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  1. #1
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    Super-uber-clyde getting mixed signals from LBS

    Hello, to start off with, I'm just plain big, 6' 5" 440 lbs. I'm on my way down the scale again with a good diet and better habits. I've reads many threads here on the forum about people my size ranging from people buying a Kona Hoss, to a $50 frame with overbuilt wheels. I'd really like to get the bike setup for under $500, but I can pay more if it would be worth it.

    I'm looking to get into biking, a little background, I had one kmart bike during my childhood, rode it everyday... it was a mountain bike that had the tires worn down into pretty much slicks. Oh memories... Now I want to get back into bikes as an alternative to walking and swimming. I'm fortunate to live in a 'planned city' with dozens of easily accessible paved bike paths. I'm really excited, to the point I spent every evening last week visiting bike shops after work, then reading these forums until like 2am. During the test rides it felt so fun to be back on a bike, and I really feel I can make a positive difference in my life. I'm even entertaining the idea of setting a goal to commute to work(7 miles) by next year.

    So far I've received mixed signals from my LBS, and REI. I'm once again in a great situation where REI is 5 minutes away and my LBS is 3 minutes away. I think it would be easier to go through my trips one at a time to explain the mixed signals I've gotten from the various people I've worked with.


    I was originally looking for a Giant Sedona which I've heard a lot about, the first bike shop(15 minutes away) I walked into said they didn't have any Sedonas in stock, and said they could order one and I had to pay up front. I asked if they had any similar bikes to try and the guy said no. I ran the other way. This almost discouraged me because I was afraid I'd have to buy sight unseen, that this would be a horrible hobby.

    I then tried the LBS closest to me. It was like night and day. This place I walked into and after explaining my situation the guy pulled a Trek 7.2 off the shelf and offered me a test ride. I showed some concern about popping some spokes during the test ride but he insisted that if anything like that happened he would take care of it, it's more important to get me riding. I tried about half a dozen bikes with him, so far the one I liked the best was an '08 Kona Dew 58cm He seemed very confident that the Trek 7.2FX 22.5in and the Kona Dew would hold up with a tandem back wheel (Both use 700cc tires).


    I then went over to REI over the weekend. The guy I spoke with was actually a clydesdale class(215) mountain biker. He suggested getting a 26" mountain bike switching out for slicks and getting a new back wheel. I test rode a few of the mountain bikes, though I didn't catch which Novara models they were. He also said that they have the full online catalog since they don't keep a huge stock, and they would have no problem getting specific models in for test rides. He really pushed for a good set of wheels, and he said they have a very good wheel builder at another location that he can get to do the work.

    I then went to another location of the second LBS. Once again, very encouraging of test rides, each one the guy seemed very knowledgeable. He suggested that I go with the Dew since I liked it and they can retension the wheels, he also suggested that I look at the Kona Smoke which might be a bit more strudy and would accept wider tires. He also offered to take me out on a ride to show me some tips on preserving the wheels (Stand when taking bumps and use your knees as shocks)

    I was then looking around and started chatting with one of the mechanics. He expressed alot of concern with buying something like the Dew, or an 820 with new wheels because at that price point the components would start failing left and right. His opinion was that I should really be looking at between $700 and $1000, but that the components are the most durable at that price and the bike would last a long time, and components wouldn't fall apart. He pulled a Kona Hoss, which I really didn't like, I really like the feel of 29' wheels even though a strong set may be more expensive. He said a great option would be a Mamba with a new back wheel. He didn't seem to be upselling me, he just was very concerned about selling me a bike then seeing me back every week with some new broken.




    So I've got a few bikes I'm interested in, and have gotten very different advice from 4 different sources who seem to know what they are doing. I've read a lot of the other threads about large riders, and many of them suggest going to the LBS. I'm glad I have such a good LBS as well as an REI I've always loved. I'd love to get some opinions about these bikes. I tried to link to as many as I could find. I've also sent emails to Kona and Trek to see if their customer service has anything to add to the conversation.

    Thanks everyone, and I really appreciate all the great info you have been providing on this forum.
    Last edited by greenfirestorm; 07-06-10 at 08:57 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member timmythology's Avatar
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    Well no one can say you did not do your home work on this. All I would say is buy the bike you like to ride so that you continue to ride. I find that wear and tear is just a part of any hobby. I know that when i purchased a new road bike last year, I even tried the Dew, I went with the bike that lower end components and was told I would have to replace them soon, after purchase. Since the purchase I have replaced the rear wheel and have never regretted my choice. Also a lot of wear and tear on a bike can be avoided by learning to ride the bike correctly. Also through regular maintenance.

