The urban bike magazine

Tall Bikes Offer New Perspective on City

Technically, cycling with two bikes is banned. Except if they are built on top of each other and called “tall bikes”. Metaphorically speaking, you sit on these at least a floor higher than the usual riding position. Tall bikes offer an incomparable view and leave people looking on in astonishment.

David Zotter
Writing about, fine-tuning, traveling with and living of the bicycle. Most of the time I am doing this in my hometown Graz. And if it's for once not about the bike, I can be found at the university or on tour with my little son, well on the cargo bike.

It’s Not Only Bike Nuts Who Are into Tall Bikes

Tall bikes belong to the family of freak bikes. These are wheels that redefine the ride feeling and push the boundaries of what is possible. They are born in creative minds and on old bicycles. They stand out by their individuality and are usually made in bike kitchens. There is a lot of room there for exotic bike projects alongside self-repair workshops.

Anyone who wants to ride a tall bike is best off visiting a bike kitchen. If there are none of these high bikes there, then you will have to get to work and build one yourself. These eccentric bicycles are not available to buy.

Lofty Ride Feeling on High Bikes

It is simply indescribable: The feeling up there, cycling above the heads of everyone, pedalling through the streets on a throne. Able to look over high fences. To meet lorry drivers at eye to eye. To experience a majestic feeling of happiness. To be seen and stopped all the time and everywhere. To never want to get down.

Speaking of getting on and off. How does that work? Something that seems unbelievably complicated is actually quite easy! Coasting slowly, you climb over the frame up onto the saddle or back down. The reason it goes so smoothly is down to physics, precisely, the moment of inertia: Longer bars, for example, allow you to balance far easier on the palms of your hands than shorter. Translated to the bike, that means: The higher you sit, the better you can keep your balance.

Tall bike at critical mass

It’s All About the Size and Hight

Incidentally: The highest ridable tall bike is unbelievable 6.15 meters high. It was built and ridden by Richie Trimble in Los Angeles. He holds the world record with it.

There were already high bikes in 1898. At that time the raised sitting position served to light gas lanterns in towns. Today they mostly draw the attention of passers-by at the Critical Mass. A tall bike simply can’t be overlooked and guarantees real fun. It all gets extremely strange at a festivity called tall bike jousting.

In a tall bike jousting two riders compete against each other and try to push the other off their bike using a lance. The ultimate horseman’s discipline from the Middle Ages is today mostly celebrated with delight in town parks on tall bikes in front of big audiences. Real fun, but for fearless riders only.

Image © David Zotter

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David Zotter
Writing about, fine-tuning, traveling with and living of the bicycle. Most of the time I am doing this in my hometown Graz. And if it's for once not about the bike, I can be found at the university or on tour with my little son, well on the cargo bike.

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