I'm a 5'11", 350-lb man with leg muscles like stone from walking around everywhere at this size. I'm very poor, unemployed, and facing homelessness at the end of August. I need a vehicle to extend the range at which I can job hunt, and to jump at time-sensitive opportunities in a hurry. If all else fails, I might need to do a 1,700-mile road trip on it to take advantage of an offer to stay with an old friend till I can find work. I certainly can't afford to insure a car and keep pouring fuel into it, so I'd like to get another bike.
The problem is I've never really had a good bike. It's always overpriced toys from some stupid place like K-mart. I don't know what brands or materials I should be looking at. I got a recommendation of Giant OCR2 or OCR3 from a large cycling enthusiast several years back, but Bike N Hike says they don't have those anymore. The salesman recommended the Giant Defy, but I can't do the $1100 he wanted for it.
I'd like something in a flat bar road bike. I need something that can withstand not only my weight, but also the demands I make of it when I need to be somewhere in a hurry. I've snapped chains, taken teeth off cogs... I even managed to throw a rear gear assembly accelerating to freeway speed from a standing start once. Not fun when you're five miles south of nowhere and you've got somewhere to be.
I'm not entirely certain of my budget (I don't have it on hand, I'm negotiating with a relative for a donation), but I'm thinking the absolute limit is going to be around $500 US, and lower is better. I think I need some input from more experienced, knowledgeable riders here.
I recently picked up and sorted out a hack bike for a family friend in a similar spot of trouble. The main purpose of the bike was getting to job interviews - the issue was him having pretty well no money - so I was able to find a bike on ebay for bugger-all - bunged on some old armadillo tyres from my kid's bike - and gave it to him. It's still running - he has a job - everyone is OK now.
It seems to me that your first issue is cost vs strength. Cost you can deal with by going to ebay / craigslist and avoiding anything that is in any way desirable. I'd look for an old rigid mountain bike - steel frame - heavy wheels - no suspension either end. In general the fewer gears the thicker the chain and hence the better. Aim for an old 15 speed bike perhaps.
Be fussy about the size - you're a big man - get a big frame. It can be heavy, a bit rusty, an awful colour, etc - but it has to fit.
A really old mtb should cost you very very little. Some things on it won't work. Drivetrain and brakes likely to need attention. If you have time you might seek out a local bike co-op and get help fitting second hand but still working components. Failing that spend some of the rest of your budget at your LBS - if they're any good at all they will understand the directive - "this has to work reliably, but as cheaply as possible. Do not suggest anything cosmetic. This is a beater"
1500 miles on any bike is tough, on this bike a little bit tougher still. But when you get your job and somewhere to live then treat yourself to a nice bike. Good luck.
I'd look for a coop to put together a bike with an 8 speed rear cassette and a triple front crainring. 26" wheels with 36 spokes and fairly smooth tires. No rear suspension and a solid fork though that may be hard to come by. Next best thing would be a suspended front fork that can be locked out. Size wise you're looking at a 20" frame and tires in the 2" wide area. Since you're looking at a car free experience a rear rack and fenders is highly desirable. For storage an 6 pack cooler and 2 bunge cords to hold it on works well.
i tried asking the guy at BNH since I was a couple blocks away doing other stuff today anyway, told him priorities changed and what's the cheapest thing he has available likely to withstand me. We talked over a couple of options, and it looks like the best I can do at that particular shop is a Giant Escape for $400, new. Anyone sufficiently familiar with those to have raves or horror stories for me?
Originally Posted by Wolfwerx
You can hit "freeway speeds" and you're 350 lbs? Amazing.
Well I'm heavier than I look. I was around 280 until I got more mobile and grew these dense leg muscles, especially in the calves. That ain't extra weight, that's power to put through the gears and turn into speed. Or, you know, overstress the chain and cogs until parts break and fall off. Whichever.
My suggestion would be to buy a used bike and not a new one. If by chance you need to make the 1,700 mile road trip, sell the bike and buy a bus ticket. Just the extra food you need for a 1,700 mile trip would cost you more than the bus ticket. Then you can buy another used bike at the other end.
IMO, for someone that is unemployed and facing being homeless, buying a new bike even if someone else is putting up the money is a bit thoughtless.
It's not that I insist on new. It's that I must have transportation, not least because many of the jobs I'm qualified for, and the only decent homeless shelter, are in the next town over, and I'm getting tired of having to pass up good jobs without even trying because I can't reach them.
I don't know enough to tell a decent used bike from trash, and you can only waste money on cheap garbage so many times before repairing and/or replacing it adds up to more than the cost of doing it right the first time.
Where are you located if I my ask. You mention Bike N Hike, which is the name of a bike shop where I live. I guess there could be many such shops around the country, but I might be able to help if you are local.
I'm in Corvallis, OR. And if you can help, great, but not today if it's in person, please. I been up since early yesterday morning and I still gotta finish pulling a new resumé out of thin air and pricing a few needful things before I collapse and try to catch up on sleep debt before waking up early tomorow.
You can get a decent used mountain bike on Craigs list for around $150.00. I got an old Schwinn World Tourist while at a dump. The guy had it in the back of his truck ready to throw it on the junk pile. I brought the Schwinn home and pump the tires up and I ride the bike when ever I'm in NC. The Giant AT 720 I found while driveing to work. Someone threw it out for garbage. I got the bike to work pumped up the tires and I've been riding that bike everyday. Keep an eye out you may find what your looking for when you least expect it. The Giant Escape is a nice bike also. I'm 345LBs and my Giant holds up just nice no problems.