Bicycles are one of my favorite cards for magic because they’re easy to find, inexpensive, and easily recognizable by everyone.
But there are different kinds of Bikes to choose from.
What’s the difference between Bicycle Rider Backs vs Standard playing cards?
There are few meaningful differences between Rider Backs and Standards, though there are a handful of very subtle design tweaks you’ll notice in these cards.
Most noticeably, the old-style Rider Back tuck box often had a longer tuck or tongue and used different shades of red and blue than the modern Standards. The back of the Rider Back tuck box also shows the back design of the cards and nothing else, while the Standard shows the front and back of a card with some text.
Let’s take a closer look at the similarities and differences.
Rider Back vs Standard Tuck Box
Most of the differences between these cards are seen on the front, top, and back of the tuck boxes.
On the front of the boxes, you’ll notice a few things:
The Rider Backs and Standards use different shades of red or blue. The Rider Back blue is darker while its red is brighter.
The Riders also say “Rider Back Playing Cards” on the front, while the Standards just say “Standard” in a different font.
The modern Bicycle Standards usually have an annoying badge on them (it looks like a sticker, but it’s printed on the box) that advertises a free app with card game rules you can download.
Some Rider Back decks have something like this, but it’s less common. And not all Standards have it, but most do these days.
Now, on the back, there are major design differences between the two.
Rider Backs just show the back design of the card. That’s it. No fancy graphics or text or sales copy.
The Standards show a little illustration along with some text advertising the Bicycle website (“Visit Bicyclecards.com for more games, rules, and product information.”), the aforementioned app, and a little descriptor at the end (“Standard Size, Standard Face”).
Finally, there’s a noticeable difference in the tuck itself (or the tongue or flap) of the box.
Most older Rider Back decks (though not all) have a much longer flap than their Standard counterparts, along with different copy written on it.
Now let’s take a look inside the box at the cards themselves.
Bicycle Rider Back (807) vs Standard Cards & Pips
Once you start looking at the cards themselves, the differences get harder to spot.
Some people say the older Rider Back cards were thicker cut and nicer to handle, but I can’t necessarily confirm this. They feel mostly the same to me.
The face cards, coloring, and pips on these decks are identical, as well.
However, there are a few minor differences to note:
The Ace of Spades features the same design in both decks, but the copy on the card itself is a little different.
(Rider Backs use a kind of funky font for “The U.S. Playing Card Co.” and mentions Cincinnati, U.S.A.)
And finally, while both decks come with two Jokers each, the Jokers aren’t exactly the same from year to year and version to version.
Old-style Rider Backs include two black-and-white Jokers, one with a “Guarantee” written on the face. Newer Standard Bikes have done away with the Guarantee Joker and included one with a fully-colored face.
(Some versions of Rider Back decks include a colored Joker and a Guarantee Joker.)
The Guarantee Joker copy explained that you can return your deck of cards for a replacement if there’s any kind of defect that makes it unplayable, and provides a mailing address for the return.
So which one is better? Standard vs Rider Back?
That about covers the differences between these two decks, so I guess the only question left is:
Which one is better?
To me, the differences are superficial and hardly noticeable.
Purists may prefer some of the things that made the Rider Back decks unique, but the Standards pretty much the same thing when it comes to handling and performing.
I do HATE the way they slap that “Free App” badge on most of Bicycle cards these days, and I much prefer the days when the tuck boxes were simpler and classier looking.
But I do kind of like the decision to ditch the guarantee Joker and include a colored one.
The rest of the differences don’t matter much to me.
These cards are mostly interchangeable. When people talk about Bicycle Rider Backs, they usually just mean whatever deck of Bikes you can grab from the store or Amazon — they’re not usually referring to the older design and tuck box, specifically.
Can you still buy Rider Backs?
Yes, you can!
Most stores (like Walmart, Target, drugstores, and anyone that carries playing cards.) will carry modern, Standard Bicycle decks, you can still buy Bikes in the older design.
You’ll probably have to buy straight from Bicycle or a magic dealer online to be sure you’re getting what you want.
(Beware of buying Bicycle Rider Backs on Amazon; they’ll often just ship you Standards and call it a day.)
(Most trick decks, by the way, will usually come in the Rider Back tuck.)
That about covers the differences between Standard Bikes and Rider Backs!
For most hobbyist magicians and card-gamers, the differences are irrelevant. If you’re into the classic look or are a card-collecting purist, you can still find the old Rider Back designs and tucks online if you look in the right places.
Did I miss any differences or similarities here? Do you prefer the Standard or old-style Rider Back design?
Hope this helps!