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  1. #1
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    common bike that handles 400lbs

    My friend wants to start riding a bike again. Needing ideas for common (can be found used at LBS/craigslist/etc) but of course affordable. He needs a mtn/comfort type bike for light trail or path...
    Any suggestions ? Thx

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    Senior Curmudgeon FarHorizon's Avatar
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    Any decent quality hybrid or MTB, depending on the type of riding. I'd also recommend the Electra Townie series for Uber-Clydes. Unless he HAS to do a lot of climbing and descending, simpler is better. Recommend a coaster brake model, or a single-speed MTB such as the Kona Unit. Once he drops 100#, then he'll be ready for derailleur bikes. I wouldn't recommend one till then (although many here will).

    FH

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    Quote Originally Posted by FarHorizon View Post
    Any decent quality hybrid or MTB, depending on the type of riding. I'd also recommend the Electra Townie series for Uber-Clydes. Unless he HAS to do a lot of climbing and descending, simpler is better. Recommend a coaster brake model, or a single-speed MTB such as the Kona Unit. Once he drops 100#, then he'll be ready for derailleur bikes. I wouldn't recommend one till then (although many here will).

    FH
    I broke the axle on my Townie when I was 400lbs. It is a comfortable bike that can accommodate a rider with a big gut, though.

  4. #4
    Senior Member CliffordK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cuzzinit View Post
    Common bike that handles 400 lbs
    A Tandem?

    A lot of the heavier people seem to gravitate towards the Mountain Bikes, Hybrids, and perhaps Cyclocross bikes. Anything that is designed to do jumps with a dynamic force of 200 lbs should be able to take a static force of 400 lbs, just don't plan on doing any big jumps on it. Also probably pass on all of the suspension as the rider will be bottoming it out anyway.

    What are the ultimate goals?

    I'd get a cheap used MTB or Hybrid now, and then there isn't a lot lost if it remains parked in the garage. If he drops weight down to 250 lbs, or so, then he can buy just about any bike out there as a "reward". A steel frame, or possibly aluminum frame is good for a starter. No need for fancy Carbon Fiber.

    A couple of things to keep in mind. Cassettes are stronger than Freewheels, so I'd choose a 9 speed or greater (usually cassette) over a 7 speed (usually a freewheel).
    For "stock" wheels, get at least 32, or preferably 36 spokes. The "tandem" idea is an interesting idea, and it would be worth considering 40 or 48 spokes and wider rear dropouts that are common on tandems, but that may be more custom, and thus much more expensive.

    Also, if there are any hills to be climbed, the lower the gearing the better. Triple in front, and something big in the back.

    How many $100 Craigslist Specials can you buy and destroy for the price of one custom heavyweight?

    A Dept Store bike may be just about as appropriate as a bike from your LBS. You can always upgrade as needed.

  5. #5
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    I would first find out what kind of riding he wants to do (I started at 400 pounds and have lost 30 pounds due to cycling), and then I would look at a Raleigh branded bike that fits his riding style. A road bike is a very good option if he upgraded the rear or both wheels.

    I ride a Raleigh Revenio 2.0 which is a 20 pound road bike with an aluminum frame and carbon fork, or for trail riding/ pulling my youngest son in a trailer I use a Raleigh Talus 29er mountain bike. I also ride my old steel frame Centurion LeMans 12 speed that I rode in high school some 27 years ago.

    Raleigh has one of the best warranties in the business.

    There are many good brands, but the important things to consider are 1) bike fit (spend the time to get the bike he buys fitted to him as it will help him in the long and short runs not hurt after a ride and other benefits) 2)will he ride the bike he buys (no point in buying a bike if it will just sit in the garage after a couple rides) 3) start him on short rides as riding many days in a row is better at first than trying to do a long ride and deciding one doesn't like to bike.

    When I first started I could go 3/4 of a mile and had to rest for 30 minutes before I could slowly ride home and rest the rest of the day, and now I am doing 10 mile rides regularly only stopping after six or eight miles to rest and also the occasional 25 mile ride.

    Make it fun and he will want to ride.

    Good luck to him.

