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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 07-23-12, 01:08 AM   #1
alfredomarron3
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advice for my wife

My wife and I recently decided that we were going to get into better shape. Well, it wasn't so much that we decided as much as our doctor told us we needed to lose weigh, or face the dreaded D word. But we DID decided to listen to him, that counts right? So, i looked up some ways to be more active and somewhere along the way i got to biking. Which lead me to this forum. I've read the posts and seen the successes and the advice giving on this part of the forum.

Anyways, I wanted to ask for advice and recommendations for my wife. I think she's a little embarrassed to try the bike at the store. The last time she went with me to look she didn't even want to sit on most of the bikes. Her comment was, "i don't want the bike to break." Now i want to get her a bike but i don't want her to be embarrassed to ride. How do I encourage her and help her find something that she'll be comfortable riding?
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Old 07-23-12, 01:21 AM   #2
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Show her the "before and after" photo thread in this forum.
Keep going with her to the bike shops - watch her to see if there's a particular shop or salesperson she seems to feel more comfortable with. Encourage her to talk about what she wants, what her concerns are, etc, without interrupting her (and make sure the bike shop employees do the same.)
Call ahead and set up an appointment if possible - or if that's not possible, call ahead and ask when the shops' slow times are.
Be enthusiastic, present this as something you're excited about doing WITH her.
Reassure her that she's far from the first person who is worried about breaking a bicycle to come into the shop.

That's all I got. But those are the sorts of things that tend to convince me when I'm dubious about something new.
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Old 07-23-12, 02:25 AM   #3
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All I can say is, ..... "patience"
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Old 07-23-12, 04:53 AM   #4
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Tell her that this is a starting point. And from there it will get better.

Showing her the before and after pics is a great idea!
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Old 07-23-12, 05:11 AM   #5
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Tell her that this is a starting point.
+1 Remember - it's JUST a bike. If she rides it for a month and decides she doesn't like it or wants something different, it's not a personal failing. She can get something different and sell the old one. It's not like buying a house or a puppy or something, ha ha. I know I can psych myself up sometimes and get all pressured telling myself "If you don't get EXACTLY THE RIGHT WIDGET you will be RUINED and your LIFE WILL SUCK and you'll be a FAILURE," etc. (THANKS MOM!) When I start thinking like that, I just have to remind myself that whatever it is, it's JUST a widget, and if I don't make the best decision, the world will not end.
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Old 07-23-12, 10:53 AM   #6
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Feel free to get something used on CL that she can use to acclimate herself to riding. Then go shopping for a nice new bike when she's into it, or as a milestone reward.

Does she even like the idea of riding or is this your idea?
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Old 07-23-12, 11:15 AM   #7
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Does she even like the idea of riding or is this your idea?
That's the big thing, you need her to buy into the idea. She will likely not do it to please/accommodate you if she feels embarrassed on the bike. My wife wasn't too excited about the idea of riding a bike either until I showed her this website and we looked for some plus size bike gear. After my solo rides we went to a high school parking lot together with her on an old walmart MT bike, once she got comfortable on it we got her a nicer one and now signed up for a group ride at the end of August.

Good luck!
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Old 07-23-12, 11:19 AM   #8
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First, don't feel self conscious about what the folks at the LBS will think. Most deal with a lot of people like us, and are glad to have your business.
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Old 07-23-12, 12:20 PM   #9
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I was going to second the person who said a CL bike. If she is really worried about breaking a bike, CL might not be the way to go as you don't necessarily know what you are getting. Before and after pics are good. I started on a Kmart Schwinn mountain bike, but bought a Cannondale a few months back. The heavier bike was probably good to start with. I'm not having much luck with the loosing weight part, but the BP etc are much better. If she is really worried and you can get her to type to someone, have her PM me.

