Okay, so I owe you guys an explanation. Let’s do a quick recap.
As you know I ordered a ridiculously cheap mongoose dolomite fat bike from Target. Although it was heavy and clumsy, it exceeded my expectations for $180. So I did what any reasonable person would: Ride into the port and try to surf the wake of the largest cruise ship in the world. I failed miserably, but learned that fat bikes were buoyant. After getting run up on by a manatee, I rinsed off the bike and put it away. Except for a guest appearance in the bailing tutorial, we haven’t seen the Dolomite since. Until now.
This is Raven. As you can obviously see, he’s installed new grips and shifter cables on our Mongoose Dolomite. Oh yeah… and he welded another Walmart bike on top of it. Raven has built a lot of tall bikes for a lot of people. He doesn’t grind his welds and he doesn’t paint his bikes. Each one has its own story, written in battle scars, modifications, and original decals. From what I can see, building these bikes is just a means to an end for Raven; His real goal is to ride them.
We’ll be meeting up with Raven again in Key West, for a tall bike gathering of sorts. These gatherings take place every weekend, but this will be the first time it happens way down in the keys.
The Florida Keys are a group of islands connected by manmade bridges, and Key West is the Southernmost one. From downtown Miami it’s a 3 hour drive, which all the participants will make with their tall bikes in tow.
Tall bikes feel surprisingly similar to normal bikes when in motion, and require no special skills to actually stay up on. It’s the mounting and dismounting that become difficult. Although some varieties are easier to mount than others, they’re all a challenge, which is why many tall bikers will do circles or make right turns when faced with a traffic light. The name of the game is avoiding stops at all costs.
Raven’s crew is used to riding in South Beach, so they feel right at home here in Key West. Everyone else though is very surprised to see the tall bikes.
For Tall Bikes Miami, tallbikes305, or whatever you refer to the group as, this is a passion and a lifestyle. Not one of their bikes is similar. Many of them proudly display the original Walmart brand decals, while others have been painstakingly engineered for performance.
The Tallgoose, as someone on Instagram called it, is the first tall bike I’ve seen with 4″ tires. At over 70 pounds it’s not easy to pedal, and the chain line is super close to the rear wheel. Still, it’s one of a kind, and can turn heads like no other. It’s safe to say that it fits in with this group, and will see the streets of Miami for years to come.
As for Raven and his crew…they are one of the rowdiest groups I’ve ever ridden with, but also one of the warmest and friendliest. If you happen to run into Raven and have a few old bike frames for him, you might end up becoming a tall biker yourself. If you end up building one on your own, make sure you hashtag it with #tallbike, so we can all see it. I’ll leave some links in the description.
Reporting from Key West and back to Miami, thanks for riding with me today and I’ll see you next time.