The Handlebar Mount--Part Four of Fixed Gear 101
by Greg Goode
Of course you can mount a fixed any way you like. But most people riding fixed don't use the traditional mount, where you swing the leg up and back over the saddle. Instead, they use the much cooler handlebar mount. They sweep their leg in a quick movement up in front, over the handlebars and back down to the pedal on the opposite side. This method is faster and smoother than the traditional mounting method. It evolved on track bikes, where the bars are a good deal lower than the saddle--and there are no brake cables to foul you up!
The entire mount takes about a half a second. The steps take much more time to read and grok! I've assumed mounting from the left (L) of the bike. If you mount from the right (R), then just switch the Ls and Rs.
It's good to practice rocking the bike. This is not absolutely necessary, so you can skip the next section if you wish. But if you get it down, rocking will help make your mounts and dismounts much smoother and faster.
Rocking The Bike
Rocking is a side-to-side motion that makes your mounts and dismounts smoother and more fluid. To rock the bike, stand to the L side of the bike. Orient your body so that your R hip is square on to the bike (or at a 45 degree angle). Hold the L handlebar in your L hand, and the stem in your R hand. Let your L hand go. With your R hand on the stem as a guide, let the bike fall about 10 or 15 degrees away from you, towards the bike's R. Now, with your R hand, gently throw the bike back towards your L hand, which will catch the bike's L handlebar. The handlebars and stem (saddle and everything else too) will sway L-to-R and R-to-L through an arc of maybe 15-20 degrees. Practice this gentle toss-and-catch movement back and forth, catching the stem with your R hand and handlebar with your L.
You'll use the rocking-toward motion in mounts, and the rocking-away motion in dismounts.
NOTE: The best spot to grab the L handlebar is on the 'flat', between the stem and the beginning of the curve. This grip makes it easier to keep the front wheel straight as you push the bike to the R.
Mounting The Bike
1. Holding the bike by the handlebar and saddle, lift the rear wheel off the ground. Give the L pedal a gentle kick to rotate the pedals until they are at 3o'clock/9o'clock, the R pedal towards the front wheel and the L pedal towards the rear wheel. Place the rear wheel back on the ground, and re-grip the bike, with your L hand on the L handlebar and your R hand on the stem.
2. Keep that grip with your hands, and orient your R hip towards the top tube. There should be about 8-12 inches between your belly button and the handlebars.
3. Let your L hand go and let the bike sway away from you, guided by your R hand on the stem.
4. Toss the bike back towards you with your R hand, and at the same time raise your R leg up and swing it over the handlebars. As your leg passes over to the right, the bike passes under to the L.
5. At the instant that your L hand catches the bars, your R foot reaches the R pedal. (Clip in if you like, but it might be safer to save it until you've practiced dismounting.)
6. Place your weight on the R pedal, using it to lever your butt into the saddle. Push forward with the R pedal and catch the L pedal with your L foot.
7. Congratulations, you've just mounted your fixed! Time for a quick victory circuit. Now you need the next section, which is all about dismounting.