What’s the difference between Bicycle Rider Back and Standard decks of cards?

Bicycle Playing Cards are some of the most popular and recognizable decks of cards in the world. They are exceptional and affordable playing cards for card tricks and card games that can be purchased nearly anywhere. They're also very long lasting. While manufacturing by the United States Playing Card Company ensures quality and handling is consistent across all Bicycle decks, some are called “Standard” and others are called “Rider Back.”. This page isn't going to discuss the special trick decks you can get, but rather concentrate on the regular decks.

So, what is the difference between Bicycle Rider Back Playing Cards and Bicycle Standard Playing Cards?

bicycle deck rider back playing cards

Tuck Box

Subtle differences on the tuck boxes can help differentiate between Bicycle Rider Back and Bicycle Standard Playing Cards. Most noticeably the fact that either “Rider Back” or “Standard” is printed prominently on the front.

The tuck case for Bicycle Rider Back Playing cards also uses slightly different colors (darker blues and brighter reds). The most noticeable difference though is undoubtedly the “Free App” badge found on the front of the tuck case for Standard Bicycle Playing Cards. Many magicians feel this badge looks unprofessional and prefer using Rider Back Playing Cards to avoid it. While some newer boxes of Standard Bicycle Playing Cards seem to be phasing out this badge, it can still be found on many decks.

The backs of each tuck box are also completely different with the Rider Backs box displaying a playing card design and the Standard box offering some sort of text or advertising copy.

One other very subtle difference on the tuck boxes is that some Rider Back playing card boxes have a longer flap.

Playing Cards and Pips

When examining the playing cards themselves, it becomes even more difficult to tell the difference between Rider Back and Standard Bicycle cards. While some experienced magicians and poker players claim Rider Backs offer better handling, they are printed with the same quality material as Standard playing cards. The average person is generally unable to tell the difference by touch alone.

The design and coloring on the face cards is nearly identical on both decks aside from some subtle changes to the font and text used on the Ace of Spades. Both decks of cards are also available in red or blue.

While each deck of cards comes with two Jokers, the design of these Jokers may vary based on the year it was produced. Older decks of Bicycle Rider Back Playing cards include a black-and-white Joker with the United States Playing Card Company’s quality guarantee policy written on it. This “Guarantee” card is replaced with a fully-colored Joker in modern Standard Bicycle decks.

Should I use Bicycle Standard Playing Cards or Bicycle Rider Back Playing Cards

Many magicians and playing card purists prefer the more discreet and professional design of the tuck box for Rider Back playing cards. As a result, you’ll find many of them arguing Rider Back Playing Cards are better than standard Bicycle decks.

However, for the average magician or card-gamer, the minor differences are almost unnoticeable. If they were obvious, many of you probably wouldn’t be reading this article in the first place.

At the end of day, it all comes down to personal preference when deciding whether to use Standard Bicycle Playing Cards or Rider Back Bicycle Playing Cards for card tricks or card games. Since they can be easily purchased from major stores like Walmart, Target or Walgreens, Standard Bicycle Cards are readily available or those looking to learn card tricks or practice sleight of hand. Bicycle Rider Back Playing Cards can also be easily purchased online through magic retailers like Vanishing Inc.

Other options like Bicycle Mandolin Back Playing Cards and trick decks are also available.


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