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  1. #1
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    How seriously should I take this weight limit?

    I was referred over here from a thread on Ask.Metafilter, and I apologize for not lurking first and getting a better sense of the community, but I'm hoping to make a purchase in the next few days. If I'm stepping on netiquette toes, ignoring stickies that would have answered these questions or otherwise being a dork, someone please slap me and point me where I'm supposed to be.

    I weigh about 365lbs and I want to buy a bike, just to make short trips around my neighbourhood. I tried a few different bikes, and have been trying to choose.

    I thought I had finally narrowed it down to the Trek Pure Lowstep. It has the flat foot / crank forward design that I liked while riding, it lacked the confusing gear shifting system of the Trek Pure Sport and was $140 cheaper than the Electra Townie, which has a similar geometry, comes in pink and lime (which are my colors) and is, as I may have mentioned, $140 more expensive than the Trek Pure Lowstep.

    But then I found this, on the Trek website:

    Max rider weight of 275lbs: Road bikes, triathlon bikes, and cruisers. Max rider weight of 300lbs: All other bikes, including hybrids, urban, commuter, fitness, Ride+ electric assist, cyclocross, and all mountain bikes.
    I exceed that by a fairly wide margin. Is a weight limit just a CYA maneuver on the part of Trek? Or can I really expect to have issues with the bike because I’m too heavy for it?

    I don’t find any similar published weight limits on Electra bikes, but of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean I won’t have issues with the bikes.

    I can ask these questions at the various bike shops I've visited looking for a bike, of course, but it's a little embarrassing to go trumpeting my weight to the men that work in them. And it's always men. Really fit men. They are very nice, and everything, but I'd still rather not.
    Last edited by jacquilynne; 06-09-11 at 03:31 PM. Reason: Because sometimes i spell reel gud.

  2. #2
    Senior Member volosong's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forum. You will find people here quite helpful. But, not me I fear. If I were in your situation, what I would do is go ahead and visit a few shops, and express your concerns by saying something like, "The specifications list a maximum weight. I am a little bit over that. What would you suggest?" You will probably find just about all bike shop personnel quite sensitive to someone's weight. They will not want to offend, and possibly lose a sale. It may just be a matter of having different wheels on the bike, ones that support a greater weight. See what they suggest. Good luck.

  3. #3
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    A agree with the above.. what I would do is talk to the bike seller and ask "Knowing I am large are you going to warranty this bike?" .. if they are willing to risk the warranty issues that is a vote of confidence. You don't have to give them your weight number (even though you just gave it to the whole world), but you may want to admit you are over the advertised weight limit.

    The highest weight limit I have seen on a single passenger bike is on the Surly "Big Dummy" (they are naming the bike, not the rider). That is a cargo bike though and they may be expecting the weight to be distributed more. Speaking of Surly, you might appreciate the big squishy tires on their Pugsley.

  4. #4
    Senior Member c_m_shooter's Avatar
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    Exceeding Trek's weight limit may void the warranty, but should not be a safety issue. I have never read on here about anyone having trouble with frames on these lower priced bikes. The weakest part will be the rear wheel. You may have problems with it going out of true or breaking spokes, or it may last forever. It is kind of a crapshoot with machine built wheels, so just be ready to have a better wheel built if needed.
    May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.
    May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. -Edward Abbey

  5. #5
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    My bike's frame is able to hand about 2,500 pounds, or at least this is what the bike shop tells me. It's meant to handle things like pot holes, sudden falls when I'm riding at night and don't notice that my path ends abruptly in a curb, and bunny hops over road debris. On the other hand, the wheels aren't nearly as strong. The numbers vary, but that tends to be the story.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  6. #6
    Downtown Spanky Brown bautieri's Avatar
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    It's mainly a CYA. You might have trouble with the wheels, but a lot of that is going to depend on how you ride it and if you have the spokes retentioned every so often. Neither bike would be a bad choice, if you prefer the Electra then go with that. 140 bucks is nothing when it comes to bikes and bike do-dads, might as well start with something you like so you don't end up with bike envy or buyers remorse.

