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  1. #1
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    340lbs... haven't ridden in 10 years. Advice?

    Hello everyone!
    First, I want to THANK YOU for providing a safe, encouraging place where overweight people can go and learn how to better themselves without being judged or ridiculed.

    I'm 29, 6'4", 340lbs.

    Except for once last summer when a friend took me on a grueling 10 mile ride, I haven't ridden a bike in nearly 10 years. Thanks to that ride last year, I know I physically can ride a bike and have decent mobility. I'm tired of being overweight. I'm in the process of changing my diet and establishing a workout routine. I have an old lower back injury which is another reason I'm choosing bike riding.

    I'm looking for advice about what type of bike to get. I know almost nothing about sizes and different features but obviously need something that can support my weight and is accommodating of my height.

    I plan to ride on mostly streets/sidewalks. I'd like to try to find something under $500 if possible and would prefer shopping online as I'm very self conscience about my weight.

    Any tips or suggestions would be much appreciated!

    Thanks again!

    -FatManontheMoon

  2. #2
    Senior Member MRT2's Avatar
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    First of all, congratulations on your plan to get healthy and lose some weight. It isn't easy for most of us Clydes.

    $500 sounds at least in the ballpark for a decent new bike.

    Because of your weight, you really should work with a bike shop to make sure you get a bike that fits, is comfortable, and that has wheels that will handle your weight.

    And to lose weight, you will need to establish a workout routine and change your diet. I am more than capable of eating back every calorie I burn riding, if I am not careful.

    Good luck.
    Last edited by MRT2; 03-20-14 at 08:17 PM.

  3. #3
    Lover of Old Chrome Moly Myosmith's Avatar
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    Go to a local bike shop and try out some bikes. The staff there can help in your selection. My first thoughts are a touring bike or a cyclocross bike, both are similar to traditional road bikes but tend to come with stronger wheels and frames to take heavier loads and they will accommodate wider tires which will help with your comfort and in allowing you to run decent tire pressures without risking pinch flats.

    Online, take a look at Nashbar's Steel Cyclocross bike. It's a bit more than you planned to spend at $799 but it's a whole lot of bike for the money. There will have to be some assembly when it arrives so if you have a bike co-op in the area or a cycling friend who works on his/her own bike you won't have any problem with the small amount of final assembly (usually just putting the handlebars in the stem clamp, installing the front wheel, seat post and pedals).


    There are advantages to using the LBS. In addition to their expertise, you can try out the bikes to find your size and preference, they will do a basic fitting as part of the package, and you get the bike in street ready condition, often with your first tune up thrown in somewhere between the one and six month mark. They may also make some accommodations for you such as swapping for wider tires for a minimal fee.
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  4. #4
    Come here often? <wink> exile's Avatar
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    Do you remember what type of bike your friend had you on? If it fit and you liked it you may want to see if he is willing to sell it. Otherwise you can use that as a starting point for the size and type of bike.

    Once you get an idea of the size and type I would look at co-ops or LBS that sell used. While you sound enthusiastic now, I wouldn't look to spend much with the hopes of going out riding.

    My suggestion is buy something now for not much money and see how much you use it. If you find yourself using it a lot then look for an upgrade.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member KOBE's Avatar
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    It mostly depends on what type of handle bar you want. If you want a drop bar road bike, than a cyclocross bike would probably be best for you. The problem is finding one in your size(61m or larger) for under $100.

    If you want something more upright than a 29er or a hybrid would be a good choice. The difference is the 29er will take larger tires and most probably have a shock on the fork which I don't think you will need. In either one you will want a 22-23" frame. The Marin Muirwoods is a good compromise between the two and is available on line. You will need to do some of the set up and tuning yourself unless you take it to a bike shop or have a friend that knows bikes.

    Marin Bikes | Muirwoods 29er | Mountain Bikes, Road Bikes, and City/Commuter Bicycles | us

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  6. #6
    Senior Member MRT2's Avatar
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    You are going to get a lot of suggestions and advice. Comfort bike, performance hybrid, flat bar road bike, 29er, Urban commuter, old (or new) mountain bike set up as an urban cruiser, cruiser, drop bar road bike, gravel grinder, cyclocross bike, or touring bike. It seems like in recent years, the bike companies have some out with so many categories of bikes.

