Why walk your bike vertically?
October 26, 2008 5:02 PM   Subscribe

KidsTheseDays Filter: I see 'em walking their bikes by holding them propped up vertically, by the handlebars, balanced on the back wheel. What's this all about?

I've tried it, and it's ungainly (plus, looks stupid). Also takes both hands. When I walk my bike (horizontally) it only takes one hand (grasping the handlebar neck, to steer), freeing the other hand up for whatever (like, pushing open the door). But then I have an adult bike, with 700C wheels; the teenagers I see doing this are still using their BMX bikes.

What's popularizing this vertical method? Possibly just a local trend?

Yes, it reduces one's footprint in a crowd, which is to be commended, but it's unstable and awkward IMO. Am I missing something?
posted by Rash to Travel & Transportation (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think you're missing something.

1) It only takes one hand on the stem to walk a bike vertically.

2) It's much easier to maneuver through crowds, doors, small spaces, etc. because the bike is shorter and it tracks right where you guide it to go, unlike a horizontal roll where the back wheel needs room to make a turn.

I'm not sure what the trend is, but in my vast experience (and it is reasonably vast--bike courier etc.), walking a vertical bike is much much easier than walking a horizontal bike.

It sounds like your personal preference is clouding your judgment.
posted by OmieWise at 5:06 PM on October 26, 2008

Best answer: If you walk it upright, the pedals don't knock your shins.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 5:12 PM on October 26, 2008


The bike would be shorter if guided while horizontal,

Omniewise, your answer confused me but I know squat about bikes.
posted by pearlybob at 5:15 PM on October 26, 2008

It's easier, more comfortable and far more maneuverable.

It's not a new thing (in England at least), I've been doing it for as long as I can remember-- pushing a bike on two wheels means you're leaning over (I'm pretty tall), and I always clip my ankles. I'd rather carry my bike on my shoulder then push it around on two wheels because of those reasons alone.
posted by Static Vagabond at 5:20 PM on October 26, 2008

I do it in large pedestrian crowds so I don't hit someone / take up more side-by-side area.
posted by Upal at 5:28 PM on October 26, 2008

pearlybob: I took it that OmieWise meant shorter lengthwise. When you walk the bike upright, there's no ass-end to have to maneuver.
posted by CKmtl at 5:34 PM on October 26, 2008

Best answer: BMXer here (and not a teenager), I do this frequently. Mainly because at about 6 foot tall, wheeling my bmx by the handle bars means I have to walk hunch back. Also it means I can walk the bike with just one hand and it is more maneuverable as Static has pointed out. Also because I have pegs on my rear wheels I often get myself in the back of the ankle with them. Also makes it easier to get the bike down stairs, or alteratively hop it up steps.

I haven't ever done this with a mountain/road bike that I can recall, I can imagine that it might not handle similarly.
posted by chrisbucks at 5:34 PM on October 26, 2008

Ahhhh, ok, thanks for the clarification CK. I get it now.
posted by pearlybob at 5:35 PM on October 26, 2008

Huh. Great question—I've seen my neighbor doing this with his fancy racing bike since he moved in, and figured it was some sort of "Oh, look at me, I'm a pro" kind of affectation... but apparently there might be a reason he's doing it!
posted by limeonaire at 5:46 PM on October 26, 2008

Kids these days? I'm 30 and I did this when I was a teenager. I don't know why I did it though. A different way of holding it maybe?

Maybe I was just a pioneer...
posted by Effigy2000 at 6:32 PM on October 26, 2008

What OmieWise said. Plus, if you're pushing a fixed gear bike, the pedals turn. Having it up on the back wheel really helps avoid getting you're shins barked with a pedal that's turning.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:38 PM on October 26, 2008

posted by oneirodynia at 6:39 PM on October 26, 2008

I do this when I'm moving bikes around the house and don't have room to maneuver in the halls.
posted by niles at 6:56 PM on October 26, 2008

Can't say I've noticed anybody in Sydney doing this, so it sounds like a bit of a local trend, which isn't to say it mightn't have practical benefits.

I'll have to give it a go sometime. It sounds incredibly awkward to me, but I'll defer to OmieWise's cycling cred.

Personally, I prefer to wheel my bike hand-on-seat, steering by tilting it one way or another. No real reason, except it's a bit more fun.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:22 PM on October 26, 2008

yea you'll see couriers do this a fair amount as well as shop wrenches. going along with everyone above, basically it's a hack to get a bike thru a crowd and/or tight/crowded spaces like a hallway or back room. if you know how to handle a bike you only need to use one hand on the stem to do this. we used to do this all the time to get bikes from the back of the shop to the front without knocking stuff everywhere, and I do it in my house to navigate the trappy hallways in our old victorian rehab.

bonus points if you can mount / dismount the bike gracefully from the rear by "walking" on/off it in a nonchalant fashion (this naturally works best with a fixie).
posted by lonefrontranger at 7:44 PM on October 26, 2008

... oh and I should also say this works best with a featherweight road or track/fixte bike that is minimal in profile, i.e. doesn't have wide bars or racks/fenders/panniers. the less the bike weighs (particularly the front end) for this manouevre the better as it's not something you can easily attempt with a 40 pound cruiser. I rarely attempt it with the glorious spectacle of engineering that is my downhill bike ferinstance.
posted by lonefrontranger at 7:48 PM on October 26, 2008

What everybody else said. I worked at a bike shop in high school (that was 15 years ago or more), and everybody did it there. Besides everything else, it's much easier to get through the kinds of doors that swing closed behind you. Getting the back wheel caught in the door sounds awful, and makes you feel like a dink.
posted by box at 6:04 AM on October 27, 2008

The local bike shops that I go to use this method almost exclusively to maneuver the bikes from one area of the shop to another.
posted by odi.et.amo at 9:35 AM on October 27, 2008

I have an old mountain bike that was replaced recently by a road bike. On my mountain bike, I would occasionally do this just for the heck of it. It's fun and with the weight of the thing it's much more difficult.

Or, if I was walking with friends and I was bored, I would, once again, do it just for the heck of it.

However, now that I have a road bike with a rear rack, I can't do it anymore.
posted by 47triple2 at 11:48 AM on October 27, 2008

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