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In the gun world, different types of shooters favor particular types of firearms. The same general principle applies to cyclists. Given the wide variety of riders and bicycles, there’s no simple solution for bicycle carry. A pistol-packing cyclist must balance ease of access against retention, consider concealment vs. caliber, and calculate gun size in relation to weight. In some states, open carry makes bicycle carry a relatively easy proposition. Until it doesn’t. So I’ve been investigating concealed bicycle carry. Here are the four basic types of cycling and my recommendations for each . . .

1.  Casual/recreational riders

Casual/recreational cyclists ride slowly on paved pathways for short times and distances. They wear pretty much the same clothes they’d wear while walking. They’re the cycling equivalent of people who go to the range once in a blue moon.

The simple advice for these cyclists: carry on as per normal. If a CCW system works when you stroll it’ll work when you bike.

Saying that, “naked” pocket carry can be problematic; a small gun can work its way up your pocket while riding, fall and then skitter on the pavement. Also, it’s damn near impossible to pull a gun from your pocket while riding. Yes, while riding. Think escape and evade.

While an inside-the-waistband (IWB) holster is a lot more useful and discreet, many CCW licensees (especially OFWGs) have trouble sitting comfortably wearing an IWB holster. That may be doubly true when bicycling. Obviously, the further around your body you position your IWB holster the more comfortable it’s likely to be on a bike.

An outside-the-waistband (OWB) holster with a baggy shirt can be an ideal bicycle carry set-up: comfortable, accessible and discreet. If you go for OWB, make sure the gun is completely secure in the holster. There’s no jolt quite like hitting a pothole at speed. Also, bicycles crash, sometime spectacularly. Best to “wake up” with your gun on your person.

At the same time, the gun shouldn’t be too tight in the holster, lest you struggle to remove it when you needed. Retention systems can be particularly tricky to operate on the move.

Practice (a.k.a. “situational familiarity) is the key. Unload and safety check your weapon in a discreet location. Then draw and shoot on the move. You’ll soon see that one-handed shooting practice a priority for anyone who chooses bicycle carry.

2.  Commuter/transportation riders

These riders are experienced and fit. They wear anything from work clothes (including suits) to lycra. They’re like the shooters who go to the range on a regular basis with high-end, well-maintained firepower.

If you bicycle in your normal clothes, carry on as above. If you wear lycra/jersey, you’re best off carrying in a pack. There are a number of excellent solutions, like the Drop Leg Motorcycle Scooter ATV Enduro Dirt Pit Bike Cycling Fanny Pack Waist Belt Bag above.

Road racers/road race wannabes

Think Tour de France and Lance Armstrong: riders wearing brightly colored, tight-fitting garments atop bikes that weigh as much a toothpick. Road racers are like shooters who compete on a regular basis with hugely expensive, extensively modified “race guns.”

Hard-core cyclists typically pay $1 per gram of weight lost on a bike. A “real” roadie would no more add 1000 grams of gun/holster than jump on a Schwinn Hollywood. If road racers are about security, they usually count on their mount’s speed and stealth to avoid or escape a lethal threat. After that, it’s pepper spray, useful for both dogs and two-legged predators.

If road racers carry, they pack the smallest, lightest and let’s face it sexiest gun available. The biggest issue they fail to consider: sweat. Depending on a rider’s chemistry, sweat can be almost as corrosive as battery acid. Polymer guns are a godsend, but they must be maintained and tested religiously.

For OWB, a road racer’s well advised to use a nylon belt (e.g. the Wilderness Frequent Flyer), a Kydex holster and, again, a plastic corrosion resistant gun. Fanny pack? You’re kidding, right?

Mountain bikers

Given the forces involved, a fanny pack is the ideal solution for mountain bike carry. It offers easy access to hydration and armed self-defense. There are a lot of choices, including packs made for the job. But it really is a case of try before you buy.

Your gun should fit the pack perfectly: tight but not too tight. Ideally, it should be a pack you can open with one hand while riding (see: fumbling above) and have a separate compartment so that you don’t struggle to draw when push comes to shove.

