split image of tallest bicycle

Five years ago, two friends from France made a bet with each other at the pub: to build the world’s tallest rideable bicycle.

Unlike most plans made while drinking, the pair actually followed through with it, and they have now officially achieved the world record.

Nicolas Barrioz and David Peyrou’s big bicycle – nicknamed “Starbike” – reaches a height of 7.77 metres (25 ft 5 in), breaking the previous record by 36 cm (1 ft 2 in).

Just like a regular bicycle, it has a saddle, two standard-sized wheels, and a handlebar connected to two brake levers,

Of course, unlike a regular bicycle, it has a gigantic frame, with the pedals connected to the rear wheel by a 16-metre (53-ft) chain.

“It also has a bell, in case other road users have not seen you,” Nicolas quipped.

The tyres were provided free of charge by Michelin, whose headquarters are in Clermont-Ferrand, the city where David and Nicolas unveiled their record-breaking bike at an annual bicycle festival.

To prove it worked and to officially earn the record, David rode it unassisted over a 100-metre distance.

David riding tallest bicycle

As a safety precaution, he wore a harness attached to a zipwire – this did not aid the bicycle’s balance in any way.

“The speed of the bike was the key to its stability,” Nicolas revealed. “It had to go at least 15-20 km/h [9-12 mph].”

David and Nicolas undertook this challenge for several reasons. Primarily, as leaders of a bicycle-activism non-profit organization, they wanted to promote bicycle usage and its environmental benefits.

Additionally, modifying vehicles is one of Nicolas’s hobbies, and he wanted to show people what can be achieved with just €1,000 (£846; $1,075), a basic tool kit, and “big dreams”.

The bicycle is made from alloy, steel and wood which was mostly obtained from recycled furniture.

“Wood is an interesting material from an ecological perspective,” Nicolas said. “In my opinion, it will replace alloy in bicycle-frame construction in a few decades because of mineral shortages.”

David and Nicolas standing next to tallest bicycle

The pair spent around three months designing the bike and sourcing materials, followed by almost two years building it.

Looking back on the hundreds of hours they spent in the workshop, Nicolas said: “It is not possible to tell you the blood sweat and tears.

“This experience has completely transformed my worldview. Before this, I really needed self-confidence; I was shy and had a negative self-opinion. Now it's better, and sometimes I feel unstoppable; I think I can repair, build or design anything.”

Nicolas and David are now considering breaking another world record by building the smallest rideable bicycle. The current record is 8.4 cm (3.31 in), nearly 100 times smaller than their supersized bike.

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