Monday, November 7, 2011

The 'Slideways' Dismount

Sideways Dismount
In the past I've been asked to demonstrate my quirky bicycle dismount, so here it is! Over the course of riding step-through city bikes, I've gravitated toward the sideways dismount: swinging my right leg over the frame while the bike is still in motion and then jumping off the saddle to the left as I come to a stop. It's really more like a "slideways" dismount, because what I am doing is leaning the bike and sort of dumping myself off the saddle. I've tried to recreate it here in slow motion while testing my camera's remote control feature (the remote is in my hand - can you tell?).

Sideways Dismount
I know others who dismount their bicycles in this manner, and, like me, they find it completely natural and intuitive. But I've also been criticised for this move. A couple of people have told me that doing this to the bike repeatedly might distort the frame. Others have expressed concern that one of these times I am bound to get "tangled in the bike" while swinging my leg over. The latter does not really worry me; my body seems to have an inherent awareness of where the top tube is in relation to my foot. The frame distortion idea is intriguing, but seems far fetched: Can the sideways jump really exert sufficient force to twist these tank-like frames? 

Sideways Dismount
I never set off to adopt this style of dismount; it just sort of happened. As I kept raising the saddles on my city bikes higher and higher, eventually I could no longer reach the ground without leaning the bike to the side. The "slideways" move was the natural outgrowth of that: Somehow I find jumping off in this manner easier and more natural than the typical method of standing up on the pedals and then stepping down. At this point I've been doing it this way for over two years, and it would be a difficult habit to break!

53 comments:

  1. I'm sorry, for clarification, is the irregular bit that you're doing a sideways dismount while the bike is in motion or that you're putting all of your weight to one side and visibly tilting the bike before sliding off the saddle?

    when I was in Australia for work, I rented a Lekker Dutch bike from The Humble Vintage ... step-through frame, super upright handlebars, fully enclosed chaincase. OMG ... it was WEIRD to ride that thing. I was totally doing my standard "swing the leg over the saddle" mount and dismount technique for the first few stops and starts, but at some point remembered (possibly from a post on LGRAB) that all one really has to do is just step over the top tube and place a foot on the ground. That was certainly rather habit forming, but aside from the more economical movement, I'm not sure how that would be different or worse than swinging a leg over the saddle?

    One of these days, I'd like to master Sheldon's fixed gear dismount technique, but that requires a few days of riding the fixed gear without rear luggage.

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  2. I guess typically one gets off the saddle first, and then only steps over the frame after both feet are on the ground - whereas I basically come to a stop while "sitting side-saddle" if that makes sense.

    Sheldon Brown's fixed gear dismount technique is very cool.

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  3. Distort the frame? Really?
    I guess it's sweet that that they are so concerned about your bikes.

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  4. That's how I do it :-) In fact, I do it while the bike is still in motion and then I walk with it :-)

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  5. The sideways dismount is the only dismount in countries where bikes are mainstream!

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  6. That's almost exactly the way I dismount when riding my bakfiets, except that I keep upright; tilting it fully-loaded is not feasible. I basically "jump" down, with both feet touching almost simultaneously. While it certainly doesn't have the panache of Sheldon's fixed-gear dismount (I'm afraid to try that), I'm sure it's easier, and makes for a very smooth transition from rolling to walking.

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  7. Beware, this top tube distortion thing is real. If you continue it will turn into an eel.
    Oh wait, bad acid trip.

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  8. I use a similar dismount technique with my loop frame bike, it has back pedal brakes which are not that effective so I put my weight onto the pedal brake, with the other foot on the frame and jump off to one side. I did a post about it too, the pics are not as good as yours Velouria, but the technique is very similar I think.

    http://bicyclesinnewcastle.com/2011/08/21/dismounting-using-a-back-pedal-brake/
    Vicki

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  9. The sideways dismount is very elegant, unlike my 'swing my right leg over the handlebars' dismount/mount. I started using that method when riding with a saddlebag and just never got out of the habit.

    And wil it hurt your frame? Absolutely not! Its a rediculous suggestion. The onlyway toure going to damage your frame is either by crashing it or giving it to the airport baggage handlers.

