20 February 2023

What is Artistic Cycling?

It’s cycling but not as you know it! Picture handstands on handlebars and get ready to be on the edge of your seat.

4 artistic cyclists performs a figure, the image shows the full court and fans watching

It’s cycling… but not as you know it!

It’s almost certainly the most weird and wonderful thing you’ll see at the Championships.

And for that reason alone, it’s well worth understanding more about this under-the-radar discipline.

To put it simply, Artistic Cycling is like gymnastics on two wheels. Riders perform all sorts of stunts and tricks (“exercises” or "figures" as they’re also known), as far as their bodies and bikes will go. 

It’s quite the spectacle - from handstands on handlebars to surfing on saddles in perfect synchronicity with fellow riders - so wow is the word on everyone’s lips as the competitors push what’s possible when it comes to sheer skill, balletic balance and bravery.

Dramatic close up of cyclist performing headstand on bicycle seat
Dramatic close up of cyclist performing headstand on bicycle seat

But How Does The Event Work?

Riders - solo, in pairs, or teams of four - have five minutes to string together a series of tricks set to music of their choice. 

A panel of judges scores each routine based on the variety of tricks, degree of difficulty and execution. Points are lost for incomplete attempts, mistakes, feet touching the floor, and falls.

The rider (or team) with the highest score wins.

Why Are The Bikes Different?

Pretty much everything about the bikes is tuned to make seemingly impossible tricks possible.

The most obvious non-standard features are the upside-down handlebars (which spin 360°) and the saddle that’s positioned really far back. The wheels are close together, which makes wheelies easier to perform - just as well when someone is climbing on your shoulders as you’re popping one!

Milena Slupina performs a mindblowing trick on her bike
Milena Slupina performs a mindblowing trick on her bike

Shhhhhhhh… Then Shout!

As the mesmerising routines take place, the crowd stays quiet to let the riders focus… there will be gasps when the big tricks are nailed - or not… finally followed by an avalanche of well-deserved applause as the super friendly crowd makes their appreciation known. 

These events are pure magic with a proper family atmosphere, so it’s going to be great for fans of all ages.

Explore the world of artistic cycling in our episode of Squiggly Bike TV from Ghent, Belgium.

Ones to watch in 2023

Champions and challengers will head to the Emirates Arena this August all with the dream of pulling on the coveted, and iconic, rainbow stripes. But only a handful will come away with the ultimate prize. 

Everyone's capable of becoming UCI World Champion, but we've pulled out a few riders for you to keep an eye on...

Jana Pfann

Jana Pfann - Current Women’s World Champ

Germany has a long history of dominance when it comes to Artistic Cycling, and with Jana, there’s another prodigy well on her way.

At just 19, Jana took the rainbow jersey at the 2022 UCI Cycling World Champs, an incredible accomplishment that doesn’t have much precedent in the discipline.

Jana remembers attending a 2016 event in Stuttgart as a spectator and then just six years later was winning it in Ghent. “I still can’t believe it,” she said, “I never expected this dream to come true so quickly.”

She’ll be a favourite to repeat that magic, this time in Glasgow.

And who knows - if you have a daughter and take her with you to watch, she might be the next Jana!


Ramona Dandl

Ramona Dandl - 2022 Silver Medalist

Ramona rides for the same club as Jana and is hotly tipped as a future star.

At her last event, she opted for a higher difficulty level - testament to her ambition - and almost won.

"I concentrated on the figures and didn't think about whether it would be enough to win the title," she said. "It's also the first UCI World Championships for me and I'm very happy with silver."

We’re guessing she’ll have gold on her mind in Glasgow.

Don’t Miss Out!

Come see something you’ve never seen before (and will never forget!) at The Emirates Arena - plus it’s a great day out for families.