Spotting Unusually Tall Bikes in Chicago? Here’s What’s Going On
Tall bikes, freak bikes...whatever you call them, if you happen to be in Chicago you might spot some interesting-looking bikes riding down the street.
I spent a long weekend in Chicago recently and happened to notice one of these bikes riding down the street next to us. I thought nothing of it other than, "oh...someone built a ridiculously tall custom bike." I didn't snag the best picture but here, I'm in a hatchback car. You can see how tall the bike is:
Honestly, it was impressive. How did they keep their balance? How did they get up there? I had lots of questions that I assumed would go unanswered. That is until I check the ModeShift Kalamazoo General Discussion Group on Facebook where an article about Chicago's Rat Patrol had been posted.
The article, which you can see here, shed some light on the mysterious, tall bike-riding group.
Who Are They?
This group has been described as "underground punks" that have been a part of the bike club, Rat Patrol, for decades. They were known for their custom bikes often made from scrap metal and trash.
How Do You Get Up on the Tall Bikes?
In an interview with blockclubchicago.org, a Rat Patrol member by the name of Yly Coyote said,
You got to run with the bike, take some steps to gain momentum, and then climb it while it’s moving
That sounds like a sport in and of itself. Especially when some of the bikes are several feet tall like this one:
The bikes can be tall, constructed of multiple bikes, made from kids' bikes...some even have working grills attached to them. Since the Rat Patrol members build the bikes themselves, the sky is the limit for customizations.
Can I Buy One of These Bikes?
As far as I can tell, no. Although, in the past, the Rat Patrol has donated multiple bikes to neighborhood kids and has even donated their time to a local non-profit to help teach kids how to build and fix up bikes.
Again, the article from blockclubchicago.org does an incredible job of diving into the history and unique qualities of the Rat Patrol. Above all else, it sounds like this group has created a community that is welcoming and free of judgement. And, that's something we all need these days.
If you want to learn more about the Rat Patrol outside of the above-mentioned article you can find them on Facebook.
In the Chicago area? Keep an eye out for these very unique, tall bikes. You never know where you might see one. And, if you love "weird" things and happen to be in Mackinaw City, this place looks like a must-visit: