Any type of bicycle is acceptable but a single speed bike fully rigid bike is standard. Typical gear inches range from 35-45. Disc wheel protectors are fine but no defensive additions are allowed to the frame. Handlebars must by plugged to prevent injury.
An old mountain bike frame is a good place to start. Ideally you will be looking for something with a small wheelbase and steep angles at the head-tube and seat-tube and a rigid fork. Polo specific frames are available from Fleet Velo, Fixcraft and others but are a large investment for a first polo bike. Marino has a lot of experience building polo frames and can make you one specific to your needs for a very reasonable cost all the way from peru!
Typically we play on 26″ 36h wheels, some riders favor 700c and higher spoke counts such as 48h.
Wheels have a number of factors worth considering for a custom build:
- A strong rim and a high spoke count will reduce the effects of side impacts and let you ride longer without needing true them.
- Extra rotational weight incurred through stronger rims or more spokes will slow your acceleration on the court, which is a large factor in such a stop/start environment.
- Tyre size is important if you are running a standard mountain bike you may need to run large tyres up to 2.5 to increase your bottom bracket height which will improve your ability to pedal while leaning without striking the ground. Where this isn’t an issue go for the smallest diameter tyre you feel comfortable on.
- Tyres again add rotational weight, so a light slick tyre such as Scwalbe Kojak provides a good compromise. Puncture protection shouldn’t be too much of a concern if you help keep your court clean and keep your tyre pressure up, this is a good place to save weight.
- A ball can burst easily bust through a 36h wheel and enter the goal, this is less common on 48h wheels but it does happen. A wheel protector stops the ball going through and provides some additional protections to your spokes. These are made from corroplast such as that found on estate agent signs which is cut to the desired shape and attached via cable ties. Fully custom printed wheel covers in corroplast and the lighter HDPE are available from Fixcraft.
Mallets historically consist of a length aluminium pole, such as a ski pole with gas pipe attached to the end. The grip end of mallets must be plugged to prevent injury.
Polo specific mallet components can now be purchased in the UK through a number of companies such as Throw in Polo co. and Magic Bike Polo.
Something that can take multiple small impacts such as a skateboard helmet is desirable. You may want to attach a cage to the front of the helmet to prevent injury from high mallets, they also have the added benefit of frightening small children. Complete ‘Polo’ helmets & masks can be purchased from Fixcraft, however many people use helmets designed for Ice Hockey and Hurling or alter normal cycling helmets with cages designed for other sports.
Elbow Pads come in handy if you’re pushed against a wall. Finding the balance between movement and protection is crucial, you won’t need the sort of protection that’ll save your life but being able to just jump back on your bike without a scraped knee rocks!
Strong palms and decent digit protection is a must. Mallet swinging tends to wear parts of gloves that are never reinforced so a bit of tape round the thumb and forefinger of your mallet hand can increase their lifespan greatly. Polo specific gloves are available from Northern Standard and Fixcraft currently have a prototype in the works.