If you go to a bike store today, the tallest new road bike you can buy is 61cm or 62cm. I suspect that today’s aluminum and carbon fiber road bike frames cannot stand the stress of bigger riders and greater distances between joints. I could be wrong. For a wonderful couple of decades, taller frames were manufactured in Japan and Taiwan. I have also found a tall Schwinn Continental made in Chicago. If you are 6’4″ or taller, you have two options for a bike that fits:
Option A: Have a frame builder custom build you one. Pay at least a grand for the frame alone.
Option B: Stake out Craigslist, and look for an unusually tall bike. At 25″ (64cm), bikes still look proportional. At 27″ (68cm), bikes are starting to look almost as tall as they are long. It may take a while to find, but they’re out there. I play the waiting game well because I’m always looking for bikes. In the Grand Rapids area, I have found four this year. I almost always buy tall bikes when I see them. It’s a nice treat to ride comfortably on a bike that I have overhauled. I am 6’6″, so it doesn’t happen often.
I purchased this bicycle on an online auction a few years ago. It was originally sold at Village Bike Shop in Jenison, MI.
I have been customizing this bike for the last 3 years. It is the best-fitting bike I have owned in my adulthood.
The most notable change I’ve made to this bike is the crankset. It came from a donor bike, and is a triple. The small ring in the front helps me pull the bike trailer with our two youngest sons up hills. The decal under the sticker says “12”. I changed it to “0” because I don’t ride with speed. I ride with joy. And technically, this is an 18-speed now.
From the stem to the shifters, the only original part you’re looking at here are the brake levers. I found this very tall stem on a very short Bianchi that I purchased in Muskegon a few years ago. I found the nice wide Modolo bars on a Schwinn Super Sport–they weren’t original on that bike either. The wider bars are ubiquitous now, but back in the day, narrow drop bars were what you got whether your bike was 48cm or 68. The brake hoods are new from Cane Creek. The Spenco pads you see there were taken from another bike. The Dia-Compe bar end shifters are a vast improvement over the down tube shifters that were original to this bike (what a stretch!). My sister-in-law, Gemma, bought me the leather bar wrap for Christmas last year. It matches my Brooks Flyer saddle. So nice! Thanks, Gemma!
This is the signature part of a tall bike. The length of the head tube is astounding! Nearly a foot! Looking at head tubes is a quick way to find your tall bike.
Did you ever have a silly reason for loving something? I have. I fell in love with the vintage Fuji head badge long before I owned a Fuji bicycle. The volcanic Mount Fuji was a symbol for the Shinto faith, is seen in countless artistic renditions, such as that of Utagawa Hiroshige above, and has been inspiring Japanese poets for centuries. Here’s a haiku by Kobayashi Issa:
Climb Mount Fuji.
But slowly, slowly!
It’s not pretty, but it works. So I had some trouble finding a derailleur that would take up the slack of the chain when I’m in the small ring in the front. This long cage Suntour derailleur came from an old mountain bike or hybrid. I try to use as many old parts as I can. Lucky I had this one!