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This Bike Was Designed for Tall People, So We Got a Tall Person to Ride It
For those of us who have outgrown normal human dimensions, life can be a comedic challenge. Pants become shorts. Doorways become an ever-
What Is It?
It’s easy to commission a run of very large frames. It’s only slightly harder to hand-
“I learned bicycle design, and set out to make a proportionate bike for my body,” explains Folch. “By scaling up the wheel size, and every single bit of the bike—tubing, bearings, axles, cranks, pedals, bars, saddle, etc—we created the first bicycle that looks good under a 7-
Compared to a typical bike, the very tall rider is moved forward, ahead of the rear wheel, for a comfortable, upright riding position, and improved weight distribution and therefore stability. The larger tires make possible a higher bottom bracket, in turn facilitating longer cranks—again in proportion to the legs of a very tall rider. Those long cranks help provide an increase in pedal power, compensating for the increased rolling resistance. And, the increase in rolling momentum combines with the larger diameter to help those wheels roll over obstacles. That first bike was a hit amongst the very tall. Shaq owns two.
Now, he’s producing a new range of bikes in the 32-
Who’s It For?
Folch describes the 32er DirtySixer AllRoad as, “the most versatile bike for tall riders.” And says it’s, “a gravel bike, a cross bike, a do-
Equipped with a derailleur, the Ventana-
Stock, the 32er is fitted with wide, flat bars. But, it can also be equipped with 48cm drop bars, and a tighter fork for road-
The bigger wheels work by allowing the tall rider to sit between the wheels, in the middle of the bike, rather than cantilevered back over the rear axle, as on a sized-
A fully rigid bike, wearing hybrid tires, should not ride this well. Folch has worked magic with the geometry, and created something that climbs as well as it descends, and is a blast to ride despite proving totally stable.
Throwing a leg over the 32er recalls my early days of cycling, before I outgrew normal human dimensions. It wheelies, manuals, and hops like the adult-
But while the concept is proven by the ride, can living with such a large bike, equipped with bespoke component sizes, be made to work? Tubes do appear to be available from a few major online retailers, but what about spokes and chains? With the Rohloff, any good chain will have enough links, but it’s a close shave with with the cheaper derailleur. The longest spoke you’ll typically find available in a bike shop is 310mm. Those will work just fine on the rear wheel, but the front spokes are longer. Folch includes six with the bike, just in case.
Getting the bike places without riding it is another matter entirely. Even with the front wheel removed, it takes up the entire cargo area of a Volkswagen Jetta SportWagon, with the rear seats folded down. In a roof rack, with both wheels on, deflating the front tire entirely just about got the 32er on the rack. But, as I was driving through San Francisco, that deflated tire fell off the wheel, and the bike was left dangling on the rack by the back wheel strap. A tense few moments of maneuvering through traffic to the side of the road, and I didn’t lose the bike. You’ll have an equal amount of trouble trying to fit the thing in standard bike boxes, too.
Without the context of a normal bike, it's hard to tell just how large the 32er is. It's as big as a horse. Riding is believing. The scaled-
The sturdy, efficient Rohloff hub is a great complement to the bike’s qualities.
Even without suspension, the 32er performs great on dirt trails.
Doesn’t make tall riders look like they’re riding a clown bike.
The quality of the available tires is, well…bad.
May not fit standard bike racks. Here, you can clearly see the geometry advantages brought by the larger wheels and scaled-
Should You Buy One?
The DirtySixer concept may sound goofy, but it really does work. This is a great riding bike, built to deliver years and years of faithful service.
But the tires! These tires are terrible for anything but weaving home at a walking pace after a few too many post-