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It wasn’t all that long ago that 29″ wheels and tires were considered huge. Then a few builders including DirtySixer created a 36er. Less of a gimmick and more of a sizing tool for the very, very tall, DirtySixer has been steadily selling 36″ bikes to clients around the world. But if you’re talking in percentages of the population, very few would qualify to play professional basketball, or ride one of DirtySixer’s 36″ bikes.

That doesn’t mean that 29″ is the next best size. At least, not according to David Folch the founder of DirtySixer. Citing the gap in wheel size between 29 and 36″, David stumbled across a new size. Well, technically one that was already out on the market – but really only as a cheap 32″ cruiser from a big box store…

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Originally introduced on a cruiser line from Kent, 32″ tires have technically been around for a while though David says the cruiser tires measure more like 31.5″ for the outer diameter. The important thing here was that the BSD (Bead Seat Diameter) was established at 686. Compare that to 622 for 29ers and 787 for the 36ers and it gives you an idea of the relative size difference.

The key to DirtySixer getting into the 32″ wheel game came when one of their suppliers decided to make their own rim and tire that would fit. That meant a 2.25″ tire that actually measures 32″ for the outer diameter, and a burly 42mm wide aluminum rim that uses the same extrusion as another wheel from the same company. Drilled with 36 holes, the wheels should be plenty durable and will run the DirtySixer tire that should have a good all purpose tread pattern.

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Photos c. David Folch/DirtySixer

After getting a hold of the prototype wheel and tires, David went out to the titanium frame building school at UBI (United Bicycle Institute) to create the first 32″ prototype frame. Like their 36″ DirtySixer, the production bikes will be hand fabricated by Ventana Cycles in California and will feature an aluminum frame with a chromoly fork.

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Sizing will be available in three option with the Small starting out for riders 5’8″-6′, Medium for 6’1″-6’4″, and Large for 6’5″-6’8″. David mentions that these sizes aren’t set in stone and that there will be some overlap between the 36″ bikes, but that’s the rough plan. Given DirtySixer’s diminutive size (as a company), they are taking to Kickstarter to launch the first run of bikes which will be offered in All Road builds (flat bar, rigid fork) and maybe a road build with drop bars as well. A mountain version may follow when actual 32″ mountain bike tires are created.

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Frames will have the option for 17 different powdercoat colors, single speed, 1×11, or Rohloff drivetrains, and many other options to customize the ride and the fit. At 6’6″, David is shown putting the prototype through some test runs above. Keep an eye out for their Kickstarter on the link below.

dirtysixer.com

17 COMMENTS

  1. Does this mean proportional wheels are popular again? Because I’ve had people try to persuade me not to get 26″ bikes because they think they’re going obsolete. I’m 5’2″ and I’m hoarding Terrys and 650c road bikes because I doubt I’ll ever be able to get a non-custom new bike again with the way the industry’s been going.

  2. I like the idea of having larger wheel options for taller riders but buying a bike with custom sized wheels and tires from a small builder sounds like a risky proposition. Where will you buy replacement tires for these bikes?

  3. How do bigger wheels improve a tall person’s bike from a geometry standpoint. Is it just so that It will look more proportional to an average sized bike?

  4. Big wheels for tall people ONLY makes sense if you also make bikes with longer reach, longer front-center, longer chainstays, etc. The guy on the photo looks to be riding a frame with big wheels but still looks cramped on it!

  5. I’m 6’3″ and prefer 26″ on the dirt… the fames are tighter and more fun. Bigger wheels never really seeming like an important issue unless I wanted everything to look in ‘proportion’, whatever that is meant to look like.

  6. Just because you are tall doesn’t mean a larger wheel’s handling traits change. The benefits smaller wheels offer will be enjoyed by larger people, just as the benefits of 29’ers will be felt by shorter people.

    Funny that when I worked at a shop back in 08 I was told to push 29’ers on taller people just for looks. Tall people ate that stuff up! Sold 29’ers like they were hot cakes.

  7. Thanks for the replies/comments, I knew it will stir some opinions. First if you’re happy with whatever you ride, 26″, 27.5 or 29″ keep it. Ride the heck out of it. But if you have a tall friend that is cramped on his bike, tell him to check out DirtySixer. For the comments on the reach and my -constipated- position on that pic (yes that’s me DirtySixer founder, 6’6″) I will remind you that this is the very first proto I built, and making a 32″ at UBI was not without some head scratching (not on the celling fans). First you cannot build a fork at UBI (at least at the titanium class I took) and I didn’t have yet the MRP fork, second geometry has to be adapted for this wheel size and third there was not titanium tubes long enough for my design in UBI’s stock and there was no bending possibility available. The next prototype (a cross bike) will be built in aluminum with access to a bender and longer tubes. Tires are available now, although only one thread. If anyone has a couple of thousands of $ to loan, we can make more tires (a slick road and a knobby!). It’s the price to pay to make something different, something new, bigger and without using what is existing. So now think for a minute about the tallest person you know and send him the info. Help a tall getting the right big bike he deserves.

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