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  1. #1
    Senior Member teresamichele's Avatar
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    Question for athenas (especially heavier ones)

    I am looking to buy my very first bike (been using a loaner) in about two weeks. I am "window shopping" at http://www.bigshark.com which is my LBS. I see they have lots of hybrids that are "Women's" but I was wondering - is that what's best for someone who is really large? I might be female (last I checked) but I'm well over the weight limit for Clydes - let alone Athenas (I'm about 270). Is a women-specific bike just going to feel too small?

    I know I'll just have to try bikes in the end, but really, in the meantime - what have your experiences been?

    Thank you! I'm SO excited to get my own bike!
    Last edited by teresamichele; 10-07-11 at 06:52 AM. Reason: clarification
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  2. #2
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    How tall are you? What are your proportions? Long legs? Or long torso? How broad are your shoulders? Women's specific designs are designed around the idea that "average" women have longer legs and shorter torsos and narrower shoulders than "average" men. There are plenty of women who do better on non-women specific design bikes.

  3. #3
    Senior Member teresamichele's Avatar
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    I'm 5'4 but I'm all torso and I carry my weight in a very male way (apple shaped as opposed to pear shaped). My shoulders are a bit broad.

    Sounds like I might be better off with a man's bike. I'll check it out. Thanks!
    Grace and Spark - my blog!

    "It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are thoroughly alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger after them." - G. Eliot

  4. #4
    Senior Member Rona's Avatar
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    Personally I like a women's bike so I don't always have to kick my leg over the back. I'm shorter in the torso and so reaching to the bars meant getting an even shorter stem on an women's bike. (My stem is a 40mm and my bars are Ritchy shorter reach drops. the stem is canted upwards as well). Proper fit is the most important issue, then weight. Getting a bike that can handle your weight is great, but if its uncomfortable to ride you won't use it.

    I'm 220 lbs and carry 40 lbs of groceries/camping gear etc on my bikes often.. I find the frames are fine.. it's rims and tires that are more important than frames.
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    I'm not a woman so please forgive me. regarding frame size, my gf is also 5'4" and while not an athena, to give you an idea of frame size in a NON-womens specific bike she rides a 44cm road bike that has a sloping top tube. I have another female friend who I just built up a new bike for and she rides a 48cm bike that has a straight top tube. When i put the 2 bikes side by side, they are essentially identical in size. there are a myriad of other factors that go into sizing but be forewarned, a bigger issue is going to be durability of the wheelset as Rona mentioned.

  6. #6
    Senior Member QStorm's Avatar
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    Hey all, I unfortunately have no answers but instead a question. Are "women's" bike frames inherently weaker? What I mean is doesn't a bike frame get its strength from the front and back frame triangles? If the front frame triangle is smaller, isn't the frame less strong (especially for truly heavier riders, like 300+)?

  7. #7
    2nd Amendment Cyclist RichardGlover's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by QStorm View Post
    Hey all, I unfortunately have no answers but instead a question. Are "women's" bike frames inherently weaker? What I mean is doesn't a bike frame get its strength from the front and back frame triangles? If the front frame triangle is smaller, isn't the frame less strong (especially for truly heavier riders, like 300+)?
    Mixte frames are quite strong, and can be set up as 'road' bikes, 'comfort', 'hybrid', or whatever you want, really.


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  8. #8
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by QStorm View Post
    Hey all, I unfortunately have no answers but instead a question. Are "women's" bike frames inherently weaker? What I mean is doesn't a bike frame get its strength from the front and back frame triangles? If the front frame triangle is smaller, isn't the frame less strong (especially for truly heavier riders, like 300+)?
    No, it would actually be stonger since it is made of shorter tubes and a tighter construction. Like the big pencil snaps easier than the short pencil principle.

    Same with a sloping top tube. Many believe that they are stiffer and more responsive but that is always debated. If you look around, most new bikes are sloping tubes making the main trianlge smaller. Must be a reason for it.

    Ginas' WSD (women specific design)...sloping tube


  9. #9
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    Strong is not particularly relevant. If you're routinely putting 10,000 miles a year on a frame, maybe. But usually other parts break before the frame does, no matter how the frame is made.

    And well... if you're riding 10,000 miles a year, chances are this is not a new thing, and you have learned to pay attention to basic maintenance.

  10. #10
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Torrilin View Post
    Strong is not particularly relevant. If you're routinely putting 10,000 miles a year on a frame, maybe..
    That is not true. I don't do 10,000 miles per year, weigh less than the OP and have snapped 2 frames. One of a $1100 bicycle and the other of a $2100 bicycle. All my components are still in tip top shape.