While a fanny pack enables a larger gun, remember that the more weight you carry in the pack, the more likely it is that the pack will bounce around. Strapping it down might solve one problem while creating another.

If you don’t carry a fanny pack, a gun belt under a jersey with an OWB holster will git ‘er done. I carry a Glock 17 in this manner with no difficulty at all, and it’s pretty comfortable. Bike cops carry on a belt all day long. Although they can do so without getting pulled over . . .

Bicycling is a terrific way to stay in shape. Staying in shape is a terrific way to stay alive, both in terms of staving-off obesity-related conditions and having the strength and endurance to survive a gunfight. Both on and off your bike.

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  1. Just a word of advice for mountain bikers who ride on land that is owned by the Army Corps of Engineers, which is common here in GA. No weapons are allowed on COE property.

  2. Bike shorts, even the baggy ones that most non-racers wear, lack belt loops. But they are useful for preventing chafing, so many of us prefer to wear them. I have had the best luck with either a fanny pack or a belly band worn under the shoulder–access is pretty easy since most bike jerseys unzip at least 3/4 of the way down.

    Sadly guns aren’t allowed at work, so when I commute I end up not carrying.

  3. Nice article, Eric. I ride my bicycle every day (hurricane days excepted) and carry all the time. Wearing street clothes, I can easily carry a compact .40 in a Remora IWB holster at the 4:00 position. Pocket carry and draw works fine with cargo shorts and a subcompact pistol or Airweight in the thigh pocket, with the trigger suitably covered by an Uncle Mike’s pocket holster. Offroad riding with a pistol is more difficult because of the constant pounding. Frankly, I don’t trust any holster to retain the gun when I’m bouncing over boulders and babyheads. A fanny pack works and doesn’t look as stupid in the woods as it does on the street.

  4. For roadies, a Remora holster with a mini 9 or pocket 380 works great. Lycra shorts or tights put tension over the entire surface area of the holster which keeps it still even when soaked with sweat. I am OCD about cleaning so I do not worry about sweat, but Remora makes them with an upgrade called a “sweat shield”. I use the non-sweat shield Remora with an LC9 at around four o’clock. It is completely invisible due to other stuff I keep in my back jersey pockets and I barely feel it there, even on longer rides.

  5. I mountain bike often. I don’t often carry when I do (ya I know- all the time). The only thing that has worked for mountain bike carry for me has been a Camelback M.U.L.E.. Which is worth every penny anyway if you go offroad in the desert.

  6. I’m a serious cyclist and average about 150 miles per week in season, maybe 60 miles in Winter. I guess on the scale above I’m a road racer.

    As a cyclist, I can tell you that we’re exposed to a remarkable degree. No cage, no windows, but a lot of high tech spandex. Turns out, spandex isn’t all that protective. . .

    Where I live, we’ve had several incidents in the past year or two of gangs of yutes targeting cyclists, knocking them down, beating them up, and robbing them of bikes and whatever they’re carrying. One victim was in the hospital for ages with head trauma, etc. We also have the occasional bear sighting, and cougars (the four legged kind!) live in the area.

    So unless I’m in an organized race, I carry every time I ride. Keep in mind, I’m riding a state of the art bike – replacement cost is over $5k. I’ve paid a lot to have a lightweight (but strong) bike. But I’m willing to accept a little weight for the ability to defend myself if necessary.

    I carry a mini-Glock in a fanny pack with built-in holster. The fanny pack doesn’t look ridiculously out of place, it sits well when I ride, and it also handles things like wallet, ipod, and energy bars. The Glock itself is lightweight, reliable, shoots well and is quick to draw.

    I may be funny looking, and don’t ride as fast as I used to, but at least I’m well armed and in great shape.

    • Makes me glad I live in Oregon. Our “yutes” are too lazy to rob people. They just smoke a lot of pot and play X-box.