    Any one of these types of bikes could be made to work for you. You need to decide what sort of riding you are capable of doing now, and what is possible with a little work or dedication. For example, right now, you describe a 10 mile ride as "grueling". But can imagine yourself 6 or 8 months from now 50 or 75 lbs lighter hopping on your bike and doing 10 miles as a social or recovery ride? I can, because I did. 2 years ago, after being off the bike for a couple of years, I had trouble doing 6 miles. By the end of the summer, I had lost a few lbs and was able, once again, to do 30 miles. The following summer, I had lost 40 lbs and was able to do 60 miles.

    Now I am off the bike for a few months and just starting to do 10 to 12 miles. I wouldn't describe it as grueling, but I am not ready for 60, or even 30 miles yet, but I will be in a few months.

    So get a bike that is comfortable to ride at your current weight that has some room to grow, or shrink into. With that in mind, I would suggest a light touring bike or gravel grinder, a performance oriented hybrid (maybe with a beefed up back wheel), or a relaxed geometry road bike (again, taking into account the need for a stronger back wheel than someone under 200 lbs would need).

    Careful with the cyclocross recommendation. I think a lot of folks use the term to describe drop bar road bikes with clearance for beefy wheels and wide tires, but not all cyclocross are created equal. Many are purpose build for racing, and while you might want to get into cyclocross some day, racing geometry won't be comfortable for you at 340, or even 275 lbs. Nor will the gearing. At your current weight, you will need lower gearing than you might need a year or two from now when you lose the weight. So I would advise you to look for bikes with mountain gearing, and triple chainrings.

    So, I would ask what you picture yourself doing a year or two from now? Road riding? Club rides? Trail rides?
    Last edited by MRT2; 03-21-14 at 09:34 AM.

  7. #7
    Senior Member MikeRides's Avatar
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    It's never too late for a lifestyle change! Welcome to Bike Forums. Don't be ashamed of your weight, I highly recommend stopping into a bike shop as you can usually test out different bikes before you make a decision. If they laugh you out the door, go to a different one and never step foot in that other one again. Nine times out of ten, they won't laugh or make fun of you because truth is as a small business they need your business to stay afloat (the only reason they would turn you down is if they have no business sense). You may be heavy now, but at least you are off the couch and looking to change, that's nothing to be embarrassed about! $500 is a fair price for a entry level bike, you'll find hybrids to be a bit on the cheaper end compared to road bikes which is why most beginners start out with them. You shouldn't have a problem finding a rigid frame, past year hybrid for under $500 at your LBS. One recommendation I've seen on this board for heavy riders is finding a bike with a high spoke count, reduce your chance of folding a rim.

    Once you find the bike you are comfortable on, ride the hell out of it and HAVE FUN! Remember, if you're not having fun on the bike you're doing it wrong.
    Want to ride fast? Just ride with a slower group.
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  8. #8
    Me and the cat... Pamestique's Avatar
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    This is a wonderful forum for encouragement and advice. If you have any questions people here are willing to help.

    But only advice I can add is just get started, period... just start walking, moving around. Set your expectations at a reasonable level. All too often someone thinks "I will get a bike and start riding 20 miles!" and then 5 miles kills them and they stop riding. Since you are really young, you should get back into shape quicker... baby steps but sometimes those are the hardest... welcome to the group. Don't forget to report back on progress.
    Last edited by Pamestique; 03-21-14 at 04:11 PM.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member squirtdad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Myosmith View Post
    Go to a local bike shop and try out some bikes. The staff there can help in your selection. My first thoughts are a touring bike or a cyclocross bike, both are similar to traditional road bikes but tend to come with stronger wheels and frames to take heavier loads and they will accommodate wider tires which will help with your comfort and in allowing you to run decent tire pressures without risking pinch flats.

