Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Part I: The Big Wheel

Here is the first installment of a multi-part series on the various bikes/trikes I've ridden over the years.

1974 Big Wheel

On Christmas Day 1974, I experienced new bike lustre for the very first time. Yes, it was a big wheel, and while technically not a bike, it was in the mind of a four year old. I recall the box that it came in was the biggest thing near the tree, which only built up the hype. Dad couldn't assemble that thing fast enough.

Before long, I was throwing the blue hand brake and doing 180° spins, as seen on TV. I was riding that thing all over the neighborhood. I even got welts on my back from friction burns against the plastic seat.

Unfortunately, the big wheel phase of my life was short-lived as the front plastic wheel wore out after one summer. Alas, at age four, I knew the feeling of broken components as I sadly watched them haul it away in the garbage truck.

Still, if they made an adult version big wheel today, I'd own it. I'm not talking about one of those fancy trikes you see on the Keystone trail. What I mean is a 9/5 version of the plastic one I rode as a kid, complete with the yellow and black mag wheels and handle bar tassels. That would be something. In fact, I wouldn't miss the opportunity to do the signature Munson head-wag and flash a toothy grin as I passed recumbent-riding freds at the Corporate Cycling challenge. It would be grand.

Tomorrow, my first true bike: the Schwinn Stingray Junior.


  1. Yeah, big wheels were fun. The front wheel thing was a problem because you could stop the big wheel by locking up the front wheel with whichever foot you wanted. Then the wear would always be in the same place. They should have some sort of ABS for those things. I think the best thing about them was the stability. No problem going down huge flights of stairs. In fact, my big wheel buddies and I used to go around the neighborhood (around 50th and Cuming) looking for porches with lots of steps to fly off of. The neighbors in the 1970ish were stoned, so they didn't mind. "Woah, look at those kids."

    My big wheel didn't have a hand brake. My brother got a Green machine. Lucky bastard.

  2. The only kid that I knew who had a green machine flunked third grade. It might have been justified because he was still riding it at the time.

    As a result, the green machine became taboo to me.

    Of course, my admission that I'd ride a big wheel as an adult makes me pause to ponder how I progressed beyond elementary school.

    [real-time pause...]

    Green Machines are still taboo.

  3. I had to quit riding my big wheel when the big wheel collapsed on itself. That was a bummer day.

    But Brady! You had a Stingray! Sweeeet.

  4. Quality control seems to be an issue for that big front wheel.

    Yeah, the Stingray Junior was pretty sweet. But I didn't just have one of these; stay tuned for Part 3 where I upgraded to a full-sized Stingray. I know, you can hardly bear the suspense.

  5. Old School! We had a black "Knight Rider" big wheel. We ran it until the big wheel started shredding apart from all the skidding at the bottom of the hill in front of our house. My brother took our next door neighbor on a ride(the seat moved back so they had enough space)down this hill right after a car had gone by. I thought for sure they were going to hit the chromed bumper..they came within inches of it. One of those things that we have a good laugh at when we talk about it back home.

  6. I hadn't seen the dark knight version of it. Was it like this?

    Judging by the comments here, I think that there is a strong business case for an adult version big wheel.

  7. I've always thought about an adult big wheel. The front wheel would have to be like a regular bicycle wheel, however, since that was it's major flaw. Eventually you couldn't ride the things anymore because you had various flat/worn through spots on the front wheel making it impossible to get up to speed to skid again. And that was the whole purpose.

    So yes, an adult big wheel would work with a regular 700C wheel up front and some cheap, but semi-durable, plastic wheels on the back. You could still get it up to speed, then skid the 180, but it'd last longer.

    The frame is the only thing of concern. Plastic won't work. Most adults would crush anything made for a 50 pound kid. And steel is just too heavy. It's all about power to weight ratio. Carbon fiber anyone?

  8. Apparently, someone else had this idea but they're sold out/discontinued. Too bad.