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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 03-19-12, 09:06 AM   #1
4st7lbs
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Help me choose my next bike!

So, I've finally started biking to my other office location (7 miles one way) and love it. The converted Trek 4300 I'm currently riding looks like it's on the way to the glue factory. Both rims need to be replaced (they're out of true and the spokes are stripped) but really it's just too small for me (19.5" frame) and I want to get something faster. Here are the bikes I've zeroed in on as potential replacements:

- Surly CrossCheck (current top choice)
- Surly Long Haul Trucker
- Trek 520
- Specialized Tricross

Here's some background on me and what I'll be using said bike for:

- Height 6'2"
- Weight 380lbs
- Cycling at least 100 miles every week
- Laptop, water, and food (~10lbs) are only additional weight on bike
- In addition to daily commuting I need something I can do long distance tour rides with (rides >250 miles)
- Budget is around $1,250

Any and all information or opinions you can provide would be much appreciated. If this is any help, I also lift weights four to five days a week and lose about two pounds a week.
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Old 03-19-12, 10:06 AM   #2
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UPS just delivered a 58 cm Cross Check frameset. My first bike was a Trek 7300 20" and it always felt too small @ 6'2" My 60 cm Madone feels just right after going to a 90 mm stem. Another Bike to consider would be a Salsa Casseroll http://salsacycles.com/bikes/casseroll/ I went with the Cross Check as it's main mission will be unpaved trails. No mountains trails for me and the Madone handles pavement well.
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Old 03-19-12, 10:46 AM   #3
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I was thinking about buying this piece by piece until I've dropped some more weight and noticed the Cross Check frame shows up on eBay quite often. Are those legit or what? I tried out the Salsa Casseroll but liked the Cross Check better.
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Old 03-19-12, 11:03 AM   #4
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I bought one from JensonUSA that listed for $440 (frameset) they price matched a EBay supplier's $378 price with shipping it was just under $400 to my door.
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Old 03-19-12, 11:59 AM   #5
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Salsa and Surly options are both good. Apparently the Cassrole is a little livelier than the CC. LHT has a longer wheel base and will feel more stable but less nimble as a result. Other option would be an older (say 2007 or so) Bianchi Volpe. Steel, in between touring and road, with a mountain gear set.
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Old 03-19-12, 12:25 PM   #6
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Still in production:http://www.bianchiusa.com/bikes/road/steel/volpe/
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Old 03-25-12, 07:15 AM   #7
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So, I stopped by a LBS yesterday and test rode a Bianchi Volpe. Super, super smooth and solid ride. I'm tempted to buy it but the sales guy said something that I thought was strange. I mentioned I was thinking of getting a Surly Cross Check (they didn't carry Surly) and he mentioned that the current Surly frames were garbage. Any truth to this? I kind of blew it off as sales talk but I was curious.
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Old 03-25-12, 07:25 AM   #8
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So, I stopped by a LBS yesterday and test rode a Bianchi Volpe. Super, super smooth and solid ride. I'm tempted to buy it but the sales guy said something that I thought was strange. I mentioned I was thinking of getting a Surly Cross Check (they didn't carry Surly) and he mentioned that the current Surly frames were garbage. Any truth to this? I kind of blew it off as sales talk but I was curious.
Never heard that. And what doesn't he mean he doesn't "carry" Surly? If he has a QPB account, which he probably does, he can get a Surly.

Bought me second LHT last year after the first one was stolen. Love it, but as noted, it's not nimble. It's not made to be nimble. I commute on mine and do fully loaded touring. The CC comes with a double, but you can add a third chain ring. However, you would need to change the FD according to Surly.
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Old 03-25-12, 07:32 AM   #9
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Yeah, I dismissed it as "sales speak". I really liked the Volpe but I think I'm going to go with the Cross Check instead.
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Old 03-25-12, 02:14 PM   #10
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Any of them would be good, but the LHT seems to have the best selection of features.

BTW, REI's house bikes are pretty good, and they have touring models.
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Old 03-25-12, 03:48 PM   #11
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I want a salsa vaya...wife threatened to separate a particular item from my body if I bought another bike prior to paying taxes so I guess I am waiting.

Seems like the perfect combo of cross, commuter, and road tourer to me.
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Old 03-25-12, 04:26 PM   #12
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Well the first thing you need to do is decide what do you intend to do with the bike? You have two distinct types of bike on that list, you have two cross bikes(cross check, tri cross), and two touring bikes(LHT, 520). The cross check is a little more versatile than a straight up true bred cross bike but it still has racing inspired geometry (read: loooow headtube).

What I'm getting at is that those bikes are designed for different things. Do you intend to carry heavy loads and do long unsupported tours.. then the touring bikes are what you should be looking at. Just looking for a solid dependable bike to ride on the road and the occasional off road rail to trail network, but not carry heavy loads or tow a trailer.. then the cross bikes are possibly what you need.

Granted there is a little bit of crossover and some grey areas but you need to buy the type of bike that best fits your needs for what you intend to do with it. Sort that out first then you can start narrowing down which particular bike in that style to get.
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Old 03-25-12, 04:40 PM   #13
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So, I stopped by a LBS yesterday and test rode a Bianchi Volpe. Super, super smooth and solid ride. I'm tempted to buy it but the sales guy said something that I thought was strange. I mentioned I was thinking of getting a Surly Cross Check (they didn't carry Surly) and he mentioned that the current Surly frames were garbage. Any truth to this? I kind of blew it off as sales talk but I was curious.
Surly's are a bit like the Delorean of the car world. The reputation is better than the actual product. Don't get me wrong they make a solid bike with tons of features that make them super versatile. They are a good value for the price and will undoubtedly last you for years to come, but they are not the Ferrari of bikes that many people would have you believe. Surly has a huge fanbase and they are extremely popular around this forum but the reality is they are made with lower end tube sets and because of this they don't share many of the same ride characteristics of higher end steel bikes.

