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  1. #1
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    cheaper bike with good frame and upgrades, or more expensive bike

    Hi all,
    I'm new to the forum. I'm not sure that a Clydesdale is a good reference for me since I am so big. I'm 6'5" 350#. Anyway, I've always blown through the bearings in the bottom brackets of my bikes to a point where I gave up on riding. But now I am really wanting to get back into it if possible to drop down to 315 or so where I used to have some abs showing (I really am a giant, bigger than most of the guys on World's Strongest man).

    Anyway, here is my current dilemma. I really like the size and position that I end up in on the Gary Ficher kaitai/Utopia series bikes. But... I also know I will blow through the brackets in the kaitai. My problem comes from the idea that I'll probably also blow through the factory bearings on the higher end utopia as well. SO here is my question.

    Do I get the kaitai, even though all of its components aren't as nice, and just immediately buy a better rear wheel and bottom bracket / drive train? Or do I go with a higher end bike, and hope that everything holds?

    The bike shops I've been to all seem to indicate that a downhill drive train should definitely hold me. But I'm really worried about ending up with a bike that I spent a ton of cash on and just sits around broken.

    I'll be riding 99% on roads, possibly as far as the 15 miles to work and back once I am in shape. I've also thought about getting a Rockhopper 29er and changing the tires.

    Any suggestions? Thanks again, and sorry if I'm not making a ton of sense. I can give any more details that anyone needs.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by theOgreKing View Post
    Hi all,
    I'm new to the forum. I'm not sure that a Clydesdale is a good reference for me since I am so big. I'm 6'5" 350#. Anyway, I've always blown through the bearings in the bottom brackets of my bikes to a point where I gave up on riding. But now I am really wanting to get back into it if possible to drop down to 315 or so where I used to have some abs showing (I really am a giant, bigger than most of the guys on World's Strongest man).

    Anyway, here is my current dilemma. I really like the size and position that I end up in on the Gary Ficher kaitai/Utopia series bikes. But... I also know I will blow through the brackets in the kaitai. My problem comes from the idea that I'll probably also blow through the factory bearings on the higher end utopia as well. SO here is my question.

    Do I get the kaitai, even though all of its components aren't as nice, and just immediately buy a better rear wheel and bottom bracket / drive train? Or do I go with a higher end bike, and hope that everything holds?

    The bike shops I've been to all seem to indicate that a downhill drive train should definitely hold me. But I'm really worried about ending up with a bike that I spent a ton of cash on and just sits around broken.

    I'll be riding 99% on roads, possibly as far as the 15 miles to work and back once I am in shape. I've also thought about getting a Rockhopper 29er and changing the tires.

    Any suggestions? Thanks again, and sorry if I'm not making a ton of sense. I can give any more details that anyone needs.

    I was in the same boat! I am 6-4 387lbs, starting riding 4 weeks ago and so far I lost 19 lbs, I bought a Cannondale Adventure 5 bike at my local LBS for $319 out the door brand new- I bought the XL frame, it's pretty damn good and so far it has held good- It's very comfortable to ride, I ride my bike to work daily 10 miles roundtrip and 20 miles on Sat- No biking on Sundays-

    Good luck!

  3. #3
    circus bear ban guzzi's Avatar
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    hey there!

    I was 335 at 6'2" when I started. After multiple spoke issues, and as others here will attest to, get hand laced wheels. As for your BB, het a good sealed unit, or have a good shop clean/adjust/set the one you have. From what I understand, on open bearing/race BBs' if they aren't set up right they can get destroyed quickly.

    For what its worth, two of my bikes have open bearing sets and one has a sealed unit. No worries yet on any of them...


    BTW~ my commute is 20 miles RT and I ride 40+ on weekends for fun.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member Deanster04's Avatar
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    Don't mash your pedals but go for the lower gears and spin...you shouldn't blow out a BB (bad for the old knees as well). Change your style.

  5. #5
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    I agree with Deanster04, something in your riding style needs to change. Too much torque and weight on the BB is going to blow them out with anyone riding it. A Smooth Steady Cadence is best for the entire drivetrain and your knees to boot.

    Chris
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  6. #6
    JRA. BikEthan's Avatar
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    Chances are in that the bottom bracket is going to be on the cheaper end of things anyway. It's a non-visible part and manufacturer's always skimp there. Gary Fisher's website doesn't even list the kind of BB that's on their bikes!