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  10. My move is pretty similar, only I do it in the other direction. I'll swing my left leg over the top tube and dismount on the right side so as to put myself that much closer to the sidewalk. It's quite the acrobatic maneuver on my diamond-frame road bike, and draws looks from passers-by.

    As for the frame distortion...the transverse forces are probably nothing compared to leaning into a tight curve at speed. I'd give the durability concerns some credence with a racing frame designed to razor's-edge margins, but your built-like-a-Mack-truck steel frames should be just fine.

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  11. Nothing quirky about this style of dismounting. Lots of Dutch fmale cyclists do this but you would notice it only when looking for it. There is an age gap, however: school girls and elderly ladies. Don't know why.

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  12. I've always done the "slideways dismount" and never thought it was strange and no one has ever commented on it. I don't see how it could distort a frame. I guess you could throw your saddle off kilter but then it would probably be loose to begin with. A popular mounting and dismounting technique here in Japan is to step on the left peddle with the left foot and scoot along with the right foot before getting on the saddle and then standing on the peddle and landing with the right foot behind the left to dismount. I tried it once and nearly ran over my own foot. I'll stick with what works for me.

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  13. I can not imagine that you would damage the frame by dismounting in that manner.

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  14. The 'trick' i want to learn is the opposite of this - starting with one foot on the pedal and then mounting the bike as it starts moving. I just can't seem to get the balance right.

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  15. Next step up: trying this on a diamond frame bike ;)
    I actually did it a couple of times but it just looks weird.

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  16. The idea of distorting the frame seems rather far-fetched to me too. I have sometimes been criticized for doing what some call a "cowboy" dismount on a diamond frame - swinging a leg over and standing on one pedal while bringing the bike to a stop. Like your dismount, it just seemed natural to me. I did eventually stop doing this after I switched to clipless pedals!

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  17. If you ride a long-tail cargo bike, there's a real advantage to that dismount, because sometimes you have "stuff" back there that interferes with swinging the leg over. Without a dropped tube, you learn to fold your leg up and over. It's much quicker than a leg swing, and sets you down on the pavement without the leftover angular momentum of that rotating leg. It never occurred to me that "frame distortion" might a problem, given all the other nutty forces applied to a bicycle frame in its daily use.

    Very useful for crosswalks on the MM trail, if you don't feel like negotiating with traffic, since pedestrians have the right of way. Some drivers are apparently happier to be delayed longer by a letter-of-the-law pedestrian than they are being delayed for less time by a rule-bending cyclist.

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  18. "school girls and elderly ladies"

    Ha : )

    I see it in Vienna, almost never in the US. And it's always women, all age groups though.

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  19. Come on now. You're not going to bend the frame. It's not made from paper.

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  20. Chuck, what you did was basically a cyclocross dismount (except for the part about jumping off and running your bike up a staircase or over some hurdles). Nothing wrong with it, unless you've got super-flimsy pedals. I do it myself sometimes, although mostly I just stop.

    As for distorting a frame with a "slideways" dismount, the twisting forces of pedaling uphill probably put more strain on your bike than sliding off sideways. If your saddle clamp is loose, you could potentially knock it a bit out of whack, but that's far from a big deal.

    For a while when my daughter was a wee one I used to have her on a baby seat on the back of my bike, and I had to swing a leg over the handlebars to mount and dismount. Eventually I just got a trailer, which was easier to deal with in many ways, but I always advise folks who are looking at installing baby seats to consider a step-through frame for the carrier bike.

    Too bad UCI rules mandate a diamond frame, otherwise we might see a line of ultralight loop-frame cyclocross bikes (maybe Velouria would try 'cross then ;-) ).

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  21. Nice! Well done. :-) that's how I do it too; don't know any other way. Plus looks so sophisticated. But I'm pretty stuffed when it comes to riding my good ol' diamond frame. Doesn't work and sure doesn't look as sophisticated.x

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  22. bend the frame? Really?!?

