Whatever happened to hi-rise bikes?

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When I was a kid, I learned to ride on a hi-rise bike my dad got for me, with a banana seat and front-rear brakes. It was weird where he got it, but in the 3rd grade none of my friends cared how funky it looked as long as we could ride. Heck - my best friend had a bike that his dad welded together out of steel tubing, using used bike parts.

When I visited my cousin, I'd borrow his bike, which was a fairly standard hi-ride with a banana seat and only a coaster brake.

My kid has had about 3 bikes so far, and all are single speed BMX style. We got a Specialized Hotrock used pretty cheap. I figured we didn't need to spend a ton for a bike that would only last a few years. I did have to work on the brake, which needed serious adjustment including a new cable. And my kid hasn't figured out how to use the coaster brake. But I haven't seen any kids ride a hi-rise in decades. They're all BMX, mini mountain bikes, or cruisers with saddle type seats.

Maybe this is just the nostalgia speaking, but I can find some newer ones for sale (online), but haven't seen one being ridden in ages.
 
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When I was a kid I got a bike for x-mas that had a DRAG brake for the rear tire and wheel, a 4 foot sissy bar , the front tire was much smaller in diameter then the rear which also came with a flat style tire and get this instead of handle bars it had a 3 spoke steering wheel. It was a metallic Blue.

Later on in life my younger brother out grew his little bike. This was in the early 70's. At that time I raced Moto-x, trails and short track. So I had plenty of spare motor cycle parts. One day I was joking around with my friends on my brothers little bike and crashed breaking the handle bars clean off the bike.. Funny as hell. But what was even funnier is the next day all my friends thought I had the "koolest" bike around. I took a spare set of my Moto-x bars and installed it on that little bike. By the end of the week most all my friends converted their bikes to what we called motorless MX bikes. Mine we all called the Little CR . I raced on a Factory special equipped CR250 Honda Elsinore when they first came out.

Hmm.... go figure I should have gotten a patent on that handle bar idea. LOL
 
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AZjeff

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They've evolved into lowrider bikes. Other than nostalgia feel-good there was nothing much good about them. The handlebars were too high and the banana seat didn't have any advantage compared to a normal bike seat then or now. I had a fancy one with a 16" front wheel, springer fork and stick shift 5 speed. Heavy and handled like crap.

Looks like my bike.
orangebike.jpg


lowrider bike.
lowrider.jpg
 
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Coaster brakes were awful!! They had so much friction. All three of my BMX bikes (2 Red Lines and 1 Diamond Back) had both Tuff Wheel 1 and 2's (the Tuff Wheel 2's were made of some kind've lighter material). They were both coaster brake mag wheels. I converted them over to freewheel with a freewheel adapter. Made the world of difference. This was around 1982 maybe? Best era of bikes!! (y)
 
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The handlebars were too high and the banana seat didn't have any advantage compared to a normal bike seat then or now.
My first bike had high-rise bars and a banana seat. That was the 70s. The seat did have 1 advantage over a normal seat: room for a friend to sit on the bike just behind you! They can put their feet on the rear wheel axle bolts, or fling them around to try to cause a crash. :oops:
Years ago, my daughter's first bike was a BMX style. I rebuilt the rear wheel with a Sturmey Archer S2 hub. That gave her a low gear for the hills around our house, without the need for a shifter or cable.
 
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They've evolved into lowrider bikes. Other than nostalgia feel-good there was nothing much good about them. The handlebars were too high and the banana seat didn't have any advantage compared to a normal bike seat then or now. I had a fancy one with a 16" front wheel, springer fork and stick shift 5 speed. Heavy and handled like crap.

Looks like my bike.
View attachment 67389

lowrider bike.
View attachment 67390
That five speed w/ gear shirft is a cool looking bike.
 
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IIRC, they were introduced around the time that Ford Mustangs made the scene in the mid-1960's. Like the Ford, these bikes became trendy and extremely popular seemingly over night. Like the Ford, tastes changed and by the mid-1970's both were less popular than they had been.
 

wwillson

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They've evolved into lowrider bikes. Other than nostalgia feel-good there was nothing much good about them. The handlebars were too high and the banana seat didn't have any advantage compared to a normal bike seat then or now. I had a fancy one with a 16" front wheel, springer fork and stick shift 5 speed. Heavy and handled like crap.

Looks like my bike.
View attachment 67389
I had this exact bike minus the gold handlebars - same stripes on the seat, same color, same wide slick back tire. Wow is this nostalgic!
 