  11. #11
    2nd Amendment Cyclist RichardGlover's Avatar
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    Beanz;

    Those frames... one was aluminum, and the other carbon?

    Time to go classic and get steel.
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  12. #12
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RichardGlover View Post
    Beanz;

    Those frames... one was aluminum, and the other carbon?

    Time to go classic and get steel.
    Second one was 3/5 carbon (Lemond spine design). Broke at the aluminum section. Whn the economy picks back up, I'll consider steel. Of course I may be too old to ride by then.

  13. #13
    Me and the cat... Pamestique's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Beanz View Post
    Second one was 3/5 carbon (Lemond spine design). Broke at the aluminum section. Whn the economy picks back up, I'll consider steel. Of course I may be too old to ride by then.
    OK that's because it was a Trek Design. Too bad you missed the boat on the all steel Lemond bikes like my 2002 Zurich. Would never have happened.

    If you can ever afford custom steel... I know a great builder! Just like me know...

    As to snapping bikes in two... I would bet you weren't just spinning along on a flat at 10 miles a hour when it happened... At one point I weighed 260 - I'm still big. I ride a Santa Cruz Superlight as my mountain bike. I could easer snap it in two but know because of my weight and size, to ride more conservatively.

    Basically teresa... if you aren't going off curbs or power shifting up hills, most frames will probably be fine. What you just need to do is go and sit on alot of bikes and find the one that suits you best.
    Last edited by Pamestique; 10-07-11 at 01:41 PM.
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  14. #14
    Not safe for work cyclokitty's Avatar
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    I'm a 5'1, 265 lb Athena and my bike (and wheels) have survived nearly 6 years of steadily increasing mileage (nearly 2000 km this year already!) and my bike is a pretty inexpensive KHS Town and Country women's frame bought in July of 2005. I love this bike! It is 17" of sheer joy. When I purchased it, the lbs recommended I upgrade the rear wheel to a sturdier double walled rim wheel that they built for me when I bought the bike and I added fenders, rear rack, handlebar basket, lights, a better bell, flat proof tires and better pedals over the course of the first year. When I bought the bike I weighed closer to 300 lbs and the lbs steered me away from the u-shaped bikes because they were worried the frame wasn't as sturdy as the one they picked for me.

    But the real test of a good bike: does it fit you? I only took a quick ride around a nearby park with my bike but it felt solid under me. I did tweak the handlebar height and the seat post height over the course of the first year until I found the right combination for me and my style of riding. Since I commute and run errands practically each day with my bike, I wanted an upright style to keep an eagle eye out for traffic and squirrels.


  15. #15
    Senior Member QStorm's Avatar
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    Thanks for the answers RichardGlover and Mr. Beanz. I'm more informed now, for sure.

  16. #16
    Senior Member zencalm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by teresamichele View Post
    I am looking to buy my very first bike (been using a loaner) in about two weeks. I am "window shopping" at http://www.bigshark.com which is my LBS. I see they have lots of hybrids that are "Women's" but I was wondering - is that what's best for someone who is really large? I might be female (last I checked) but I'm well over the weight limit for Clydes - let alone Athenas (I'm about 270). Is a women-specific bike just going to feel too small?

    I know I'll just have to try bikes in the end, but really, in the meantime - what have your experiences been?

    Thank you! I'm SO excited to get my own bike!
    Teresa, I'm a heavier Athena. 5'9, 330-335 lbs. Super long torso, short inseam. Apple/pear hybrid body shape.

    If you are still in the market for a hybrid, I enthusiastically recommend a Globe Daily 2. I got a size small. It's from the makers of Specialized. The bike cost me about 640. I feel secure on it, and I go up and down rolling hills daily.

    Any questions? Ask away! Congrats on your first bike~!
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  17. #17
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zencalm View Post
    Teresa, I'm a heavier Athena. 5'9, 330-335 lbs. Super long torso, short inseam. Apple/pear hybrid body shape.

    If you are still in the market for a hybrid, I enthusiastically recommend a Globe Daily 2. I got a size small. It's from the makers of Specialized. The bike cost me about 640. I feel secure on it, and I go up and down rolling hills daily.

    Any questions? Ask away! Congrats on your first bike~!
    That Globe Daily is a cool looking bike.

  18. #18
    Senior Member zencalm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by goldfinch View Post
    That Globe Daily is a cool looking bike.
    Thanks Finch. I ended up taking off the fenders, kickstand, rear rack....basically everything that made it a commuter. But I love the way it handles. The wheels are responsive and the handlebars are comfy.
    The only way to know for sure is to practice, and if you practice enough, it will be obtainable. - cranky velocist

  19. #19
    Senior Member teresamichele's Avatar
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    I love this site. I just have to say that. I started riding in May and I could ride 4 miles of flat ground in the lowest gear before I felt like death. Now I can ride the loop at my local park - 6 miles of moderate hills - about half mid-gear/half low-gear...and then ride the 3 miles home and still be able to function the rest of the day. You guys have been SO HELPFUL!