    Online, take a look at Nashbar's Steel Cyclocross bike. It's a bit more than you planned to spend at $799 but it's a whole lot of bike for the money. There will have to be some assembly when it arrives so if you have a bike co-op in the area or a cycling friend who works on his/her own bike you won't have any problem with the small amount of final assembly (usually just putting the handlebars in the stem clamp, installing the front wheel, seat post and pedals).


    There are advantages to using the LBS. In addition to their expertise, you can try out the bikes to find your size and preference, they will do a basic fitting as part of the package, and you get the bike in street ready condition, often with your first tune up thrown in somewhere between the one and six month mark. They may also make some accommodations for you such as swapping for wider tires for a minimal fee.
    note if you sign up for the nashbar email list you wiil ( or at least i do) 20% offers on a regular basis. bring this down to ~$640

    to the OP... go for simple, as you get more for your money. as in avoid suspension (rear or fork). Look for wheels with at least 32 spokes.

    Knowing your location might help....people may have local knowledge of the used bike market or good LBS
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  10. #10
    Senior Member Fangowolf's Avatar
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    I would suggest a craiglist mountain bike or something like a Giant Cypress. Then buy a good back wheel to replace the stock wheel. I started with a Cypress and after replacing the back wheel had no problems for 1000 miles till I decided I wanted a Surly.

  11. #11
    Senior Member nkfrench's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fatmanonthemoon View Post
    ...I plan to ride on mostly streets/sidewalks...
    While sidewalk riding may seem like the safest place to be, it may possibly be against local ordinance and/or more dangerous than riding on the road.
    Sidewalks are generally designed for pedestrians who travel 4mph and are very unpredictable. Multi-use-paths (MUPS) are legal and better designed for bicycle use.

    Without knowing anything about your area, a sidewalk could be a thin strip of concrete with cross streets every 1/8 mile and driveways every 60', obscured from view by landscaping and parked cars. There is high risk of motor vehicles colliding with cyclist.
    It could be an urban area packed with pedestrians oblivious to their surroundings and stepping out of doors without checking for bicycles. There is high possibility of injuring a pedestrian.
    It could be an older neighborhood with tree roots breaking the narrow sidewalk, low hanging branches, and other surface damage. There is higher possibility of cyclist injury.
    Or it could be a suburban area with wide smooth deserted sidewalks with no side streets for miles along a high-speed arterial. Relatively safe.

    Check with local bike shops or groups for good routes.

  12. #12
    Just Plain Slow PhotoJoe's Avatar
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    Welcome to BF. And I echo, don't be embarrassed by your weight in a bike shop. They are usually passionate about riding and enjoy helping ANYONE catch the bug. Go test ride everything you can. It's amazing how one model will speak to you while others will do nothing to excite you. The bike you like is the bike you will ride.

    I agree with making sure you look to the future. Several of us from this forum get together and ride. I'm sure at some point, we all thought 10 miles was "grueling". We've done full centuries together! Tomorrow, we're going to go climb a mountain here in SoCal. I think the longer ride will be 44 miles and over 5,000 feet of climbing. As larger people....that's hard, but not impossible. You'll be amazed at how soon your "grueling" 10 miles will become your warmup or recovery ride. Don't push it too hard, but spend time pedaling and before you know it, 10 will become 20, that will become 25, etc. Combine that with you improved eating habits and 340 will become 320 very quickly. Then...dare I say, 299! Well, as long as you're on a roll, feeling good and riding 50 miles on a Saturday morning, you might as well keep going for 250! And don't roll your eyes at me!!!! There are a bunch of people on here that started way heavier than you, and are doing great.

    BTW, I would at least try a bike with road bars over flat bars. If they're not for you, fine, at least you tried them. I like the variety of hand positions on longer rides.

    For some variety in routes, try going to maps.google.com and click on bicycling in "getting around" in the top left. It shows your local bike paths, lanes, etc.
    Last edited by PhotoJoe; 03-21-14 at 04:26 PM.
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    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Move it . . .and lose it!

