The Halfbike is my latest experiment with human-powered transportation. It’s an interesting hybrid between biking and running based on a fixed front wheel and back wheels that pivot.

This video gives an overview of what it looks like, shot nearby in Franklin Park a couple of months after I got it.

Favorite Bystander Quotes

Things overheard while Halfbiking

“What the hell kind of zip-zip is he riding?”

A guy on a moped, yelling to his buddy

“That’s so cool”

A leather-clad dude on a OneWheel after slowing down to check me out

“That is such a cool scooter or bike. I love it!”

A teenage yelling from a van window as her mom slows down to pass me, nodding in a greement

“You looked liked something out of the circus”

An acquaintance, after passing me on her way to work

What the [expletive] is that?”

A father speaking loudly to his kids after I pass them on the bike path. I hear this a lot (without he expletive), but usually it’s from small kids to their parents.

60 Days on the Halfbike

The following timeline gives an overview of my notes from the first 60 days on the halfbike. For context, I’ve been biking as main daily form of transportation year-round for 20 years so I feel very comfortable on a bike for urban commuting.

Even with that experience, I found it took a good month before I felt comfortable enough to begin commuting, and it was still another month before I really felt like I didn’t have to think about it too hard.

Weeks 1-2: Focusing on the Basics

Day 1: Halfbike Arrives!

The Halfbike arrived and I put it together in about 45 minutes and took it out for a ride in the dark. It took about 5-10 minutes to feel steady balancing and in about half-hour I was doing laps back and forth on a small side street near my home

Day 2 | Finding a Place to Practice

Practicing for 30-45 minutes in nearby Franklin Park and found a spot where I had smooth pavement, plenty of room, and few people.
I noticed that the bottoms of my feet got a little sore but not sure if it was my shoes or just getting used to things.

Day 3 | Practicing Turns

Went to Franklin Park and worked on turning, going slowly down the hill and trying to be smooth and controlled in the turns. My feet still felt sore, but I think my stiff Altra’s worked better; hoping it’s just a matter of building up endurance

Day 5 | Getting Reps

30 minutes in Franklin Park just practicing turns in the same safe spaces

Day 6 | Venturing Further

30-minute practice session, mostly in Franklin Park, but also ventured a bit further down the Arborway to test out some unfamiliar (but still mellow) terrain. Pumping up my tires made it much faster and less mushy on turns.

Day 8 | Surfaces and Balance

Three miles total around the Franklin Park loop – starting to get hooked! A key insight today was how turning only requires a subtle shift of weight and how any tilt in the surface of the road really affects balance. Halfbiking requires mindfulness of the road and deliberate practice riding on uneven surfaces

Day 9 | Leverage on Hills

My longest ride so far – 3.5 miles at least around Franklin Park and focused on turning at different speeds while peddling. I played with coordinating hands and legs: instead of pulling in the opposite direction of my peddling leg, I started pushing toward the center with the hand on the peddling side. This seemed to give me more leverage and allowed for stronger pumping, particularly on hills.

Day 11 | Turns and Tilts

Focused on turning, doing lots of loops, gradual as well as tight and sharp. I also was working on uneven surfaces, like curb cuts between the street and sidewalk. Still pretty tricky, but getting there.

Weeks 2-4: Getting Comfortable Going Places

Day 16 | Going for Distance

Today I tried to push myself for distance and I tracked with my Garmin for the first time. I ended up going 4.5-5 miles at 8 mph average and with a top speed of 15 mph. I felt good afterwards even after not having biked for a few days.
A couple guys on mopeds passed me at one point and one of them yelled to his friend, “What the heck kind of zip-zip is he riding?”

Day 17 | First “real-world” voyage

This morning I biked 11 miles to Cambridge and back for my first time actually getting somewhere on the half-bike. I took my time and was careful since I’m still getting used to being on the road with cars.

Day 22 | To Work and Back

Today I biked to work and back for the first time – 9 miles round trip. The hills were pretty challenging on this route and some of the narrow roads were a little dodgy during morning traffic. Took my time and didn’t hesitate to jump on the sidewalk or just wait for cars to pass.

