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  1. #1
    Spoked to Death phidauex's Avatar
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    Anatomy of a tall bike

    Tall bikes seem to be region specific.. There are a lot of ways to do it, and each region seems to have a few techniques that are specific to that area.. There are a modest number of tall bikes in St. Louis now, built with a general sort of platform that works for us. Here are a few pictures to get your juices flowing.

    Notice the two bikes, male bike on the bottom, and female on the top (precious junk protection). Notice that we lower the back brake to the chain stay of the bottom bike, instead of the seat stay. Notice the three speed hub (and grip shifter, in this case). Notice the gusset at the seat tube and bottom bracket. Notice the 24" front wheel and 26" rear wheel to improve geometry. Notice the repositioned dropouts on the fork and rear triangle to allow for more trail and adjustable chain tension. Notice the capped bottom dropout. Notice the bored out BMX chainring. Notice the 'three leading three trailing' spoke lacing goodness. These features and more are to be found on the wonderful St. Louis style tall bike, and have led us to victory against such challengers as Cyclecide circus.

    What techniques do you employ? What keeps your tall bikes rolling day in and day out?

    Peace,
    Sam

  2. #2
    Senior Member Brian's Avatar
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    I'm not trying to be a smarta$$, but I have to ask. Why?

  3. #3
    Non Tribuo Anus Rodentum and off to the next adventure (RIP) Stacey's Avatar
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    Ummm.... because he can?

    Because its his medium of experssion; as Mozart used the sounds of do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti-do, or as Rembrant used the colors of pigmented oils on canvas to create and express themselves in the medium of their choice.

    Becaouse God made Chocolate & Vanilla... ain't life grand!?!?!

  4. #4
    Senior Member Brian's Avatar
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    Sorry, I see them as more Jackson Pollock than Mozart or Rembrandt. And that's being generous. I don't see flowing lines, or technological improvements. I don't see these bikes pushing the performance envelope or offering up anything remotely visually pleasing. I hope no one takes it personal, I just don't find them anything other than scrap bikes welded together out of boredom. Even the guy that uses trash can lids on his aerodynamic "Missile bikes" has created something more thought provoking.

    By the way, God didn't make chocolate and vanilla, he only gave us the cocoa bean and vanilla bean, it was up to man to do the rest.

  5. #5
    Spring is overrated. Sylvan's Avatar
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    Awwww. Get a life.

    I don't own an "alternate" bike. I don't have the mechanical skills to build an alternate bike. I wouldn't personally RIDE an alternate bike (other than a recumbent trike, possibly ) but....

    I think they're pretty fun looking. I consider these bikes and their builder/owners to be interesting, experimental, creative and intelligent. Sure, the bikes would be harder to build, harder to ride, requiring more creativity and drive to ride. But why not? Just because it's something you wouldn't do doesn't mean that it has no value.

    Kudos to each of them! (and envy - wish I had that much time and energy to spare...)
    Never put off until tomorrow anything that you could postpone indefinitely!

  6. #6
    Senior Member Brian's Avatar
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    I can weld with gas, stick and wire. I can run a lathe and a mill, and I've sand cast aluminum as well. I plan on using these skills to build a few chopper bikes, a recumbent with a composite fairing, and maybe some oddball bikes too. But I must be missing something here. I just see a bike that is not pleasing to the eye by any measure, and is possibly unsafe to operate as well as possibly being structurally unsafe. Whatever floats your boat I guess. I'm just offering up my opinion.

  7. #7
    Senior Member smurfy's Avatar
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    I see these bikes as two-wheeled "performance art" if you will. They're not the kinds of bikes I would build and ride, but to me they're like a sculpture or piece of abstract or "folk art" that can be ridden (not that I would ride a tall bike, I'm afraid of heights!). It's a manifestation of the creator's soul.

    phidauex - you rock!!! (are you going to make any more of these?)
    "You handle it like you handle a bicycle" - Jacques Rosay, Airbus A380 test pilot

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    Quote Originally Posted by Expatriate
    Sorry, I see them as more Jackson Pollock than Mozart or Rembrandt. And that's being generous. I don't see flowing lines, or technological improvements. I don't see these bikes pushing the performance envelope or offering up anything remotely visually pleasing. I hope no one takes it personal, I just don't find them anything other than scrap bikes welded together out of boredom. Even the guy that uses trash can lids on his aerodynamic "Missile bikes" has created something more thought provoking.

