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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 01-12-09, 06:57 PM   #1
Kingofgreens
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Full suspension, yes or no?

Greetings to you all,

I'm new to these forums & not very experienced with bicycles. I posted in the intros & asked a few questions which yielded some interesting answers. I am looking for a bike. I want something nicer than my 75$ WalMart cheapie, but don't have much of a budget to work with. I've looked at a lot of bikes on craigslist, ebay & other online shopping sites. I've found a few but just want to make sure I get something Iím going to like. My WallMart bike wasnít anything special, but it did have nice 26's on it & full suspension. It rode nice for about a month before it started falling apart. There is some question as to weather or not I really need full suspension. I only use a bike for a 3 mile ride to work, a little trail riding & just cruising around the neighborhood with a couple Retrievers in tow. Iíve ridden a friendís old Trek a few times which has no suspension & it seems a little stiff & rough riding compared to my cheapie. Iím 6'1" & 250 ish. If you had to choose between a more expensive bike with no suspension or a cheaper one that does, which way would you go in my case? My budget is about 450 USD. Any suggestions would be most welcome.
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Old 01-12-09, 07:32 PM   #2
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Suspension on bikes is really best suited to off-road use. When riding on paved roads or relatively smooth trails, having a rigid bike is far more efficient. The suspension adds weight and reduces pedaling efficiency. I'd probably look at a hybrid unless your trail riding isn't fairly smooth then a rigid MTB would be a good choice. A change in tires can make a hybrid a little more trail-worthy or a MTB a little more street friendly but it is all about compromises.
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Old 01-12-09, 08:03 PM   #3
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In your situation, I'd get a hard-tail mountain bike with a suspension fork. You don't need anything fancy, but suspension forks are very nice to have if you're going to be riding on any rough surfaces...like dirt and gravel. Any decent rear suspension will be beyond your price range, and probably would be no real advantage for the kind of riding you describe.
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Old 01-12-09, 08:07 PM   #4
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Agreed with all of the above, unless you are planning on freeriding off road, and then you're going to be spending some serious cash.
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Old 01-13-09, 04:24 AM   #5
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check out a giant cypress or specialized crosstrail they are both in your price range
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Old 01-13-09, 06:50 AM   #6
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Not too much left to add, but I would look for a nice hardtail mountain bike, or perhaps a hybrid like the trek FX line up. Look for leftovers from 08, otherwise your price range will get you into the bottom two or three FX's.

Hardtail wise, entry level mountain bikes are nearly all the same, the difference is mainly cosmetic and perhaps a very slight change in the frame design. Go to every bike shop in your area and ride everything in your price range, buy from the shop that treats you the best and makes you feel comfortable. Don't forget to budget for a few essentials, you'll need a patch kit, tire levers, frame pump, seat bag to keep them in, and a helmet to keep the ole melon safe(r). All of these should run you right about $100. It stinks having the buy this up front but keep in mind Murphy’s law of flat tires on bicycles: You will only get a flat tire with no means to repair it on the day your wallet and cell phone is accidentally left on the kitchen counter.

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Old 01-13-09, 07:43 AM   #7
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Suspension on a bike eats up your pedal stroke. Since you are riding on roads and light trails, you will find a rigid bike will suit you better, letting you get more power into your pedaling - and probably saving you money as well, since full suspension is comparatively pricey.
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Old 01-13-09, 07:59 AM   #8
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FWIW, I was over 250 at my zenith, and I ride a Trek 4300 Hardtail w/ front suspension. It is great. I throw my knobs on if I want to hit the state park, but mostly I have 1.5" road tires on it. Though a heavy setup, the front fork is actually good on a commute for some area where the road condition is less than savory. After riding a full suspension bike, I would think that any hard tail or hardtail/front fork combo is going to feel stiff. My bike is probably a lower to mid level entry level bike (if that makes sense) but I have gotten almost 6 years out of it, and only put in $100 in repairs or so, and it is solid as a rock still. Ride a bunch of hard tails and hard tail fork combos from different makers, and I am sure you will find one within your range that is a good bike for you.
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Old 01-13-09, 09:02 AM   #9
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I agree with pretty much everything that's been said so far. The odds of buying the perfect bike the first time are slim.

When I started running Whitewater I remember my first boat. I knew it was the one, it was perfect. Six months later, I sold it and then got the perfect boat. One year after that. I sold it and then found the boat for me. I am sure it's future is limited as well.

Two years ago I bought the perfect bike for me. I spent more money than I had planned, made changes that would suit my riding style and was convinced that this was going to be my long-term bike. This week, that bike is going away, and is being replaced by my next perfect bike. Do your best to pick the bike that you feel will suit your riding needs and then plan on things changing.

As to the suspension, with my first bike, the giant rainier, I thought suspension was a must. I discovered that being a 250 pound Clyde and having suspension were not as compatible as I had figured. To agree with the historian, unlocked suspension to me feels like riding in quicksand.

The new bike gets picked up in a couple of days. Hardtail, Rigid Fork, 29er. I have come to the conclusion that since my trail riding and off-road is only about 25% of my total riding that I can utilize my arms and legs for suspension in order to maximize my road riding with a full rigid. Having said that I am sure a year or two from now I will have a completely different opinion

Good luck
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Old 01-13-09, 09:33 AM   #10
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pretty much +1 to all the above with the add of considering a 29'r or commuter/cross bike (aka mountain bike with 29 inch rims or a cross bike fitted out with riser bars).

The bigger 700c/29 inch rims smooth out the ride without adding the weight and complexity of suspension.

whatever you get -- it will get more comfortable if you ride it a lot!
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Old 01-13-09, 01:45 PM   #11
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What tires did the friend's Trek have? Running wider tires on a rigid bike can contribute to a smoother ride...
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Old 01-13-09, 02:31 PM   #12
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What tires did the friend's Trek have? Running wider tires on a rigid bike can contribute to a smoother ride...