    That being said, the idea of snapping a frame scares the crap out of me but I try not to think about it too much. I wasn't worried on the loaner bike (which has been returned and I am without a bike!) since the thing was a TANK. Steel mountain bike? Yeah, the thing weighed as much as I do! That said, it was good for me to re-learn to ride on because it felt so sturdy. It was sturdy - I ran the thing into a USPS mailbox once and it didn't seem to notice. My inner thighs, however, did.

    I've been looking at a few bikes. My LBS is AWESOME and they don't work on commission so I plan to go in there and tell them what I want to use the bike for, my budget, and let them have their way with me. I'm going to have to wait a bit longer than I'd planned, I think, but I know I'll appreciate it later when I get a bike I really love. In the meantime, swimming! It's the upside to being a triathlete - if you can't do one, you can always do another!
    Grace and Spark - my blog!

    "It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are thoroughly alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger after them." - G. Eliot

  20. #20
    Senior Member zencalm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by teresamichele View Post
    I love this site. I just have to say that. I started riding in May and I could ride 4 miles of flat ground in the lowest gear before I felt like death. Now I can ride the loop at my local park - 6 miles of moderate hills - about half mid-gear/half low-gear...and then ride the 3 miles home and still be able to function the rest of the day. You guys have been SO HELPFUL!

    That being said, the idea of snapping a frame scares the crap out of me but I try not to think about it too much. I wasn't worried on the loaner bike (which has been returned and I am without a bike!) since the thing was a TANK. Steel mountain bike? Yeah, the thing weighed as much as I do! That said, it was good for me to re-learn to ride on because it felt so sturdy. It was sturdy - I ran the thing into a USPS mailbox once and it didn't seem to notice. My inner thighs, however, did.

    I've been looking at a few bikes. My LBS is AWESOME and they don't work on commission so I plan to go in there and tell them what I want to use the bike for, my budget, and let them have their way with me. I'm going to have to wait a bit longer than I'd planned, I think, but I know I'll appreciate it later when I get a bike I really love. In the meantime, swimming! It's the upside to being a triathlete - if you can't do one, you can always do another!

    Oooooh, you're a triathlete? Off to look at your blog!

    I signed up for my first tri for July of next year and now all I can think about is the tri. I am doing a 5k in December and March to help prepare, plus an open water swim in May (1 mile...gotta start reading and watching the Total Immersion book/video now that it is in from Amazon) and climbing 82 flights of stairs as part of mental and endurance training in February. The December 5k, the stair climb and the tri are all paid for, which also helps with motivation. March race and water race aren't open for registration yet. I am so excited even my toes are tingly!

    That said, if you're going to race with your bike, you might be better off getting a road bike to start if you're serious about tris.
    The only way to know for sure is to practice, and if you practice enough, it will be obtainable. - cranky velocist

  21. #21
    Senior Member zencalm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zencalm View Post
    Thanks Finch. I ended up taking off the fenders, kickstand, rear rack....basically everything that made it a commuter. But I love the way it handles. The wheels are responsive and the handlebars are comfy.
    Finch, I love pretending to be a bike superhero. When one of the LBS workers said he imagines extra weight on the rear because of the panniers as part of the training, I trekked back to the LBS with my rear rack, basket and kickstand, head hung in shame. LOL Actually, I paid my 12 year old neighbor to do it, much less ego killing. Ego killing enough having to buy new fenders because I took off my old ones myself and mangled them beyond all recognition.

    Sheldon I'm not.

    But it was sort of fun playing around with the bike.
    The only way to know for sure is to practice, and if you practice enough, it will be obtainable. - cranky velocist

  22. #22
    Senior Member Rona's Avatar
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    I can't imagine life without fenders!!!!
    Last edited by Rona; 10-10-11 at 01:36 PM. Reason: I should learn to spell the first time around
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  23. #23
    Senior Member zencalm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rona View Post
    I can't imagine life without fenders!!!!
    They kept clanking! And since I destroyed mine, I am going to have to pony up for new ones. Ah I was silly.
    The only way to know for sure is to practice, and if you practice enough, it will be obtainable. - cranky velocist

  24. #24
    Not safe for work cyclokitty's Avatar
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    Count me in as a big fender fan. I can't imagine how disgusting my sandalled feet would be if my bike didn't wear fenders. Big ewww.


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