I have to say I had a delightful time getting my new bike. Went into the LBS and he was showing me a couple of step through bikes. They weren't horrible but just didn't feel right. As I swung my leg over to get on (instead of stepping through), I thought that his jaw was going to drop off. He apparently had no clue that some Athenas can throw their legs over. A few more options were brought out after that and I was able to find my bike. If it has been my first one though, I probably would have thought I would break it.
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Old 07-23-12, 12:22 PM   #10
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This may be a good read, too!

http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...arrassed-rider
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Old 07-23-12, 12:51 PM   #11
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I have a cousin who won't ride because she's embarrassed, too. Something about the differential between width of bottom versus tiny-ness of saddle. All I can say is that as soon as I get on my bike, I forget all about that. I just love to ride. So if you can just get her to try ONCE (maybe not at a shop -- do you have any friends that might have a bike she can try?), that may be all you need to change her mind.
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Old 07-23-12, 02:00 PM   #12
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That's the big thing, you need her to buy into the idea. She will likely not do it to please/accommodate you if she feels embarrassed on the bike. My wife wasn't too excited about the idea of riding a bike either until I showed her this website and we looked for some plus size bike gear. After my solo rides we went to a high school parking lot together with her on an old walmart MT bike, once she got comfortable on it we got her a nicer one and now signed up for a group ride at the end of August.

Good luck!
she's told me that she wants a bike and she wants to ride with me. It's just actually looking for a bike for her that's hard to do. I'm kind obsessive about things. I'll research things to death. So I've been looking at yelp for reviews on local bike shops. Getting reviews for the bikes the higher rated shops carry. Things like that. I've been trying to get her involved in the stuff I'm looking up. She seams interested when I talk to her about it.
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Old 07-23-12, 08:43 PM   #13
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I, not unlike yourself, seem to "over shop". But, I'm rarely disappointed in my purchases, large or small.

Subsequently, Mrs. Fred and I have an arrangement, whereby, I do the bicycle shopping, then run the decission past her for possible veto before making the purchase. So far she's been happy with both her bikes. My standards for what I think she should have far exceed what she would insist on herself.

If you can figure out what size she should be on, just get her something to start on and build confidence on. As long as it is sturdy and works properly, she'll probably be happy. Then, as she figures out what sort of cyclist she is or wants to be, she'll probably have more interest in taking an active role in shopping for her next bike.

Patience my friend. It's been 7 years in watching Mrs. Fred slowly transform from uninterested in riding to actually participating in events and now even considering joining a regular group ride.
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Old 07-23-12, 09:24 PM   #14
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she's told me that she wants a bike and she wants to ride with me. It's just actually looking for a bike for her that's hard to do. I'm kind obsessive about things. I'll research things to death. So I've been looking at yelp for reviews on local bike shops. Getting reviews for the bikes the higher rated shops carry. Things like that. I've been trying to get her involved in the stuff I'm looking up. She seams interested when I talk to her about it.
I'd approach your journey in two key steps: 1) Shopping for and getting a good bike and 2) Determine a plan that will work for her in terms of actually riding. People getting into biking for health reasons tend to put a lot of importance on the shopping part but may not put a lot of emphasis on coming up with a plan that will actually keep themselves riding.

As far as the latter is concerned, many bike clubs have rides that are designed for beginners or those just wanting more casual exercise rather than skill development. Those rides are a good place to start because almost everyone on them will either be beginners or will be able to easily remember when they were in the same situation, so they will likely be very supportive and helpful. Over time, it will hopefully give both of you the encouragement to keep going and improving your skill level.

Good luck! We've all been beginners at one point or another!
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Old 07-23-12, 10:04 PM   #15
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I, not unlike yourself, seem to "over shop". But, I'm rarely disappointed in my purchases, large or small.

Subsequently, Mrs. Fred and I have an arrangement, whereby, I do the bicycle shopping, then run the decission past her for possible veto before making the purchase. So far she's been happy with both her bikes. My standards for what I think she should have far exceed what she would insist on herself.

If you can figure out what size she should be on, just get her something to start on and build confidence on. As long as it is sturdy and works properly, she'll probably be happy. Then, as she figures out what sort of cyclist she is or wants to be, she'll probably have more interest in taking an active role in shopping for her next bike.