      • I don’t know what part of Oregon you’re in sir, but here in the Portland metro area, I have had two well-locked bikes stolen– those hipsters are ruthless! I take my bike in with me everywhere now, no matter how obnoxious it is to me and shop-owners– they’ve actually always been very cool with it. My husband and I are moving to Bend soon, and we asked multiple bike shops there about thievery, and the word was that Portlanders will sweep through periodically and take bikes back to sell in Portland. Needless to say, I have a giant lock. As for carrying, my husband and I don’t leave home without packin’ heat. Thus far, I have been mountain biking and riding for practical reasons whilst carrying my full auto in my camelbak– impossible to get in less than 5 seconds or so. I am purchasing one of these babies today, though, and I think things will become far more cohesive– — BTW, the hip belt suggested in the article above (the article being very helpful, thanks!) got some pretty terrible reviews on Amazon, saying the thing broke within a few weeks. I’m going for more expensive with certain quality to save myself the time of returns.

    • Do you know what type of environment those attacks took place? When I ride, I try to
      get away and ride on quiet roads away from town. Just wondering if these were urban
      cyclists riding through bad parts of town or if thugs intercepted them out in rural settings?
      Do you mind sharing what city it was near?

      • I know of 2 assaults on urban bike trails, near protected/obscured features (tunnels, narrow corridors between freeway walls, etc.). It’s road bike territory.

        I like to ride in urban areas, but it has its problems if you don’t know the neighborhoods where you intend to ride. I’ve been in some pretty bad places, which helps keep the average speed up. One ride in Oakland was pretty hairy, and one in Las Vegas was downright frightening. No legal carry in Oakland of course, but Las Vegas is OK.

        The bear and cougar warnings are posted on some ex-urban trails and a fairly rare, but real, occurrence on mountain bike trails.

        Regardless, I don’t think I’m ever as exposed as I am when cycling – and no lycra jokes please! On a bike, you’re in the environment, working hard, and very vulnerable to predators. Need to be alert and able to respond to situations as appropriate.

  7. So let me get this straight. The cop acknowledges that the rider is not braking any laws but stops him anyway just to break his balls over exercising his constitutional rights. WTF? I don’t run around thumping my chest and screaming about my rights, because I try to limit my interaction with big daddy lawman. But the fact that the guy thinks it’s his place to instruct a citizen on his place in the food chain pisses me off beyond sanity. Fuck him. If the guy is within the law and the cop knows it…as he acknowledges..then why the hell is he mesing with the guy?
    BTW…for 7 years of my life, I paid the bills by standing behind a cheap polyester uniform with a big shite metal badge on it. That cop was a bag-o-ass.

  8. This is a good article, addressing a subject a lot of people don’t think about. I mountain bike some fairly rough trails, so one of my biggest concerns is what the gun is going to do if/when I crash. This is why I usually carry in an exterior pocket of my Camelbak. Yes, it is slower to get to but is very secure and not going to cause me extra injury if I land on it. Like the article says, escape and evade first!

  9. Thank you for the great article. Carrying self defense items while riding is something that major bicycling groups don’t address (due to their left leaning politics I suspect). I live in the PNW where serious roadies and commuters are seen everyday, so we don’t have a huge problem with harrassment, but it still happens. I have never had a problem but sometimes I’m looking over my shoulder.

  10. To keep it simple and light, how about just putting it in a bike jersey pocket? The strong side pocket is probaby as accessible as most other methods for folks not having any range of motion or shoulder issues. Has anyone (licensed) tried this method out?

    • Jersey pockets were made to hold water bottles. They work for holding small food packages, gloves, or the occasional pack of cigarettes (yes, some cyclists still like a smoke now and then).

      Anything but the very lightest guns (like little poly 380s) will be a bouncing metal mess in a jersey pocket, and pull down on the pocket heavily. It’s ugly.

      I’ve seen riders here (East Texas) with belly-bands and shoulder holsters, usually with something pretty small (small revolver, 380 pocket gun, maybe very compact 9mm like the George Zimmerman Special).

      I usually wear “street clothes” like cheap athletic shorts and jogger shirts if they’re “cut” right so they don’t go up in the back or flap in the wind. Little guns in 1 clip holsters will often sit fine in a drawstring shorts or slack shorts.