    Welcome to the collective knowledge and support bank, and remember the most important thing. Having fun riding the bike you enjoy the most.

  3. #3
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    OK - I will throw in my 2 cents - I'm just new at this - but I bought a Specialized Globe Carmel - and I"m 6.3 and just shy of 400 lbs. It's strong - it has those armadillo tires (I think that's what they call them) and has held up well so far...

    Good luck pal. Keep it up.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Jtgyk's Avatar
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    6' and 360lbs here (down from just below 400 lbs).
    I started on and old Specialized Hardrock (non suspension) and rode the heck out of it the first year with no problems. Picked up a road bike and built my touring bike (with no particular arcane-bike-mechanical-experience) the beginning of the 2nd year. I have yet to walk in a shop and just buy a bike ready to go...so my mileage may vary.
    My $.02.....Get whatever you like and "ride it like you stole it."
    I agree with those that have told you you'll want a stronger rear wheel.
    26" wheels are usually stronger than 700c , but I like the feel of the larger wheel.
    You probably won't "destroy" the components over the first (or even 2nd) year...and even if you do manage it, you can learn how to replace components yourself.
    I like both the REI and the LBS route.

    Though if you're ever around DFW, I have a 63cm steel road frame......
    Hey, I'm just this GUY...you know?
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  5. #5
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    I think getting the bike that fits you the best, and getting better wheels if necessary would be the best route. You can fix bad wheels, but you can't get used to or fix the wrong geometry as easy.
    New Clyde and Commuter
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  6. #6
    Born Again Pagan irclean's Avatar
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    I agree with timmythology; buy what you like. There are bikes out there that are Clyde-specific, but IMHO they are overkill. I think that any of the bikes you mentioned would work with the right set of wheels. Any LBS worth its salt is gonna give you a deal on a wheel upgrade to get you on one of their bikes. They should know that if they treat you right you'll be back for the inevitable accessories and upgrades.
    Gettin' my Fred on.

  7. #7
    Senior Member c_m_shooter's Avatar
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    If you like the Dew, that is your bike. It seems odd for the shop to put you on a 58cm at your height though. You should be on the biggest frame available; a 62cm on the Dew or 25" Trek 7.2.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member Kerrvillian's Avatar
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    I want to echo c_m_shooter's thought. Why are you being put into a frame that has a longer top tube length?

    It could be due to stand over height. This is the level of the top tube when you stand flat footed straddling the frame. In most frame geometries the company increases the stand over height with the longer top tube frame sizes. Surly makes some interesting observations in this page regarding bike fit. http://surlybikes.com/blog/spew/spew_17_bike_fit/

    I'm only an inch taller than you but my LBS urged me into a 25" frame instead of a 22.5. They did have me test ride a 22.5 because it was the bike that was assembled when I came in.

    Today when I spoke to them about my longing for a road bike they seemed to lean toward the 62cm size for the Surly LHT that I'm considering.

    My weight isn't quite what yours is. Currently 334 at last check but I don't really step on the scale very often. I worry more about the notch on my belt that I feel comfortable pulling through in order to keep my pants up. Since I work out with weights I'm seeking to put on muscle mass at the same time I'm wanting to cut back on the amount of fat. I can lose inches around the waist with very little change in the numbers on the scale. You will be doing some of that, too, as you bike.

  9. #9
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Buy the bike you like and that you'll ride. Your goals as far as distance is concerned are pretty modest (if you like it, I'll bet you'll be ready to commute seven miles before next year) and I doubt if you're going to destroy the components all that fast. Take the advice about a stronger rear wheel, and worry about upgrading anything else at a later date.

    And make sure they fit you for the right size.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by greenfirestorm View Post
    He didn't seem to be upselling me, he just was very concerned about selling me a bike then seeing me back every week with some new broken.
    Not sure how I feel about that guy. I had a mechanic give me a similar talk about failing parts on road bikes and I only weigh 200lbs
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  11. #11
    Senior Member Kerrvillian's Avatar
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    I went back to re-read greenfirestorm's lines regarding the sentence you quoted.

