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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 09-19-09, 10:34 AM   #1
Peter_C
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Am I dreaming, or, Is this possible?

Hello to all, and thanks in advance for any/all replies! This forum gives me hope!

Am 47yrs old, 378lbs and have had 7 knee surgeries to date. (Have 'OA') The short question is this; I am told that when I have my total knee replacement, I will be able to ride a stationary bicycle for exercise.

I wish to know if it is only a dream, or if it is possible for me to get back into cycling again in some form?

Back at age 17, in 1979 I owned a Schwinn "Le Tour" 10sp. While in College that year I got involved in bicycle touring (I lived in Portland, OR) and did not own a car. Was riding 10-30 miles daily, and 50-100 miles every weekend. My longest ride was from Portland to Lincoln City and then 40 odd miles down the coast - some 200 miles total over a long weekend.

I then destroyed my left knee and had my first of seven knee surgeries. Never got on a bike again...

Fast forward to now. Am 47, I smoke, am soon to get the total knee replacement done. Currently weigh 378lbs, am 6' 1" tall (31" inseam) am in very poor physical shape, heard about the fact that I would be able to get on a stationary bicycle after the surgery (as part of my rehab) and am wondering about getting back into and ONTO a bicycle for health, fun, miles, and enjoyment?

Am wondering about a "Cruiser", or "Comfort", or "Hybrid" bicycle? Do they even make one that can handle my size???

Am looking for your thoughts and knowledge here? Do you know of any other riders in this size range? Are any Bicycles made that can reasonably handle 400 pounds? What am I looking at as far as costs go? Of course, the more you spend, the nicer it is...

What is in my head is this (if possible??)...

About the time of my surgery, I buy a *cheap* bike to start on - just to see if this is even do-able or realistic or not. If the knee works, if I can get past the pain of sitting on the bike again, etc... and the bug hits me again, and I find that I can indeed enjoy riding again, at that point I would want to get into a higher quality/better/nicer/more featured bicycle in the $600-$1500 range?

On Amazon, I see the cheap stuff starting at around the $150 range (and yup - you get what you pay for!!) - FYI - in 1979 my "Le Tour" with gear was just shy of $700 bucks. But I'd hate to put out some serious $$$ only to find out I can not, or will not use it, right?!

Please, if you have time, share your thoughts and knowledge with me? Am I nuts here? Or, is this possible? If possible, can I get details? Numbers, links, SPECS, etc...??
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Old 09-19-09, 10:54 AM   #2
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You are not dreaming.

Ask your doctor to prescribe you a Bledsoe OA brace (they make custom sizes) that will unload the meniscus and allow you to ride BEFORE the surgery.

Either Axiom or 20/50 should be appropriate, but obviously your physician will know best.
Will be hard to find a Clyde friendly bike for that price, but keep an eye on Craigslist.
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Old 09-19-09, 11:04 AM   #3
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I do not know enough to comment on your joint health... but when you are riding make sure your seat height is properly adjusted (too high or too low is bad for your knees) and take it pretty easy to start with - easy gears are your friend.

As for bike choice, the only things you need to be concerned about are bike fit and wheel quality. Any standard good quality used bike will likely do fine, but yor wheels might not last long. But if you spend ~$100 on a 10 year old mountain bike, $50 on a tune up, then have the rear wheel professionally relaced after spokes start breaking, you should have a reliable bike.

Also - if you happen to find a great deal on a super light bike, don't get it... super-light bikes designed for racing are the only type with frames generally not suitable for reallly big riders.
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Old 09-19-09, 12:16 PM   #4
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You should be fine on a rode bike. My wife has had a knee replaced and rides all the time. Never any knee issues after a ride either, no matter the distance. I can tell you that the recovery period is the key to full function and range of motion later. She was religious about her pt, and pushed herself beyond to rebuild the strength and flexibility. The biggest difference seemed to be that they didn't use the "machine" to keep her knee moving after surgery. She started that day with pt and walking. She just had her five year check up and the knee was in new condition. The doctor was surprised at the things she has been doing and attributed it to how quickly she regained and surpassed full strength. Her range of motion exceeded expectations and is fully normal.
Good luck with your surgery and hope for a full and speedy recovery so you're back on the bike quickly.
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Old 09-19-09, 01:10 PM   #5
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I hope your knee replacement goes well. Women I know seem to do better than men that I know after knee replacement which may be due to pain tolerance. I got a road bike for knee rehabilitation and a bledsoe brace. I swim a lot also. It may be best to to try out a few bikes at different shops to see what works for you. Starting out with a heavy duty "comfort" bike such as a cruiser or mountain bike may be a good start to even see if you enjoy it enough to pursue the idea of cycling for a better life. I have an aluminum Electra 7sp cruiser I got from REI that I have been using for many years. I do not necessarily get my heart rate up on this bike unless climbing, but it is great for getting my knee moving. I use the cruiser a lot when I am at San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Monterey. I currently use the carbon road bike I got for knee rehabilitation for my daily commute to work.
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Old 09-19-09, 02:53 PM   #6
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Peter, your dreams are very realistic.

The first thing to do is follow your PT regiment religiously after your surgery. Strengthening and range of motion during the recovery will determine your future, which is indeed bright after getting the new knee.

The most important thing in a bike is the Fit. If it doesen't fit it will hurt even good knees. I don't have good knees (see avatar at left)and can't imagine the torture of riding an ill fitting bike

Probaly the cheapest and most plentiful bike will be a used rigid frame moutain bike to start with if you are concerned you won't stick with it. There is no physical reason you can't do it, it will all be psychological. You do want to be sure you have gears though. Spining into headwinds or up hills is key to preserving less than ideal knees. Mashing is another way to ask for trouble. Spinning on a single speed bike is near impossible when faced with hills or headwinds.

Believe itor not, we have folks who started out at an even heavier weight than you are now. That being said, practice this mantra, "Of course I can do this!" It might only be around the block when you start out, but that's just as good a riding 100 miles if youthink about it. It;s all about getting started and sticking with it. Sooner or later you will be living for your daily rides when you get in the groove, and mileage will increase as you go.

Any of you regulars know if the sexy beast Chipcom is in Akron or not? I somehow seem convinced we have a member or two in that area.

To recap:

No you are not dreaming, you can do this after you get healed up and cleared.

Celebrate that first few hundred yards like you just won the Tour de France. If someone doesn't understand the victory, so what.

It will be a challenge when yous start out, but so what. The grin factor with each new goal met is immeasureable.

Last edited by txvintage; 09-21-09 at 03:33 AM.
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Old 09-19-09, 03:38 PM   #7
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Get the knee replaced, quit the butts, get a brace, see the doc and then get in the wind. Just do it man. ECB1
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Old 09-19-09, 06:07 PM   #8
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I know two people who have done the Race Across America (RAAM)with replacemetn knees. Yes, you can ride the bike. Neither of them use a knee brace. The new knee works well for them. Neither is completely pain free but it is way better than before. When you get the knee replaced you need to make sure that you do your (PT)physical therapy. You can't skimp on it!!!!!! It's the most painfull part of the whole process. Right after your surgery your body will try to "repair" the injury and scar tissue will build up around the artificial joint. The PT will brake that tissue down. If you don't do your PT correctly the DR will have to do it for you and you dopn't want that! Good luck to you!!!!
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Old 09-19-09, 06:11 PM   #9
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You can. The question is, will you?

Best of luck, and I hope you find a good ride for yourself. Remember, to start slow, build gradually, and enjoy riding just because.
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Old 09-20-09, 06:23 AM   #10
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Is there a reason they said you could get on a "stationary" bike as part of your rehab. You might want to ask, the doctor before riding a non-stationary bike just to be sure. Also, check out your local bike shops, you may find used bikes of better quality that you can inspect for the same price range as the stuff you see on amazon. Good luck and keep us updated here.
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Old 09-20-09, 10:02 PM   #11
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First, thank you all for the most excellent replies! Many ideas I have not thought of! Many links I was unaware of! Most all believe this CAN be done, that it is simply a question of effort on my part, and getting a bike that can handle my weight.

Therein lies the rub. With all the medical issues I've had recently, the bank accounts have sadly diminished to the point that needed or not, justified or not, the funds are simply not there to put out 3-5K on a quality bicycle.

Plus of course, is the real fear (good intentions or not) that even if I can get back on a bike, *will* I not only get back on a bike, but *stay* back on a bike? Looking back in time some 30yrs ago, and how hooked on cycling I was at the time prior to trashing my knee, I can only pray that this could/would be a silver bullet for me that would solve many issues for me! General health, weight, heart health, smoking, stamina - it wouldn't happen over-night, but it all would happen basically by itself simply by staying on the bike.

Based on the reading I'ved done this weekend, as a starter - either getting lucky on "Craig's list", or, buying a bike from http://worksmancycles.com/shopsite_s.../cruisers.html for about $540.00 would give me a reasonable entry level bike that should hold up to my size - thoughts? Get the 3-SPEED, upgraded crank, etc...

The big *IF here, is AFTER the knee replacement surgery, because as of right now, walking itself is simply too much some days...