    I occasionally dismount this way, but not often. I'm curious about a mounting/ resting technique that I see an older asian woman do a lot on my commute, where she stops at a light, with her left foot on the pedal, and her right foot behind her left, on the ground. She pushes off, almost like on a scooter, and then twists around and on the bike. I'm really not sure how she does it- it happens so fast, and the thing that makes the most sense is the scooter-like pushing.

    This late 50's tiny Asian lady is one of the worst red light scofflaws, so I never get to study her much- she runs the lights (after stops) and leaves me behind :) I've even seen her run the light at Charles circle, which seems suicidal.

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  23. Re frame distortion: The reasoning is that, by remaining in the saddle with both legs to one side and then leaning the bike and jumping off, I am pushing the seat tube sideways while the rest of the frame is oriented straight. When done repeatedly, the idea is that this could twist the frame - particularly since there is no traditional top tube to support the seat tube near the saddle.

    I understand the concept (some are just suspicious of step-through frames in general for this reason), but I don't recall seeing any twisted step-throughs in Europe where this move is popular. I have seen twisted mixte frames however - which could be because they are made with more delicate tubing.

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  24. Huh. People get off their bikes while they're still in motion? I must have a very weird dismount technique, then, because I tend to stop completely using brakes, put both my feet down flat (one on each side... my bike is a little small for me), then step off. No sliding needed. I'm getting a new-to-me larger bike this week, so I'm interested to see if my dismount changes. I've never paid attention to other people's dismounts, except to notice that diamond frames seem to be really hard to get on and off. I don't see how you'd bend the frame doing this unless the bike was made of bamboo and you weighed 500 pounds. Maybe it would be a shift of one millimeter every twenty years, MAYBE.

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  25. I dunno, Danny Mac can bend a top tube by just LOOKING at it.

    Cycler, you start out like the Asian lady scofflaw, scoot with your right foot, straighten your left, bend your R and bring it between your L shin while tilting the bike a little, continue up and over.

    Plop.


    Variations include the hover, the drag, and the pushup, wherein the rider doesn't correct enough to the R and ends up on the floor. Modern ladies may call the the plank.

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  26. Erica - Not weird at all, you're doing it the normal way!

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  27. I do this with my bike too even though it's a diamond frame. I just fold my right leg over and glide right up to the front door of the building. No one has ever commented on it, so I think it looks as natural as it feels.

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  28. I guess I'm "normal," as I brake and come to a complete stop (balanced, I suppose, for just a few miliseconds), then I slide off the seat onto the ground with both feet down. Then I step over the bike. I would definitely get my feet tangled up in the frame doing your dismount! My inability to recognize where my extremities are in space would be near-deadly here.

    I can do the pedal-start, however. If fact, that's how I always start riding: one foot on a pedal, and one on the ground. Push with the foot on the ground and the pedal at the same time, the bike starts moving. Then I hop up on the seat. My balance is excellent, which is weird. Anyway, this seems like the only way to start a heavy upright bike on a hill, particularly when there is a load in my pannier baskets!

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  29. Any metal, any solid substance really, has a certain strain (the elastic limit) it will take before it distorts permanently. So long as you stay below that strain, the metal will take its original shape after the force is removed. It doesn't matter how many times the strain is applied and then removed, so long as you stay below that strain. And the elastic limit for steel tubing is pretty high -- that's why you can ride over potholes etc. So there's just no possible way you are going to deform the frame. I suspect the twisted mixte frames you saw were in an accident or subjected to some other large stress.

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  30. I think you would have to either have some kind of traumatic incident or really tweak the frame sideways to do any major damage. I mean, my Raleigh definitely flexes a bit with weight on the front or rear, for the same reason, that there's no straight top tube keeping it from flexing sideways, but I feel like it would take really wrenching it to do any major harm. Part of what makes steel great is the little bit of elasticity - it'll bend a little and snap back.

    This is exactly how my wife dismounts as well, and I do sometimes if I'm pulling up to a curb or something, but typically I just dismount and then step over the top tube. She had to get used to the Secret Service after riding the Raleigh, as the top tube curvature was different, but it didn't take her long, and she never fell over or anything, she would just sometimes hit her foot on the top tube while dismounting.

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  31. Erica - Not weird at all, you're doing it the normal way!

