Life can present some unusual challenges when you’re 7’1”.
Hotel beds just aren’t long enough, blankets leave your toes (even your ankles!) cold in the night, trains and aeroplanes try to force too much leg into not enough room – and getting a bike that doesn’t look like a folding model when you ride it is near-impossible.
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But one person who doesn’t have that problem anymore is Shaquille O’Neal. The 15-time NBA All-Star was presented with a specially-built model in Atlanta by American company DirtySixer and he instantly loved it.
DirtySixer make bikes with 36-inch wheels, specifically tailored for taller cyclists up to the height of 7’4”, with company founder David Folch a 6’6” cyclist himself. DirtySixer’s website even boasts that they are the only bike endorsed by the National Basketball Retired Player Association.
Shaq’s special model required the raw materials to be ordered separately and machined in-house, necessary to support the 7’1” 360-pound four-time NBA champion, and the superstar could barely contain himself from taking his new bike for a spin when he saw it.
“He was literally like a kid who finds his first bicycle under the Christmas tree,” Folch told bicycling.com.
“After he first saw the DirtySixer, we exchanged a few words and he quickly went off, full speed, in the Turner studios corridors.
“He disappeared for a while, leaving us worried. And then he reappeared with a huge smile on his face. He said he felt that was the first time he felt normal on a bike.”
Framebuilder Josh Boisclair at Empirical Cycles built the bike for Dirty Sixer. He told bicycling.com: “I thought it was important to be involved in narrowing this gap in the market where if you’re over 6’5” you can’t just go and buy a bike.
“They want bikes too – but they don’t ride them because they can’t.”