    I know that my LBS gave me a 1 year warranty on the bike. Every time I brought it in no charge for anything they did to it (Labor only. No parts failed). In fact when I picked it up today I admitted that it was over 1 year and they still comped me on the labor, having me pay only for all the goodies I had attached (cyclecomp, new comfort grips and bar extenders).

    If I had faced any problems with spokes on my <$600 7200 then I would have seen that cost covered under the warranty.
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  12. #12
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    I think I'd go with the LBS that's closest to where you live. It seemed to be a good experience and having a relationship with them is almost as important as the bike itself. When I started getting into this, I was pretty set on buying a Cannondale, but then was less than thrilled with that particular shop. I ended up buying a Giant from a shop that I felt great about and have since planned to buy a Giant for my next bike because the main guy I worked with opened his own shop in my town and that's what he exclusively sells. If he sold Trek only, then I'd probably buy a Trek from him. This all comes down to the working relationship we've had...and I think that has been one of the most important things for me...because the shop has helped keep my bike working the way it's supposed to work...and that keeps me wanting to ride!

    I'm not familiar with Kona, and I've had very limited experience with Trek...but both should have options that work for you. Even on the lower end, I wouldn't expect the components to just fail and "fall apart". A lot of that will be determined by how you handle and care for the bike. I would think most issues would be covered by a warranty, and a good shop will keep your bike in good shape for you.

    The only other thing I'd mention is about size. I'm not completely familiar with the bikes you're mentioning...and this is only my experience...but when I was looking at bikes initially, I felt great on a 58cm Scott Speedster, but a 58cm Cannondale CAAD9 felt too small. Then the 60cm CAAD9 felt "weird". I guess the geometry (and probably the setup) was the difference, but all in all I ended up with a Giant FCR 2 in XL. For reference, I'm 6'5 and around 265 lbs.

  13. #13
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    I then tried the LBS closest to me. It was like night and day. This place I walked into and after explaining my situation the guy pulled a Trek 7.2 off the shelf and offered me a test ride. I showed some concern about popping some spokes during the test ride but he insisted that if anything like that happened he would take care of it, it's more important to get me riding. I tried about half a dozen bikes with him, so far the one I liked the best was an '08 Kona Dew 58cm He seemed very confident that the Trek 7.2FX 22.5in and the Kona Dew would hold up with a tandem back wheel (Both use 700cc tires).
    Buy from this shop, good stores need to be supported.

    I was then looking around and started chatting with one of the mechanics. He expressed alot of concern with buying something like the Dew, or an 820 with new wheels because at that price point the components would start failing left and right. His opinion was that I should really be looking at between $700 and $1000, but that the components are the most durable at that price and the bike would last a long time, and components wouldn't fall apart.
    Did you tell him that you'd be using slicks and riding on the local paved trails? Maybe he thought you were going to try and take the bike offroad? Plan on ensuring that the bike has a good set of pedals (BMX pedals work well) & very solid wheels (you'll probably want to swap out the rear wheel for something beefier). The actual shifters, etc. will hold up just fine. The mechanic is right that a $1k bike will have noticeably better components but lets face it, you're going to be cruising along on a paved path, not trying to stop while barreling down a downhill run. IMO there is a big difference between a $350 and $550 bike at the LBS (for paved trail riding) but not so much of a difference as you go further up the price scale (for your kind of riding).

    Oh yes: if your bike comes with shocks make sure that you can "lock out" the shock.

    Get out there and have fun!

  14. #14
    Senior Member magohn's Avatar
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    I agree 100% on buying locally from a shop that is both friendly and knowledgeable. I was "forced" by my wife to buy my Roubaix from the local shop as I could pick it up for $200 "cheaper" on the net. I am so glad she persuaded me. Our LBS is fantastic ! The whole staff can answer any questions we have, they fitted me to the bike, they offer free tune-ups for the first 12 months, and I feel totally comfortable asking them any of my newbie questions. Pick a good shop - it makes all the difference!

  15. #15
    Senior Member DoubleTap's Avatar
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    A lot of good advice here, so let me add my experience for good measure. A little over a year ago, I was close to where you are now. 6', 350 lbs, scared to try riding a bike for fear of not finding anything strong enough. I went to my LBS with a good reputation, and after talking to them about wanting a all-purpose bike for commuting and riding bike paths, they pointed me to the Trek 7.2FX. Now, after several hundred miles on it, it has held up fine and launched me into the world of cycling. I now have a road bike and mountain bike.

