Artistic cycling – Amazing stuff

It’s the 93rd independence day here in Finland today and during the night it snowed another 20 centimeters (8 inches). That means less cycling and more cleaning out the yard and driveway. Or just staying in and watching bike videos of other people riding in the snow.

Anyway, there are these videos I’ve seen during the years and I’ve never really understood what the “sport” actually is. The presenter always seems to speak German or some Asian language. Today, while browsing through the forums, I bumped into one again and since I really want to postpone the yard cleaning work, I started investigating the roots of this.

Turns out it’s called artistic cycling in general and the more sport-like looking thing is called indoor cycling or Hallenradsport in German, which means “hall bicycle sport” if translated directly. Some call it bike ballet and some just call it riding in Portland.

Kaufmann's cycling beauties circa 1888

According to a Wikipedia article, it’s been around for a long time, the first competitions titled unofficial world championships were held already in 1888. Still, when you look at those videos, it’s amazing how they can control their balance, cadence and bikes in general so well that they can do everything they want to with them. I’m sure they even do their grocery shopping on their bikes.

The special tools of artistic cyclists | Photo by Hugger Industries

The bikes they use currently are special as well. They are fixed gear bikes with very small gear ratios and the easiest way to recognize a bike are the handlebars and the saddle. The bars are like normal road handlebars but upside down on the stem, and the saddle is a large and more curvier saddle that your usual Brooks.

Does anyone know anything more about the sport? Do you know someone who practices it? Let us know.

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By Markus Sandelin

Markus is a bike commuter gadget freak who is learning the ropes of the bike world, you can find him all around the web - but you can start with his twitter at @banton.