New Bicycle back design inspires conversation

June 14th, 2010 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under General

We think it’s safe to say that only in the magic community will talk about a new Bicycle deck reach a fever pitch. Can you think of any community that loves cards as much as we do? The new Bicycle Mandolin back has magic debate written all over it.

First of all, here it is if you haven’t seen it. Oh, looks like a Rider back, you say? True enough. Just click that picture and look at it in all its high-res glory. The differences should stand out.

The Mandolin back, according to this post on the Murphy’s Magic blog, was developed by the U.S. Playing Card Co. in order for magicians to create and market their own gaff cards without fear of breaking the company’s recently ratcheted-up enforcement of the Rider back “trademark.” The guys at Murphy’s say this back will be used for many gaffed effects, such as Twilight Angels and Strange Travelers.

However, the back leads to an interesting debate — one that we have heard ever since we first unleashed this modern craze of custom playing cards. The issue is card suspicion: Some magicians argue that only common cards should be used, so that people don’t suspect cards of being trick cards. In other words, the only way sleight of hand can be regarded as magic is if you use a red or blue Rider back. It’s safe to say that we at E see both sides of the debate.

But the Mandolin back is meant to look like a Rider back. The legendary Paul Harris led the design of this deck. It looks great, no doubt, but it also looks like a knock-off of the Rider back. Our question for Rider purists: Does this deck pass the test? And for everyone: If the Mandolin isn’t going to be as widely available as the Rider, is suspicion really eliminated?

No matter how you answer the above questions, we still say that cards are just as important as your outfit. Pick cards that match your character.


  1. MagicPassion on:

    New Bicycle back design inspires conversation: We think it’s safe to say that only in the magic community will tal…

  2. Ellusionist on:

    What do you think of the Mandolin deck???

  3. Mike Vaughan on:

    New deck of cards soon to be release by @Ellusionist They look decent. Nothing too special. :)

  4. RT @Ellusionist: What do you think of the Mandolin deck???

  5. I prefer the rider backs better then this mandolin deck

  6. Dai Masters on:

    Is this what all pre-made gaffs are going to be on now? If so, it’s a sad day.

  7. I agree with Michael, I myself prefer the rider backs better, why not try and make a NEW Gaff Deck Please.

  8. I don’t get it, how does switching the back do anything? What’s the problem with creating rider back gaffs? Are the gaff decks on E gonna switch to these backs? I prefer rider back.

  9. I don\’t get it, how does switching the back do anything? What\’s the problem with creating rider back gaffs? Are the gaff decks on E gonna switch to these backs? I prefer rider back.

  10. Layman won’t know the difference between this and the Rider back. It’s perfect. Although I don’t know the specifics of these new laws/rules about gaffed Bikes, I’m sure Bicycle had magicians specifically in mind when they made there. They could have just said “stop printing gaffed Riders”.
    I thought it was a picture of a rider back until I looked at the big picture.

  11. I like them, and as it says at the end of the article. “choose cards that match your character” Nice!

  12. I don’t think a lay person would know the difference. They appear ‘close enough’ in my mind.

    Time to stock up on the “old” style gimmicks. You can sell them for huge profit on eBay in the future 😛

  13. I think it is perfectly okay for the U.S. Playing card company to want gaff cards to be of a different print than their riders. Sure I love the riderback bicycles, but I understand that they want to keep their premiere line of cards pure. I think its a little late though, considering all of the gaffs that are already out there. And all this will do is drive those gaffs up in price. :(

    My real problem is that I simply don’t like this design. Who wants cards with butterflies and violins on them? That’s not hard core at all!? Why not simply print a whole new line of cards with backs like the tally-ho vipers? No one questions me when I pull out a deck of those, and they work beautifully. I wouldn’t mind using only tally-ho decks for my gaff routines, or transitioning into making those my regular packs.

    If they are going to go to the trouble to make a new line of cards just for magicians to gaff, don’t give me some of this stupid knockoff design, but something like the sleek, dark, and mysterious designs that I love ellusionist for.

