Handbuilt Bicycle News

Bicycles

Dirty Sixer

Paul Skilbeck

Saturday 20 February 2016

Dirty Sixer to make NAHBS debut

After a few years' gathering momentum Dirty Sixer bicycles is ready for prime time, with a bike under Shaquille O'Neal and a booth at NAHBS

Dirty Sixer to make NAHBS debut
The new mountain bike frame from Dirty Sixer. This one is size Small, for people 6'4 - 6'8 (194-205cm). Photo: David Folch/dirtysixer.com

David Folch might just be the most revolutionary bicycle designer in the world today. A French emigre living in Sant Cruz, California, Folch just wasn't willing to accept the wisdom of established frame builders that a person 6'5" (195cm) tall is perfectly fine on a bicycle with 700C wheels. "It's not fine, it doesn't feel anywhere near OK," says Folch, who at 6'6" tall speaks from experience. Folch, a mountain biker, comes at this from the perspective of somebody who has been thrown many times from a bike that places his center of gravity far too high in relation to the wheelbase length. 

"I've had enough, I don't like feeling like a bear on a bike. I want something that fits me right and rides like a bike should. I'm making one for myself," said Folch back in 2012. Sourcing the 36" wheels was not a major problem. He looked to the unicycle community for expertsie and materials. The most difficult challgenge for Folch was finding a frame builder who would make the bike for him. Most were unwilling to assume the risk. "I could understand this reluctance because my idea was untested and of course in America there are considerable liability issues, so it was not a problem for me. But I had to look outside the USA for a builder of the first prototype," said Folch.

By 2013 Folch was wheeling around on his dream bike: a titanium-framed, 36" wheel vehicle that looked completely normal under him, but dwarfed bicycles with conventional wheel sizes. And it rode great out in the hills. Folch soon found himself riding confidently down difficult singletrack trails in the mountains of the San Francisco peninsula. He said, “With such big wheels it rolls really well over rough ground, and the bike is surprisingly agile for its size. I think we got the balance about right in the original design. It feels completely different to anything I have ridden with the standard 700c wheel size, and I have a lot more control. Actually, it’s a really fun bike to ride, and for the first time in my life I feel like I am on a bike that fits me properly.” 

From then on it's been a steady path of design refinements and development. Folch, on his Facebook page, says about the new model: "(This is) the future DirtySixer bike for serious mountain biking. 36er with MRP inverted fork, Rohloff, and too many custom parts to mention. Come to NAHBS in a week to check it out in person. This is a size S, for riders from 6f4 up to 6f8 (sic.)." 

The Irish dramatist George Bernard Shaw famously remarked: "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man." In this respect Folch is being - to borrow a twentieth century California phrase - totally unreasonable.