      Mountain bikers in Dallas are arming themselves now because of thieves and druggies on the trails.

  11. The fanny pack would not make sense in addition to the Cambelbak, at least if worn in the rear. Has anyone looked into a chest carry holster that could attach to a Camelbak? If it were made square and had a flap that concealed the gun and its shape, seems like it would be a legal CCW carry. Like one of the above posters, I would be afraid of crashing and landing on the pistol, it would either break me, or I would break it, maybe. Maybe a secret pocket in the Cambelbak where you could reach back with your hand and get to the gun. I have been looking at getting a Glock 20 for mountainbiking and bear defense, not the ideal round I know, but there is little chance of me strapping on my S&W .44 Mag revolver on a bike ride.

  12. I’m a wannabe road racer, I do race mountain bikes, and road bike for enjoyment and exercise, and I like to ride pretty hard. On the roadbike, roadbiking jerseys that have three pockets in the rear of the shirt, are ideal to stick my S&W bodyguard into. When I mountain bike, if I pack, I put the bodyguard into my camelback, not as accessible though.

  13. I have found this clothing for con sealed carry. Going to give it a try with my cycling clothes and my ruger LCP. I will try and report back how it all works together on a weekend ride.

  14. Well I found that a snub nose in a pocket holster in the strong side jersey pocket works fine for road riding. A good bike jersey can handle a full water bottle in each pocket (twice the weight of a loaded snub or pocket pistol) and they are easy to access while on the bike.

  15. For mountain biking, trail running and xc skiing, the best way that I’ve found to carry is in a chest pouch like the HPG Runner’s Kit Bag or Kifaru Koala, each of which work very well with or without a backpack of almost any size. I use a Kit Bag and it works equally as well for my light, .22lr grouse plinker, 5.5″ barreled .460 Rowland bear gun and full size 1911. Most people I encounter that don’t already know what the bag is don’t know what’s in it, so it’s ideal for discreet carry in the backcountry. Keeps my weapon clean. Only downside is that the Kit Bag is breathable where it sits against your chest. On higher intensity adventures in temps below zero F, I have opened the pouch to find a pistol covered in frost. Doesn’t keep it from firing, but does lead to occasional fte’s with the .22.

  16. I use an ankle holster w/ Taurus TCP. Worn on the outside of the leg. No difference in cadence. Stays secure, easily accessible if I’m separated from my bike. I’ve done the jersey pocket, but you never want to fall with something in the small of your back, you can get paralyzed if you landed on it from the impact. As we all know they won’t go off without pulling the trigger. Some are offended, most never notice.

  17. Or just move to europe where we don’t have a gun culture, see less kids murdered in schools by nut jobs, detest the cock waving attitude of the gun lovers and can go for a ride without having to think about sticking a pistol in your shorts. I pity you.

      • Fannie is right. Why worry about sticking a gun in the shorts when the police can save you during an attack? If you do not trust the police, then quit your job, pack up, and move to europe – the awesome place were criminals are the only armed citizens. This is such a rational act and very easy to do. Hell, there are millions doing it right now; it is the most sensible thing to do instead of carrying a firearm. Accept Fannies contribution, with the high tax rate through much of europe, pitty is about all they have left to give.

  18. I am so glad I found this thread! Most informative/helpful comments on this subject, I have found on the web. — so I thank the previous posters & wanted to pay it forward with my experiences in bicycle carry. I’m sure the intersection between gun-nuts & serious cyclists is low, but I am one of them! About a year ago, I got heavy into triathlon, and the previous rig I had worn as a casual trail-rider (Ruger SP101 in a IWB) wasn’t going to work both from a weight, retention, sweat & clothing perspective.