I guess I was was thinking/hoping a $160 buck 'Schwinn' from a big box store if used carefully might live long enough to be used to determine if I could really do this or not, and if I could, WOULD I really do this... But it soulds like it would destroy itself way too quickly??

To clarify for a few - I have not ridden at all in about 30 odd years, due to my knee issues and surgeries. Now everyone is finally talking replacement, and part of the PT during replacement is stationary bike riding - and no - both the heart and knee DRs would love me doing cycling or swimming, or walking, or anything for exercise! As pointed out above, it would be very small baby steps - 100 yard rides to start, working my way to the 100M rides (meters)... /sigh - am not saying it would happen over night,But it would be nice to actually habve a carrot I *want* out there in front of me for a change...
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Old 09-20-09, 10:56 PM   #12
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Like you I had not riden in many years. I started cycling again last year at 348 lbs 5'11 1/2" with a bad back, neck and torn ACL in my knee. I began with a Giant Sedona. I bought one from a local shop and it was the last year model so they gave me a discount. I spent $470 on it and it served me well. I made sure to get double walled rims with 36 spoke count as recommended here because of weight. I started out riding the first week or so and focused on just riding each day for any amount of time. Usually 10-20 mins, then after a few weeks I started to ride a bit longer. in 6 months I went from 10 min rides to 10 mile rides, to finishing the year doing a 26mile ride. I also, lost just shy of 50 lbs. You seem to have the desire, so I say yes you can ride again. I think a used (craigslist) hybrid or mt bike would serve you well. I see bikes that would suit your needs every week on craigslist here in Columbus in the $150-300 range. I can personally recommend the Giant Sedona. Maybe others can recommend similar models from the other makers so you can keep your eyes out. I know many here like the Specialized Hardrock for example. For under $500 you would be able to buy new or save some money by finding a used bike and use a little money for a tune up and in case the wheels need attention. You can put a brand new set of wheels on any hybrid for under $200 that will hold up just fine for you, just for reference.

I will keep my eye out on craigslist - Akron for bikes that might suit your needs. If i see something I'll post a link here. Also in you see something, post the link up and others here will give you advice on it.

Congrats on your desire to make things better for yourself.

Last edited by w00die; 09-20-09 at 10:59 PM.
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Old 09-21-09, 02:04 AM   #13
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Quote:
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I will keep my eye out on craigslist - Akron for bikes that might suit your needs. If i see something I'll post a link here. Also in you see something, post the link up and others here will give you advice on it.
That sounds like a great plan! Sadly, I must wait for everyone to schedule the surgery, as we do not yet have a date set yet.

Am off now to go have my 'heart cath' done, wish me luck...
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Old 09-21-09, 04:54 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter_C View Post
I guess I was was thinking/hoping a $160 buck 'Schwinn' from a big box store if used carefully might live long enough to be used to determine if I could really do this or not, and if I could, WOULD I really do this... But it sounds like it would destroy itself way too quickly??
Please, stay away from big-box stuff! I am a very light Athena, in perfect health and pretty limber by nature (so I have no right to chime in here....). Intent on leaving the 150lb+ ranks, I bought myself a big-box thing. Everything you can think of hurting WAS hurting. So after about a year I said to myself - Recession or no Recession - I am buying a real machine. I was fitted in the LBS for Tricross Comp and I still remember the feeling of my body becoming something like a Gothic vault - all supple elastic arches (from hand to hand, from foot to hand, foot to foot, etc) and no real pressure points. Bike disappeared under me, I could steer just tilting the head - so it seemed.....

Good Luck and get well

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Old 09-21-09, 04:59 AM   #15
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Hi Peter,

Yes, your dream is very doable and you've taken the best step - read this forum.

My advice would be to go to a good Local Bike Shop (LBS) and tell them you want to spend $400 to $500 on a decent bike that will hold you. If you don't feel comfortable with that shop, find another. I've found most shops are very helpful, and understanding. They'll probably suggest a comfort or a hybrid. Most of the name brands (Trek, Specialized, Giant, etc.) will have something in that price range. By using a LBS, you'll be getting all the advantages of their experience and advice.

Just get the bike and start riding. It will save your life, not to mention, it will make your life very enjoyable.

Just riding the bike won't lose the weight. You'll have to change your life style. You've got to get rid of the cig's and start eating healthy. You can do that right now. I would also do some swimming. I would think you could do that now also.

Most importantly, keep reading this forum - it's inspirational to the max.

Good luck, and check in often.