Patience my friend. It's been 7 years in watching Mrs. Fred slowly transform from uninterested in riding to actually participating in events and now even considering joining a regular group ride.
That arrangement might work for me and my mrs. That's how things usually work out in our home. I look at product reviews and compair between similar products. Then I just ask her what she thinks before I get whatever it is I'm looking for. Usually she only asks if it's a "good deal".
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Old 07-24-12, 10:35 AM   #16
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Speaking from the Mrs. point of view (with a hubby who tends to research to death also) just tell her about it right before you are ready to make the purchase like you've said. I get SPACE eyes when my husband starts talking all the tech stuff about whatever we are going to buy. He'll know all the details and I'm more like - if it feels good on me (and it's the right color of course) then that's all i need. As for looking at the LBS, I've had good and bad experiences with it. Some people are just jerks. But if you can't get her in there just get a proper size for her and based on her height and length of legs and know that you can adjust so many things on a bike that it's not a big deal. You can change out seats, seatposts, handlebars, stems, and more that will drastically change things around if something is uncomfortable for her.

I have been riding overweight for many years. I've ridden mountain bikes, road bikes, and now I'm a singlespeed rider because I live in a very flat part of Florida. Riding is so fun and I know that if you can just get her out there with you she will probably love it. One thing to add - like others have said be patient with her. Don't go on long rides, make them short and fun to start. Try and teach her how to adjust the gears properly and with patience. Sometimes we forget what it was like to begin riding and figuring out the gear changes is tough in the beginning. Best of luck!
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Old 07-24-12, 10:58 AM   #17
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she's told me that she wants a bike and she wants to ride with me. It's just actually looking for a bike for her that's hard to do. I'm kind obsessive about things. I'll research things to death. So I've been looking at yelp for reviews on local bike shops. Getting reviews for the bikes the higher rated shops carry. Things like that. I've been trying to get her involved in the stuff I'm looking up. She seams interested when I talk to her about it.
I'm going to go with the absurd idea that her expressed fear is the real one. Bikes, especially racing bikes look flimsy and if she is fairly large she might really have concerns about the bike breaking.

I've ranged from 220 to 260 while riding and no issues with breakage, well other than the cute aluminium spoke nipples.

So make sure she stays away from aluminium nipples and other extreme weight saving tricks.

Also often the top rated shops often are ones that cater to top end riders. She might be more comfortable in a store more focused on recreational riders. She might feel more like she belongs there.

EDIT: I've ridden with guy who topped 300 and he did not seem to ahve any problems with bike breakage. Only guy who could fly past me on straight even decents.
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Old 07-24-12, 04:27 PM   #18
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Maybe you can do some recon for her by going in the LBS and chatting with one of the employees about the situation. See if he/she is someone that you think will treat your wife with respect and patience, and then make an appt to bring your wife in later.
I was scared to walk in the LBS because I thought they would only sell "fancy" bikes to "athletes", and I just wanted an around town kinda bike. I finally bit the bullet and went in one and got so lucky to meet someone who answered all of my questions and made me feel very comfortable.
Can she try riding yuor bike before going in just to get her confidence up? Or maybe you could rent a bike for a weekend for her?
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Old 07-24-12, 05:48 PM   #19
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The LBS makes all the difference. When I was 320lbs and very self-concious of sitting on a bike, I went to the main store of a popular bike outlet here in the Seattle area. I went on a mid-week afternoon and was totally ignored by the THREE assistants chatting away at the counter (store was empty). When I finally got one to help me to look at bikes his responses to my questions were short and disinterested. He then went back to his chatting as I walked awkwardly around the other bikes. The next day I visited Gerk's in Redmond. What a difference! Pleasant and knowledgeable staff who told me I should ride what I want to ride and zero pressure form buying from them. Needless to say I spent my $ at Gerks and so did my wife, daughter and then my brother-in-law.

It really is about that first LBS visit. A professional, positive staff-member makes all the difference in your comfort level when purchasing - it did for me
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Old 07-25-12, 07:59 AM   #20
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My apologies to those who have heard this many times before.

