Like the brave Victorian souls at the forefront of mountaineering, bike polo players are looking beyond available resources to design the equipment they need at the top level of competition. Whether it be helmets, frames, wheels, or gloves, we have made-do since the beginning. We’re predicting this year will be a sea change.
One player, at the top of his game, who has out-grown appropriated equipment, is William Jr from Call Me Daddy. Cosmic took some time to chat to him about his new frame before it makes its debut at the London International Invitational…
When did you realise you needed a custom frame for polo?
I started playing polo two and a half years ago with my Grandpa’s bike, I broke it after the first year, I am still sad about this. Konstanz 2010 was coming up so I built up this ugly mountain bike that was way too long for polo. [Call Me Daddy finished 4th]
So then I bought a second hand On-One Pompino as I felt it had better geometry for polo, but I broke it in a head on collision during the European Championships, Barcelona. As I was used to the frame and could replace it cheaply, I bought another one to play in the World Championships, Seattle, a few months later.
At the Worlds, Paul [my team-mate] and I had a chat about our frames, we decided we had to change, some of the Americans called his bike ‘the piece of shit’, Riding in Circles was our first thought. We began talking to Gianluca, from RC, in October.
I remember that MTB in Konstanz 2010, you were playing with a Mavic Ksyrium front wheel! I think that was the first time I saw you and Paul play.
I can see a huge change for Paul in his set up, going from a long and low MTB to a short and tall polo bike. How do you feel your new RC frame differs from your previous bikes, in particular your last bike, the Pompino? Were you involved in the design of the RC frame or have you left the technical decisions, regarding geometry, up to them?
The first thing I said to Gianluca was, ‘can we make a frame for 700c wheels?’ RC had not made a polo bike for 700c wheels before so he was curious as to why I would want them.
I feel 700c is faster, allows for better protection of the ball [when in possession], shields the goal more when in defence, and I had noticed a lot of American players had played on 26” wheels but made the move back to 700c. Gianluca understood and began to design my frame.
I gave my size to Gianluca and he did the rest, he told me the dimensions and it was not too different to the Pompino so I knew I would be comfortable on it. I didn’t find it very easy to discuss the specifications as I have no knowledge of bicycle geometry, and as it was the first 700c frame for RC, there was no chance to test one!
After the first session on the new frame my first thought was, ‘this is my first polo bike’. The big difference is wheelbase; it’s so small, the manoeuvrability is crazy. There is a little bit more toe overlap, than on the Pompino, but you can’t have everything in a frame my size, a manoeuvrable frame in 700c will have toe overlap. But to reduce it, I have made the change from flat pedals to clipless (TIME), it was a great excuse to change.
One more thing I will change is the stem; I would like a Victoire S-42. This stem is really short and has an innovative clamping system that is safer for polo as there are no bolts on the back to damage your knees. I like the increased manoeuvrability that a short stem can give you.
How important do you think the bike is to the performance of the player?
Now, I really think your bike can improve your game. I really appreciate the manoeuvrability of my new frame, the time it takes to adapt to different pedal systems and frame geometry is really worth it. At the beginning it’s hard, you feel strange, but then you are capable of new moves that make you a better player (I hope). Thanks Greg, Paul and Leo for all your encouragement to go clipless.
And thanks to Christophe Levet for the great pictures!
Thanks Will, we look forward to seeing you and the new bike on court this weekend at the London International Invitational.
Keep up to date with William and Call Me Daddy here.