Weeks 5-8: Bonding with the Halfbike

Day 27 | Carrying Weight

Biked to work again but this time with a bit more in my backpack to see how that felt. It didn’t seem to affect my balance much and I felt stronger overall – ended up going 12 miles by the end of the day.

Day 29 | Feeling Stronger while Running

Today I ran again after having not run for a while and felt noticeably stronger, which I could only attribute to having been halfbiking so much.

Day 31 | Committed!

Today was the last day of 30-day trial. I biked to Cambridge and back and it felt great, which confirmed my decision to keep it. I felt my balance and control was much better, like I was finally starting to bond with the Halfbike, and I even started to enjoy the bumps and uneven spots instead of being nervous

Day 33 | Practicing Turns

Spent time practicing turns at the park. A guy stopped by to talk about the bike for about 20 minutes – he was really intrigued by the physics of it.

Day 35 | Starting to Feel Automatic

Bike to work and back. Felt strong on the uphills and responded much more automatically to unexpected pavement and didn’t have to jump off as often

Day 38 | Pushing the Distance

New distance milestone with 16 miles in one day

Day 42 | Starting to Feel Routine

Biked to work and back and it felt like it was no big deal, just getting around

Day 45 | First Time in the Rain

Biked in the rain for the first time. Nothing too noticeable about it except that my shoes got a fair bit of splash from the front tire. Probably needy fully water-proof shoes

Day 49 | Still Figuring Out Hills

Struggled on hills today on the way to work and theorized it was mostly technique, which takes time

Day 52 | Just an Average Saturday

Biked the 11 miles to Cambridge and back

56 | Feeling at One with the Halfbike

On my ride to work today, I really at one with the bike; enjoyed the ride and felt strong

Day 60 | Balancing with My Feet

11 miles to Cambridge and back. It felt like for the first time my feet were doing a fair bit of the balancing. I could hold the handlebars with a loose grip and feel how much balance was happening throughout each pedal rotation. That seemed like a breakthrough in how I related to the bike.

Notes on the Learning Process

These are few notes on my process of learning how to Halfbike. Take them all with a grain of salt since everyone learns differently, but I share them in case they’re useful to others.

Find a Safe Space

Especially when you’re first starting out, it’s important to have an even, predictable surface with enough room to maneuver easily. It also helps if there are people around so you feel less self-conscious and you don’t have to worry about running into anyone.

Practice Turns

I found it helped to spend quite a bit time just getting used to turning, since it’s fairly counter-intuitive if you’re only used to biking (it might come easier for people who skateboard or surf – just a theory). I chose a wide area with a gentle slope so I could focus on just on the turning rather than pedaling as well.

Hills and Hands

When I first started learning how to ride half-bike, hills were challenging because I had a hard time figuring out how to use my upper body to get leverage. Initially, I did what I would on a bike pull up in opposition to my legs pushing against the peddles. But I found it didn’t work the same on the Halfbike.

Eventually, I tried a different way of using my upper body: instead of pulling in the opposite direction of my peddling leg, I started pushing toward the center with the hand on the peddling side. This seem to give me more leverage and allowed for stronger pumping, particularly on hills.

Once I got more comfortable standing and peddling, I found that I could return to a bit of a pulling motion if I wasn’t working too hard, but the pushing toward the middle motion has been my go-to for getting leverage on hard uphills.

Surface Angles

It took a few days for me to realize that surface angles really affected my balance. It seems obvious, but it’s easy to forget that you have two wheels in the back rather than one which makes it behave differently than a bike.

Once I tuned into this, I realized that I needed to pay much more attention to the angle of surfaces and intentionally practice moving between different types. Initially, I did this by going from the street to the sidewalk and back, since the curb cuts really threw my balance off when I started.

The key was not overreacting but just allowing the handlebars to find a new center and shifting my weight to the other direction slightly when necessary. Eventually, my brain started to compensate more automatically and now it’s less scary to feel the Halfbike responding the way it does to what your riding on.

Maintenance Tips

  • Check the quick releases every week or two – I’ve had the clamps fall of a couple of times
  • Make sure to pump up the tires regularly. It makes a significant difference in how much energy you expend and how responsive it is.


Feel free to get in touch if you have questions. And if you’re in the Boston area, I’m happy to let you try it out if you want to give it a spin.