Xtra Tall Bike

I was riding home through the Pearl, and decided to take a detour north to avoid the worst of the stop signs. As I approached an intersection, I saw the unmistakable form of a tall bike across the intersection, locked to a staple bike rack. Was it worth a closer look? As I neared, I noticed a design detail that made a stop mandatory…

It was a tall bike with an Xtracycle conversion.

I had to get a picture of that, so I rode over to the sidewalk, dismounted, got my camera out, and got to work. As I was engrossed in photographing the bike’s details, a guy walked out of the building adjacent to the bike, and informed me that “it’s a dollar a picture.” Using the deductive powers of a latter-day Sherlock Holmes, I concluded that this must be the bike’s owner.

My deduction was correct. We struck up a coversation; he told me his name is Michael Jones, and that he had designed the bike himself, but had it fabricated with the assistance of Jon Sieber of Cascadia Bicycles. Michael designed the bike, and Jon brought his dreams to reality with his welding expertise. Michael told me that he had ridden the bike in the STP (Seattle To Portland) ride last year, a distance of some 200 miles, and confirmed that the bike was quite comfortable on the ride.

Then he mentioned the feature that I hadn't even noticed up 'til now. Unlike most tall bikes, he told me, the two frames are not welded together. Instead, the top frame slides into the head tube of the lower frame...

and is secured with a recessed bolt...

and at the rear, the upper frame slides into the seat tube of the lower frame.

The intention was to build a tall bike that preserves the full functionality of the base bike—a ’91 or so Giant Iguana—with no damage done to the base bike’s frame. Thus, when Michael wants a tall bike, he slides the upper frame into the head tube and seat tube of the lower frame. When he wants his Iguana, he slides the upper frame out. The most complicated part is re-routing the cables when he converts from one bike to the other.

In keeping with his intent to keep the base bike functional, Michael also took pains to preserve his original 21 speed drivetrain...

When he converts to the base Iguana, he's got an unmodified 21 speed drivetrain, and when he converts to a tall bike, he preserves his 21 speed drivetrain with the addition of a modified tall bike drivetrain on the left side of the crank set.

In addition to these ingenious and extremely practical design modifications, Michael has also incorporated both traditional and whimsical features into the bike's design...

Shock fork, v-brake, and fender on the base Iguana...

Computer...

Water bottle cage...

Beer bottle opener...

Pinwheel and cupholder...

Eyeball bicycle bell...

And what bike would be complete without a Geisha doll?

I was thoroughly impressed with the thought and attention to detail that went into Michael's design. Now, I have no need of a tall bike--or any other additions to the stable, for that matter--but I was left intrigued by Michael's Iguana. So intrigued that a few days later, while surfing the 'net, I found an even earlier vintage Iguana frameset for a good price, and added it to my stable...

 

 

Comments (Comment Moderation is enabled. Your comment will not appear until approved.)
looks like you owe him $19.00. did you get to see him ride it?
# Posted By Jerry Bilek | 3/27/09 12:03 PM
Let's not remind Michael about that $19. And in fact, no, I didn't get to see him ride it, so I'm willing to call it even....
# Posted By Rick Bernardi | 4/2/09 8:48 PM