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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 01-03-14, 11:21 AM   #1
CurvyLeprechaun
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Completely New World - Need Help Finding A Bike

My husband and I both lost 40+ pounds a year ago and after becoming foster parents and quitting the gym, put it back on. We're in our mid 20's and needed a way to stay in shape that can include the kids and decided to buy some bikes this year. I'm a full time mom, student and employee so I don't have a lot of extra time, but I thought this would be a great weekend activity. I originally thought I could just go to the store, pick out a bike I liked and be done with it - but luckily I'm an avid review reader and quickly found out with our size (220 and 250 pounds) it won't be that easy.

Can anyone steer me in the right direction in finding bikes? We can't spend more than $150-200 a piece for them. I know I want to aim for steel wheels and wide seats but is there anything else I need to look for or avoid? We're fairly close to the average bike weight limits so do we specifically need to find "plus sized" bikes? Also, as far as road or mountain bikes I don't know which to lean towards. We have access to both types of bike trails in my area.

Thanks from the DFW/Arlington, Texas
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Old 01-03-14, 11:59 AM   #2
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At that price point you are going to need to find a used bike. Your weight is hardly an obstacle but you will need to take good care of your bikes.

Anyway, start perusing craigs list or garage sales in your area and look for hard tail mountain bikes or even better, no suspension at all. Old Specialized Hard Rocks from the 90s are well suited. Odds are good that any old enough bike to be cheap will need new tires, and you'll probably want a helmet to go with your bike, which is going to cut into your budget pretty well. You can learn to do your own maintenance on youtube and parktool.com to further stretch your dollars. Maybe you have a friend or two local to you who is reasonably adept at cycling who can help you pick out some worthy bikes.

Good luck!
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Old 01-03-14, 01:24 PM   #3
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At 220 You shouldn't need anything special.. I'm 226 as of yesterday, and I'm on road bikes with aluminum wheels. I'm actually shopping Carbon bikes now too. I wouldn't think that 25 lbs is that much of a leap to think that an old mountain bike can't handle it.
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Old 01-03-14, 01:28 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by CurvyLeprechaun View Post
Can anyone steer me in the right direction in finding bikes? We can't spend more than $150-200 a piece for them.
At that price definitely look for something used on craigslist, brands you'd find in a bike shop rather than a department store like Wal-mart. Trek, Specialized, Cannondale, Giant, Fuji, others. If you aren't doing off-road trail riding involving steep hills and rutted terrain (singletrack, more like hiking trails than wide packed dirt fire road type stuff), then look for a used road or hybrid bike, or *non-suspension* mountain bike. Full-suspension MTB just adds a lot of unnecessary weight and resistance if you aren't doing technical trail riding. Plus suspension bikes you could find at that price probably wouldn't be any good.

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I know I want to aim for steel wheels and wide seats but is there anything else I need to look for or avoid?
You definitely do not want steel rimmed wheels. These are extremely heavy, and stop extremely poorly when they get wet, not safe in the rain. Rims should be aluminum, not steel. Even newer cheapest bikes these days use aluminum. Really old department store brand bikes had the chrome shiny steel (aluminum is duller silver, or sometimes anodized black/brown/dark grey), and should be avoided. Aluminum rims are often advertised as "alloy" rims, although that's not technically a correct distinguishing label since steel is also an alloy, an iron alloy.

Nor do you want really wide seats. Bike saddles aren't meant for sitting like on a chair, they just provide support while most of your weight is driving/resting on the pedals, with some of your weight distributed to your hands also. Wide seats may initially seem more comfortable to newbies going out for very short < 5 mile rides or so, but if you get into it and start wanting to go 10 miles, 20 miles, 30+ miles, they get in the way and can cause very uncomfortable chafing. You want wide enough to support your sit bones of the pelvis (you want to be supported by the bones, not your butt cheeks), but not so wide that you get chafing, or tend to slide forward and put pressure on sensitive bits. Saddles can easily be swapped for < $40 or so, so if you find a bike that is otherwise very good don't let a bad saddle stop you from getting it. Saddles vary a lot in comfort from person to person, so you may have to experiment before finding a good one. If you buy a new saddle make sure to get one from a store that will let you swap it out for a different one within a few weeks, a lot of stores have bins of very lightly used saddles that were swapped out from new purchases that you can buy, try for a couple weeks, and maybe try a different one if it didn't work out. Bike fit, saddle height/tilt/fore-aft position can also make a large difference in comfort so try fiddling with that first before deciding a particular saddle just doesn't work.

