A LOCAL cyclist who’s been catching the eye of Helensburgh residents with his outlandish pair of wheels has told the Advertiser about his love for “Tall Bikes”.

Alex Sidney, 18, who was born in Italy but raised in Norfolk, moved to the area during the winter after cycling for days through England before taking the last leg of his journey by train to Scotland.

His elevated mode of transport – not quite a penny-farthing, but certainly a cut above your average bike, at least in physical terms – has caught the gaze of plenty in the Burgh over recent weeks, partly because of its height but also because of its colourful decoration.

But while it’s certainly been grabbing the attention of passers-by, Alex’s chariot can have a practical purpose too – at least for some of the time.

Alex told the Advertiser this week: “Tall Bikes were originally not fully manufactured for people to ride, so nowadays they are all homemade and very custom - they are basically rolling works of art.

“I like the colour scheme on mine most of all. The colours are yellow, orange and a bright blue. It’s got a beachy tropical vibe. It’s a lot of fun.

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“It has a cargo bay underneath me and a front and a rear rack so it can carry lots of things while still being safe.

“In the past, I’ve used it to transport king sized beds and washing machines with no issues.”

Built to a design derived from bikes known as ‘Lamplighters’, which originated in Chicago in the early 1800s and were used as transport by workers who lit the city’s street lamps, Tall Bikes today are seen as more of a “hobbyist” product rather than having any practical value.

But that doesn’t stop Alex from using his bike for both practical and pleasure purposes – or enjoying the admiring gazes he gets from pedestrians and drivers.

“The response from people is really nice,” he continued.

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“It puts a smile on a lot of people’s faces and for kids it really opens up their imagination when they realise they can make bikes into pieces of art, it serves as an inspiration.

“Getting on and off it is a bit like mounting a horse, and you need rolling momentum.

“People say - ‘that looks really dangerous’. But I’ve never had any issues getting on or off, and I’ve never crashed into any vehicles.

“It’s useful for larger cities in terms of visibility.

“And on a regular bike I’d be swayed into the middle of the road by cars, but with a Tall Bike everyone notices.

“People ask me, ‘how’s the weather up there?’”