    By the way, God didn't make chocolate and vanilla, he only gave us the cocoa bean and vanilla bean, it was up to man to do the rest.

    Good grief man, go back to bed!!!
    "Oh Yeah?"

  9. #9
    Evil Genius capsicum's Avatar
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    They're Tall, thats the point.
    "Data is not the plural form of annecdote."
    "I'd loves me a new Cannondale, but I pull moths, not dollars, from my pants' stuff-holder-holes." "yuo ned to be deadurcated"

  10. #10
    Spoked to Death phidauex's Avatar
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    You wouldn't be so derisive if you've actually ridden one. When you are over 9 feet in the air the world is a different place. You can see far over traffic, peer into buses, smell the flowers on the trees, etc. Just a small change in perspective is all it takes to make an ordinary experience, riding a simple bike down the street, into something new, flying down the street high above the turmoil below.

    Technological advances are all well and good, but you can't find exotic frame materials and expensive tig welders in the alley. You've got to work with what you have available.

    Between the few of us here in St. Louis there are now about 5 tall bikes, all different, but with the same basic construction plan. Riding around with several other tall bikes is a neat experience, and quite pleasurable. When you are entertaining people, they tend to treat you different. I've had people buy me beers, kids give me flowers, and more, just because I was riding a bike that was twice the height of theirs. I don't understand, but they liked it.

    Plus, they are tall, and tall don't need no dang reason.

    peace,
    sam

  11. #11
    Slow Moving Vehicle Jean Beetham Smith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by capsicum
    They're Tall, thats the point.
    It is like riding a double century. They are more challenging to ride and force you to explore the limits of what you can do. That is part of the continuing appeal of cycling and living. One person's "ugly" is another's beautiful; if that weren't true very few of us would have partners.
    Help grow the future of cycling in the world. Volunteer at your local "earn-a-bike" program. In the Boston area http://www.bikesnotbombs.org/about

  12. #12
    Spoked to Death phidauex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Expatriate
    I can weld with gas, stick and wire. I can run a lathe and a mill, and I've sand cast aluminum as well. I plan on using these skills to build a few chopper bikes, a recumbent with a composite fairing, and maybe some oddball bikes too. But I must be missing something here. I just see a bike that is not pleasing to the eye by any measure, and is possibly unsafe to operate as well as possibly being structurally unsafe. Whatever floats your boat I guess. I'm just offering up my opinion.
    I look forward to the cool things you'll make, I've been wanting to experiment with composite materials a bit myself, and have been planning a 'utility recumbent' of sorts.

    Pleasing to the eye is of course a matter of taste, but remember that this is a 'stripped down' tall bike, seen in a picture. Tall bikes are great platforms for sculpture or signs or sound systems, or excessive decoration. I've seen a few that are like rolling parties. Plus, we jump through a lot of hoops to keep them safe to ride, up to and including dropout relocation to increase wheelbase, structural gussets, wheel size changes, heavy duty headsets, comfortable gearing and dead-on chainline, etc. Getting on and off is a bit tricky, but riding it is as easy and safe as a normal bike, and we've only had one structural failure, which was before we were using the current techniques, and believe me, these bikes have been off a lot of curbs, and in a lot of jousting matches.

    peace,
    sam

  13. #13
    dbg
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    Is it difficult to mount? I think it's pretty cool. Finally you'd be looking down on all vehicles -- including those big SUVs. I'm ready to build some.

  14. #14
    Spoked to Death phidauex's Avatar
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    I mount with a technique that I call 'hop hop jump', though I've seen people use a few methods to get on, depending on how tall they are. I'm pretty short, so my method is different.

    You put your hands on the bars, and lift your left foot up and put it on the left pedal, with the pedal moved slightly forward of bottom dead center (which you can just barely do, based on its height). Then you hop forward with your right foot, which puts pressure on the left pedal, causing it to move forward. You continue to hop, usually only once or twice more, building up a little speed. Once you have some motion, you stand up quickly on your left foot, swing your right leg in front of you through the stepthrough frame on top, and put your right foot on the right pedal, and begin pedaling. With practice you can mount up with only about 10 feet of clear space ahead of you. Dismounting is the exact opposite, with my method the left foot is always the first foot on, and the last foot off. You can't just put your leg out and tip over like a regular bike, you have to move your body to one side of the bike before you can dismount.

