An Introduction to Bicycle Polo
page 36-37, Issue #5
1) No Dabbing: “Dabbing out” is when a player’s foot touches the ground. Off-pedal is okay, but as soon as a player “Dabbs” they must cease play and ride in a full circle before returning to play (the smaller the better, defensive Dabbing is also okay—say riding around your goal for example).
2) No Shuffling: When shooting on goal, the player must strike the ball with the small round area (opening if PVC or flat if you use a wooden mallet head) at either end of the head. The mallet head body length is good for passing or blocking but, in the case of shooting—it’s a “shuffle”.
3) No Passing back to yourself: When shooting on goal, no player may pass the ball through the goal to themselves and then take a shot (except after it has been touched by another player or their bike).
4) No High-Sticking: Self explanatory.
5) No Mallet Throwing: We used to, too dangerous (lots of mallets ending up in wheels).
6) Mallet Hooking: Mallet hooking is acceptable when it is mallet on mallet hooking. Mallet hooking of bikes, brakes, wheels etc… is not allowed (could get your ass-kicked for pulling someone’s front wheel out from under them).
How We Play: We play rough. Physical contact is perfectly okay, especially if we’ve played together before and you know what to expect.
Where We Play: Tennis courts, playgrounds, and parking lots or garages are our playing fields (no grass games except when out of town—depending where we are). These venues tend to lend natural boundaries as well, so we have no specified length or width of polo court.
Goal Size: We use medium to large orange traffic cones, spaced one bike length apart (average sized adult bike), and 1-1/2 bike lengths from the end of the court (if there is one).
Teams: Three person teams with a member of each team acting as a floating goal keeper, usually who ever is closest.
Start Game: Place the ball in center court and have someone on the sideline count off “1 – 2 – 3 – go!”
After a Goal is Scored: Each team will return to their side of the court. The team who has just been scored-on has possession of the ball and will drive it. The team who made the goal must wait for the opposing team to drive on them before advancing from their goal.
Points/Winning: The first team to score five points wins (no time limit) unless in tournament play. In tournament play, games are ten minutes so either the first team with five points wins (game ends) or the team with the most points scored after ten minutes wins.
Bikes: Whatever you like, just be prepared to beat the crap/have the crap beaten out of it (wheels in particular). A low gear ratio tends to work out the best for control, sprint, and speed/direction change. I like my frame a little small too, for maneuverability.
Mallets: Any style, just not with a head made from metal that could potentially kill or “core sample” someone.
Ball: Street Hockey balls.
Special thanks to Phil Anderson, Peter Krisell, and Matt Messenger for providing the information on Seattle Bicycle Polo.
Check out the 206 Bicycle Polo MySpace page and find your own town’s polo league:
Have questions for Mr. Polo? Send them to
firstname.lastname@example.org and they will be answered by the next issue of Cranked.
ask Mr. Polo
Who is Mr. Polo?
Mr. Polo is the one pushing polo on the corner of your neighborhood, or at work. He’s the one with mallets hanging out of this back or strapped to his top tube.
Who else plays bicycle polo? And can I?
There are many around the world that play bike polo in the grass and street version. The street version is more common in the 206 area, but the grass version’s world championship is held right here in Washington state over in Richmond. You can also play polo. I would suggest not to play with the nice bike that you sleep with, but the one that needs some love that you have thrown to the back of the bus! Also don’t be intimidated if you show up and vets are playing a mile a minute. We want everyone to play some pick up.
Where is the best place to find polo?
One place locally to find polo is on http://www.myspace.com/seattlebikepolo or try us on Tuesdays or Sundays at either of a few locations. TT Minor Elementary paved play area; or at Pratt Park; or the “cave” across from Cal Anderson park Cap Hill, when it raining.
Will I look cool to the ladies if I play polo?
Only if you play the part and show off your drunk polo skills. Bring a helmet if so!
What’s the best kind of mallet?
The best mallet is the one you have made with blood, sweet, & tears. I suggest using recycled light-weight materials, PVC, bamboo, or ski poles. 2” x 1/8” thru thread with lock nut, file any extruding metal. And you might want to strengthen you ski pole with a dowel rod.