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  1. #1
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    460lb Noobie Clydesdale with questions about a new bike

    First of all let me introduce myself. I am a 25 year old guy from Pittsburgh PA. I have always been a fat guy but back in high school I was on the road to losing all of the excess weight I had been carrying around for years. My senior year I lost over 80 lbs (at that time my highest weight was 368). Everything was going great until a few of years ago when I lost my mother to lung cancer. After I lost her I sort of went in to a tale spin of laziness and poor eating habits causing me to blow up to my current weight of 460 lbs.

    A friend of mine started biking a few months ago and it has literally changed his life. He has been trying to get me to join him but I couldn't muster up enough motivation to start until now. Recently I almost lost my father to a torn aorta and that has really made me start to think of my own mortality...hence why I am here.

    The way I found this forum was simply by googling "bike for a fat guy". After finding this forum I began searching for the answer to the one question I had...what bike is good for a 460lb guy. Looking through thread after thread I found that there was way more to cycling than I previously thought. So many different combinations of parts can be a bit overwhelming for a noobie clydesdale. I didn't want to just start a thread asking "what bike should I buy" because this sub-forum seems to be overrun with those kind of threads so I did a fair amount of research to make sure I at least knew what to ask and would understand peoples responses.

    I am planning on mainly using the bike for streets and biking trails. I have quite a few parks with paved roads that have biking lanes near my house. There are also some dirt trails that I wouldn't really consider offroad per se but aren't quite as smooth as a paved road either. My budget is roughly 700.00 USD. I could go a bit higher if I have to but if I could get away with less that would be ideal.

    My first question is which which model would best suit my needs. I have been looking around and four that I have seen recommended over and over again are:

    Kona Dew
    Kona Smoke
    Trek 7.2 FX
    Specialized Hardrock

    I was also looking at the Kona Hoss but i don't think that would be in my budget range since I am going to have to get a new set of 40 spoke rims (at least). I am leaning towards the Specialized Hardrock. Am I going to have to replace the stock fork on a Hardrock with a rigid fork w/o shocks? The Trek has a fork without shocks already so will I have to upgrade to a rigid fork on this model as well? If so I might as well go with the upgraded Hardrock Disk for the same price as the Trek and have disk brakes instead of the standard V brakes.

    This brings me to my next question...brakes. From what I read the disk brakes outperform the v brakes but my question is about disk brakes and custom rims. Am I going to have to buy special 40 spoke rims specifically for disk brakes. In addition to that will I have to buy special disks for the 40 spoke rims or will the stock disks fit on any rims.

    As far as rims go, it seems like I am going to have to go with at least a 40 spoke rim. Would 40 spokes be sufficent for me or would I have to go with the 48 spoke rims. Also what are some trusted companies that build custom rims? Ideally I would like to balance quality with price even though I know these rims will really set me back.

    Thank you in advance for all comments.

  2. #2
    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    Welcome. To me disc brakes are helpful in two situations rain and mud. Rain because they don't need a turn of the wheel before working and mud because they don't get down in it. The use of disc brakes requires two things. 1.) a hub designed to mount the disc on . 2.) a fork with the mounting braze ons for the caliper. the hub for custom wheels must match up with the rim. If you go with a 40 spoke rim you need a hub with 40 holes in it for the spokes. Another thing to consider is 26" wheels are stronger than 700c wheels at the same quality/price level.

    Your budget of $700 seems about right. I bought a Trek 7300 for my first "new me" bike. Wish it was a Fx7.3 as the front shock isn't really useful for a 99% road rider.

    I highly recomend walking as part of your new active lifestyle change. Another bit of advice is adopting a long term view. You need to examine changes in the light of whether they are sustainable. It's going to take years not weeks to get fit.

  3. #3
    Neil_B
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    Hmm, Pittsburgh. I might need to make a road trip to ride with you at some point. As if I need an excuse to ride in Westsylvania....

