Q: How do you get on a Tall Bike?
A: Hold onto the handlebars and seat, begin with a brisk walk or light running speed, and pull yourself up onto one side of the Tall Bike (The left-hand side if you're right-handed and the right-hand side if you're left-handed). Then, as you jump with your weak foot onto pedal, you pull yourself up whilst keeping the balance of the bike, until you're at handlebar height. Then swing your strong leg round the back, and onto the other pedal. As soon as you're on, make sure to start pedalling. Never come to a standstill on a Tall Bike without experience. You'll just topple to one side and the bike will then land on top of you. Always dismount while still slowly moving if possible.
An alternative method of getting on, is putting the Tall Bike against a pole or mast, and then pushing off once you're on. Much easier, but very impractical if you're somewhere without walls and poles.
Q: How do you get off a Tall Bike?
A: This is usually the simpler action to carry out, unless you're on a 3-frame tall bike or higher. Simply come to a comfortable slower speed, and swing your strong leg round to the other side, whilst holding the handlebars to ensure the bike won't crash. Then, holding the seat and handlebars, lower yourself down onto the ground.
Another way to stop (but not to dismount) is to come to a standstill near a wall or lamppost, and grab that, while holding a brake, otherwise you'll find the wheels disappearing from underneath you.
Q: How's the weather up there?
A: I actually get this question a lot, mostly as a joke I assume, but in all honesty the weather is more or less the same up there, unless your tall bike is 4+ metres tall. However there is a lot more effect from the wind at my riding height, and the sun on your back during a summer's day always seems reassuringly closer.
Q: Did you make that?
A: Yes :)
Q: Do you ever fall off?
A: Yes! All the time! When I first started riding Tall Bikes, I fell of every time, over and over again. Even now that I'm used to riding them, I still fall off from time to time. There are some memorial websites dedicated especially to people who died on Tall Bikes (not many but still a few). Tall Biking Is enormous fun, but can also be very dangerous. Personally, I've only had cuts, bruises and sprains from my Tall Bike crashes, but I have't broken any bones as of yet.
Another major reason for crashing is when something goes wrong mechanically, such as the chain breaking or falling off, a weld breaking, or even a fork tube snapping and me losing control of my steering entirely. (Happened today! (22/06/19)).
Q: Can I ride it?
A: Usually, yeah. If you ever see me riding any of my Tall Bikes (or other contraptions for that matter), always feel free to ask if you want to try. As long as I'm not in a rush, and as long as it's not mark 1 (the only one I don't let anybody else ride), then I'm always happy to let people try and ride them... anyway, it's funny to see them when they just fall right off again! :)
Q: How long did that take you to build?
A: Mark I was 4 months of planning and 2 months of building, plus customisations taking another 2 months altogether for the new paint jobs. Mark II was a total of 3-4 months. Mark III was literally under a week, as because it's a small tall, but an inverted frame, it was very simple and minimal to build. Mark. IIII was about 2 weeks, as I had to review how to make a working treadless headset.
Q: How many Tall Bikes are there?
A: I have brought this up in a few groups of Tall Bikers online before, and there are a lot of mixed responses. From what they've said, we're going to estimate around 50,000 Tall Bikes world wide, plus about another 20,000 Tall Bikes in the past which did not survive. But there are only between 15,000-40,000 Tall Bikers worldwide. The reason for this is simple: because, like me, almost every tall biker owns at least a few projects. Some own 3 or 4, others build 30 or 40 throughout their lifetime, and sell them to people who want one but can't afford to build one.
Q: How do you stop at traffic lights?
A: Especially on my Tall Bike mark 1, I usually ride on the roads. Mark 1 has 14 functional gears, so is more than road-worthy. The first time I rode it on the road, I didn't consider the implications of stopping. I ended up coming to a standstill at a red light, where a hefty red Toyota pickup truck decided to pull up beside me (the driver was marvelling at the Tall Bike). At this point I suddenly realised that the bike had come to a standstill, and the traffic light was still red. Once at a standstill, there is not usually any time to dismount, not to mention the fact that there wasn't any space to get off, due to the truck next to me. So I slowly toppled over and landed on the roof of the Toyota clumsily, the tall bike falling down beside its' wheels. Thankfully the driver took it lightly and laughed it off, as his truck was old a scratched, so my bike hitting it made little difference. But since then I've had to be more careful, as other drivers may not be as understanding in the future.
So anyways, the methods to stop are: 1) grab the traffic light post until it turns green again. 2) dismount and remount when it turns green. 3) hold onto a nearby car (if given permission), or another tall biker (no such thing in Dereham sadly... somebody come join me).
Q: When were Tall Bikes invented?
A: 1894. So yes, Tall Bikes have been around for 125 years now. That's a very long time...
Q: How much did it cost?
A: Originally, the Tall Bike Mark 1 costed around £10 to build. But then adding on parts and accessories to make it better, came closer to £500 during the year. Also, because of the small coverage of teeth that the chain touches on the bike, this means that the entire drivetrain needs replacing about once every year. I've now got to the point where my Tall Bike (mark I) only works on one gear, and skips loads of teeth, as all the parts are old and worn. I need to replace the cassette, all three chains (joined), both cranksets and chainrings, the rear derailleur, and the bottom brackets. This comes to about £250 which I do not have. Know anybody who can fund me? ;) :(
Q: Are Tall Bikes and other inventions road legal?
A: I've done a lot of research on this subject, but I haven't found much to be honest. I once got pulled over by a police officer on my Tall Bike, as I apparently matched the description of somebody they were looking for (it wasn't me).
I then asked the officer about the Tall Bike and whether or not it was road legal. His opinion was that although there were no official laws regarding my bike, that as long as it met the same regulations and requirements as a normal bicycles, then he couldn't see why not.
As for riding on the pavements, I was told to ride "wherever I felt safest at the given time", so if the roads are practically empty then it's better to avoid pedestrians and ride on the road, but if the traffic is aggressive and seized up, the pavement might be a better idea for me.
Regarding my other inventions, I've ridden all of them through Dereham, and I've never been stopped regarding the safety of my inventions. More often than not I would just get police officers staring at me in utter shock, to the point of not looking where they are going. :)
So the answer is yes - as long as it can start and stop with brakes, and I can get on and off safely, and there are appropriate reflectors and lights where necessary, the Tall Bike is road legal.
Q: Can you do any tricks on a tall bike?
A: Yes! It's tricky, as each tall bike is very heavy due to being made of steel. But I can currently do a bunny hop, and on Mark IIII I can do a stoppie. All of the tall bikes can wheelie, but only for a few seconds.
If you cool at the physical side of the tall bike, you can clearly see that on most of them, the seat is usually directly above the centre of the rear wheel. On a normal bike, the seat is above the crankset. But because each bike is tilted backwards by about 10-30 degrees, having two frames doubles that angle to 25-50 degrees, meaning that the centre of gravity is located nearer the back.
So every time you lean back too far, or try to wheelie, the bike will tip over. Even with a rear brake, controlling a tall bike wheelie is dangerous, because it's a long way to fall.
I get a surprising amount of people who shout out at me while I'm passing on a tall bike, "Do a wheelie!". Sometimes I will, sometimes I won't. Usually I won't because it's risky - especially if I'm wearing a heavy bag, or have my tool box on the back.
I've also recently got the hang of going free-hand - something I've been able to do for years on a normal bike.... It's just incredibly hard to get your head around taking your hands off the handlebars at that height. You'll often see me free-handing on Mark I down the roads, unless I have a bag on or I'm in a rush.
Have some more questions? Get in contact and send me your question, I'll post it on this FAQ.
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