My wife rides a 1990s chrome moly Trek 820 that has been reoutfitted as a cruiser with a slightly longer stem, 1.5 inch riser handlebars with a few degrees of sweep, and a slightly cushier seat (tried to talk her out of that one but she likes it, so it works for her). I put some Bontrager H2 Eco 1.5 x 26 tires on it for a smooth ride with some cushion. She loves the bike. It looks like new and I've only got a couple hundred into it. I'm still a big believer (no pun intended) that older steel MTB and Hybrids like the Trek 700 and 800 series, outfitted with 36-spoke decent quality wheels, are excellent bikes for hesitant clydes and athenas on a budget.
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Old 07-25-12, 08:27 AM   #21
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2 things:
First, concentrate on the "why" instead of the "how". Of your relationship is anything like mine, my wife could not care less about doing all the research and comparison that any sane person (a.k.a. Me) knows needs to be done. As a couple of folks above said, do all the research we ALL KNOW needs to be done, THEN tell her your findings. That's the "how" part. What is important is "WHY" you are doing it. If she can see the vision and have the same passion you have for WHY you are doing this, then maybe the trip to the LBS (local bike store) will just be a blip on the radar to where you are going. Kind of like packing for a trip--the packing is just one little thing that you endure, even if you really don't want to, in order to get where you're going.

Number two: breaking the bike is almost guaranteed to be a non-issue. Unless you get a used bike that is already failing or some freak manufacturing defect, the possibility of a major failure is just about zero. (I am assuming her weight is somewhere less than 400 pounds. If she is above 400 there are still bikes out there for her, you just need to be a bit more intentional in your search.) There are many folks on this forum that are 300+ and riding just fine--no need for an armor reinforce, special order bike. I would STRONGLY recommend staying away from a department store bike. Not so much because of fear of breaking--more of a desire for her to have a bike she will enjoy for a long time.

If you read much on here you will find the most common advice is to watch out for the rear wheel. The spokes on the rear take the biggest amount of the burden. Keep the spoke count up at 32 or 36 and you should be fine. Watch the rear wheel for going out of true. The frame is HIGHLY UNLIKELY to fail.

As has been said before, take her to the Before/After thread--it's quite inspirational. Keep up the "if he/she could do it then WE can do it!" and "imagine what life would be like if WE did that" kind of talk. As in just about everything in life--the WHY is the important thing.
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Old 07-25-12, 07:08 PM   #22
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Where on the specs for a bike would you find the spoke count?

The bike I found, Raleigh Venture, has Weinmann CN-520 rims with 14 g spokes but I can't find the spoke count.
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Old 07-25-12, 07:54 PM   #23
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First, don't feel self conscious about what the folks at the LBS will think. Most deal with a lot of people like us, and are glad to have your business.
Correct, and if they even give the most remote inkling of being annoyed / impatient with her, leave.

Find a LBS that appreciates your business and will take their time with you on finding the appropriate bike for her.


My wife took a few hours and several hybrids before she finally landed on her's... The guy that helped us out was amazing and amidst her apologizing profusely for taking so much of his time, laughed at her and told her it was his pleasure.

Just have to find an LBS employee that doesn't suck and you guys will be set.
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Old 07-26-12, 02:45 AM   #24
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The last time she went with me to look she didn't even want to sit on most of the bikes. Her comment was, "i don't want the bike to break."
Bikes will carry a good bit of weight. Trek adult bikes are rated for 275 or 300 pounds. I'd guess that most quality bikes are similar.

Scroll down about 2/3 of the way for information about weight ratings on Trek bikes:
http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes...5_2_h2_compact
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Old 07-26-12, 08:01 AM   #25
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Bikes will carry a good bit of weight. Trek adult bikes are rated for 275 or 300 pounds. I'd guess that most quality bikes are similar.

Scroll down about 2/3 of the way for information about weight ratings on Trek bikes:
http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes...5_2_h2_compact
And remember, these weight limits made it past their corporate law team. So, you can be sure, they have built some factor of liability-proofness in there. IMO, you can go over these buy a good bit and still be fine. Like I and others have said, the rear wheel is the weak link in the chain.
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