Some of the weirdest bikes the world has ever laid eyes upon have been designed and built by Didi Senft — a 56 year old cycling fan better known as “El Diabo” — whose most recent creation, the Guitar Bicycle measuring 16.4 feet (5 meters) tall and 39.3 feet (12 meters) long was revealed in Storkow, some 50 km (31 miles) south of the German capital Berlin.
Didi’s notoriety goes far beyond the German borders, as he’s had no fewer than 10 entries in The Guinness Book of Records, including the world’s largest and longest rideable bicycle — an astonishing 25 feet 7 inches (7.8 meters) long and 12 feet 2 inches (3.7 meters) high.
With more than 100 unusual and record breaking bicycles, Didi Senft has also built a recumbent double-decker tandem, and a giant rickshaw 42 feet (12.4 meters) long, on which the passenger sits at a dizzying height of 21 feet 10 inches (6.65 meters) above the ground.
Didi made the world’s largest soccerball bicycle out of more than 100 footballs and rode it around to promote the World Cup 2006 in Germany.
He’s particularly proud of his latest invention which he will present at various venues during the European Football Championship in 2008, stating that he has designed more than 10 football bikes.
With six balls on each wheel, a football table in front of the steering wheel and a drum on the baggage rack, “El Diablo” is perfectly equipped for the upcoming football event.
Didi Senft with his latest bike creation, waiting to support the teams at the coming European Football Championship.
Didi’s 2-wheel inventions have made him famous throughout the world. His bicycle museum in Storkow includes more than 120 different exhibits, of which hold places in the Guinness-Book of Records. The collection includes the largest tandem bicycle (length: 6m), the longest bicycle (7.80m long, 76 rear wheels and 228 sprockets) and the bike with the smallest front wheel with a diameter of 2 millimeters.
A 10 foot (3 meter) high and 29.5 feet (9 meter) long 3-wheel monster bike
made of 10,000 bike bells.
Born in 1952 in Reichenwalde, Germany, Dieter “Didi” Senft has long been a fan of the Tour de France, and is widely known as the Tour de France devil or El Diablo.
Since 1993, he’s been seen in the Tour’s many stages wearing his red devil costume and painting a trifork on the road some miles before he’ll show up. Senft attributes the inspiration for the costume to German cycling announcer Herbert Watterot who called the last lap of local criterium races “the Red Devil’s Lap.”
Stating that he’d never seen a red devil, he decided to become one. He’s been sporting the red devil costume each year since 1993, and follows Tour de France around its entire course, driving in his min-van, towing his huge bike around on a trailer.
“El Diablo” clowns about as the pack passes by during the 8th stage of the 94th Tour de France cycling race between Le Grand Bornand and Tignes, French Alps.
Didi says he’d prefer to be at the beginning of The Red Devil’s Lap — 1 kilometer from the finish — but race authorities and French police won’t allow him and his bicycle that close because of the crowds, so he usually sets up at the flag which marks 20 kilometers to the finish, and often manages to get as close as 5 kilometers from the end on the mountain stages in the Pyrenees and Alps.
At his tour bus in Lorsch beim Entega Grand Prix
On the 2006 edition of Tour of Switzerland, Didi Senft painted his signature trifork on the road the day before the competitors came by his door. But later that day the Swiss police came by and said it was illegal, and he had to pay a fine or go to jail, and was forced to remove the painting from the road.
Didi Senft at the International Niedersachsen-circuit with his trolley and cycling on 29 trailers in Göttingen im Zielbereich der Rundfahrt in Göttingen in the target area of the tourDidi Senft at the International Niedersachsen-circuit with his trolley and cycling on 29 trailers in Göttingen im Zielbereich der Rundfahrt in the target area of the tour.
He finances his travels by means of a small number of corporate sponsors, and with money from his wife’s job and donations from other Tour de France fans, often sleeping in his car between stages.
LuK GmbH & Co. oHG has supported “El Diablo” since the World Cycling Championship 1991 on his trips around the world. Components from the broad portfolio offered
by the German automobile supplier has provided Didi Senft with inspiration on a number of occasions, as seen in a 2-wheel bicycle model made from clutch disks.
When did you first appear as the devil and why?
The 1993 Tour de France. My biggest wish once was to be there as a spectator because I raced bicycles in my youth. But that was in the former German Democratic Republic, when we weren’t allowed to travel to Western countries. In 1990 the Berlin Wall was pulled down; 3 years later I had saved enough money to go to France. I wanted to root for the riders like nobody else did.
How does the devil earn money?
I travel to more than 100 races each season and have a sponsor, LUK, a German auto parts maker. I sleep in my car or in public parks. During the Tour de France I lose 6 to 8 pounds because I eat only crisp bread and canned foods. Many fans also invite me to have breakfast with them. From October until April I don’t earn any money — I build the world’s biggest and smallest bicycles in my garage.
What’s your typical race day like?
It is hard work. I’m on my feet from early morning until late evening. At 4:30 a.m. I get up and paint my forks on the street. I need about eight gallons of paint during the Tour. At 7:30 I find my place along the stage. That is difficult because one of the police officers always watches me. They’re afraid that I’ll hamper the riders when running near them, but that’s nonsense.