SkyWalker TallBike

Build a TallBike you can climb while in motion.

Skywalker Tallbike - Part 1 of 7

Photo 1 - A 3D rendering of the SkyWalker Tallbike

SkyWalker is a radical two wheeler that allows the bicycle hacking adrenaline junkie to surf the skies while at the same time amusing or confusing the slack-jawed onlookers below. Sure, tallbikes are nothing new, and have been around since the 1800s, but SkyWalker takes things to new heights by allowing the rider to climb up and down the frame while the bike is in motion.

What this means for tallbike pilots is that they no longer have to cling to a telephone pole to mount the bike, and worry about finding another pole when it comes time to dismount. SkyWalker is designed so that the pilot can control the bike from the ground, and all the way up to the top while climbing the built in ladder. Since the handlebars double as ladder handrails, the pilot is under complete control of the tallbike during the entire ascent.

Why would a person want to build and ride a 12 foot two wheeler you ask? To win a Darwin award? Train for the circus? Overcome a fear of heights? Set a world record? Who can say, but for me it has always been the same reason - because it's fun, and it beats sitting on my butt watching the tube!

The photos presented here are somewhat low quality due to the fact that I built SkyWalker outdoors in early spring while the ground was still frozen, and did not actually intend to document it very much. Some of the photos were also taken at night, as I built the entire tallbike in one weekend just for a fun change.

SkyWalker is made of nothing more than a few standard bicycle components salved from the dump and a few lengths of thin walled electrical conduit from the hardware store. Even the curved tubes are nothing more than factory elbows. As for tools, I only used an angle grinder and a basic AC welder, nothing more. In other words, anyone with a pile of scrap bike parts and some tubing can do the same using any welder at all.

The SkyWalker idea was originally drawn on a coffee stained napkin, and then later transferred to a 3D concept as shown in Photo1. The 3D model was used to get a better idea if the steering and transmission would actually work, since the frame was somewhat complex and involved a bizarre linked steering system. Normally, I just grab whatever scrap metal I can find and go nuts with the welder when making crazy bikes like this, but for SkyWalker I decided to follow the 3D plan exactly so I knew the final product would actually work as planned.

Photo 2 - Making the rear of the frame

The rear of the frame will be designed in a way similar to that of a standard bicycle - with stays that wrap around the wheel to hold it in place by the axle. Since I did not have a pipe bender, I simply hacked up some electrical conduit, and a few pre-bent elbows to make the part as shown in Photo 2. There are no measurements to give because I simply have no idea what they are. SkyWalker was built in a hurry using whatever scrap I had laying around, so I simply made things fit using the “try it and see” method. The large tube shown in Photo 2 is made from 1.5 inch conduit, and the stays are 1 inch conduit. There are two stays and two large tubes needed in order to form the rear triangle which will be shown later.

Photo 3 - Making the top of the frame round

The top of the frame is made with a large 1.5 inch factory elbow cut and re-welded as shown in Photo 3. This rounded look makes the frame look more artistic, and keeps all sharp corners and snagging points to a minimum. A tallbike pilot would not want to have a shoelace or pant leg snagged in the frame during a dismount! The distance from the rear of the frame to this point is what will determine the overall height of the bike. I was shooting for 12 feet tall, which is a safe height for city riding. When I say safe, I am referring to the height of power lines, not the bike, dude!

Photo 4 - Creating the rear triangle

The two rear pieces are joined together as shown in Photo 4 so they form a triangle. I decided to design SkyWalker with an impossible looking frame and remotely linked steering, so that it would confuse bystanders all the more. My design is certainly not the easiest way to build this kind of tallbike, but it does look cool. A huge A-frame would also work, but I wanted it to look as though there was no connection between the handlebars and the front wheel just to add to the confusion. As if seeing a madman on a 12 foot bike riding down the street wasn't enough!

Photo 5 - The rear of the frame

The rear triangle is shown completed in Photo 5. The angle of the frame shown in the photo is at the approximate height when completed, allowing the rear of the frame to form a steep ladder. The frame could take on just about any shape imaginable, as long as the pilot's weight ends up centered between the two wheels. As for wheelbase, I think the distance between the front and rear axle should be at least half the height of the frame for stability.

Click for DIY Plans!