    Dave

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    Senior Member GravelMN's Avatar
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    .
    I've recommended 1990s Chrome-moly rigid MTBs and Hybrids for large Clydes for years. They are still readily available, the frames are comfortable, nearly indestructible, and not excessively heavy. They have a fairly upright riding position and will take wide tires. Something along the lines of a Trek 730 (700c) or 830 (26"), Specialized Hardrock, Giant Yukon or Boulder, etc. will serve very well as a fitness/commuter/recreational bike. They usually have plenty of mounts for fenders and racks if needed. You can usually get one in decent riding condition for $100-$200. Try to find the butted chrome-moly versions if possible. There are some low end, straight gauge, hi-ten (gas pipe) bikes from that same era. While they work just fine, they are heavier and don't have quite as nice of a ride.


    The 36-spoke wheels they came with are pretty durable for entry level wheels and hold up well if trued and tensioned properly. Upgrading to a tougher rear wheel might be a good idea if the original doesn't cut it. A 32 or 35mm tire will provide comfort and decent handling on mixed surfaces, but you could go up to 40mm with most of the 700c models or 2.1 to 2.3" with the 26" models. Below is an example of a typical bike of that type you might find on Craig's List, at a bike co-op, or in the used rack at and LBS.



    Last edited by GravelMN; 01-04-15 at 06:52 AM.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by GravelMN View Post
    .
    I've recommended 1990s Chrome-moly rigid MTBs and Hybrids for large Clydes for years. They are still readily available, the frames are comfortable, nearly indestructible, and not excessively heavy. They have a fairly upright riding position and will take wide tires. Something along the lines of a Trek 730 (700c) or 830 (26"), Specialized Hardrock, Giant Yukon or Boulder, etc. will serve very well as a fitness/commuter/recreational bike. They usually have plenty of mounts for fenders and racks if needed. You can usually get one in decent riding condition for $100-$200. Try to find the butted chrome-moly versions if possible. There are some low end, straight gauge, hi-ten (gas pipe) bikes from that same era. While they work just fine, they are heavier and don't have quite as nice of a ride.


    The 36-spoke wheels they came with are pretty durable for entry level wheels and hold up well if trued and tensioned properly. Upgrading to a tougher rear wheel might be a good idea if the original doesn't cut it. A 32 or 35mm tire will provide comfort and decent handling on mixed surfaces, but you could go up to 40mm with most of the 700c models or 2.1 to 2.3" with the 26" models. Below is an example of a typical bike of that type you might find on Craig's List, at a bike co-op, or in the used rack at and LBS.



    I've got a trek like that which I got for $40 on Craigslist. It's a tough, sturdy bike. It wasn't as comfortable for me at 400lbs as the Townie (hard to breathe because of having to lean forward a little bit), but I'm very short which makes a difference in how the weight is distributed.

  8. #8
    Senior Member TerraCottaGamer's Avatar
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    Main thing to look for is the number of spokes. 32 minimum and you should be fine with a mtb or hybrid.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dagray View Post
    I would first find out what kind of riding he wants to do (I started at 400 pounds and have lost 30 pounds due to cycling)


    When I first started I could go 3/4 of a mile and had to rest for 30 minutes before I could slowly ride home and rest the rest of the day, and now I am doing 10 mile rides regularly only stopping after six or eight miles to rest and also the occasional 25 mile ride.

    Make it fun and he will want to ride.

    Good luck to him.

    Dave
    He would do paved, gravel trails working up slowly to planned destinations like Rails to Trails rides. He likes fat tire mtbs from the magizines until he sees the price. i've told him go to LBS and find used mtb like my Kona. the reason i asked is wt rating on most bikes i see is well below 400#

  10. #10
    Senior Member CliffordK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cuzzinit View Post
    The wt rating on most bikes i see is well below 400#
    The weight ratings may be a bit conservative. But, it is quite a bit different for a 200 lb person riding their bike up and down over curbs and over jumps vs a 400 lb person who is GENTLE with the bike, avoiding bumps. Treat it like a road bike.

    But, don't buy a skinny tire road bike with 16 spokes. A good MTB/Cross/Hybrid will serve him well.

    In my opinion, one can spend a lot of work specing out the perfect components to make a very expensive bike, but one may be best off just going the cheaper (and simpler) the better.

    If he puts a year's worth of riding on a $100 bike, then decides he needs a $2000 bike, then upgrade at that time. Or, wait till he gets to sub-250 lbs, and then buy a really nice bike (of any kind desired).