  14. #14
    Just Plain Slow PhotoJoe's Avatar
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    And join the 100+ mile/month club here on the forum. It's great motivation.
    If at first you don't succeed, Skydiving is not the sport for you!

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    Senior Member muzpuf's Avatar
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    all I can suggest is hybrid bike from a bike shop ( 6 ft 4 is not a standard online size) ....bike riding burns lots of calories DO NOT starve yourself if you do not eat/drink before riding you will burn muscle .... go pick a halfway point get lunch and ride back
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    THANK YOU to all of you!

    FYI, the 10 mile ride was grueling due to how quickly my friend was going.
    I live in the Champaign - Urbana area of Illinois.
    Thanks to everyone's input, I think I'll have to stop by my local shop and see what they have to say!

    Thanks again!

  17. #17
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    So the question was asked "upright or down turned handlebars?"
    A used brooks B17 saddle would be the bee's knees, on either handlebar.
    A 1.75"x26" wheel will get you going, I wouldn't walk away from a used bike, I would get a sturdy sucker until comfortable on a road bike, which you could take your time assembling.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Podagrower's Avatar
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    I've had really good luck with used bikes from Craigslist, using bikepedia as a reference to figure out age and value. But I'm 6'1 (or 6'2 depending on which convenience store I'm at), so my size bike is more common. When I started riding again a couple of years ago, 6 miles at 6 mph was a lot, and now, 35 mile rides are no prep events. I started with used because of all the other exercise equipment collecting dust at the house already. I didn't want to have the financial pressure added to the exercise pressure. Things to look for, high spoke count (36), a triple crank makes hills easier, wider tires require lower air pressure, I'm sure I'm forgetting something. As others have said, the people at the LBS aren't there to judge your weight, so don't be put off from going in for advice, but do some research on your own so they don't just make a sale.
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  19. #19
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    In my opinion, you're not riding far enough for it to matter at this point what you ride as long the bike is sturdy. Any decent 100-200 dollar craigslist mountain bike will do for now. If you are truly motivated and make some progress, you'll determine soon enough how to proceed with your next purchase.

    Like the man said....."move it and lose it"

    When I was real heavy, I felt more self conscience going into a LBS then riding in public :-)

  20. #20
    Senior Member Zoxe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhotoJoe View Post
    Welcome to BF. And I echo, don't be embarrassed by your weight in a bike shop. They are usually passionate about riding and enjoy helping ANYONE catch the bug. Go test ride everything you can. It's amazing how one model will speak to you while others will do nothing to excite you. The bike you like is the bike you will ride.
    Quoted for emphasis.

    I understand your hesitation; I used to feel the same way. Walking into a shop can be very intimidating, almost overwhelming. I have the luxury of having several bike shops within easy driving distance, and early on we made a point of visiting each of them. I only caught actual "attitude" from one of them, and haven't been back to visit him. Another one (the local "big box") was very high pressure and felt more like I was buying appliances than trying to learn about bikes. We don't use them either.

    The good ones, though, will treat you right. Sure, they are still trying to sell you stuff (that's their jobs), but they'll do their best to listen to you and map your needs to a bike they have on their shelf.

    The best way to build up your comfort is to make several small trips. Walking in to spend several hundred $$ is overwhelming. I've built a rapport with the shop nearest my work by popping over at lunch every few months to buy tubes or whatnot.

    The best experience I had in a shop was when I walked in the door with some bike stuff printed out. That told the sales guy that I was serious about buying from him, and I had at least done a little research. We were able to spread the printouts out on his counter and have a conversation. His time investment paid off - not only did I buy THAT bike from him, several months later I drove past 3 other shops to buy a bike for Mrs. Zoxe.
    -----
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  21. #21
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    Senior Member Wilfred Laurier's Avatar
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    the main problem that
    i can think of is finding
    a big enough bike

    for a tall person such as yourself
    and myself
    most bikes will be too small
    and you will have trouble getting comfortable
    and riding will cause more aches and pains
    and be far more difficult and less rewarding

    if you are getting a drop bar road bike
    as some have suggested
    you need at least a 61 cm
    not 61 m as someone said above