Read http://sheldonbrown.com/saddles.html

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We're fairly close to the average bike weight limits so do we specifically need to find "plus sized" bikes?
You're not anywhere close to bike weight limits that you have to worry about. E.g. Trek bikes on their FAQ have a 275 pound weight limit, but that's for their super lightweight road bikes. For their hybrids/MTBs it's 300 pounds. The only thing you have to watch out for at your weight is wheels, you want more spokes (36, 32) rather than fewer (20/24/28), but that's unlikely to be an issue for the bikes in the price range you are looking at. For a used bike you want to spin the wheels and see that they aren't already wobbly, and pluck the spokes to see that they are fairly evenly tensioned (similar tone of sound), and not coming loose. (On the rear wheel, the non-drive side spokes will be looser than the drive-side.) It's possible a rear wheel might have to be trued/re-tensioned for your heavier husband, if it wasn't built well to begin with.

Last edited by stephtu; 01-03-14 at 01:33 PM.
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Old 01-03-14, 01:53 PM   #5
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I bought a really cheap new bike when I got back into cycling. It was beyond awful.

Way back in the 70s, Consumer Reports said that below a certain price, the bike
would just sit in the garage. But above that price the bike would be a pleasure to ride,
and you'd find excuses to ride it.

That's still true.

You might get lucky, and find a good used bike. But what I would suggest is to find a good bike
shop (after you visit 2 or 3 it gets easy to tell if one's bad) and find a beginners bike.
It will cost a little more, but they will adjust it to fit you, and a couple weeks later tighten
things up for free (most bikes need a little work during break-in, new cables stretch,
a spoke didn't get perfectly trued, that sort of thing).

All most bikes do is sit in the garage. Get one that will work for you, and it won't.
Later, when you learn more about bikes, find your second bike on Cragslist.
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Old 01-03-14, 02:27 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TrojanHorse View Post
At that price point you are going to need to find a used bike. Your weight is hardly an obstacle but you will need to take good care of your bikes.

Anyway, start perusing craigs list or garage sales in your area and look for hard tail mountain bikes or even better, no suspension at all. Old Specialized Hard Rocks from the 90s are well suited. Odds are good that any old enough bike to be cheap will need new tires, and you'll probably want a helmet to go with your bike, which is going to cut into your budget pretty well. You can learn to do your own maintenance on youtube and parktool.com to further stretch your dollars. Maybe you have a friend or two local to you who is reasonably adept at cycling who can help you pick out some worthy bikes.

Good luck!
Also, as to where you live. If it is someplace like Texas or Florida where there are almost no hills, a single speed bike may be appropriate. In hilly country, gears are a must for larger people.
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Old 01-03-14, 02:56 PM   #7
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I'm just getting back in as well and though I already had a mtn bike I wanted a road bike. There's tons of info out there and soon became overwhelmed.

Searched Craig's list and Ebay EVERY day but it seemed the bike brokers got to the deals well before I did.

I decided to let almost every one I came in contact with know I was looking for a bike and eureka an old friend gave me a very good deal as he'd just bought a new one.

I'm convinced WORD OF MOUTH is the most efficient approach when looking for a bike. Most of us have more than one sitting around collecting cob webs somewhere.
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Old 01-03-14, 03:55 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by CommuteCommando View Post
Also, as to where you live. If it is someplace like Texas or Florida where there are almost no hills, a single speed bike may be appropriate. In hilly country, gears are a must for larger people.
Not sure about the hills, but I know that gears can help when the headwinds pick up (currently S 17 mph).

Got any idea of the size of frames that you need?
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Old 01-03-14, 10:41 PM   #9
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^^^^^ what stephtu said X2.

Something like this would be a great starter bike, as long as the fit was good.

http://dallas.craigslist.org/dal/bik/4270677910.html

an old rigid mtb is great for heavier beginners. suspension on a cheap bike is really a waste, from a weight and usefulness perspective.


if you're going to stick to the roads, don't shy away from something like this either:

http://dallas.craigslist.org/dal/bik/4271345772.html

although, on that one, the price is rather low it seems, at least I hope it's low as I have a similar bike that I'd like to get 300 for this spring. Read into that what you like.

Don't worry so much about your weight. At 250 I started riding my carbon road bike with relatively low spoke count wheels. 6500 miles later and no real problems to speak of. couple broken spokes, but that could have been the cheap wheelset I was using. I"ve really put some hard miles on that bike. My favorite was hitting some broken pavement on a downhill at 30 mph. I had to stop and convince myself I hadn't destroyed my wheels.

Youtube is a great resource for DIY bike mechanic info. You don't have to be particularly handy to work on a bike.

Also, assuming you have small children, skimp on their bikes and spend more on yours. As long as theirs are fairly functional, they will ride. Plus they'll be outgrown soon enough.

DFW area may have a bike co-op. There were a couple old threads on here where people wanted to start one. That may be something to look into as well.

Good luck on finding some bikes and your future weight loss.

Last edited by the fly; 01-03-14 at 10:53 PM.
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