How does trail affect the steering of a bicycle when riding backwards? Is a bike with a longer trail easier to ride backwards than a bike with a shorter trail (ex: track bike)?

I understand when riding forwards a bike with a longer trail is more stable, less manoeuvrable, but does this situation gets reversed when riding fakie?


1 Answer 1


It depends on how you want to ride backwards.

Artistic cyclists and cycle-ballers only ride backwards for short spurts intermixed with riding forwards. They also rotate the bars quite a bit. So they use bikes with zero geometric trail (forks in line with steer tube). This gives them consistent steering feel regardless of direction of travel, which is key for those sports.

The artistic cyclists have vertical heads tubes to keep the bike level and straight while spinning the bars. The cycle-ballers have slack head tubes to put their wheel out front to control the ball.

If you want to ride long distances backwards, then you would likely benefit from having trail to help stabilize the bike and self-center. I believe the trade offs of different trail lengths is the same going forward and backwards. However, I think it also depends on how your body is positioned relative to the bars. I don’t think you would sit normal on the bike and have your head twisted around for any significant time. If you sit backwards on the bike, with your but on the bars, now your center of gravity is very close to the front wheel and that will affect handling, especially if it moves to the other side of the steering axis or ground contact point.

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