Urban Velo

Bike Polo Mallet

Bike Polo MalletOne of the coolest aspects of bike polo is the use of found and recycled materials. A polo-bike can be almost anything—an old mountain bike, a rusty old 10-speed, a hybrid from the bike co-op, etc. The goals are often made from pairs of traffic cones. The mallets are most often cobbled together from PVC pipe, used bar tape and old ski poles. You might even find an old street hockey ball at Goodwill, though that’s one item that’s probably best bought new.

Jam StickMy first bike polo mallet met its fate this past Sunday. The aluminum shaft cracked about an inch above the mallet head, rendering it useless until it sees new life as a considerably shorter loaner mallet. I had been lucky to get the first one as a birthday present from my friend Tall Rob, who’s build a considerable number of “jam sticks,” but his supply of usable ski poles had run dry.

Bicycle Polo MalletEnter the website www.freecycle.org. Free Cycle is all about keeping things out of the landfill. There are close to 5000 individual groups, each moderated locally. I signed up on Monday evening and posted a want ad. Within 20 minutes I had a response, and I picked up a very nice pair of Elan skis and poles, complete with a travel bag (anyone want a free pair of skis and bindings?) within the hour. I can’t say you’ll have as good an experience as I did, but for the price it’s certainly worth a shot.

Bike Polo MalletI decided to go with a new mallet head for this stick, using store-bought 1.5″ ABS plumbing pipe. It’s Rob’s design, with one open ended cap, and one closed. The open ended cap is good for control and scooping the ball out of the corners, the closed end is better for long shots. The mallet head is drilled so that the pole fits snugly, and a single bolt holds things together. The end caps are cemented, and the nut is secured with Loctite. After applying the bar tape, the final step was to fashion a knob from the end of an old BMX bike grip, wrapped with a copious amount of electrical tape.

Now I hope it’ll stop raining so I can try this thing out…

About Urban Jeff

I'm about to have a nervous breakdown, my head really hurts. Contact me.

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  1. jimmyAugust 11, 2009 at 8:56 am

    you leave that junk hanging out the bottom? you’re gonna cut someone up jeff!

  2. GussyAugust 11, 2009 at 10:38 am

    That is hot. I like the mallet head. I Just made 2 mallets with gas pipping. Seeing that my last head had the TPL caps, the gas pipping doesn’t fit anymore. Guess i just need to make another new mallet.

    Jimmy that stuff should wear down pretty fast if you drag the head a bit, then it contours to the head shape. That is what happened to mine anyhow, though i think it was a tiny bit shorter than Jeff’s.

  3. Bike polo reloaded « FIXA SAMPAAugust 12, 2009 at 4:50 am

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  4. BrianAugust 12, 2009 at 9:14 am

    I have to agree with Jimmy. True, it will wear down over time as it drags the ground, but there are other issues to consider. The ski pole sticking out of the bottom of the head is not only more dangerous to others (as is any hardware protruding from the head), but it may shorten the lifespan of your mallet more than you might think. What that does is place much of the forces on the head right at the spot where the bolt goes through the shaft. A “pocket hole” on the inside of the head for the pole to fit into – without going all the way through – will spread those forces more evenly and give you a more solid head.

    I’ve built my share of polo mallets in the past few years (probably around 50 – 60 or so) and feel that I can give a fairly well-formed opinion on the subject of what works and what doesn’t; which materials work out best for heads, how to properly fashion the head and attach it for the longest possible lifespan, etc. If you guys ever want to do a step-by-step tutorial, I’d be happy to contribute.

  5. unixd0rkAugust 12, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    i leave the end of the pole stick out to grip the ground a bit. most polo bikes have a brake lever (OR CANTI BRAKES) sticking out that is/are just as dangerous, imo. the cuts on the pole are done with a pipecutter, so they just end up mashing out from use, not getting sharp.

    this design has never broken the pole inside at the bolt for me. the poles always break above the mallet and the mallets always break right in the middle. i have at least 2 or 3 heads from broken poles that can still be reused.

  6. SamJanuary 18, 2010 at 11:37 pm

    I’ve been searching all over Austin for ABS or gas piping to make a mallet, and I cannot find any. Who do y’all find the stuff?

  7. AndyFebruary 16, 2010 at 5:55 am

    There ar commercial ones out now. What do you think: http://www.poloschlaeger.de

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