    Yay! I'm normal!

    I wonder if the fact that the "slideways" dismount seems to be more common among women has to do with clothing? Like, maybe it prevents skirts from getting wrinkled, or is better at keeping the chain away from your leg? Although I don't see how there'd be any real difference at all.

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  32. For those who don't think that repeated force can distort the frame over time: What about accounts of the seat tubes on old step-through frames getting gradually "pushed back" from heavy riders and vigorous pedaling? I recall even Sheldon Brown writing about this.

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  33. plenty of bikes out there that take way more force than a slim woman sliding off the side of a bike...

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  34. I guess maybe it's more a matter of perspective - to me, if it's barely noticeable and it's not going to compromise the integrity of the frame (cause it to fail catastrophically) it might as well not exist. Maybe that comes with mostly having had old bikes, they tend to just be a little tweaky.

    My front rim and spokes are a little rusty, and the wheel intermittently out of true enough to rub on the fender, but I highly doubt it's going to just collapse on me, so therefore, it's perfectly functional :)

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  35. It's a leverage, strength and weight question. Riding straight on an old bike with crappy old, soft tubing and crappy joinery is the recipe.

    Sit on the bike, ride it. Push with two hands. Lots of force, no?

    Do the V "Ah, get me outta here" jump off. No force on the bars, just weight on the butt. If you were to press the bars really hard you'd probably fall on your keester.

    A Bella Ciao is not a 1943 Raleigh made with pot metal.

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  36. For those who don't think that repeated force can distort the frame over time: What about accounts of the seat tubes on old step-through frames getting gradually "pushed back" from heavy riders and vigorous pedaling? I recall even Sheldon Brown writing about this.

    Yes, but that bending is at a junction where a lot of forces converge, and it's not the smartest design. A true mixte solves that deficiency by continuing the top tube(s) past the seat tube to the dropouts. In a traditional step-through (non-mixte), there is no extra set of stays to stabilize the seat tube, so the seat tube ends up buckling at the junction with the top tube. I've seen it. (Actually, the seat tube bends forward, not backward, and creates a kink right at the junction of head tube and seat tube.)

    By contrast, rotating your body weight about the saddle still keeps most of your weight pushing down on the seat tube. There's very little lateral force being placed on the frame. As someone above mentioned, simply pedaling hard causes more lateral stress on a frame than any kind of dismount technique.

    I do your dismount method on the Bike Friday, which has such a low top tube that it's essentially a step-through design. It just makes sense to do dismount that way. I can't do the "leg swinging over the back of the saddle" thing because the stoker's handlebars would catch my leg. Makes me wonder how captains of traditional horizontal top tube tandems mount and dismount? Must be awkward.

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  37. I think the part that's getting bent is at the bottom -- right? -- near the weld -- maybe the weld weakened the metal there, and I would expect that there would be some rust, too, since that's where water would drain. Maybe, over time, the seat tube is weakened enough to bend under the weight of a heavy rider.

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  38. I used to do this dismount all the time on my mixte! I don't remember learning it or starting, I just remember doing it. It felt rather graceful...except for the one time I forgot I had a pannier full of canned food and fell hard on my left side. Oh well.

    When I started riding diamond-frame bicycles, that was actually the hardest part--I frequently kicked the top tube trying to get on or off.

    Now I have the opposite problem--I ride my diamond-frame bikes so much that I sometimes swing my leg over the back to get on step-throughs!

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  39. April - Oh no! But wait, how would the pannier get in the way of this?

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  40. It didn't get in the way, it weighted the bike heavy to one side. I had the pannier on the left side of my bicycle, full of groceries. The driveway to our garage is downhill from the street, and I'd swung my right leg over to the left side, planning to just put my legs down and walk down the driveway itself, as I always did....but as I slowed down, the weight of the pannier pulled my bicycle heavily to that side, I wasn't expecting it, and down I went.

    I ripped my jeans, and got a bloody left knee and elbow. And someone from my apartment complex saw me crash, and ran over and asked if I was okay, which was embarrassing. It was something like three years ago and I still have some scarring on my elbow!