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Old 09-22-09, 08:09 AM   #16
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riding with OA

After having my knee scoped in Oct 2007, I was able to ride about 3 miles at a time by Jan 2008. In July 2009 I completed RAIN (160 miles in a single day) in under 10 hours. For me, the key was not to push too hard going up hills or sprint. Any serious pressure on my knee leaves me sore for days. Got to be happy with 160 miles in 10 hours though
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Old 09-22-09, 08:32 AM   #17
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Peter, Im 375 lbs 6'4'' tall and ended up with a specialized P1 AM and have loved it. This bike will handle you and more. I ride the roads and single track all the time and have not had a problem. I spent around 400 bucks for the bike. Good luck with everthing. Bobby
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Old 09-22-09, 08:35 AM   #18
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I've been wrestling with some weight loss issues as well - 6'2 270lbs. I have an entry level mountain bike ("MTB") from raleigh that cost around $250. Money well spent as the wheels have held up to my weight and less than skillful bike handling that has resulted in rolling up/down numerous curbs and potholes. The gearing on a MTB usually has a fairly large range which means you can shift to a lower gear to help you get up any hills you encounter.

Spinning at a higher cadence in a lower gear is generally viewed as being much easier on your knees vs mashing the pedals to try and move along. Spinning also translates to a better cardio workout.

There's nothing wrong with using a MTB on the road.
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Old 09-22-09, 10:57 AM   #19
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Hi -

It is totally fine to expect to be able to ride comfortably and enjoy your life. You have to stop smoking.

The current bicycles offer tremendous value compared with ten years ago. You can easily get a 2 year old bike for about $300 or much less that will amaze you when compared with $2000 bikes of 12 years ago.

Also - you just need a decent strong bike - no need for some super fancy thing. My current bike cost me $800 ( Giant Seek 1 ) and is easily the best bike I ever rode.
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Old 09-22-09, 11:43 AM   #20
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Update. Had the heart Cath yesterday. Both good and bad news. Good news - no blockages of any sorts, but my weight is causing issues as my heart can not process more than 1500 CC of fluid daily. The heart DR wants the knee replacement done ASAP so that I can start exersizing and start losing weight, he is also not happy with the amount of morphine I am on daily (another reason why he wants the knee replacement done like now).

Remember - at this point, I can not get on a bike until after I get the knee replacement done. The down-side of doing the knee replacement is the risk to my job, and the loss of income during the recoupiration time.
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Old 09-22-09, 12:13 PM   #21
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Good News about your blockage, sorry about the weight, but all the more reason to hang out here AND work with your doctor to get moving again.
oh and hey, have you heard about freecycle? It's a site set-up like craiglist in that it centers around individual communities, except everything on it is free. It is not bicycle specific, but is a mashing together of the words 'free' and 'recycle' the url is www.freecycle.org If you join your local group, you can post wanteds for stuff including perhaps an excercise bike to get you moving when you are doing your recovery.

A while back $$$ were an issue with me, but I know--and have taught myself--how to fix the basic problems you encounter with an old bicycle, so I was able to get back into bike riding on the cheap. One of my first bikes was a Huffy Mtn bike that I fixed up, it's a misirable pile of garbage, but it was better than no bike. I then was able to get a '78 Motobecane Nomad and that was a much better riding experience. It has it's problems, but they're easy to over-look given that it was free for the fixing. Since then Ive had a couple of other bikes and now am on a recumbent, my bike fixing habit has allowed me to get better gear and to give several bikes away to friends. I guess what I'm trying to say is where there is a will, there is a way. Keep us posted and stick around because you are among friends.

*edit* sheesh... I edited this post about six times... I should really try to form solid thoughts before I go posting...

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Old 09-22-09, 02:39 PM   #22
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At the OP's weight I'd go for an old cromolly MTB - super tough, not expensive, great rides. $500 on a used Kona Lava Dome, replacement parts and a little labour would buy about as tough and versatile a bike as was ever built.
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Old 09-22-09, 02:49 PM   #23
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Still got the old Le Tour? Throw some hand built touring wheels on there and ride that. The bike joy you had when you were young will come back once you forget you're exercising and rehabbing, and realize you're just riding. I had that feeling last night and it took me right back to high school.
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Old 09-22-09, 04:06 PM   #24
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You don't have to wait to get in the pool. I started this season 270lbs, bad knee and plantars in my right foot. I could barly walk, I went to the local pool for laps then got out on the bike. Friday weigh in 244lbs and 53 miles travelled on the bike last week. You got to want it man, it's there for you. ECB1
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Old 09-22-09, 04:15 PM   #25
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Peter C, look at the Historians post this will give you some good motivation.
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