    My advice is buy from the LBS that treated you well and don't be afraid to start with the lower cost bike from them. I don't think components will fail that quickly, and truthfully, one of two things will happen. You'll fall in love with cycling and be looking to upgrade everything anyway, well before it fails. Or you'll not enjoy it and end up parking or selling the bike, and in that case, you won't have invested so much. I hope it's the former, because it has changed my life. I'm now spending way too much money and time at the LBS, learning and upgrading. And I'm very close to breaking below 300 lbs. for the first time in 18 years.

    Enjoy the ride. You can do it.

  16. #16
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    Ride what makes you happy and looks and feels good to you, that's the important thing.

    Durability doesn't necessarily have to mean expensive. I am trimming down my weight with a daily commute, and I am very hard on my bikes. My bikes experience all sorts of abuse from weather to potholes to heavy bags to my overly forceful calf muscles. The best thing that happened to me is getting a good relationship with a great bike shop. The mechanics there are largely BMX guys themselves and they aren't tied up in so much of the mania over high end components that a lot of serious cyclists are. They understand that I might not want to spend $50 extra to save some ounces, and don't mind recommending to me durable components that aren't name-brand or high end. A lot of times they comp labor or give me parts at cost because they know I'm loyal and they see me a lot. For instance, just last week I went in and bought $45 worth of tools that I wanted for my garage. The next day I had some bottom bracket trouble and a broken spoke. The replaced the spoke free because they built the wheel 4 months ago, and they sold me a new bottom bracket and installed it all for $35, cost on the BB and $5 labor.

    Returning to your bike though, Leave enough money in your budget for some repairs from time to time and the few accessories that you haven't yet realized you want.. Even if you do end up being VERY hard on your bike, the cost of maintaining and replacing parts will be relatively low and spread across time. Certainly upkeep cost will be nowhere near the upkeep of a car, or the membership dues of a gym.

  17. #17
    Pedals, Paddles and Poles Daspydyr's Avatar
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    The bike should come with a 1 year warranty-if something falls off, ask it they are obligated to replace it.

    I have learned the hard way that you get what you pay for.

    If you have room in the budget, the Long Haul Trucker is a sturdy good first bike. When you go N+1, get something racier.

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  18. #18
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by greenfirestorm View Post
    So far I've received mixed signals from my LBS, and REI. I'm once again in a great situation where REI is 5 minutes away and my LBS is 3 minutes away. I think it would be easier to go through my trips one at a time to explain the mixed signals I've gotten from the various people I've worked with.
    So, I can't speak to the particular bikes you're looking at, but others have already done that ... with a lot more competence than I can bring to bear. But a few things caught my attention, and you probably already know this, but here's some food for thought.

    I have a Novara Element, a cyclocross bike, and interestingly enough, in 58 cm, which fits me well. I got it at a "scratch and dent" sale at REI; this girl asked me for a lift over there, and they had the right bike for me at a fraction of its original price. Someone else had bought it, used it for a year or two, and then returned it, so the shop tuned it up, and then sold it to me at a very steep discount. The original owner got a full refund.

    REI's return policy is very generous, and it sounds like you have a situation where it might benefit you a lot.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  19. #19
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    I got a nice response from Trek already. After the required lawyerspeak he spoke very frankly about the importance of the shop



    Thanks for writing. I'm afraid before I get into any details I do have to mention though that our weight limit on our hybrid bikes is 300lbs and since you will be over that I cannot suggest any bike as fitting your needs at this time. The warranty is only valid for riders that meet that weight limit I'm afraid. For liability reasons I must inform you of this fact.

    All that being said, if you decide to go ahead and purchase a bike anyway then there are definitely some things to look for. I'm glad to hear the shop is helping you find the right bike, that is awesome. As far as bikes go I would also look at something like the Navigator line. The 26" wheels will use a shorter spoke and can be made a little more beefy/durable, however the 700c on the FX gives you the option of using a tandem rim/hub for a custom wheel too which would be a great choice also. If the shop feels they can build a solid 700c wheel for you and the FX bikes feel right then that is a great way to go.

    The biggest issue with regards to that limit is the wheels and it sounds like you are already prepared and expecting to deal with that so that is great. It sounds like you have a shop that is ready and willing to help you make one of these bikes work for you and that is the perfect answer I believe.
    Last edited by greenfirestorm; 07-07-10 at 01:37 PM.

