Submitted by Torsten Stein, the World’s Tallest Chiropractor.
I am 7’2” and I happen to have the title of being the “World’s Tallest Chiropractor” (hence owning the URL WorldsTallestChiropractor.com). I am busy in my practice, and I have had several semi-professional bike riders as my patients. Since I enjoy talking to my patients, I have learned quite a bit from them over the years.
Regardless of my body height, I was told a perfectly fitting bike would help me avoid injuries in the cervical (neck) area as well as lumbar and sacral (lower back) area. In addition, an off-kilter pedal stroke could add to knee problems over time. All of this is documented in online publications and totally makes sense. But it makes sense for someone who is serious about riding a bike. I never wanted to be a guy who is serious about bike riding.
Let me go back in time. I was born in 1965 in Berlin, West Germany. To drive a car, one must be 18 years of age. In Berlin, space is very limited so many people ride bikes (the cost of gasoline is also a factor). One more benefit to riding versus driving was that bikes had their own lanes in most streets, as well as even their own traffic lights. Once I finally got my driver’s license, I noticed that what they really trained us for was to look out for bike riders.
I mentioned that I am 7’2”. Even growing up I was always the tallest. When it came to buying a bike, I would purchase the biggest one available. Frame sizes would translate to an XL or at best an XXL frame. The “specialists” in the bike shop would just refer me to extra-long seat posts and handlebar stems. Riding a bike has never been real fun for me. But I did it because I wanted to get around. I often experienced lower back pain as well as knee pain while riding. It seemed to be just part of the deal.
I started to play professional basketball in Germany after playing college basketball in the United States. I was in my mid-20s and in exceptional shape. At 7’2” and about 270 lbs with a very low body fat percentage (since there are so many ways to measure it, I won’t disclose the numbers, but it was in the single digits). I was used to running and training twice a day, which gave me great stamina.
On a visit with my family in Berlin, I saw my old bicycle in the garage. It was in pretty good shape, except for a flat tire. It was one of those street bikes with 18 gears (three cogs in the front and six in the back). I wanted to go for a ride with a childhood friend.
There is a nice area near the woods not too far from my parent’s house which is called Grunewald. Loosely translated, it means “green forest” and it had lots of nice bike paths and streets that were ideal for going riding. My childhood friend was the same age as me, but at that time he was working in an office and had put on a few pounds. I guess you would call him a bit chubby and out of shape. He rode his beach cruiser. It had three gears, a wide saddle, and flat handlebars. Even though the bike was smaller than mine, it felt heavier. We rode next to each other, reminiscing over old times.
At some point my competitiveness took over and I challenged him to a race. As a kid he beat me a few times while bike riding and I wanted revenge. We picked a distance and off we went. I was ahead but somehow couldn’t increase the gap between us. He slowly crept up and after a few minutes we were exactly next to each other. We both gave it our all, but I really felt I had more to give. I somehow couldn’t transfer my power and endurance into movement on my bike. I had to watch him slowly creep by me. Although at that time I didn’t understand spinal biomechanics, I knew innately that my buddy rode a bike that fit him perfectly and he was beating me because of it. I didn’t mention this, since it sounded like an excuse, but it made me think that having a well-fitting bike would be great to have one day in the future.
I finished my basketball career and noticed that my lower back pain really set me back. Not just on the basketball court but also in life. I had a severely herniated disc at L5 and had it treated with injections, pills, stretching, massages, etc. The pain came and went. I knew I had to find a different solution for it. I started studying the spine in anatomy books and I figured this was something that interested me and could help me, so I made it official and went to get my doctorate in chiropractic in 2001. I moved to Phoenix, Arizona where I am running a successful Gonstead (a specific style of chiropractic) Chiropractic office.
My wife Claudia was interested in hitting the trails here near Phoenix. I bought us two hard tail mountain bikes. I am not in the same shape that I was in the past, but I quickly was reminded of how it felt to ride a bike that doesn’t fit me. I realized that this bike was a XXL frame, but it still was too small for me. Frustrated, we sold our bikes, and I thought I was done with bike riding.
Over the next few years, I did have some knee problems as well as some hip issues, which made it hard for me to even go hiking. Using a regular cardio machine was just so boring, so after another patient told me how great it is to ride his bike, I started searching. I knew I wanted to get a bike done by someone who has a lot of experience and came across the Zinn website. I researched for a few more years (why it took me so long I don’t know) and finally called. Nick was my expert on the line, and he asked me what kind of bike I wanted. Well, a mountain bike, but also a cruiser, but also a street bike, and it had to be an electric bike as well!
We chose a titanium frame Clydesdale in 4XL, with a 750 W Bosch motor and 29” tires. Due to the material, the bike feels light in comparison to my wife’s regular e-bike. The mechanics are absolutely incredible and often I ride it without even turning the motor on. I am super happy with this purchase and the mechanics are just right. No knee pain and my lower back and neck feel great as well. I get my cardio in and if there is a steep hill or I want to get home faster, I’ll use my motor! Thank you, guys, for the great work you have done. I wish I would have bought it years ago.
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