For those of you who are not familiar with the sport, a really good place to learn is at Legit Bike Polo. The site is run by a friend of mine, Gus, who introduced me to the sport. Basically, two teams of bikers try to get a small ball through the opposing team’s goal using mallets to move the ball. If you’ll notice, the sport requires three pieces of equipment: a ball, a bike, and a mallet. Up until today I had no ball, a non-functioning polo bike, and two ski poles. Now, I have no ball, a non-functioning polo bike, and two polo mallets!
Most bike polo mallets, that I know of, use old ski poles for the shaft and ABS plastic pipes for the mallet head. The handles vary from mallet to mallet, but are commonly made from hockey tape or handlebar tape. For my mallets, I used my old alpine ski mallets. They have a fashionable white base with black and yellow spikes and small orca stickers (free willy!).
The process to convert ski pole to polo mallet is relatively simple. (The steps I took are outlined by Gus on his site, here) First, I had to remove the cages and straps from the handles and the baskets from the ends of the poles. My understanding is that the mallet cannot be attached to the player, so the straps were pointless. The cages and baskets were just in the way. Next, I measured the mallets to 40″, as recommended by Gus, and cut off the tips with a hacksaw. Then I drilled a hole through the tip of the pole where a bolt will affix the shaft to the head.
The head is made from a 5″ section of ABS pipe. I have no idea what ABS pipes are normally used for, but I know that they are found in the plumbing section of Home Depot and are supposedly less brittle (thus less prone to breaking) than PVC pipes. Using apiece of paper and a neat trick from Gus, I marked four points around the pipe where I would drill holes. One set of holes is for the bolt holding the pole to the head, and the second set for the pole itself.
I managed to cram the pole into the pipe, aligned the holes in both, and threw the bolts through. Gus mentions the bolts are just shy of reaching far enough through to easily attach a lock washer and nut to the bolt. He was not kidding. He suggests bending the pipe until the two are able to fit. I was scared of breaking the pipe, so I ditched the lock washers and bent the pipe just enough to get the nuts on. I then tighten them with crescent wrenches.
For the handles, the two mallets are different. One one pole, I used Gus’ hockey tape technique to give some good grip. On the other, I left the original pole handle to compare with the tape method. If it doesn’t work, I can easily remove the handle and slap on some hockey or bar tape.
Next up is acquiring some street hockey balls, souping up my old mountain bike to a polo rig, and playing.