    You only need, if you need at all, additional spokes on the rear wheel. My advice is to ride it until you have a problem, if you have a problem, and then upgrade.

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    I am with Neil_B on this one. All are good bikes. Get the one that fits you, your needs, and ride it. Start saving for wheel truing, new wheels, or eventually, a new bike.
    Old steel makes me squeal!

  5. #5
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    I am sorry for the loss of your mother and your father's illness. I had lost both my parents by the time I was your age. It is tough and it is an absence you feel forever. You honor you mother by motivating yourself to do something for your health.

    I agree with the prior posters. Try out the bikes you mentioned. Skip the shocks. Buy the one that feels the best as they are all good bikes. And then ride. And walk.

  6. #6
    Senior Member JT Burkard's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forum. I joined last year with the hopes of getting fitter as well as enjoying cycling. I lost some motivation because of excuses and laziess but after coming back two weeks ago to this site and really reading the posts in the Clydes/Athenas area and seeing the tremendous support everyone here gives each other, I have changed for the better. I do not weigh as much as you but I still have the same thoughts of my health, mortality, and general concerns of my well being. At 38 years old, its not as easy at 25 but it will be easier then if I started at 45. Now is the time for you to start and we will be here to support you the whole way.

    I am now riding on a regular basis at least 5 miles every other day. I have changed my eating habits as well as researched the RIGHT way to get fit. My wife has joined me in this mission and we are going out for a ride later today. Tomorrow I am meeting a friend for some trail riding.

    I also put one of those weight loss trackers in my signature and every Monday I will weigh myself and hopefully, the LBS will be dropping. Its strange but I see it as a motivator to want to have it drop. Everyone will see the progress which will add to the motivation. I also agree with the others that walking should be part of your routine. The days I do not ride, my wife and I walk around the local reservoir. It breaks up the routine and she actually likes to walk more then riding. Whatever it take to stay with it.

    Today is the start of your new better life and I hope this site can be the gateway to your new existence.
    ~ JT ~
    BMW Cruise Bicycle
    Specialized Hardrock
    1985 Fuji Sagres
    Some other cheap old bikes I've held onto for years for no reason

    http://tickers.TickerFactory.com/ezt...iml/weight.png

  7. #7
    Nigel nfmisso's Avatar
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    HI;

    You are not much heavier than I was when I started seriously commuting via bike; now I am at 12 miles each way, every day; saving 1.2 gallons of fuel per day. (vehicle gets 20 mpg). Now I am a fraction over 300, and my waist is over 12" smaller.

    As noted, purchase the bike you like, but pick one with 26" (ISO 559) wheels and 36 spokes in the wheels; I recommend against suspension.

    I broke many spokes in the rear wheels, and because I am cheap; I learned to rebuild and then build wheels myself.

    Immediately on your new bike; have them tension, true, stress relieve and re-true the rear wheel. This will maximize the life. Next, find out the length of the spokes in the rear wheel - the left (non drive) and right (drive) side will have different lengths. Purchase a full set of Wheelsmith SS14 spokes for the left side - unless you have a disc brake on the rear, in which case get DH13 spokes, and a full set of Wheelsmith DH13 spokes for the drive side. Make sure that you get 12mm Wheelsmith nickel plated brass nipples at the same time. Also purchase a good spoke wrench, like Park Tool, and the tools to remove the cassette or freewheel, depending on how your bike is equipped.

    When (note, not if) you break a spoke, it will be on the right (drive) side. And in very short order, all of the spokes will fail, even if you replace them one by one. So when the first one fails, replace all of them with the Wheelsmith spokes, one spoke at a time so that you can put each in where without major figuring on where it came from.

    Procedure for replacing them one at a time:
    * remove the wheel from the bike
    * remove the cassette/freewheel THEN remove the tire and tube.
    * loosen all the spokes 2 or 3 full turns (720 to 1080) - all the same amount.
    * remove one spoke at a time, and put it's replacement in. Tighten the replacement so the nipple just barely covers the threads on the spoke. Repeat until all the spokes have been replaced.
    * true it up as best you can.
    * tension, stress relieve, true, repeat. (if you are not ready to do this, take it to the LBS, and have them do it)
    Stress relieve is critical - especially for us big guys. Those flywieghts that disagree just don't knw.

