I always thought I steered my bike with my hands, pulling or pushing the handlebars to one side or the other.  Then I read an article in Bicycling Magazine.  They were evaluating high-end, high performance bikes new on the market.  One review commented about how a particular bike was responsive to just a subtle shift of a hip or shoulder.

I decided to check out my actual body mechanics as I rode day before yesterday and today.  I have been aware, of course, of the way an extended knee on a sharp turn shifts the center of gravity and makes the turn quick and smooth.  And the interconnectedness of the two joints is obvious: “The knee bone’s connected to the leg bone, / The leg bone’s connected to the hip bone, / Now hear the word of the Osteopath.”  Likewise, the arm connects the bar-gripping hands to the shoulders.

But what I discovered was that all along, without knowing it, I too have in fact been steering with my hips and shoulders.  All subtle movement starts there, and the knees, as they pedal, are more or less the flunkies that carry out the orders of the hips; the wrists and hands deliver the shrugs and twitches of the shoulders to the fork.

Maybe I’ll be a better bike handler now that I know what’s going on.  It sure can’t hurt.  Knowing where motions truly originate, I should be able to control my bike’s movements more precisely.  And I should be able to initiate those motions more quickly because I have a better visual concept of the mechanics involved.

Never too late to learn something new.

©Arnold J. Bradford, 2013.

1 thought on “Steering

  1. On my recent trip to Mauii, I choose an adventure bicycling trip down a crater.. Shuttle pick up at 3:00 am to watch sunrise over rim of volcano at 7ish am in 30ish degree temps! Wow! Then the pop quiz in van about high speed turn skills, Do I know how to turn without using the steering wheel? I admit I was not sure, but as you observed it is instinct and I had been doing that all along. Happily, I kept up with the group of German Baptist girls from the midwest
    dressed in their long dresses and bonnets.

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