I’ve been using both Bikes and Tally Hos for years; I work as a casino dealer and I also enjoy doing card tricks.
Before purchasing the two decks, I thought they would be very different; I was disappointed — honestly, they are almost the same.
That being said, they are not identical, and in this post I’ll try to explain why based on my experience.
I believe there are six main differences between Bicycle and Tally Ho playing cards — let’s start with the first one…
Tally Ho cards are superior
It doesn’t necessarily mean they are better. But in terms of quality, they are the clear winner.
In general, Tally Ho decks will last a little bit longer compared to Bicycles, and this alone could justify the price difference (more on this in a minute).
Moreover, I have noticed less imperfections in the print, better edges (which make it easier to shuffle the cards), and more flexibility.
A brand new Bicycle deck can be a little too stiff, and I have never noticed the same issue with Tally Hos.
In most cases, you want to break in the deck for a few days anyways, as the cards are too slippery at first.
But it’s nice when it’s easier to bend and shuffle the cards out of the box.
Tally Ho cards are thinner
Probably the main reason I would always choose Tally Hos over Bicycles.
They are slightly thinner, and although very few people could tell the difference, if you’re into magic or flourishing it definitely helps.
This is true in terms of both handling and cutting the whole deck as well as performing tricks with a single card or two cards.
Keep in mind, after a while the deck will become thicker as it will absorb grease and dirt, so working with thinner cards is usually the best option.
And whereas my old Bicycle decks seem to have become a lot thicker (an extra, say, 20 percent), I never noticed the same with Tally Ho decks.
Bicycle cards are cheaper and easier to find
If you’ve been reading the first two paragraphs, and you’ve never actually seen the difference between the two decks, you may be thinking Bicycles aren’t that great.
So I just want to point out — although Tally Hos are better, at least in my opinion, the difference is not significant by any means.
At the end of the day, both decks are excellent.
So unless you want the best deck (and this wouldn’t be a regular Tally Ho deck, but a much more expensive one), you may as well go with the cheaper and more available Bicycles.
It’s easy to find Bicycle cards; Tally Hos, you may have to get them online and it’s not always the best option. Personally, I would always prefer to buy in store.
Different aces and back design
Not all aces, just the ace of spades. The one in Tally Ho decks is a bit more intricate and original, but I’m not sure which looks better. The one in Bicycles is nice and clean.
As for the back design, I personally prefer Tally Ho’s, especially the circle back (red or blue, doesn’t really matter).
It’s elegant, and looks amazing when you rotate the cards or make displays with multiple packets.
Face cards are identical. The two jokers are completely different, but you probably won’t use them anyway.
There are no bridge-sized Tally Hos
Although poker size (wide) is the regular size, there are a few reasons you may want to choose bridge-sized cards instead.
They may be easier to shuffle, hold, and manipulate, and even the overall design could look better. Feel free to read this article for my thoughts about it.
There is no narrow version of Tally Ho cards, so if that’s the size you prefer, then go with Bicycles.
Moreover, Bicycle decks have a much wider range of colors and special decks.
Which leads us to the sixth and last difference…
Bicycle vs Tally Ho: fancy decks
Although there are special Tally Ho decks, including the stunning Emerald and Masterclass cards — they are nowhere near as many as Bicycles.
Besides all the different colors of the rider back design (such as purple, green, and silver), there are so many Bicycle special decks.
Dozens, if not hundreds, including those that are discontinued, or limited edition ones.
So if you want to add a few creative decks to your collections, know that the vast majority will not be Tally Hos.
Bicycle vs Tally Ho: final thoughts
Although both Bicycles and Tally Hos are excellent decks, the quality of Tally Ho playing cards is a little bit better. Tally Hos are slightly thinner compared to Bicycles; there are less imperfections in the print, and the decks handle a bit better, both when brand new and old.
- Bicycle cards are cheaper, easier to find, available in bridge size, and there are a lot more special/creative decks as well.
- Tally Ho cards are more expensive but tend to last longer, and they are ideal for card tricks and flourishes as they are thinner and easier to bend.
I believe most people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference, even after using both decks for a few days.
So in short, go with Tally Hos if you want the best quality (or if you love the fan or circle back design), otherwise just pick the good ol’ Bikes.
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