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Advice sought on bike for 309 lbs starting commuting

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.

Advice sought on bike for 309 lbs starting commuting

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Old 08-03-18, 03:35 PM
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Blumenkraft
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Advice sought on bike for 309 lbs starting commuting

Hi all, I am looking to get into commuting by bike. The motivation is there, and hopefully it will help me lose some weight, improve health and get into clothes sold in regular stores.

I used to ride quite a bit in my youth, mostly on drop bar cheapo steel racers, but it's been a good 25 years. I am now in my mid forties, 6' and 309 lbs. The commute is just about 10 miles, in slightly hilly terrain, in an oceanic climate. Mostly on bike paths, but quality of paving is variable, and there is an occasional need to go off the paved road. I have a strong preference for drop bar bikes, don'1 really get along with straight bar bikes, although I see the point.

Concerns are obviously weight (as far as what the bike can take), bad shape (for going the distance, being able to haul the aforementioned 300+ lbs uphill, and not giving up after a week), and the belly that magically shows up whenever I am photographed (so a "casual" setup with a slightly more upright position might be needed to keep thighs from hitting my gut or even compromising my breathing). On the plus side, I am motivated and blessed with an almost childlike optimism.

After doing a minimum of research, I have primarily got my eyes on cyclocross/gravel type bikes due to their higher weight tolerances and more relaxed setup compared to pure road bikes. Going electric would probably not be a bad move to make the job a bit easier especially on the climbs and stop motivation from flagging, but my thinking here and now is that I can get by on my own.

Right now, there are a couple of somewhat attractive options available locally at a decent price, not too far apart (in weight, equipment tier and more) and at the same time quite different. I would prefer shopping locally for my first bike, because I need to try the bikes on for size and setup.

Kona Rove ST
(2018 or 2019)
  • It's steel, which reportedly is real (and smooth)
  • Sweet looking, especially the green metallic 2019 one
  • Dudes like them, in a woodsy, finger picking guitar-y way
  • SRAM Rival 1x11 system has some appeal, with a useful spread of gear ratios
  • ... although it's lacking the fastest options on the top side off the shelf (40t front to 11t back)
  • Nice (flat mount) mechanical disc brakes. Still mechanical though.
  • Other niceties include flared drop bars, thru axle and more
  • Rated for just about 300 lbs


Cannondale CAADX 105 SE
2018
  • It's aluminium, which reportedly is stiff (good) but can be harsh. This frame, though, promises to have some shock-absorbing properties built in.
  • Sharp looking paint job
  • Shimano 105 is said to be a solid choice, maybe even the bees knees
  • Ratios from 1:1 up to quite a bit faster than the Kona on the top end
  • The same mechanical disc brakes as the Kona
  • Quick release, not thru axle
  • Rated for 300 lbs rider plus 30 lbs luggage/love handles
Added challenger:
Cannondale CAADX 105 (2019)
  • Like above, only better?
  • Hydraulic disc brakes!
  • Updated mech
  • More road-y gearing?
  • Stack/reach a bit less relaxing?
  • Green!
  • Tire clearance 40, on a good day?

Obviously, the next step is to revisit the shops and get a feel for the size and geometry of the two bikes. This might disqualify one or both right away for all I know.

So, am I onto something? Or is this the path down to certain failure?
Any opinions on the relative merits of these two? Anything else to keep in mind?
Of course, there are cheaper options in both product lines, and elsewhere. The point here is that I can afford it, and the price difference is not all that big.

All input is highly appreciated. Especially the constructive kind, but flames also have their charm.

Last edited by Blumenkraft; 08-11-18 at 05:13 PM. Reason: Added Cdale 105 2019 (promising)
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Old 08-05-18, 12:45 AM
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If you are going to commute, the CAADX has no rack mount eyelets, the Kona does.

So that sort of puts the CADDX out of the running, yeah?
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Old 08-05-18, 01:12 AM
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Originally Posted by rgconner View Post
If you are going to commute, the CAADX has no rack mount eyelets, the Kona does.

So that sort of puts the CADDX out of the running, yeah?
Well, it would, but are you sure about this? Most reviews and descriptions of the 2018 version explicitly mention rack mounts, albeit "hidden" or "subtle".
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Old 08-05-18, 08:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Blumenkraft View Post


Well, it would, but are you sure about this? Most reviews and descriptions of the 2018 version explicitly mention rack mounts, albeit "hidden" or "subtle".
The ones I read did not, which is why I figured it did not think it had them, but there are a lot of reviews out there and a more commuter orientated would have the info.

Hidden ones can be quite hidden. I rode a Diverge (brilliant bike btw) and did not notice them until the shop pointed them out.

Get the one that speaks to you. Don't let the 1X stop you, your should be able to have the 1X swapped with Rival 22 or 105, your choice, with a even trade. 1X parts are hot, and the shop should be able to sell them quite easily. The previously mentioned Diverge came with 1X, and switching to Rival 22 netted me $500 off the price of the bike.
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Old 08-05-18, 01:04 PM
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Thanks for the input. Will try to get a feel for the bikes before I buy (gearing, geometry, etc., even whether the type of bike is it for me and for the commute). Face value, both bikes have appeal.

Not sure about the extent of trial rides on offer, beyond trying the bikes on for size in the store. Some of the important differentiators between the steel dude and the alu jock such as ride quality/feel and nuances in geometry will only become apparent after riding them in the wild, I suppose.