    However I think a bigger question should be what kind of bottom bracket do you want? The cranks (and therefore the bottom bracket) are of two very different types. The Utopia has an Octalink setup which has a larger, hollow BB spindle and much smaller bearings than either a traditional square taper BB or a newer external bearing cup set. I'd agree with your LBS that a DH drivetrain may be the way for you to go. I'd also guess that the Octalink is likely to give you more trouble than a traditional square taper set up with a good quality BB, plus given where the winds are blowing Octalink is on it's way out and high quality bottom brackets aren't really available for that system anymore. In your shoes I would probably go with the less expensive bike and upgrade as parts die. I might also check out some clydesdale specific bikes; the Kona Hoss has a good reputation as a Clyde worthy hardtail (which comes with a DH specific drivetrain already although it is ISIS which is arguably also on it's way out).

    You might want to ask this question again in the mechanics forum too.

    Ugh... when did BBs become so freaking complicated?
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  7. #7
    surly old man jgedwa's Avatar
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    Go ahead and blow those BB bearings out. Easily enough upgraded when you do it.

    By the way, anyone who can blow them out (as opposed to them failing because of improper installation/maintenance) is a scary gorilla.

    jim
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  8. #8
    Senior Member Wogster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by theOgreKing View Post
    Hi all,
    I'm new to the forum. I'm not sure that a Clydesdale is a good reference for me since I am so big. I'm 6'5" 350#. Anyway, I've always blown through the bearings in the bottom brackets of my bikes to a point where I gave up on riding. But now I am really wanting to get back into it if possible to drop down to 315 or so where I used to have some abs showing (I really am a giant, bigger than most of the guys on World's Strongest man).

    Anyway, here is my current dilemma. I really like the size and position that I end up in on the Gary Ficher kaitai/Utopia series bikes. But... I also know I will blow through the brackets in the kaitai. My problem comes from the idea that I'll probably also blow through the factory bearings on the higher end utopia as well. SO here is my question.

    Do I get the kaitai, even though all of its components aren't as nice, and just immediately buy a better rear wheel and bottom bracket / drive train? Or do I go with a higher end bike, and hope that everything holds?

    The bike shops I've been to all seem to indicate that a downhill drive train should definitely hold me. But I'm really worried about ending up with a bike that I spent a ton of cash on and just sits around broken.

    I'll be riding 99% on roads, possibly as far as the 15 miles to work and back once I am in shape. I've also thought about getting a Rockhopper 29er and changing the tires.

    Any suggestions? Thanks again, and sorry if I'm not making a ton of sense. I can give any more details that anyone needs.
    Okay, lets look at this, your blowing out bottom brackets, now most bikes come with the cheapest BB the manufacturer can put in there, heck mine was on it's way out, the day I got my bike, it's still on it's way out 2 years later Now we need to figure out why your destroying this particular component, and several people have eluded to the answer. Your mashing too high a gear, to start and using torque to overcome the resistance. This is hard on components, but even harder on your joints, especially the knee. A 350lb 6'5" guy with bad knees would be scary.

    You want to start off in a nice easy gear, on a triple you want to start off on the middle ring, about the middle gear, on a double you want to start off about the second lowest gear on the big ring. This becomes your "home" gear, when ever you need to stop, you want to go back to your home gear as your slowing down. This will take a lot of pressure off the BB, and your knees. As for whether to buy the more expensive or cheaper bike, I would say go with the cheaper one, and upgrade as components break or wear out. Most components, like frame, brakes, headset, fork, front wheel, are not affected much by rider weight (frames are, but most frames are so over engineered that your unlikely to overcome the frame, unless it's one of those high end racing bikes made of pure UnobtainiumŪ).

    You want to concentrate your finances on the parts that matter, rear wheel, cranks, BB. BTW stay away from 10 speed components, the chains on those things are really tiny, and expensive, you will probably snap one with the first pedal stroke, You're probably best with an 8 speed cassette and triple crank, giving 24 speeds, the chains on those are cheap and fairly meaty.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by jgedwa View Post
    Go ahead and blow those BB bearings out. Easily enough upgraded when you do it.

    By the way, anyone who can blow them out (as opposed to them failing because of improper installation/maintenance) is a scary gorilla.

    jim
    Not an uncommon way of describing me hehe, I compete in strongman and powerlifting. I'm 425ish# bencher, and a nearly 700# squat/deadllift belt only.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wogsterca View Post
    Okay, lets look at this, your blowing out bottom brackets, now most bikes come with the cheapest BB the manufacturer can put in there, heck mine was on it's way out, the day I got my bike, it's still on it's way out 2 years later Now we need to figure out why your destroying this particular component, and several people have eluded to the answer. Your mashing too high a gear, to start and using torque to overcome the resistance. This is hard on components, but even harder on your joints, especially the knee. A 350lb 6'5" guy with bad knees would be scary.

