To play bike polo you essentially need a bike, a mallet and a ball.
You can play polo on any bike (one that you feel comfortable riding is the best place to start) and there are usually spare mallets courtside that you can borrow. The balls we use are high density Franklin street hockey balls, again you don’t need to worry about bringing a ball if you’re just starting out. It might be a good idea to invest in some gloves that will help cushion the impact of any falls though.
A purpose-built polo bike has many specific features over other bikes such as:
- Low gearing of around 45 gear inches.
- Strong wheels that resist impact.
- Wheel covers that stop mallets/pedals/balls destroying the spokes.
- A short wheelbase for tight cornering.
- Aggressive frame angles for responsive handling.
- Powerful brakes (often using a dual lever for two brakes) to allow you to stop quickly.
- A short stem to keep your head up and body upright for visibility and shooting.
- Short cranks with a bash guard to avoid pedal strike and damage to your chainring.
- Thick tyres that resist wear and last longer on court.
Polo bike and mallet. Image courtesy of Ray Cheung
Building a mallet
Mallets come in many shapes and sizes, to make a mallet you will need:
- A shaft (ski poles and golf clubs work well).
- A mallet head (a length of utility pipe, high-density PVC or HDPE is best).
- A fixing device (nut and bolt, screw, glue, etc).
- A bar plug (or a penny to tape over the end).
- A grip (grip tape, inner tubes, handlebar grip, etc).
- Tools (drill, drill bits, hacksaw, etc).
To make your mallet:
- Cut your shaft to the desired length (this depends on your height).
- Drill a vertical hole slightly smaller than the diameter of your shaft in the mallet head.
- Insert the shaft into the mallet head.
- Drill a horizontal hole through the mallet head and shaft.
- Insert a nut and bolt (or other fixing device) through the hole (make sure all fixings are recessed or filed down).
- Fit your bar plug, or tape a penny over the other end of the shaft.
- Wrap you shaft to create your grip.
Handlebars and mallet ends must be plugged (corks work well, or tape a penny over the end) and make sure your crank doesn’t have any exposed chainrings. Also, if you’ve made your own mallet, make sure that all the nuts and bolts are recessed or filed down flat.
Polo pads avoid injury in the event of a crash