  7. #7
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    I definitely wouldn't sweat the $140 except that the reason I'm buying a bike is because I just bought a home in a new, more bike friendly neighborhood. The expenses of furnishing my new place are adding up considerably, so I don't have a lot of money to play with. And I have to buy everything -- helmet, lock, etc -- to go with this bike, as I haven't had one since I was a child.

    If the Trek is not considerably worse than the Electra (or is, in fact, better), I'd prefer to save the money for other things. Like property taxes and a sofa.

  8. #8
    Starting over CraigB's Avatar
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    Why do you need a sofa? You'll be riding all the time.

    Craig in Indy

  9. #9
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    My personal opinion of Electra bikes is that they're a bit overpriced for what you get. There's a lot of marketing hype built up around them.
    The Trek is a very similar design and will probably work just as well. Try to test ride both to see if you notice any difference.
    I should point out that other manufacturers make similar models. The Specialized Crossroads and Cannondale Comfort models also have very shallow seat angles.
    Last edited by Rhodabike; 06-10-11 at 12:44 PM.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jacquilynne View Post
    I definitely wouldn't sweat the $140 except that the reason I'm buying a bike is because I just bought a home in a new, more bike friendly neighborhood. The expenses of furnishing my new place are adding up considerably, so I don't have a lot of money to play with. And I have to buy everything -- helmet, lock, etc -- to go with this bike, as I haven't had one since I was a child.
    I can't say much about either bike, but I've been riding a cyclocross bike for a couple years, that's pretty uncomfortable. I got it really cheap, and it's served me well, but I bought a used pair of carbon fiber handlebars for $80 to help make it more comfy by dampening road buzz. At that point I didn't know how to install them, and had to pay a shop to do it. Long story, but I killed them. Went back to the old ones, and bought some gel pads and double cork bar tape. And aerobars to try a different position, holding my weight on my elbows and a different part of my back, vs on the hands and shoulders. And all sorts of other stuff, too. I don't know what the $140 gets you, and it might be nothing worth having. I'm just sharing my experience as a cautionary tale.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  11. #11
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    I've just looked up the Trek and noticed that it, like lot of other "comfort" bikes, is equipped with a suspension seat post. I wonder if that's a part of the reasoning behind the weight limit? Perhaps an ordinary seatpost would bump the weight capacity up quite a bit?
    e.t.a.
    There's a similar bike from Giant... and it's pink.... and it has a non-suspension seatpost. The Suede W in berry and white
    http://www.giantforwomen.com/bikes
    Last edited by Rhodabike; 06-10-11 at 02:04 PM. Reason: added a link

  12. #12
    Nigel nfmisso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jacquilynne View Post
    I definitely wouldn't sweat the $140 except that the reason I'm buying a bike is because I just bought a home in a new, more bike friendly neighborhood. The expenses of furnishing my new place are adding up considerably, so I don't have a lot of money to play with. And I have to buy everything -- helmet, lock, etc -- to go with this bike, as I haven't had one since I was a child.

    If the Trek is not considerably worse than the Electra (or is, in fact, better), I'd prefer to save the money for other things. Like property taxes and a sofa.
    Hi Jacquilynne;

    As others have mentioned, you will not have catastrophic failure. Most likely you will have spoke failure in the rear wheel. Request that the bike shop: tension, true and stress relieve the rear wheel. Have the mechanic increase the spoke tension as much as they are comfortable to do, and make sure that they stress relieve, and re-true afterwards.

    For the best results; you could ask them to re-spoke the rear wheel with Wheelsmith DH13 spokes. That will run about $50- plus labor; around $150- to $200- all together; which will result in a virtually indestructible wheel.

    A couple years ago; I was nearly 400lbs when I started riding again, now 320 and still dropping. In the past year I have learned an awful lot about wheels, and now build and rebuild my own wheels because I am cheap.

  13. #13
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    This, the Suede, is what I ended up buying. I liked it as well as I liked any of the other feet forward bikes, and it was quite a lot cheaper than the Electra. I pick it up on Monday.

    Thanks, everyone, for your help.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
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    Look for wheels with more spokes. At almost 400 I've never had problem with 36 spoke mountain bike wheels.

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