  20. #20
    Real Human Being wild animals's Avatar
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    If you have a good LBS, buy from them! But if you don't (I've bought two bikes at two different LBSes and I was disgruntled after each one), REI is rad. Their return policy is definitely generous--you can return anything at any time, for any reason. Literally, any amount of time after the purchase, you can return it. That is pretty compelling. If you're worried about parts coming off, that isn't as much of a problem with REI. I mean, you can return the whole bike if they don't support it. They want you to be happy.

    I wouldn't worry about the parts falling off of a $500 bike. They might be heavier or less efficient, or a little more touchy, but they should serve you beautifully for a long time. It's not like you're going to sit on top of your shifters. If you do, you can replace them (and it shouldn't cost you enough to justify buying a $1000 bike).

    So, long story short, if I were buying a bike right now, I'd get the one that fit best, that I liked to ride most, and adapt it from there. But I'd make sure to get that bike from a shop that will support me and the bike.
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  21. #21
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    Here is my opinion on the subject about the wheels. Ride the stock wheels. You are overly concerned about what MAY happen. What if it doesnt? You will never know till you get out there and try it. You are already looking at getting a custom rear tire. Get out there ride the hell out of the stock one, and if it fails, then you already know that you were told that you were going to need a custom wheel. I am 260 pounds and I have a bike that has 20 spoke wheels on it. I know that fatties like me are told that I am going to break spokes, blah blah blah. I have put about 200 miles on them so far and have abused the hell out of them expecting to break a spoke, and it hasnt happened yet. I ride rough country roads, pot holes, I even hit cattle guards running 30+ mph. No problems yet. If it happens then I will take it to the LBS tell then what I did, and pay for the repairs.
    Its the way of Clydes and bikes. It might break, it might not. If it does, fix it and move on. If you like a bike, buy it if you can afford it. If you need to go and save up some more money for it, then save up the money instead of buying a bike that you may not like as well.
    Find a LBS or REI that you are COMFORTABLE with and buy from them. Start a relationship with a that particular store and stick with them.
    It is not about the destination. It is about the journey getting there.
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  22. #22
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    All the above advice is great but you should also look into upgrading your pedals to something stronger, on whatever bike you buy.(ask your LBS)
    I'm saying this because on the low to mid level LBS bikes I've owned I always break or bend the pedals and I weigh about 300LB's.

  23. #23
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    i think you will be surprised how fast you hit your goal. I thought my biking route was like 2 miles and it was challenging but i got to where i can do it without walking up the hills now. I wanted to bike another route 4 miles to work, that was my goal. I havent gotten my computer in for the bike, so i was just guessing. Well i had a friend take his car and measure the route ive been warming up on and turns out i was doing 5 miles already!

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    Thanks for all the advice. I tried out a 25"/62cm, I didn't notice much of a comfort difference. I'm fairly confident that the '08 Dew is the way I'm going to go. I can see myself using this as a fitness/commuter. After I get in much better shape I may get one of those 29ers as a trail bike for the parks.

    Any suggestions on what to pick up as a new bike owner? Right now my shopping list is a helmet, bike pump w/ pressure gauge, and start looking for a pair of cycle shorts.

  25. #25
    Senior Member Absenth's Avatar
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    2010 Surly Long Haul Trucker - Blue Velvet
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    Saddle bag, to put at least one spare tube, a tube patch kit, and a set of tire leavers. (Nothing sucks more than getting a flat halfway between work and home, and NOT having the tools to fix it.)

    Flashing red light for the rear, and a headlight that can also flash (I got a cheap set for ~ $12 I think) Mostly worthless for riding at night, but attention getting during my Dawn Commute.

    I enjoy having a cycle computer (again with the, I got an inexpensive model, maybe $19) to tell me how far I've gone, how quickly, and at what average speed. I've been keeping a spreadsheet to help me track my personal progress.

    Most accessories are things you can add over time obviously. A Helmet, Bottle Cages, and Water Bottles I think should be at the very top of you "Must Have" list.
    2010 Surly Long Haul Trucker -- Blue Velvet
    2005 Trek Pilot 2.1 -- Silver
    SOLD --- 1984 Trek 520 -- Taupe



    http://tickers.TickerFactory.com/ezt...b/exercise.png

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