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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 06-09-14, 10:28 AM   #1
NurseWizzle
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Do I need another bike? A road bike?

So I'm 5'8", 330ish pounds, and want to get into biking for exercise. In April I went to my bike shop, explained to them what I wanted, or what I thought I wanted. At that time, I thought I just wanted something to ride along the trails. I remembered a few years back trying out a bike and not being able to make it less than a mile to the mall, so riding long distances was the furthest thing from my mind. Anyways, after trying a variety of mountain bikes, hybrids, etc, I got an Electra Townie. I liked the more upright riding position and the forward pedals. I haven't had the chance to ride a whole lot because of work, and I was injured for a while. Most of my rides have been around 5-6 miles. The feeling I get when I ride this bike is, its not meant to go very fast or very far.

My friend regularly rides 30-40 miles on his road bike. I was talking to him about it, because I feel like I could never go that far on my cruiser, and he said there really isn't a comparison, the amount of effort I have to put in for my 5 mile ride would translate to a longer ride on a road bike. Is this true? I'm starting to think that my cruiser is more of a ride-around-the-block-with-the-kids bike, or a ride-to-work bike, or a grocery-getter bike... not something I can ride for some seriously long rides.
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Old 06-09-14, 10:37 AM   #2
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Yes, it's true.

And the answer to "Do I need another bike?" is always yes

At your weight all the standard answers will be forthcoming (higher count spokes, blah blah blah) and yes, road bikes will say they have a "weight limit" but that's generally legalese.

Get a roadie and ride lots You won't regret it. Keep your Townie for "just for fun" rides.
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Old 06-09-14, 11:12 AM   #3
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Any recommendations? I really have a very small budget now after dropping so much into the Townie with accessories.
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Old 06-09-14, 11:13 AM   #4
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Couple of things to think about. The Townie/Cruiser has a wide cushy seat, I find I can't go more than about 8 miles on those and I prefer not to ride that style of seat at all. Puts too much pressure on the soft tissue and not on the sit bones where it belongs. This takes getting used too. Lots of threads here about getting comfortable on saddles/seats. This is why road bikes have smaller seats that are actually more comfortable once you get the right one and toughen your rear up a bit.

When I started, on a cruiser, I was 5'8" and 252 lbs. I couldn't reach the hoods, where the brakes are, and breath at the same time. To stop I'd have to exhale, reach brakes, stop, breath. Sounds bad but it was really no big deal. As I lost weight and my belly diminished this problem went away. By working through this I skipped going from cruiser to flat bar bike to road bike. It worked out for me and I'm glad I went straight to the road bike. To put it another way, I just rode my road bike like a flat bar bike for a bit.

Enjoy your ride!
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Old 06-09-14, 11:54 AM   #5
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One other thing, is there anything I can do to this bike I have now to make it a little easier to ride, like different tires or anything?
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Old 06-09-14, 12:16 PM   #6
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Hi there, NurseWizzle!

I'm quite sure that I have a solution for you...

What's your current bicycle budget?

Last edited by WestPablo; 06-09-14 at 01:11 PM.
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Old 06-09-14, 01:03 PM   #7
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Your about maxed out on the Townie for distance 8-10 miles is about it. There isn't much you can do to make it easier. Start planning and saving up now and start looking for a good used road bike that will fit you.
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Old 06-09-14, 01:14 PM   #8
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Does your current bike have narrow street tires on it? I rode my first couple years on a mountain bike. When I started I was 360 pounds and could only go a few miles like you describe. I was able to build up endurance and was eventually riding to work, ~10 miles each way. I was riding on knobby dirt tires. Just switching to narrower 1.5" road tires on that bike cut about 8 minutes off my commute, from 45 minutes to 37 minutes. It made a huge difference, so you might start there.