    I encourage you all to build one, they are a lot of fun to make and ride.

    peace,
    sam

  15. #15
    Senior Member
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    and in a lot of jousting matches
    any video of that?sounds fun!
    "When a man lies, he murders some part of the world"

    God Bless Chris LeDoux. R.I.P. 1948-2005

  16. #16
    Banned wagathon's Avatar
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    Where does the waterbottle cage go?

  17. #17
    Senior Member EnigManiac's Avatar
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    I think they're great! And they have added benefits like being able to reach the eaves so you can clean them out (think of the money you can make going along the street offering to clean your neighbours gutters!). Regular bikes can do what? Courier letters. LOL
    The slow down is accelerating

  18. #18
    contrarian lala's Avatar
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    Seeing a tall bike makes my day!! Haven't seen any yet in colorado springs, but I haven't yet the urban experience here.
    Higher ground for the apocalypse!

  19. #19
    Non Tribuo Anus Rodentum and off to the next adventure (RIP) Stacey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Expatriate
    Sorry, I see them as more Jackson Pollock than Mozart or Rembrandt. And that's being generous. I don't see flowing lines, or technological improvements. I don't see these bikes pushing the performance envelope or offering up anything remotely visually pleasing. I hope no one takes it personal, I just don't find them anything other than scrap bikes welded together out of boredom. Even the guy that uses trash can lids on his aerodynamic "Missile bikes" has created something more thought provoking.

    By the way, God didn't make chocolate and vanilla, he only gave us the cocoa bean and vanilla bean, it was up to man to do the rest.

    Good god man... wrong side of bed this morning? You're sounding argumentative just to be so. Change the filter on your lens and it opens up a whole new spectrum of sensory input.

  20. #20
    Non Tribuo Anus Rodentum and off to the next adventure (RIP) Stacey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Expatriate
    Whatever floats your boat I guess. I'm just offering up my opinion.

    Yes, now you're starting to understand.

    And thank you for sharing it too

  21. #21
    Bike Junkie aadhils's Avatar
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    What happens when you fall. Especially in to the street! It must be a looong way down.

  22. #22
    ^oZ
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    shut up legs ^oZ's Avatar
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    There's one tall bike riding around in Amsterdam, it's basicly two city bikes welded together. Looks awesome.

  23. #23
    Non Tribuo Anus Rodentum and off to the next adventure (RIP) Stacey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aadhils
    What happens when you fall. Especially in to the street! It must be a looong way down.

    I'd imagine it's just like when you fall on a roadie ot ATB... it fargin' hurts!

  24. #24
    Spoked to Death phidauex's Avatar
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    Amsterdam supposedly has a pretty good collection of tall bikes. I think a lot of them flip the bottom bike upside down when making the tall bikes.. I've seen some weird ones out of there, very different from our St. Louis style bikes.

    Mine has a water bottle mount on the bottom down tube, which is totally useless. However, I'm putting brazeons onto the top-top tube for a bottle cage. Hose clamps would work in a pinch!

    Falling isn't too bad. I actually have only fallen off of this one once, and with the stepthrough top frame you can swing a leg over and sort of bail out without too much trouble. The worst accident I've been in was on a tall tandem w/ two wheel drive. The front person pedaled the front wheel and steered, and the back person pedaled the back wheel. Total coordination was necessary for any riding at all, and you sat so close to the other person that there was no room for manuverability. We were swinging around to challenge another tall bike to a jousting match when a guy on a mountain bike who wasn't paying attention rammed us, which collapsed the front fork, taco'd both wheels, and sent us careening uncontrollably toward the ground. The bike is undergoing some redesign now.

    Also, remember that tall bikes are actually of practical use! (or rather, they were, a long time ago). Lamp lighters in the late 1800s used tall bikes (that look surprisingly like our tall bikes, just huge framed safety bikes) to light the gas lamps in cities. They'd get on to the bike from a ladder, then ride along. As they hit each lamp they'd lean up against the lamp to light it, then pedal to the next. Eventually they'd end up back at the start and would dismount from the ladder again.

    peace,
    sam

  25. #25
    ^oZ
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    Haven't seen much different tall bikes, I was under the impression that it's the same person every time I see it. I should look more carefully next time I see it.

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