing on straight, open roads on training rides to start with. Take it slow and follow these steps to start riding with no hands!
- Shift your weight into your seat.
Tilt your pelvis back, so your weight is further back on the bike.
- Engage your core.
A strong core will help you maintain your balance as you lift your hands off the bars.
- Look ahead, not at your hands.
Always look where you want to go. Looking down will get you off-balance and cause you not to see a bump or dip in the road!
- Keep pedaling to maintain speed.
Maintaining momentum will make balance easier. It’s harder to balance if you are barely moving!
- Start by removing one hand from the bar. Then the other.
Using the body position tips above, drop one hand down by your side and then the other. Practice riding with one hand to drink water, fuel up or even taking a feed.
- Hover both hands above the bars, keeping them close at first.
Once you are comfortable riding with one hand, begin lifting both hands off the bars at the same time, hovering them just over the top of the bar.
- Build your confidence gradually.
Once you start lifting fully off the bars, practice a lot until you can safely ride with no hands. Do not add more complicated no-hand maneuvers (like adding or removing a jacket) until you are very comfortable riding with no hands.
- Use your core and hips to balance and turn.
You can actually control the direction your bike is going just by using your hips. This is a really fun drill to do once you have gotten comfortable riding with no hands.
Knowing how to ride with no hands is both a practical and a helpful skill to improve your overall bike handling. It will give you a better awareness of how to control the movements of your bike with your body.