    I am a klutz, though. I fall off my bike twice a year on average. Most of the time all I injure is my dignity.

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  41. Oh wow, I see. That is something I'll have to be careful about next time I carry heavy groceries. I am quite talented in the klutz department as well.

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  42. There is AFAIK only one circumstance where your frame has a tiger trap set for you, seeking the right moment to self-destruct. It only applies to tandems. Never ever apply power at or below walking speed without taking care to keep the front wheel straight. Powering into a sideways fork on a tandem is bad.

    A traditional loop frame has a long junction between the top tube and the seat tube. Bending moments are spread out and dispersed. The damage Sheldon is talking about is not likely in any case. On a trad loop frame you're safe.

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  43. All these nonsense dismounts are bogus.

    There is only one safe way to dismount a freewheel bike, regardless of how loopy the frame: stop using brakes, then step down with weak foot sliding forward off the saddle while keeping the power foot on the starting pedal (right for me) at the bottom of the stroke. If you don't care/can start with both feet then step down with the one closer to the middle of the road because pavement is higher and less damaged there. Then you can do whatever you want, depending on whether you have a top tube.

    Every other method is a faceplant waiting to happen.

    This is how one can stop in general, and start when the light turns green. The dismount can be the optional last step on a stably stopped bike.

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  44. This is how I dismount my diamond frame. I started doing it when I first switched to a city bike. It came naturally, without even thinking about it. I cross my legs at speed, then hop down.

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  45. This is how I dismount my loop frame city bike, and I don't have any problems at all. I don't consciously think about how I'm dismounting, it's just how it happens, and I've not had any problems yet.

    However, when I borrowed my mum's mountain bike for a short touring holiday this year, there were a few times where I forgot that I was riding a bike with a top tube, and would go to dismount in the normal way, rather than swinging my leg over the back of the bike, and got tangled up. More than once I ended up stuck in a hedge with the bike on top of me, while my boyfriend struggled to surpress his laughter and help me up!

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  46. " with weak foot sliding forward off the saddle"

    I dunno, sounds kinda dangerous.

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  47. Looks like I missed a coma before "sliding forward." I think it's still readable, but maybe hard to parse.

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  48. I know I'm late to this discussion, but I'd like to back up the prevailing sentiment that the frame distortion threat is nonsense. Nonsense!

    I dismount my randonneuring bike on the roll, by standing with my weight on the right pedal, swinging my left foot back over the saddle and bringing it behind my right foot, then unclipping my right foot from the pedal, putting my left foot down and walking a few steps to decelerate.

    My frame is made of ultralight tubing and I weigh 200 pounds. No frame distortion to report yet, and my manoeuvre definitely puts more stress on the frame than yours does.

    These steel frames flex under stress, but they flex back into shape. It takes a lot more force than a fancy dismounting procedure to bend them out of shape.

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  49. I'd say MDI is correct, except for the fact it is really, as always, that Sheldon Brown was correct:

    http://sheldonbrown.com/starting.html

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  50. A side dismount is one of the reasons and advantages for having a loop frame. I do the same thing as one of your earlier commenters Quincy Quincette and dismount while the bike is slowed down and continue walking with it.

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  51. There is only one safe way to dismount a freewheel bike, regardless of how loopy the frame: stop using brakes, then step down with weak foot sliding forward off the saddle while keeping the power foot on the starting pedal (right for me) at the bottom of the stroke. If you don't care/can start with both feet then step down with the one closer to the middle of the road because pavement is higher and less damaged there. Then you can do whatever you want, depending on whether you have a top tube.

    This is exactly how I stop on any bike, unless I'm also planning to dismount.

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  52. I dismount like you do. This is why I must always have a LOW bar or a loop frame. ( Or a trike and even then I do a hopping mount on it where I push it and jump on when walking it across streets that suddenly become empty or it is clear everyone is happily waiting for me...)When I rode the public mixte I nearly face planted. I just instinctively slide and hop off. I am very happy with it.

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  53. Based on your photos, I think this is how I dismount (funny how I'm not totally sure how I dismount). But I don't think I tilt the bike to the side, at least not much. It's hard to imagine that doing so would bend a frame.

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