  8. #8
    Come here often? <wink> exile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smogen View Post
    I am planning on mainly using the bike for streets and biking trails. I have quite a few parks with paved roads that have biking lanes near my house. There are also some dirt trails that I wouldn't really consider offroad per se but aren't quite as smooth as a paved road either. My budget is roughly 700.00 USD. I could go a bit higher if I have to but if I could get away with less that would be ideal.

    My first question is which which model would best suit my needs. I have been looking around and four that I have seen recommended over and over again are:

    Kona Dew
    Kona Smoke
    Trek 7.2 FX
    Specialized Hardrock


    This brings me to my next question...brakes. From what I read the disk brakes outperform the v brakes but my question is about disk brakes and custom rims. Am I going to have to buy special 40 spoke rims specifically for disk brakes. In addition to that will I have to buy special disks for the 40 spoke rims or will the stock disks fit on any rims.

    As far as rims go, it seems like I am going to have to go with at least a 40 spoke rim. Would 40 spokes be sufficent for me or would I have to go with the 48 spoke rims. Also what are some trusted companies that build custom rims? Ideally I would like to balance quality with price even though I know these rims will really set me back.

    Thank you in advance for all comments.
    1) For streets or roads any bike on your list would work fine.
    2) There really is no right or wrong with brakes when set up properly. All have there +/-'s
    3) I usually take a wait and see with rims. There's more to wheels than spoke count.

    As for my suggestions, ride as many bikes as you can. If you like the Hardrock, it fits, and you enjoy riding it, get it. Any modifications you do to it will be up to you and will be based on the actual and/or perceived benefit vs. $$$.

    Riding on pavement, slick tires would make the greatest improvement in efficiency and can be done for not a lot of $$$. Replacing the fork though is tricky as far as benefit vs. $$$ and is based on the individual and their riding characteristics.

    Lets just say for my hardtail set up for commuting I haven't been able to justify the cost of changing the fork.

    Disc brakes happen to be the newest on the market with varying grades of performance and as earlier stated +/-'s. But the same thing can be said for V brakes and Canti's. Me personally, I've always been able to stop with whatever brakes i'm using .

    Wheels are more than spoke counts. The quality & size of the wheel, correct tension, and grade of spokes also play a part in its strength. Couple with that how the wheel is being used, that so many variables are at play to determine how many spokes are necessary.

    First see how the wheels fair. If spokes break, have them fixed and have the wheel properly tensioned and trued. If you keep having the same problem, then look into different wheels.
    Last edited by exile; 06-12-11 at 02:17 PM.
    lil brown bat wrote:
    Wow, aren't other people stupid? It's a good thing that we're so smart. Yay us.

  9. #9
    Senior Member JohnA42's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smogen View Post
    Kona Dew
    Kona Smoke
    Trek 7.2 FX
    Specialized Hardrock

    I was also looking at the Kona Hoss but i don't think that would be in my budget range since I am going to have to get a new set of 40 spoke rims (at least). I am leaning towards the Specialized Hardrock. Am I going to have to replace the stock fork on a Hardrock with a rigid fork w/o shocks? The Trek has a fork without shocks already so will I have to upgrade to a rigid fork on this model as well? If so I might as well go with the upgraded Hardrock Disk for the same price as the Trek and have disk brakes instead of the standard V brakes.

    This brings me to my next question...brakes. From what I read the disk brakes outperform the v brakes but my question is about disk brakes and custom rims. Am I going to have to buy special 40 spoke rims specifically for disk brakes. In addition to that will I have to buy special disks for the 40 spoke rims or will the stock disks fit on any rims.

