Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Danville, CA
Bikes: 1980 Raleigh Super Record
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I sound somewhat similar to your Dad, being 6'5", 51 years old, and "un-thin" (240 lbs.) My bike is the old Raleigh road bike that I bought new in 1980, which then sat unused for many years. When I resumed biking a year or so ago, I found that the following were most critical to me, in terms of getting re-started with reasonable comfort:
- even with a 25" / 63cm frame, I needed a longer seat post to get enough leg extension. getting my bike set up for the best fit (especially leg angles, leg extension, etc.) was the most important item for both effort reduction and avoidance of things like knee pain.
- a decent seat with an "anatomical" cut-out (I forget the right word - peritonum????) - I think that having a little bit of padding/give to the seat is helpful, but I stuck to a seat that is still basically a road bike saddle in terms of shape (in my case a LeMond seat with leather top surface, cut-out, and a little bit of gel padding)
- even if you feel dumb at first wearing bike shorts, get a half-decent set that will povide some padding. If spandex is out, then you can still find MTB shorts that look more like running shorts.
- My bike has the top of the handlebars set a fair amount lower than the saddle, which I don't mind, but getting a flat-bar bike, or a "touring" road bike set-up with a higher bar height may make it a lot more comfortable.
- for a bit down the road, consider going to clipless pedals with decent shoes, although toe-clips should be fine at first.
My "old school" bike is pretty strong and handles my weight just fine (steel frame). For a new bike, a mountain, hybrid or "cyclecross" style may make more sense than a road bike. Or, get a touring bike, which in general will be set up for handling higher weight. If you live in an even slightly hilly area, make sure that you have a low enough gear, since extra weight is a huge handicap for climbing hills. Mountain and hybrid bikes of course have wider gear spreads, and lower gears, but some road-style touring bikes make use of mountain bike gear cassettes, derrailleurs, etc. At minimum, it is good to have a triple crank, even if you have a road cassette on the back.