I had friends telling me I needed to get a road bike, but honestly at that weight I think I would have been way too uncomfortable on a road bike. I'm at 237 pounds now and have just recently upgraded to a road bike. It's definitely more efficient, but again, I still think I would have been uncomfortable riding it when I was over 300#. Your best bet might be to pick up an older mountain bike, put road tires and climbing bars on it, and go from there. I was commuting 20 miles each way on my mountain bike until I upgraded recently. Not as efficient as a road bike, but you're doing it for exercise anyway, right? I picked up my Bridgestone MTB at my LBS for about $200 a few years ago. Definitely got my money's worth from that bike!
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Old 06-09-14, 01:17 PM   #9
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Agree with the above. If your budget is tight and you are looking for a road bike, used is the way to go. There are risks in buying used, but if you have the bike checked out, you should be fine. That will cost you a little. Avoid ultra-light bikes with low spoke count wheels etc, but otherwise you should be good to go. I am a fan of vintage steel framed bikes, but it is personal preference... but the right aluminum bike would be fine (as would some carbon, but that is probably not available on a budget).

Also, you may be able to recoup some of the cost by selling your Townie to someone who will be happy with short rides.

Hybrids are a good middle ground, and at 6' and 340+ I ride mine for 20-30 miles without any issues, and will be riding farther as the season progresses. Hybrids do tend to be less expensive than road bikes, and you won't be quite as fast, and may have comfort issues when you ride for several hours straight, but do just fine for me on a 2-3 hour ride with a few breaks. Just tossing it out there as another possibility for you.

The down side of a road bike to us very large riders (in my opinion) is related to the gut getting in the way of pedaling efficiently. If it weren't for that, I would probably be using one of my vintage steel steeds as my daily rider instead of my hybrid.
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Old 06-09-14, 01:18 PM   #10
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Any recommendations? I really have a very small budget now after dropping so much into the Townie with accessories.
Well, one option would be to sell the Townie ... but if you're like me (or any of us really) you like having more than one bike.

You could keep an eye out on Craigslist for used bikes ... but quality women's bikes are sometimes few and far between. A vintage steel bike would be reasonably priced, but you'd have to have it given a good once over by a knowledgable friend or bike mechanic.

Or you could maybe mount narrower tires to get a marginal gain in terms of less rolling resistance, and save money toward a new road bike.

Either way, keep riding!
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Old 06-09-14, 01:27 PM   #11
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You could keep an eye out on Craigslist for used bikes ... but quality women's bikes are sometimes few and far between.
As a man, I probably am not interested in a woman's bike.

As far as the Townie goes, I'd like to keep it for grocery grubs and such.
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Old 06-09-14, 01:31 PM   #12
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As a man, I probably am not interested in a woman's bike.

As far as the Townie goes, I'd like to keep it for grocery grubs and such.
OMG I'm so sorry ... my sister is a nurse and I just made an assumption. That's what I get for posting while trying to work.
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Old 06-09-14, 01:33 PM   #13
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It's ok, I've been called worse!
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Old 06-09-14, 04:52 PM   #14
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Budget wise it sounds like you will be looking for used bikes. I am not sure of your price range but looking at the Cedar Rapids Craigslist this caught my eye: Panasonic Pro touring 1985 bio pace 18 speed. If it fits and within your price range I think it would be a nice balance between speed, comfort, and durability.

The other options looked to be Hardtail mountain bikes that would offer some similar qualities as the bike mentioned above (with some modifications). I am not sure about your area but there may be some bike shops that sell used or perhaps some co-ops.
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Old 06-09-14, 05:01 PM   #15
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exile, thanks for looking at that for me. I'm trying to contact the person now. I wish I knew more about this stuff. I'm going to open up my craigslist search a little wider and see what is available outside Cedar Rapids
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Old 06-09-14, 05:10 PM   #16
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exile, thanks for looking at that for me. I'm trying to contact the person now. I wish I knew more about this stuff. I'm going to open up my craigslist search a little wider and see what is available outside Cedar Rapids
What's your budget?
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Old 06-09-14, 05:11 PM   #17
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You know what, honestly, my wife is telling me right now my budget is $0. She doesn't understand. I bet if I found something that fit I could talk her into sub-$200 but that's about it.
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Old 06-09-14, 05:21 PM   #18
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OK, now this is going to sound dumb, but I'm confused about bike sizes. I'm 5'8" and when I was originally trying bikes, I saw some that said they were like 15, 17, 19"... the 15" were the ones that fit me best. Anything bigger and I was crunching my junk. When I'm looking at craigslist I see some bikes listed as 24 or 26". Are those for giants or what?
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Old 06-09-14, 05:28 PM   #19
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Alright, then use the following and sell your Townie:

www.bicyclebluebook.com

Afterwards, come back and we'll find you a really worthwhile replacement that will be much more useful to you. Chances are, it will also be new and not used!

Meanwhile, maybe you can use the Park System and go hiking. Just remain active daily, no matter what, until we can get you rolling again!
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Old 06-09-14, 05:40 PM   #20
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OK, now this is going to sound dumb, but I'm confused about bike sizes. I'm 5'8" and when I was originally trying bikes, I saw some that said they were like 15, 17, 19"... the 15" were the ones that fit me best. Anything bigger and I was crunching my junk. When I'm looking at craigslist I see some bikes listed as 24 or 26". Are those for giants or what?
Possibility 1, most likely by far: ad poster doesn't know much about bikes, and posted the tire size (26" is standard for MTB, 24" for kid's MTBs), not the frame size. "29er" 29" tire MTBs that use road bike diameter rims are more recent and pretty popular. Old road bikes may use 27" tires which were common in U.S. until the slightly smaller French 700c standard took over around the late 80s.

Possibility 2: for giants, road bikes typically have larger nominal sizes than MTB (based on seat tube length on a traditional horizontal top tube frame), and 24" isn't impossible. 26" would be awfully unlikely though unless a custom bike for a basketball player, 99.9% they posted tire size. And road bikes have been using metric sizing for decades.

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Old 06-09-14, 06:00 PM   #21
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The 15, 17, 19 usually refers to the size of the bike. For example I'm 5'9 and ride a 19" Jamis Exile and a 54cm Surly Long Haul Trucker. Since you are 5'8 I'd think you would be sized close to the 17" mountain bike or a 52cm road bike usually with a +/- of about 2.

The sizes are rough guidelines as each manufacturer may size their bikes differently. The best thing you should do is ride as many bikes as you can within your size range to see which one is the most comfortable.

For years I rode a 22" Giant Rincon with virtually no stand over height, but it was very comfortable. I remember reading somewhere that stand over height is not as important as reach (it might be Sheldon Brown or on the Rivendell site).

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Old 06-09-14, 06:22 PM   #22
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Right now, there's a really great deal thru Amazon, on the Marin Muirwoods 29er @ $450. That's just about half of its original price. It would be just perfect for you!
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Old 06-09-14, 06:57 PM   #23
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You know what, honestly, my wife is telling me right now my budget is $0. She doesn't understand. I bet if I found something that fit I could talk her into sub-$200 but that's about it.
Make a deal with your wife. For every mile you ride or pound you lose, a dollar gets added to your budget. When she sees your progress, either miles logged or pounds dropped, she will understand your passion for biking.
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Old 06-09-14, 07:57 PM   #24
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As a man, I probably am not interested in a woman's bike.
I am!

How come they don't make big mixte/step-through bikes? Screw stand-over and top tubes close to my crotch and the swing mount onto the saddle. I want to just step through, rise up off my heels and slide onto the saddle.

I'd totally ride a 'girl' bike. But I'm 6'3" and they don't come that big.
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Old 06-09-14, 07:58 PM   #25
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Make a deal with your wife. For every mile you ride or pound you lose, a dollar gets added to your budget. When she sees your progress, either miles logged or pounds dropped, she will understand your passion for biking.
Every mile ridden is a dollar? With my 26 mile r/t commute, I want that budget...
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