    As far as rims go, it seems like I am going to have to go with at least a 40 spoke rim. Would 40 spokes be sufficent for me or would I have to go with the 48 spoke rims. Also what are some trusted companies that build custom rims? Ideally I would like to balance quality with price even though I know these rims will really set me back.

    Thank you in advance for all comments.
    If you like the Dew, take a look at the Dew Plus. Basically the same bike with disc brakes.

    Re: the shock on the Hardrock -- I think you'll hate it. I test rode one last year at around 290-300 and it felt like riding a pogo stick to me.

    The Kona Hoss is a good MTB for a big guy, but a) I suspect you'll have difficulty finding one (haven't been made since '09) and b) even if you do you'll want to replace the tires. (Those 2.2 knobbies are not pavement friendly.)

    I can't answer your specific wheel questions, but I can second what someone else already said: worry about custom wheels when you have problems with the stock ones. If/when you do decide to get some new wheels, find a local builder and let them help you decide what you actually need.

    If you're mechanically inclined, see if you can get someone at your LBS to show you how to true a wheel.

    Have fun!

  10. #10
    Senior Member JohnA42's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nfmisso View Post
    When (note, not if) you break a spoke, it will be on the right (drive) side.
    I'm down with pretty much your entire post except this. When I had my spoke problems (Trek hybrid w/ crappy stock wheels) I had them break on both sides, but the first was on the NDS.

  11. #11
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil_B View Post
    Hmm, Pittsburgh. I might need to make a road trip to ride with you at some point. As if I need an excuse to ride in Westsylvania....

    You only need, if you need at all, additional spokes on the rear wheel. My advice is to ride it until you have a problem, if you have a problem, and then upgrade.
    The reason I suggest this is that bike wheels are pretty strong. Also, as a beginning rider the OP isn't going to be doing centuries in his first week. Buying special wheels for a three mile ride seems overkill.

  12. #12
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    I'd vote for the hard rock because I own that bike. The one with disc brakes. I'm a guy at 5'9" and 220lbs and the front fork seems too soft for me on the street even at its firmest setting. That's the only downside, otherwise it's been an awesome bike.

  13. #13
    Senior Member magohn's Avatar
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    Welcome to the herd

    If I were you I would scan my local craigslist for any of the mentioned bikes. I recently picked up a Trek Fx 7.3 (Disc Brakes) for $375. The bike was as near to showroom condition as possible and was a great deal. A similar deal would leave you with a few bucks for other accessories such as bib shorts etc.

    Again, WELCOME

  14. #14
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    If you end up with a bike with front suspension, make sure you can lock it out (fix it in place).

  15. #15
    Senior Member WonderMonkey's Avatar
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    As others have mentioned I would test drive all those bikes a few times. If you can't clearly decided which to buy based on features let the bike decide for you. You may hop on a few and think "Meh, that would do..." and then jump on another and think "Wow, this bike likes me!". Sounds silly but at times you will just KNOW that it is for you. I use that same thought when buying guitars.

  16. #16
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    Hey mate. Welcome! I am in the same boat you are in terms of picking a bike. From experience what everyone is telling you here about testing out each bike is critical. You have to sit on it and ride it to know. What I thought was a "for sure" bike for me... Wasn't after I rode it and a bike I would have never considered is now the one I will most likely go with. And by test drive I don't mean ride it around the parking lot. Take it out for a couple of blocks at least and find out if it feels comfortable or not.

    A little "trick" I learned spending 18 months in a cast was something called "little victories". Set goals for yourself that are reachable, do them, then pat yourself on the back for making it. What I mean by that is you are not going to go out and do 25 miles all at once. Instead set a manageable goal like say one mile and then when you hit that goal congratulate yourself and be proud of it. Then set a goal of 2 miles and work each day you ride towards that mark one block at a time. As in each day you increase the distance you ride by one block. It adds up quick.