    Oh, one class of bikes not to completely ignore are the "FAT Bikes". At least one user didn't like that suggestion, but if built right, they should be able to take any weight one throws at them.

  11. #11
    Senior Member GravelMN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Judi View Post
    I've got a trek like that which I got for $40 on Craigslist. It's a tough, sturdy bike. It wasn't as comfortable for me at 400lbs as the Townie (hard to breathe because of having to lean forward a little bit), but I'm very short which makes a difference in how the weight is distributed.
    My wife likes a bike that rides like a beach cruiser, so I got her a 1990s Trek 820 and found a stem that had a rise similar to the one pictured above, left it a little higher out of the steerer tube, and added handlebars with some sweep and rise. With the saddle moved forward a bit she rides way more upright than I do on my 820.

  12. #12
    Senior Member MRT2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TerraCottaGamer View Post
    Main thing to look for is the number of spokes. 32 minimum and you should be fine with a mtb or hybrid.
    Maybe consider going with a tandem wheelset, and 40 spokes just to be on the safe side. No bigger buzzkill than having to cut a ride short or worse, getting stranded because of a wheel problem.

  13. #13
    Senior Member MRT2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cuzzinit View Post
    He would do paved, gravel trails working up slowly to planned destinations like Rails to Trails rides. He likes fat tire mtbs from the magizines until he sees the price. i've told him go to LBS and find used mtb like my Kona. the reason i asked is wt rating on most bikes i see is well below 400#
    He should try actually riding one. Modern mountain bikes are designed for a quite aggressive style of off road riding that might not suit an overweight beginner just looking to get into cycling.

  14. #14
    Senior Member bassjones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MRT2 View Post
    He should try actually riding one. Modern mountain bikes are designed for a quite aggressive style of off road riding that might not suit an overweight beginner just looking to get into cycling.
    Spot on post. A hybrid is probably his best bet. Something like the Cannondale Quick CX4 might be a good option. Hybrid frame with more trail oriented components and tires. It's basically like an old school MTB only with 700C wheels. Stock wheels are 32 spoke, so if the spikes are tensioned properly, they should hold up for a while.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by cuzzinit View Post
    He would do paved, gravel trails working up slowly to planned destinations like Rails to Trails rides. He likes fat tire mtbs from the magizines until he sees the price. i've told him go to LBS and find used mtb like my Kona. the reason i asked is wt rating on most bikes i see is well below 400#
    See post No. 6 in this thread. I had a Trek 900 series MTB that I abused and neglected the hell out of for some 13 years. It almost never complained. Finally, one trash day, I left it in the alley behind my mom's house where it was being stored. It was gone before morning. I like to think someone I still riding it today.

  16. #16
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    Trek makes a bike rated for 350. It's called a shift 4. Not the most stylish ride on the road but 26 inch wheels with 13 gauge spokes. I just bought one and it seems like a decent bike. I'm hoping it to be my 'tweener bike and get something a little faster down the line. The 14 y.o. kid in me don't like the bike but the 59 y.o. body likes it real well!

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    I second the MTB, steel frame, rigid, 26" wheels. Change out the bars for one with some sweep, slick fat tires will roll easier and still smooth out the road (I love my Big Apples). They were designed for normal sized people to abuse off-road, they will hold to you riding them on the road. Best source is an Independent Bike Shop, one that takes trade-ins (they will usually have them right by the door). They fix them up during the off-season to sell and are not going to waste time on junk. If you like riding and decide to up-grade to something new they will probably give you your money back on a trade in (they may have sold the same bike a few times).

  18. #18
    Senior Member dwmckee's Avatar
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    Be sure you fit it with new rubber as wide as you can fit also.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Lanovran's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigMo59 View Post
    Trek makes a bike rated for 350. It's called a shift 4. Not the most stylish ride on the road but 26 inch wheels with 13 gauge spokes. I just bought one and it seems like a decent bike. I'm hoping it to be my 'tweener bike and get something a little faster down the line. The 14 y.o. kid in me don't like the bike but the 59 y.o. body likes it real well!
    I was about to post about the Shift 4, myself. It's made with an extra strong rear wheel to allow for a higher weight rating, and it's spec'd pretty nicely as well. It's classed as a "comfort hybrid," and has a more upright riding posture than a mountain bike would have. As BigMo59 said, it could potentially make for a great introductory bike.

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