My friend's Trek had those tiny 90 psi road tires. It was obviously a really nice bike about 15 years ago & it clearly hasn't been cared for properly. Even with this in mind I still thought my Next rode a lot better even after it was showing signs of wear, but thats probably just the tires.

Seems like everyone agrees that a nice hardtail with some meaty rubber on it is what I need so thats exactly what I'm starting to shop for.
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Old 01-13-09, 03:14 PM   #13
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Do a search on rigid mountain bikes. You can buy a really nice one in the $100 to $150 range. Good brands include Trek, Specialized and a few others.

A Walmart bike is a throw away. Instead, buy a good bike used, ride it for a while, and you will get your money back out of it. Try to do that with a Walmart bike! My first bike back into riding was a Trek 800 mountain bike. I bought it for $100. Later I realized I really wanted a road bike. So I sold the Trek for $125. And on it has gone.

You can put a lot of different sizes (widths) of tires on a mountain bike. When using it for street use, I use narrow 26 - 1.25 slicks. When using it on trails, I use a wider 26 - 1.95. Totally different ride with just the change of tires.
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Old 01-13-09, 03:20 PM   #14
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Here's the deal... unless you can spend some money on the bike, don't get full suspension. Cheap suspension is hardly worth it. Plus full suspension means alot more bike maintenance. Forks and Shocks needed to be overhauled etc. Costs money. Plus suspension (bobbing up and down) adds resistance. You will work harder, go slower, than others on regular road bikes.

If you plan on riding trails, or something like a rail to trails, then consider a front suspension/hard tail. I would look at a good steel frame which will offers some comfort.

If your plan is to ride on streets or paved bike paths, don't do suspension at all. Get a road bike. Remember mountains style bikes are made for off-roading and don't have the easy rolling ratio a road bike has. It will be harder for you to peddle a MT bike than a road bike down the street.

For the road bike, depending on the money, try and get a good steel frame. It will offer some comfort and reliability. Stay away from aluminum! Consider used. Lots of good used bikes out there as people are always upgrading!
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Old 01-13-09, 03:24 PM   #15
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Do a search on rigid mountain bikes. You can buy a really nice one in the $100 to $150 range. Good brands include Trek, Specialized and a few others.

.
I first started mountain biking in the 80's. I had a rigid Specialized Rockhopper. I rode that thing down stuff I won't now, ride my full suspension Santa Cruz down. I had a heck of a lot of fun on that bike and didn't know I was missing suspension. BTW I think Specialize is an awesome company. I cracked that frame and they totally gave me a new bike! I still ride a Specialize M4 Stumpjumper hardtail. Great bike.
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Old 01-13-09, 05:20 PM   #16
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Seems like everyone agrees that a nice hardtail with some meaty rubber on it is what I need so thats exactly what I'm starting to shop for.
Remember: a "hardtail" has suspension in the front, but not in the rear. I just put a suspension fork on the rigid mountain bike I was using for commuting. My goal is to do a bit of cross-country trail riding with it. Even with the fork "locked out" there's still a bit of bob while pedaling, especially when standing. Plus the suspension fork weighs quite a bit more than the rigid fork it replaced. There's no way I'd want to use the suspension fork on the street!

Rather than a hardtail, I'd suggest a well-made rigid bike (= no suspension) with meaty rubber. Unless you really think you'll do off-road trail riding. If that's the case, then a hardtail is the way to go.
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Old 01-13-09, 05:50 PM   #17
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I think I may of found a nice bike right here on the boards. Check it out in the classifieds & please let me know if you think its worth the price + whatever shipping is going to be.
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Old 01-13-09, 08:59 PM   #18
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Well, we would if you had linked us to it....
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Old 01-13-09, 11:20 PM   #19
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My bad

Cadillac AVP 2.1 19" $150.00

It's a full suspension bike & a heavy one at that but I do like it a lot. Going to cost me a little over 200 with shipping.

I've also found a Trek 3900 for 275 & it's local so I could pick it up right away.
http://thebicyclechain.com/itemdetails.cfm?ID=1708

I'm torn. I know the Trek is a far superior bike, but it doesn't have disc brakes, it's a little more loot (but still well within my budget) & from what I can tell, weaker components. (I may be wrong on this so feel free to clue me in)

On the other hand, the Caddie has a lot of goodies & its classified as a comfort bike + I really like the style.
http://www.amazon.com/Cadillac-AVP-2-1/dp/B001KQ0KG2

I know I'm being a pain in the rump here but thanks again everyone for the advice.
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Old 01-14-09, 06:40 AM   #20
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Skip that caddy, I'd place it on the same pedestal as Jeep and Denali brand bicycles, garbage. Disc brakes are cool for the bling factor but I would not base my decision solely on disc brakes. V-Brakes will stop you just as well especially considering the type of riding you want to do. The suspension design is bunk as well, I wouldn't expect it to absorb much more than the grooves between two pieces of concrete sidewalk. Component wise it is junk, I have no idea where the $499 list price comes from. Top Gun fork, derailleur worse than Tourneys WTF?

If it is down to those two bikes get the Trek, you’ll be happy you did. Spend the extra money at the bike shop and get all the perks that go with it. Often you will get a discount on parts and repairs if you buy a new bike from a shop.
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Old 01-14-09, 02:03 PM   #21
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I think I've decided to go with the Trek. It's local & it's a much higher quality bike.
You've made me see that I liked that Caddy for the wrong reasons & the hassle of a long distance sale does not appeal to me.
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