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Progress, pose and the wrong way to get on a bicycle
16.02.08 by Buffalo Bill

Having spent a couple of evenings hanging out with fixie kids (yes, kids – I am old enough to be their dad), and having a very enjoyable time too, I have to draw my reader’s attention to something which has become a real and significant concern to me.

I refer, dear reader, to the current fashion for mounting of bicycles by swinging a leg over the handle-bars. I am not entirely sure from where this move has been copied, as I have only ever seen it practised by track sprinters, cyclo-tourists and tricycle riders. Track sprinters do it because their legs are so fat that they are unable to lift them to the required angle to enable a rear swing-over. Cyclo-tourists do it because they typically travel with capacious and bulky saddle-bags that obstruct the afore-mentioned manouevre. Tricyclists do it because, well, why do tricyclists do anything? Just to be bloody different and difficult, no matter what the cost to themselves or the public.

The oh-so-fashionable low front end of the modern fixie (can you reach the bottoms of the hooks of those shiny NJS bars? No? Then put your bloody stem up, fool!), facilitates but not validates the front mount.

But is it an efficient or necessary practice? Let’s think about it for a second: the purpose of a bicycle is to enable greatly improved motion, not for hanging on the wall and admiring. This motion should occur in a straight line, forward from the front wheel. So does it make sense to engage with the machine by moving backwards over the front wheel? Of course it does not. Unless you do everything backwards, in which case your problems can probably only be solved with professional assistance from qualified health-care practitioners.

The only sensible, rational mount is the rear swing-over. Correctly accomplished, it imparts forward motion to the bicycle, so that your machine is already rolling in the correct direction as you engage with it. If you happen to ride fixie (as I know some of my readers do), the forward motion will bring the pedals round to meet your feet, obviating the need to locate the pedals whilst stationary.

So strike a blow for reason, progress and efficiency. Say no to fashion, pose and regression. Mount your bike from the rear.

  1. It’s not how you mount it – but how you ride it. That’s what I tell the ladyboy’s anyway.

    _targetbot    16 February 2008, 15:00    #
  2. The inspiration, I believe, comes from this film (circa 1955). Check the dismount 22 seconds in:


    Moreover, check out the tweeds!

    Jack    16 February 2008, 15:36    #
  3. There’s another good reason for the front swing-over – when you have an actual kid in a child seat or trailer-bike. Not a problem for your typical readership, I suspect, but when I bought a trailer-bike I was warned that forgetting the child was there and kicking the child in the face was a significant (if still rare) cause of injuries.

    — Alan Braggins    16 February 2008, 15:54    #
  4. That’s a good consideration with the kid on a trail-a-bike. Of course, the latest child bike seat would pose a similar problem, that of your ass in your kid’s face: www.amazon.com/WeeRi…

    But, I first came across the description of front mount from Greg Goode here: www.63xc.com/gregg/1…

    crankedmag    16 February 2008, 17:26    #
  5. Over at the H.O.P. laboratory we’re developing a new technique that involves running along with your bike then climbing up over the back using the chainstay, pedal and brake bridge like a step-ladder. It’s cool ‘cos no one else is doing it but when it goes wrong it goes really wrong.

    obergruppenpistard    16 February 2008, 18:01    #
  6. it’s been years since I’ve got my leg over anything…..

    — overdrive    16 February 2008, 20:10    #
  7. I have done it both pre and post riding fixed.

    I first saw my uncle do it on his town bike (although he used to race at herne hill maney moons ago) when I was in my late teens when I had no interest in bikes
    I couldn’t work out what he did. It looked so wrong and yet so right all in one go.

    fast forward half a decade and i’d got into road racing.

    I have very long legs and to swing my leg over the seat post looked rubbish and felt very ungainly especially in look cleats so I decided to work out what my uncle had done and lo all became clear.
    I’ve mounted all my bikes that way ever since.

    I haven’t noticed many fixie kids doing it these days but then i seldom look their way.

    — nomoreknees    16 February 2008, 23:39    #
  8. I’ve only just learned how to ride my fixie by sitting on the handlebars and riding backwards,well,forwards really if I follow Bill’s instructions.Or am I really riding backwards but the bike is going forwards?….fuck,I dunno….Blah,blah,blah…

    — XX-DIABOLIC-XX    17 February 2008, 00:30    #
  9. How fashions change, 25 years ago when I was a fixie “kid” it was all about the dismount….not the mount….I favoured slipping off the back and catching the saddle…can still do it, I think, but does my lumbago no favours

    winston    17 February 2008, 09:15    #
  10. Dont know ‘bout your bike but on mine the saddle is rather higher than the bars…
    Front swing is much safer when mounting around pedestrians:
    few years ago when rear swinging over my saddle nearly put my sidi into some kids’ face.

    — toofree    17 February 2008, 18:16    #
  11. I crashed just this weekend trying to dismount by slipping off the back and catching my saddle!
    As for the front-swing-thing, I assumed it was the ladies technique adopted from the days when women rode bikes with lower top tubes.

    — Walshy    18 February 2008, 10:58    #
  12. I always mount from the rear. There I said it.

    — Tommy    18 February 2008, 11:55    #
  13. “Dont know ‘bout your bike but on mine the saddle is rather higher than the bars…
    Front swing is much safer when mounting around pedestrians:
    few years ago when rear swinging over my saddle nearly put my sidi into some kids’ face.”

    Got to agree with this

    — MoD    18 February 2008, 12:01    #
  14. Maybe it’s just more comfortable, especially for tall people. Hater!

    — Vilku    18 February 2008, 19:01    #
  15. Gotta agree with the Sidi’s in ped’s face risk. Although with my vertically challenged status I’d probably only kick their groin.

    On the subject of mounting:

    — yorgo    19 February 2008, 17:49    #
  16. high saddle
    leg over bars often easier i find.

    Bill – maybe it’s just the fact they are all
    on pink/lime green bikes that makes
    it look like they’re trying to “do something different”? Beats me.

    — Vagrant    21 February 2008, 21:26    #
  17. So you all do it because either:

    a. you are too stiff to get your leg over


    b. too spatially challenged to be able to raise a leg without kicking someone


    — Bill    21 February 2008, 22:09    #
  18. If you can swing your leg over your bars you probably have your bars far too low….in that ridiculous pseudo track style (can’t even reach the drops) that makengers have adopted……a running cyclocross style over the saddle mount saves many precious seconds when you’re being paid to ride…and looks about a hundred times cooler then the girly front end swing thing.

    winston    22 February 2008, 10:33    #
  19. What’s makenger?I’m intrigued….

    — overdrive    22 February 2008, 15:26    #
  20. P.S I also do the over the saddle style mount.One must be careful to use the top of the inner thigh to sit on the saddle or one’s knackers will be crushed.

    — overdrive    22 February 2008, 15:32    #
  21. i never get on my bike, i just always push it. im a pushenger

    — redrum    22 February 2008, 16:19    #
  22. “redrum”——….by definition we’re all pushengers then since we all ride push bikes,arent we?Ha,no…Bill would disagree.I remember an article he wrote some time ago in a galaxy far far away.He hates being called a push bike rider….sounds a bit pushy to me!

    — XX-DIABOLIC-XX    5 March 2008, 11:51    #
  23. I jump from a nearby balcony with the cry “hii hooo silver! AWAY!!” and land on saddle ready to pedal away..

    hippy    6 April 2008, 19:28    #
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