For the record I own a surly cross check. I Love it and have done some fun rides on it, rode it today as a matter of fact. I don't regret putting it together at all but like I said it's at the lower end of my stable not the top.
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Old 03-25-12, 04:54 PM   #14
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I would think about keeping the 4300 for commuting. It's a beater, inexpensive to replace worn parts, less risk someone will steal it. If you want to go faster, get a lower stem and slick tires. Just an opinion.

Then buy another bike more focused on you non-commuting desires, which sounds like touring, this way you can get exactly what you want for the recreational rides and not be compromising to have a commuter + tourer.
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Old 03-25-12, 10:28 PM   #15
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Surly has a huge fanbase and they are extremely popular around this forum but the reality is they are made with lower end tube sets and because of this they don't share many of the same ride characteristics of higher end steel bikes.
Thanks, that's pretty similar to what the LBS guy said and echoes what someone else has told me about Surlys. I'm really on the fence about buying the Volpe (it's $1,300 at this shop) but the 4300 is way too small and has had a long, hard eight years. I recently replaced the knobby MTB tires with Michelin City slicks and it's a lot faster, quieter, and smoother, but that frame is just too small, especially with my belly.

Next spring my wife and I are doing the Pittsburgh to DC tour but we'll both be getting true touring bikes (probably LHT or Trek 520s) for that. If this bike could also do that, great, but all I really need is something that can hold me (380lbs and shrinking), a laptop, and my suit for 15-25 miles of commuting each day. Speed isn't a need, I figure I can break down and buy a Felt or Seven if I really want to go that route once I'm thinner.
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Old 03-25-12, 10:43 PM   #16
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Here's a good thread that can help give you some more options. Also, Post #34 in this thread has some good suggestions as well.
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Old 03-28-12, 06:58 PM   #17
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Anybody have any thoughts on the Raleigh Port Townsend?
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Old 03-28-12, 07:23 PM   #18
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Anybody have any thoughts on the Raleigh Port Townsend?
No experience with the Port Townsend, but I have a Raleigh One Way and CX1.0, both of which I've been very happy with. My LBS also sells Specialized, Bianchi, and Surly, and most of the employees are pretty impressed with Raleigh's lineup the past few years. The Clubman might be a good one to look at as well.
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Old 03-28-12, 07:55 PM   #19
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The Clubman might be a good one to look at as well.
I really want an old '80s Raleigh road bike but I'm still too heavy for those. I really like the look of the Port Townsend and it's a good $300 cheaper than the Salsa Casserole. I figure I've still got another two or three months before the Trek totally falls apart, but I'm getting antsy to get a new ride.
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Old 03-28-12, 08:33 PM   #20
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There's a law of diminishing returns on bike shopping. If you liked the Volpe's ride, that's very telling. I would not chance buying something you haven't ridden based on the opinions of others. I'd say find an LHT and a cross check and ride them both. Then decide between the three.

BTW, I see you are in metro DC. Spokes in Alexandria (on top of the hill, near Braddock road) has both cross checks and LHTs, in addition to a big assortment of trek and specialized.

FWIW, given your size and intended use, I think the Volpe is a good compromise. It is in between cross (cross check) and Touring (LHT). You should be able to ride the Pittsburgh path with it, no problem.

I have not ridden a cross check, but it does have a reputation for being very good at what it does, but a bit of a "dead" frame. As mentioned, that is because of a lower end tube set.
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Old 03-28-12, 08:36 PM   #21
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BTW, budget for good hand-built wheels...
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Old 03-28-12, 08:58 PM   #22
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4St, I didn't realize you were so close. Im in Southern PA around Newark so I'm only about 2-2.5 hours away. If you can find a rail trail or someplace with little traffic somewhere halfway between us I'd be more than willing to bring my cross check down and let you take it for a ride. I'm the same height as you so it's most likely your size too. Just let me know.
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Old 03-28-12, 09:12 PM   #23
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Thanks guys, I appreciate all of your feedback. I'm kind of strapped for cash right now with taxes coming due, but I've been thinking of buying the Cross Check frame and then buying it part by part as I get the funds. If I were to do that would I work with a LBS (probably Spokes in Fairfax) to get the rims made? Like I said earlier, I'm still riding the stock rims that came with the Trek but they're about to die after eight years of abuse.
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Old 03-28-12, 09:14 PM   #24
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4St, I didn't realize you were so close. Im in Southern PA around Newark so I'm only about 2-2.5 hours away. If you can find a rail trail or someplace with little traffic somewhere halfway between us I'd be more than willing to bring my cross check down and let you take it for a ride. I'm the same height as you so it's most likely your size too. Just let me know.
Baltimore-Annapolis Trail? Or, if you don't mind low traffic roads, Trappe, MD? It's all farmland and as flat as you will find.
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Old 03-28-12, 11:49 PM   #25
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Baltimore-Annapolis Trail? Or, if you don't mind low traffic roads, Trappe, MD? It's all farmland and as flat as you will find.
Thanks.
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