    Since I go on extremely long bike rides (50-100miles) for triathlon training through all kinds of different areas, urban, rural, etc; and I will not be 25-50 miles away from my home un-armed. I needed a new set-up & I didn’t want to spend a fortune & where every oz matters. I invested in the inexpensive but reliable Kel-tec P3AT .380 (11 oz loaded) & remora pocket holster placed in my jersey pocket. I keep “halt!” OC spray for Dogs in the off-hand jersey pocket — as dogs often go after me & I have no desire to shoot them (I am a Dog person!) unless I felt I was in danger of severe injury or loss of life (unlikely). I’m well under $300 for this set-up. I have found this is an excellent balance between “concealabilty,” weight and expense. I am not a huge fan of shooting the .380 caliber in a pocket semi-auto, as my EDC is usually a 1911 or .357., & the Kel-tec is certainly no MOA accurate range-gun. (sights are almost non-existent) But, since I am lucky enough to practice in my back-yard I can reliably draw from the rig in my jersey & shoot minute of bad guy at reasonable defensive distances. I’m not sure of the safety of practicing mounted on the bike, but I will consider it for future realism in training. I found adding the pearce-grip pinky extenders on the magazines really enhance accuracy for me at no real cost to “concealibility.” I am also able to run long runs with this set-up as well —as the remora carries nicely with no belt in running shorts/pants with good elastic. If I had a little more in my budget I probably would have gone with the S&W M&P .380 as it had way better sights. I hope this post helps any others considering this type of cycling carry.

  19. I just started cycling again (after 13 years and gaining 90lbs), and trying to decide what and how to carry since some of my city’s urban trails go through some rough neighborhoods, and there’s also been some dog attacks reported. I looked at a 5-shot Ruger LCR .357, but really didn’t want to give up my 14-shot Glock 21 .45ACP. My first ride was a couple days ago (whopping 7.5 miles) and carried my Glock 21 in a fanny back over my shoulder with the pack on my chest. Then found this article and it’s been a huge help. I just ordered a Runner’s Kit bag from Hill People Gear (HPG) and a Vanguard 2 trigger cover from Raven Concealed Carry.

  20. I wear a pair of Bontrager ( Trek ) shorts that has a nylon belt, I upgraded the belt and carry my Beretta Nano with a Sneaky Pete nylon holster. I opted for belt loops instead of clips for retention.

  21. I ride about 75-150 miles a week. Weekends are all lycra and long distances on a road bike. Weekdays are local road bike riding but with more conservative clothing. I commute to work 2-4 times a week and over half of the ride is through one of the most crime ridden neighborhoods on the east coast.

    My first defence is awareness, second is fleeing, and third is a glock 27. I wear an undertech undercover concealment shirt. I wear the wife beater version under my bike jersey. I ride with the bike jersey zipped down enough for me to do a quick cross draw when needed.

    The firearm is secure in the shirt even over rough bumpy roads. the glock stayed in place even after a spectacular crash were i went flying off the bike and tumbled on the ground – although the bruise on my arm – under arm – and side of my chest was huge and gruesome.

    As for the weapon staying secure, i’m experienced in taking a fall and instinctively tuck in when about to hit the ground and stay that way until i stop rolling.

  22. I’m a road biker and a mountain biker. In both instances I carry a Sig 938 in a belly band. It gets hot though.

    I can’t imagine not carrying while biking on the road. A lot of folks HATE cyclists and it shows.

  23. I have been looking for a backpack I can conceal carry, and have easy access to the firearm without taking off the pack, plus, be able to have a place for a hydration bladder, and have room to carry my emergency supplies, such as a small first aid, extra tube, bike tools, bike lock, and power bars. I think I have found what I have been looking for. I was at a gun show and they had what is call a modular tactical back pack, it is not made to be a conceal carry, but the pockets where you can tuck in the waist straps on both sides, make excellent pockets to tuck in a hand gun on the left or right side, and almost any size hand gun will fit. I also purchased a conceal carry holster with a belt clip to clip on to the pocket. One of the nice features is the waist strap when in use it help hold the gun in. If you need to get to the firearm all you need to do is disengage the waist strap buckle, the strap where it connects to the pack will guide you right to your firearm. Very easy to get at, and you do not need to take the pack off, the waist straps also help to conceal the firearm. The pack is big enough to carry a full size laptop, or up to two camel back 2 liter water bladders. Besides biking, it could be used for hiking or camping to. Here is link to their web site they also have many more pack & bags.

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