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This is what I had. The gold one. I remember the big slick that it came with. single speed, no front brake, coaster only. It was the shiznit back in the day.
51A14942-B732-4DD6-8953-5B3C3A62D128.jpeg
 
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My first bike was exactly #1: single speed, coaster brake, color orange.
What a blast from the past!
 
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High-risers were still around when I was growing up. But they were older bikes and most kids had or wanted BMX bikes.
 

AZjeff

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That five speed w/ gear shirft is a cool looking bike.

It weighed a ton. The gearing was so high, look at the size of the front chainring, that it didn't take much of a hill to be pushing. Of course the fenders and chainguard were the first things to go. Crashed it downhill on a gravel road with a female passenger. Not good.

I had this exact bike minus the gold handlebars - same stripes on the seat, same color, same wide slick back tire. Wow is this nostalgic!

I had the goofy handlebars in the pic. Rode it hard for a summer or 2, when we started jumping them that was the end of it. Then I got an old English 3 speed bike, stripped it down painted it purple metal flake and wider tires and was gone. Started a lifetime bike passion, still at it.
 

y_p_w

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That five speed w/ gear shirft is a cool looking bike.

Some had these really crazy shifters. Like really long and in a position where it might be dangerous if the rider slips off the banana seat and the shifter is positioned straight up.

800px-Schwinn_StingRay_OrangeKrate_5speed_1968.jpg


Schwinn has brought back some of these Sting-Ray and Krate bikes, but the prices are crazy (more than $500) for just kids' recreational bikes.
 
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IMO the reason you don't see them any more is that the seating position is back over the rear axle. Great for riding wheelies but in today's world a massive litigation risk as little johnny or Suzy snowflake wheelie over and crack their helmeted skull. Today's kids and moreso their parents don't allow them to discover their physical world and learn lessons that help ground them to reality. ...They grow up thinking the only oil grade or tire pressure is what the OEM publishes for fear of physical danger noncompliance brings.

We used to pound ~2 foot pipes onto the forks and make choppers that would wheelie even better. A few kids with post war capable dads welded 2 frames on top of each other to make a tall bike you had to lean against the garage and climb onto about 6' up then takeoff. then there was the Evel Kneivel craze. ramps and ditches literally jumping 10-15 feet without helmet or worry and nevwer a cracked skull. i think if little johhny snowflake set up a ramp in the hood now the neighbor would call CPS on them. How far we have fallen. :-(
 

y_p_w

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IMO the reason you don't see them any more is that the seating position is back over the rear axle. Great for riding wheelies but in today's world a massive litigation risk as little johnny or Suzy snowflake wheelie over and crack their helmeted skull. Today's kids and moreso their parents don't allow them to discover their physical world and learn lessons that help ground them to reality. ...They grow up thinking the only oil grade or tire pressure is what the OEM publishes for fear of physical danger noncompliance brings.

We used to pound ~2 foot pipes onto the forks and make choppers that would wheelie even better. A few kids with post war capable dads welded 2 frames on top of each other to make a tall bike you had to lean against the garage and climb onto about 6' up then takeoff. then there was the Evel Kneivel craze. ramps and ditches literally jumping 10-15 feet without helmet or worry and nevwer a cracked skull. i think if little johhny snowflake set up a ramp in the hood now the neighbor would call CPS on them. How far we have fallen. :-(

Well - kids did actually die from bike crashes. And of course years ago kids sat in the front seat on mommy's lap. When I was six I was allowed to walk myself to the bus stop and then walk to school.

I did some pretty crazy things when I was a kid, such as ride into a blind downhill T-intersection. No helmet either. I was lucky I didn't plow straight forward, slide out, or even get T-boned.
 
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When I was that age, bicycle helmets would actually cause injuries, cuz any other kid who saw you wearing one would beat you up for being such a wuss. :p
And the "playgrounds" we had back then... solid steel bars over hard packed dirt. No guardrails or soft landings. If anyone put that kind of stuff up today, they'd get sued or jailed.

1629335027905.png
 
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Yep, it’s just the nostalgia. 😄 Frame “geometry” is horrific. Absolute junk of a design. And coaster brakes are terrible.
 
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“Kids today are such wimps!”






But yes, tell us more about the jump you made from a milk crate as a kid 😉
 
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Anyone here ever have the pin come off that "Bendix" lever that held the coaster brake in place? The pedals would kick back so hard that it would totally throw you over the handlebars haha!! Ask me how I know:D
 
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