Speed and dura­bil­ity are not only re­quired by the bike- polo play­ers – the same is true of the equip­ment, says Matthew Cox

Urban Cyclist - - On Test -

All bikes are sin­gle- speed, which is why choos­ing crank size is es­sen­tial. Wheel size also af­fects thing like rolling speed and abil­ity to move fast from a standing start. If you’re rac­ing 700c wheels, the ra­tio is go­ing to be dif­fer­ent than if you’re rac­ing 26in. The ma­jor­ity of us use track frames with flat­bars; Dolans are pop­u­lar. Mine is 26in, though I reckon there’s a 50:50 split be­tween 700 and 26ers. Many say I should use 700c be­cause of my height but I re­ally like my frame and how it plays. Mine’s ac­tu­ally cus­tom adapted to bike polo.

A guy in Peru called Marino builds jump bikes but be­gan mak­ing polo bikes. Peo­ple got wind of this so he made more. I bought mine se­cond- hand off a chap called Ali in Lon­don. The wheels need to be strong

be­cause they take the big­gest beat­ing, mainly from a stray mal­let but also the ball. That’s why many play with 42- spoke wheels, though tra­di­tion­ally wheel cov­ers were pop­u­lar for added strength. There was a DIY aes­thetic to it as play­ers would ‘ bor­row’ For Sale signs and cut out wheel pro­tec­tors; in fact, it be­came an art form in it­self with team colours and po­lit­i­cal slo­gans pop­u­lar. That died out. Now it’s cooler to go with spokes. Up­front sin­gle brakes

are pop­u­lar. You’d think a rear brake would be bet­ter but the front’s more ef­fi­cient. Most rid­ers use a disc brake. Rid­ing around one- handed with a mal­let in the other while clipped into ped­als and con­trolled by a sole disc brake. The sport sounds bonkers, doesn’t it?!

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