    Now is our chance to make something really cool the new standard! Let’s not miss out on it.

  14. wallysworldco on:

    New mandolin deck bothers me. The design is a lame knock-off. Why not make something new and cool the new standard?

  15. I totally agree with Wally N. If you are going to make a new standard deck, why go with a lame knock off?

  16. Yes like the mayority I prefer a new disign… this mandolin´s are not cool enough for me… it looks like a bad version of the raider backs

  17. Joe Glickman on:

    The design is not SO different than the Rider back to justify making a change. If you’re going to be different, then make a big change.

  18. I think the mandolin backs look stupid. A naked looking teen with wings hiding behind a banjo looks pretty odd in my opinion. I also dont like the butterflys on the corners either. Thats my opinion anyways.

  19. don’t like the design. will NOT purchase this deck for sure. a fail one for me

  20. casey jones fl magician on:

    no we cant use these notice th4e gaff cards have many that use the focus on the back now compare if you focus on the back you will see it is different and bicycle this is the second time youve made magicians mad first the look of the card faces and now the backs F**k man

  21. Brandon Wylie on:

    RT @ellusionist: New Bicycle back design inspires conversation

  22. Tod Hunter on:

    I don’t like the new Mandolin backs for this reason: The little angel looks like he’s hiding something. He’s taking a posture of concealment behind the mandolin.

    This observation is borderline subliminal, I’ll give you that, but I believe that the common, familiar card is better to use than the exotic in card effects. People will notice that the Mandolin back is just a little different from the familiar Rider backs and pay much closer attention.

    I hope USPCC changes its corporate mind.

  23. NO! NO! NO! A THOUSAND TIMES NO! This is outrageous! I love gaff cards, I have a hardcore image and I do NOT want a deck with feathers, hearts, butterflies, and “mandolins”! I REFUSE to let this go unchallenged! This is a chance to make a new standard in the playing card field and I do NOT want it to be this! I am an artist both on the street and on paper, I want to have apart in the design of the deck! I beleive we should have a website created so that we can have people send thier Ideas for the deck so that EVERYONE can have a say in what they will be working with! We are professionals and this is an amazing opportunity, do NOT let it slip away! Soon this chance will be gone!


  24. The cards are gay. They need to rethink they designs if they have to change them. I agree with Ryan X. Butterflies, seriously, that’s for little girls, we as magicians deserve a masculine type of design.

  25. The Illusive on:

    Compare any new gaff cards using this design on the back to the Ultragaff deck. The Ultragaff deck contains cards that are specific to the angels themselves. ITS THE ANGELS ON BIKES THAT MAKE THEM QUINTESSENTIALLY SPECIAL AND DIFFERENT FROM ANY OTHER DEKC OF CARDS ON THE MARKET TODAY. Does this mean that USPCC are going to change the name of the deck to MANDOLINS, as I don’t see a bicycle anywhere?!?

  26. Aldo Ryanata on:

    I dont really like this back for every deck. It doesn’t look good. Well, if you want to use it for a certain deck of cards, like a special edition. Its ok. For collection :)

  27. nobody has even mentioned quality.Will they feel and work as well as the master series?I loved the vipers and the shadows but as soon as I pulled them out,people were saying ya!,but can you do that with a real deck which is why I went to the masters.What do we do with all the normal gaffs,are you going to offer to replace all of the old ones for the new ones?Boy ,what a head ache when you consider the giant cards as well.Have you really sat back and thought about how many old gaffs are really out there?Lets see,I started when I was 14.I am now 53.I must have a steamer trunk full of blue gaffs alone.Never tried to estimate the cost but I bet it’s enough for a down payment for a house! I’m also a musician so I dont mind the mandolin too much but like a few before me,I think the overall look is a little girly.Ziggy and roy have retired and even Roy went out in a manly way. Getting his throat ripped out by a tiger.You can’t get more macho than that! Magic’s image is mysterious,macho,scary and downright dangerous.Just the other day I got a paper cut when a card helicoptered on me………..dangerous!!!!!!!!!!!!!!