How to ride a bike with no hands

Our step-by-step guide to mastering this classic cycling skill.

ClockUpdated 10:50, Monday 28th August 2023. Published 07:57, Wednesday 30th August 2023

Riding a bike with no hands might just seem like showing off, but it’s actually an essential road cycling skill. If you can confidently ride no handed, you’ll be able to eat and drink, zip up your jacket, or just give your hands a bit of a break, all while riding along. If you master this skill, you’ll improve your bike handling, your balance, and your confidence on the bike.

Oh, and it’ll allow you to throw your arms out to celebrate when you win the race to the cafe. It takes some practice, though, so here’s how to get started.

Read more: 5 skills for beginner cyclists

Find a quiet, open road to learn this skill

Find a good location

The best place to learn this skill is a smooth, quiet, straight road. It’s not a good idea to start trying this skill on a bumpy lane, a tough climb, or a busy cycle path.

Take one hand off at a time, and keep practicing until you're comfortable

Try riding one-handed

To start off, we’re going to gain confidence with some one handed riding. Get going at a moderate speed – speed really is your friend here, as the faster you go, the more stable the bike will be.

Once you’re riding along, take one hand off the bars, then put it back on.

Next, try with the other hand.

Get used to taking both hands off, one at one at a time. You’ll be improving your confidence, but you’ll still be able to pull the brake if you need.

One thing to remember though, is that you don't want to pull the brake hard and fast, especially the front brake, as this could knock the bike off balance.

Once you're used to getting one hand off the bars, try reaching that hand to different places – practice grabbing your bottle, reaching around to your back pocket, or touching the sky.

This will teach you how the bike reacts as you shift your weight over the bike, and the adjustments you might have to make as your weight moves around.

Slowly raise your fingertips away from the bar

Fingertips only

Once you’re happy riding one handed, it’s time to take it up a notch. Hold the top of the bars, then loosen your grip and slide your hands back until only your fingertips are touching the bars.

If this feels comfortable, try hovering your fingertips over your bars for a few seconds, before returning your hands to the tops of the bars. And remember, if you do start to feel wobbly, just grab your bars – they aren't far away.

sit upright with your weight in the saddle

Sit up straight

So you’re comfortable hovering your hands above the bars? Then it’s time for the next step. This time, we’re going to take the hands off the bars but for a slightly longer period of time. And remember, speed is going to help you keep your balance. When you’re trying this next step, keep your eyes forward, not fixed on your pedals or your bars.

First of all, before you let go of the bars, transfer as much weight as you can onto your saddle. Sit on the rear of your saddle, where it’s nice and wide. As you move your weight back, supporting your weight with your back and your core, you should feel your hands getting lighter.

When you’re ready, take them off your bars and sit up straight, looking forwards. Keep the speed up, keep your eyes forward, and relax. You might feel the bike moving underneath you, but that’s ok. Don’t worry about grabbing the bars. Instead, engage your core and focus on looking straight.

If you’re struggling, make sure you’re sitting up straight, with your weight on top of the saddle. If you’re leaning forwards, the bike is going to be less stable.

Once you've got the basics, you'll gain confidence with practice

Steering no-handed

Once you’re comfortable riding along in this way, try shifting your weight with your hips gently to turn the bike. Don’t rush into this, or try any sharp turns – it’s easy to lose control when you’re really tilting the bike over.

Like any new skill, learning to ride no handed takes time, so be patient and build into it slowly. Over time, your confidence will grow, and eventually, you’ll be eating, zipping up your jacket, or celebrating that sprint finish without thinking twice about it.

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