Consistently, the average height of NBA players is 6’7″, with individual heights reaching up to 6’10” and beyond. Hasheem Thabeet, currently playing for the Grand Rapids Drive, tops out at 7’3″. It’s silly to expect these guys to simply ride an XXL bike off the peg at their LBS, which makes them ideal candidates for a custom frame.
Even a 700C wheel looks disproportionate to these heights, let alone a 29er MTB, so David Folch of DirtySixer Bikes has stepped in to offer a more suitable arrangement. DirtySixer is the only bicycle endorsed by the NBRPA (National Basketball Retired Player Association), but it’s not just pro basketball players who should be interested customers.
The DirtySixer featured here has already been dispatched to The Netherlands, where there exists a high incidence of lanky-legged cyclists. Technology and suppliers have finally begun to offer quality parts and components for serious 36ers, and DirtySixer have now seriously sealed the deal with their custom frame.
David fills us in: “Basically the idea of a 36er bike built in proportion of really tall riders started after I crashed a big custom road bike (built with 700c wheels) and broke some bones. Being 6’6” (or 198cm, French living in San Francisco) I never had a bike that really fitted me.
“After getting my ankle fixed with some pins, I started drawing my next bike and remembered a bike journo friend of mine (Bertrand) had sent me some pics of 36er bikes.
“I even had made an article about all the 36er bikes I could find (I put everything in a blog available here). It is when the DirtySixer was born, in 2011. The idea was to build a safer bike (more stable than the ones that put the tall rider’s butt over the rear axle), fun to ride on the road and trails and durable.
“I wanted a bike built in proportion of the tall rider — not just a scaled-up bike, but everything beefed-up. I wanted you to look at a 7footer riding a DirtySixer from far away and not see anything uncommon. Except when the rider would stop next to you! The 36” wheels are not a new trend, it is the only solution for really tall riders to get a strong and stable bike.
“Of course it fuels the debate, but we are over that. Big wheels rolls over everything smoothly and allow us to build a frame in proportion. That’s it. Believe me, when you’re tall, it’s cheaper to ride a custom DirtySixer bike built to your own measurements than a trip to the ER.
“It is our second prototype made in steel in the Bay Area (the first one being titanium), that has seen a lot of gnarly miles, has been raced (Sea Otter Classic, McLaren MTB race in San Francisco), rode at Downieville and loaned to a lot of tall clients too. We want our bikes to be ‘All Road’ bikes: you can ride on the road, city, trails, commuting or touring.
“As you can see we are playing with the rotors’ sizes. We had 254mm rotors custom-cut to our design in Germany by BrakeStuff. We swapped the front one to a regular 200mm for testing reasons, as we are preparing a small batch of the DirtySixer built here in the USA for a KickStarter campaign.
“It has a Rohloff IGH (in 135mm OLD but next proto will have a Rohloff XL in 170mm to allow swapping drivetrains to 1×11 SRAM), cranks are from Joseph Kuosac in 220mm, front hub is a Phil Wood for snow bikes with custom 20mm thru axle.
“We use oversized tubing diameters all over the bike. Steering tube is 1.5″ (Thompson X4 stem and CaneCreek 110 EC49/38.1 headset) and bars are a prototype of risers using 31.8mm diameter tubing at the grip: when your average customer is 6’11” you know that traditional handlebar tubing is too thin for our big hands. Check out the CNC cut matchmaker adapters to clamp the Avid brake levers. The shifter is also a special 31.8mm from Co-Motion in Oregon.
“Eccentric BB is from Bushnell. DKG in San Francisco provided us with the biggest seatpost clamp they have, seatpost being 34.9mm from Crank Bros. Brooks B67 saddle. Tires are from VeeRubber available through WaltWorks. This bike also sports some custom racks (front and back) and usually has fenders on.
“Of course being built one by one, the cost is pretty high. For that matter, we are launching in February a Kickstarter campaign to build a small batch of DirtySixer in aluminum, built in the USA!
Wish I was a little bit taller. Big thanks to David Folch for the words and photos. We’ll keep you posted about the Kickstarter campaign, but until then, head to the DirtySixer website and Facebook page.