    You want to start off in a nice easy gear, on a triple you want to start off on the middle ring, about the middle gear, on a double you want to start off about the second lowest gear on the big ring. This becomes your "home" gear, when ever you need to stop, you want to go back to your home gear as your slowing down. This will take a lot of pressure off the BB, and your knees. As for whether to buy the more expensive or cheaper bike, I would say go with the cheaper one, and upgrade as components break or wear out. Most components, like frame, brakes, headset, fork, front wheel, are not affected much by rider weight (frames are, but most frames are so over engineered that your unlikely to overcome the frame, unless it's one of those high end racing bikes made of pure UnobtainiumŪ).

    You want to concentrate your finances on the parts that matter, rear wheel, cranks, BB. BTW stay away from 10 speed components, the chains on those things are really tiny, and expensive, you will probably snap one with the first pedal stroke, You're probably best with an 8 speed cassette and triple crank, giving 24 speeds, the chains on those are cheap and fairly meaty.

    I guess it never dawned on me that I was riding incorrectly. I think I'll do some reading on proper riding technique. I definitely am guilty of taking off in high gear since I'm strong enough to do it easily.

    I think I'll find a good solid bike that fits me, and then as components go, I'll replace em. And, in the process, I'll focus on learning to ride better.

    Thanks for the info!

  11. #11
    Senior Member Wogster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by theOgreKing View Post
    I guess it never dawned on me that I was riding incorrectly. I think I'll do some reading on proper riding technique. I definitely am guilty of taking off in high gear since I'm strong enough to do it easily.

    I think I'll find a good solid bike that fits me, and then as components go, I'll replace em. And, in the process, I'll focus on learning to ride better.

    Thanks for the info!
    Okay, let me quote from a book I have, er can't find the book right now, so I will paraphrase it.

    Start off in a nice low gear, something around 50 gear inches, after a couple of minutes, go up to another easy but higher gear, around 65 gear inches or so, then after about 5 minutes or so, when your nicely warmed up, you can go into higher gears. About 10 minutes before the end of your ride, start slowing down, and heading back down the gears, The reason for this is to warm down, after your ride, add in some nice stretching, and your good to go.

    One thing to note, your not starting in your lowest gear (which should really be somewhere between 17 and 22 gear inches), but your no where near your highest gear which should be between 90 and 110 gear inches. If you want to know where your gears are in relation to gear inches Sheldon Brown (RIP) posted an online gear calculator on his website, Just plug in the numbers for your bike, and you should see what you should use when.

    Another thing to remember, you should always have a light touch on the pedals, even in higher gears, you should never feel like you need to push the pedal, if you do, your in too high a gear. Gears are used because of inertia: A body in motion tends to remain in motion, a body at rest tends to remain at rest. You use low gears to get the "body" into motion, without requiring a lot of force, you then don't need those low gears to keep it there. Inertia though does not operate in a vacuum, two forces either enhance or destroy it. The first is gravity, so when you start up a hill, you use lower gears to counteract gravity, going down a hill, you use higher gears, to work with the gravity, this is why rollers can be such fun, gear up, and pedal like mad going down the hill, to build inertia, then use that inertia to help you up the other side. Except around here, where some dumba** has probably put a stop sign at the bottom. I was riding along a bike route here one time, and there was a stop sign half way up a steep hill, I thought "you gotta be joking", it's the only time I actually blew a stop sign. However even going up a steep hill, you should have a light touch on the pedals, although you may be pedaling like mad at 2MPH.

  12. #12
    DRF aka Thrifty Bill wrk101's Avatar
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    +1 on the riding style, you need to spin more, mash less.

    +1 on the sealed cartridge BB. Best way to go.

    If cost is a concern, go with used. If you abuse a $50 bike, it will still likely be worth $50 (or donate it to Goodwill at that point). I bought a good bike Friday at a garage sale for $10. I cleaned it, adjusted the brakes, aired up the tires, and took it for a ride. I will probably put on new tires and bar tape (less than $25), grease the bearings, and adjust the front derailleur. At that point, it is done.

  13. #13
    atop a blazing saddle idig's Avatar
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    I'm not quite as big as you, ranging between 265-310 over the past 5 years. I've been putting a lot of miles on a GF Big Sur. While I did break the frame (all road riding the past 3 years), I can't say that I've ever had an issue with the bearings. I'm probably more masher than spinner.

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