I see this once in a great while around the city: two or more tennis balls stuck inside the spokes, right up against the hub. It usually seems to be on older-looking mountain bike commuter/beater bikes, but I think I saw it on a newer fixie a while back, too.

Does this server some function to which I am not privy?

  • AFAIK you'll need to loosen your spokes to get one in there. So maybe it shows you have a spoke wrench?
    – dotjoe
    Oct 13, 2010 at 20:08
  • From an engineering point of view it adds drag to the rotation of the wheel. Especially because the fuzz on the surface of the tennis ball was designed to do just that, drag, while it moves though the air. Apr 9, 2011 at 18:42
  • 3
    I cut a slit in the ball and keep my drugs in it so if i get stopped my the cops they search me and find nothing.
    – user2154
    Aug 16, 2011 at 20:09
  • 3
    I was told this is extremely "out" nowadays. The new cool trend is to ride with bowling balls hanging from the handlebar. Sep 29, 2011 at 16:21
  • 1
    Because the playing card makes a different noise when it hits the tennis ball.
    – GvS
    Sep 30, 2011 at 14:24

3 Answers 3


I believe it's a stylistic choice, and doesn't actually serve any function.

  • Indeed. It's just a way to be "unique".
    – dee-see
    Oct 9, 2010 at 2:29
  • @Brock - It's a cool/trendy thing, and you're not the only one who's bewildered by it: bikeforums.net/showthread.php?685676-Tennis-Ball-in-Spokes Oct 9, 2010 at 15:59
  • 1
    It gives you a spare tennis ball in case you happen to need one, for example, to play with a kid, or with a dog, or to hit a road-raged driver without hurting it, or to play a tennis match ;o) Sep 29, 2011 at 16:19

Where else are you supposed to put the tennis balls when you are carrying them?

We used to do this all the time as kids when we were going to the tennis courts. The racket is carried in your hand, preferably without a cover to cut down on drag, and the balls go in the spokes. If you don't have a pannier or a backpack, it's great place to put the tennis balls so you don't drop them.

  • 1
    Great answer, although I don't think there are as much tennis-playing bikers as there are bikers with tennis balls stuck between their spokes. Sep 29, 2011 at 16:20
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    Gee, that's where I was getting it wrong!! I always held the tennis balls in my hands and put the racket in the spokes. Sep 29, 2011 at 18:47

It's another trend, like putting postcards between your spokes or fitting spoke dokey beads.

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