    for a flat bar mtb or hybrid or comfort bike
    you need at least a 21
    or more likely a 22 or larger

    in general
    you will need at least what each company has as their xl or largest size

    as for durability
    unless you get the absolute bottom of the barrel from x mart or the like
    then the wheels should be your primary
    or only
    concern
    and if the wheels prove to not be strong enough after a few hundred miles of riding
    then get something stronger

    the important things to look for
    are
    a normal number of spokes
    like 32 or 36 per wheel
    double wall aluminum rims
    and a freehub style hub
    not a freewheel
    as freewheels are an older technology that is a major weak point
    compared to modern freehub style wheels

  23. #23
    Senior Member moochems's Avatar
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    Fatmanonthemoon

    Thanks for making it out to the Clydesdale forum!

    you can do it!

    I used to be 6'3" and 330 pounds. I mainly bicycle for exercise. Watching what I eat is just as important. I've lost 100 pounds since I started bicycling.

    My advice: whatever bike you get, make sure it has 36 spoke wheels.

    Seems the new bikes are likely to come with 32 spoke wheels, or less even. 36 spoke wheels are very important, especially for heavy riders.

    Also, allow some room in your budget for incidentals, like clothing, pedals, saddle(s), and maybe handlebars, lights, spare tubes, a pump, etc.

    If that means getting a cheaper bike, so be it. Not having the little extras will inhibit your ability to stay motivated. Having to walk home because you didn't have a spare tube, and a pump, and a patch kit can really turn you off of riding. Being uncomfortable can do the same, so make sure you leave some room to try a few saddles if need be. For shorter rides (less than 90 minutes) saddle choice won't be super critical, so it might take a few months to figure out even if you need to try a different saddle.

    I am willing and able to do my own wrenching (at least almost all of it), and as such decided a bikesdirect bike was right for me. I am coming up on 10,000 miles on my first adult bike I got from bikesdirect dot com. I trashed the 32 spoke wheels it came with. And had the local bike shop build me some 36 spoke wheels that have served me very well. I bet some 36 spoke wheels from bikesdirect would have lasted much longer than 32 spoke wheels I started with.

    Last, riding on roads? A reflective vest can do a lot of good for little cost. It also fits over anything you want to wear. T shirts, rain jackets, sweatshirts, heavy jackets, all of them will fit under a reflective hi viz vest. Looks a little goofy, but can go a long way to keeping you safe.



    A few websites that can help a ton are:

    Sheldon Brown-Bicycle Technical Information
    Scooby's Workshop | Home Fitness & Bodybuilding Workouts
    and a google search for Ken Kifers bicycle we page too.

    Scoobys web page has, in my opinion, the best fitness information available on the web. Better yet, it is free! Tons of videos, and articles that don't sell any product or service, and are just meant to help you be successfully fit and healthy.

  24. #24
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    For myself, I have found a simple combination of riding and walking helps lose weight. My rides are about 20-25 miles, and later in the evening a 3 mile walk. If I feel too sore to ride (bad disc lower back...) I do two 3 mile walks during the day (morning and evening). For all the money I wasted going to gyms and the stupid things I had trainers tell me....I find common sense is the best: Eat less, excercise more....and the BIG one...get enough rest to let your body recover.

    You have Youth still on your side, which means you also might try and overdo it. A step at a time....a mile more riding, a block or two more walking and you'll get good results quickly.
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  25. #25
    Senior Member Wilfred Laurier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by moochems View Post
    My advice: whatever bike you get, make sure it has 36 spoke wheels.

    Seems the new bikes are likely to come with 32 spoke wheels, or less even. 36 spoke wheels are very important, especially for heavy riders.
    i wholeheartedly agree with all your advice
    but think 32 spokes are totally adequate
    if the spokes are properly tensioned

    your experience of going from the stock 32 spoke wheels
    to hand built 36 spoke wheels
    and experiencing a big jump in durability
    has more to do with the quality of the build than with the number of spokes

    many many many big people ride 32 spoke wheels without problems
    as long as the spokes are properly tensioned

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