  17. #17
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    Im Glad to hear your stepping up to a great sacrifice, let me begin with dont take advice on what to buy from someone who weights 220lb unless they have been at or close to your weight. Its kinda like buying a P90X or Insanity dvd, you cant do it, not at your weight, dont spend your money. What you need is a steel or alum comfort bike, bars must be above saddle, more than 36 spokes, and if you can get tires from 65psi-85psi on 26in. your saddle must be big and sturdy and no shocks in front, believe me at 460 you will bottom them out they are pointless. Stick to the road, if you get on gravel you may pop your tires. Also, Tread Lightly, what I mean is get on the bike softly, ride it softly, dont stand up and pedal and do not jump it, treat your bike as if it was a chair if your to heavy on it you will break it. Try to stick to something similar to these, they are not the coolest looking or the fastest but your hands wont go numb and you will be comfortable so that you continue cycling, and when you get down into the 200's you can get what ever. Just my honest opinion, and post pics of your new bike Im very interested in your outcome. By the way, I got an awesome Italian Race bike its my Ferrari!!! She dorms with me she is immaculate I dust her daily, she is my dream, she is mine. To frickin bad I cant ride that Italian lightweight or Ill break her now I gotta weight till I drop some weight, Im pissed off.


    http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes.../allant/models#


    http://www.raleighusa.com/bikes/comfort/venture-40-11/

  18. #18
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    Congrats on deciding to take charge of your health! I started my weight loss process (and my biking. although it was fairly limited at first) at 315 lbs. I am currently down to 235.

    I will offer a couple of pieces of advice - hopefully you will find some value in it!

    Walking is good exercise when you have been a couch potato for a long time. I spent the first 6 months of my weight loss process walking 3 miles 5-6 times per week. Pushing around that kind of weight for 3 miles is a lot of work -- it will help burn some calories, help keep you focused on your diet and begin to build the strength (both muscular strength and joint strength) that you will need as you ramp up your exercise regime.

    Take it slow! If walking a mile leaves you too sore to walk the next day, cut back to 3/4 of a mile, so that you can maintain regular activity -- shooting for at least 5x per week.

    Mix it up! Walking and riding a bike work different muscle groups. Take advantage of that and mix up your exercise modes so that your body can recover -- and you can maintain high frequency of exercise.

    Focus on your diet! Exercise is great for helping your overall conditioning, but there is no magical secret to losing weight, there is only one universal truth: if you eat less calories than you burn, you will lose weight. I know you already know that, but keep it in mind every time you eat (it will help you make better food and portion choices), and every time you need a little more motivation to get out and walk or ride.

    I'd focus on functional and sturdy for your first bike -- leaving you more money to spend on a more sophisticated machine later, when you've dropped some weight. I chose a Trek 820 and it has been absolutely bullet proof: very solid components and an extremely strong STEEL frame. I would definitely recommend steel for heavy riders: it's more comfortable and durable than aluminum. I've had no problems at all with the Trek 820 after putting over 1000 miles on it. Mine is a hardtail, but they do make rigid 820's, which would be much more advisable for your current weight. I think an 820 would handle your weight well, but I'd advise upgrading the tires right away to a fatty road tire. I've recently switch over to 2" wide Schwalbe Marathon Supremes on my commuter/touring bike (a Surly Long Haul Trucker) -- and I LOVE the Marathon Supremes. Very cushy, great traction and comfort -- and very low risk of pinch flats.

  19. #19
    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ColoradoClark View Post
    Congrats on deciding to take charge of your health! I started my weight loss process (and my biking. although it was fairly limited at first) at 315 lbs. I am currently down to 235.

    I will offer a couple of pieces of advice - hopefully you will find some value in it!

    Walking is good exercise when you have been a couch potato for a long time. I spent the first 6 months of my weight loss process walking 3 miles 5-6 times per week. .....

    ......I've recently switch over to 2" wide Schwalbe Marathon Supremes on my commuter/touring bike (a Surly Long Haul Trucker) -- and I LOVE the Marathon Supremes. Very cushy, great traction and comfort -- and very low risk of pinch flats.

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