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Rider Review: the Swing

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  • Rider Review: the Swing

    Customarily Minded
    July 23, 2006

    copyright owned by author




    The Swing

    Americans young and old are rediscovering one of the greatest pastimes: no, not motorcycling...I'm talking about swinging. There are more swings in today's parks than any other recreational item, so it's little wonder why they are attracting so many swingers. Here's an in-depth look at the various types of swings.

    You really gotta watch out for those older UAS (Universal American Swing) models from the 1970's...smaller riders can get their fingers pinched in the chain links if they get high enough for some slack in the chain. Having experienced this myself a few times back in the day, I highly recommend investing in a set of plastic chain sleeves for such models. You can't order parts from the manufacturer anymore, but the good news is Home Depot carries any size of chain you'll need (along with replacement wood for the seat and U-bolts to boot) and you can get various diameters of chain sleeve from your local swing dealers too. But you're on your own for replacing a flexible rubber seat on some variants of older UAS models.

    Newer swings of course don't have these issues, instead they feature state of the art insulated cables, and often times a sturdy molded plastic seat. Being lighter, they can really arc higher with minimal effort over the older and heavier steel chain-link suspended wooden seat swings. Models that come with a plastic or insulated frame can be safely used in severe electrical storms if you're one of those hard core swingers. Just don't wear the steel-toe shoes and you'll be alright in such conditions.

    Of course there are several variants to the more popular swing. First off we have the bench swing, where two people can get cozy while rocking back and forth. Yes, I said rocking...these puppies aren't built for speed but rather the more intimate moments, nothing beats taking a leisurely swing with that special someone. Although that never stopped the neighbor's twelve year old from getting adventurous with one. Hey, it's a natural stepping stone to being a swinger, so it's better off letting them have at it, puberty is a rough thing to go through.

    Another popular double-up swing is the opposed swing, featuring two benches that---you guessed it, oppose each other like a picnic table (and some models even come with the table). These can be a bit more spirited than the bench style, but their sheer size prevents them from really getting any good air. And one final variant can be seen in many old western drama towns, but I wouldn't recommend trying it. It's a long drop and a short rope, and without a seat the only way to ride is to insert one's head through the loop, which tightens as soon as any weight is placed on said loop via the trapdoor that drops out from under their feet.

    Which brings us back to the various single swings. There are quite a few versions out there, and many are uniquely crafted at home with everyday supplies. All you really need for a succesful swing is an overhead frame (or any type of overhang), a seat, and something to suspend the seat from the frame.

    For novice riders, I wouldn't recommend anything more than a 6' to 8' tall frame, intermediate riders can enjoy a nice 10-25 footer and the pro swingers can really get up there on the 30+ footers. Needless to say, starting off on a 30 footer is like learning to ride on a Hayabusa. Also remember that it takes far more than a long swing to become a professional swinger, the swing does not make the swinger. Pros always have more than one type, including one of the aforementioned double up models where the serious swinging can really begin. Remember, it's not how high you can go but how well you can operate. Technique is everything for a swinger.

    Car tire swings are great for the dual sport rider (you can sit or stand safely on such swings), especially if you can suspend one on a tall tree near a river. Sporting couples can also ride tandem on such swings, indicative of their expert swinging capabilities. And never ride any swing that is suspended by rusty or broken links (watch those frayed sheaths, they can leak unwanted fluids into the suspension) nor swing with a worn or frayed rope, that's a disaster waiting to happen.

    Myself, I like to add a little extra rake and length into any frame I acquire. Lowering the seat height is also something I like, and a good set of billet mirrors not only adds style to your ride but allows you to see what's behind you on the way back down. It's also critical to lubricate all the pivot points for a safe ride, after all a safe swing is a fun swing. Lube every ten to fifteen hours or every other week, whichever comes first. And fret not, there's medication out there for the older swingers so they too can enjoy lengthier swing times.

    The first mod I would suggest to any future swinger is to invest in a Corbin seat, my butt gets numb on the stock seat after 15-20 minutes of lengthy high-arc swinging. Low-arc rides are okay but for endurance swinging you really need a good seat with extra support. The optional backrests are awesome too, they really help you to kick up the momentum during the upsweep arc. Since momentum is crucial for a swinger's technique, I'm probably giving out too many secrets, but that's what we're here for: to learn..

    One thing to beware of on any swing is a neighboring "Squinger" (SQUIrrelly swiNGER)...they can be hazardous with their suspension-twist stunts as they veer uncontrolably into your path. Every swinger's worst enemy is another swinger veering into their path. Better to ride a Western Noose swing than to allow another swinger to get in your way.

    Put some zing in your swing and keep those knees in the breeze.


    Customarily Minded Swinger of the Month



    This month's featured item is something that any swinger could sink their teeth into. SculptureCycles.com belts out these killer swingarms for anyone wishing for a super showbike based on any Softail frame, this beauty can give it a quasi-sportbike look.

    It could probably be modded to your backyard swing as well.
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