Occasionally I doubt the feasibility of me climbing the local hills day in and day out, and start checking electrical bikes. Mostly though I have the hubris to assume it can be done without the extra push.
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Old 08-05-18, 06:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Blumenkraft View Post
Thanks for the input. Will try to get a feel for the bikes before I buy (gearing, geometry, etc., even whether the type of bike is it for me and for the commute). Face value, both bikes have appeal.

Not sure about the extent of trial rides on offer, beyond trying the bikes on for size in the store. Some of the important differentiators between the steel dude and the alu jock such as ride quality/feel and nuances in geometry will only become apparent after riding them in the wild, I suppose.

Occasionally I doubt the feasibility of me climbing the local hills day in and day out, and start checking electrical bikes. Mostly though I have the hubris to assume it can be done without the extra push.
When you first start riding, the hills will torment you tremendously, so you need to be careful not to let this put you off, as you will improve out of sight over a few months.
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Old 08-06-18, 06:20 PM
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Arguably, wrong group ... but if hills are an issue for you, and you are willing to commit to biking ... you might consider an ebike. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/my-ne...keith-bierman/
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/stromer-st1-almost-5k-mile-report-keith-bierman/

Detail my early and middle experiences. I'm awaiting breaking 10K miles for the next update focused on the bike. My commute is now about 13m each way (my usual route, there's a shorter route at 9.6miles which I use from time to time, mostly with my non-E bikes).

I've been very happy with my Stromer, but figure out what will work best for you, your commute and your errands. Then force yourself to ride ... in my case I eventually got rid of the car, that resulted in great focus on riding. Of course, when it's 10 df out I wind up questioning some of my life choices..... but most of the time I don't look back.

For the obvious question about health benefits:
https://www.bicycling.com/health-nut...ness-benefits/
Quikbytes:Same Great Workout, Just Faster and More Fun

Anyway, if you find the topic interesting we've got an ebike forum parallel to this one ... followups there please.

Last edited by Khb; 08-08-18 at 10:10 AM. Reason: fixed links (attempt #1)
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Old 08-07-18, 11:31 AM
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Thanks for the feedback regarding the e-bike option. Your articles are very interesting (the links don’t work so well, had to find you on
LinkedIn myself), both for the e-bike stuff and regarding winter commuting. Not at all the wrong thread, at least; I asked for this.

At the moment I am inclined to give the old school regular bike a shot. Hills will definitely be an issue - I’m very heavy and out of shape - but hopefully that will improve over time. If it turns out I overestimated myself,
I can always turn around and make the investment into electric. I have seen some of the research on the training efficiency of e-bikes.

Browsing all over the place atm, will check out the e-bike forum.

Lots to consider; apparently steel isn’t real after all, 1x is a gimmick, the future, or something in between, and 650b wheels may or may not be a good idea on the road...
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Old 08-08-18, 10:08 AM
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I wouldn't say 1x isn't entirely a gimmick. If one wants to avoid "cross chaining", the usability of several gears with a traditional front derailleur setup is compromised. With the 1x drivetrains, you get all of the gears, equally usable. So a traditional "10 speed" is more like an 8 speed, and more-so with a triple front ring ;>

Thanks for the feedback on the links, linked in probably gave me the editable/personalized links ... I'll have to try to sort that out.
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Old 08-08-18, 10:56 AM
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Re: Hills ... yes, they suck, especially at first. After a year of riding, I can tell you they do get easier, and I, in fact, seek them out on certain days.

Re: your bikes of consideration there ... I'd probably opt for the Cannondale ... I ride AL, and an older AL at that. Don't poo poo the idea of AL because of what you've heard (same with the steel is real thing). Not saying Kona's aren't good bikes, I've owned a Kona ... and I loved it. But I'd go with the C'dale if it were my money.
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Old 08-08-18, 11:12 AM
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Hills suck so bad. But you can always jump off, walk alongside your bike for a bit, and jump back on. I find that gives me a much needed boost, of course doesnít work as well if itís a really steep hill but it does on moderate grades. The trail in ride most often is uphill for several miles, itís not steep but itís definitely long and steady. When I first started I would start at the bottom of the hill and would stop and rest all the tome. Iíd ride a short way up the hill, getting passed by runners, and then ride back down wishing I could keep up with my husband who would ride all the way up the trail and back. I just kept at it and I slowly got faster and stronger and now I can do that hill without evening thinking about it. It gets easier so fast if you just stick with it.
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Old 08-08-18, 11:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Khb View Post
I wouldn't say 1x isn't entirely a gimmick. If one wants to avoid "cross chaining", the usability of several gears with a traditional front derailleur setup is compromised. With the 1x drivetrains, you get all of the gears, equally usable. .
I disagree with this. I think in practice you'll be cross-chaining more with 1x, especially with something like a 40x11 top gear on the road.
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Old 08-08-18, 11:31 AM
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Originally Posted by tyrion View Post
I disagree with this. I think in practice you'll be cross-chaining more with 1x, especially with something like a 40x11 top gear on the road.
Well, either I misunderstand 1x or cross chaining. With one sprocket in the front, and a bunch in the rear (my understanding of 1x) I don't see how there's any cross chaining.

SRAM and Shimano seem to have different positions vis a vis cross chaining. https://road.cc/content/feature/2134...really-all-bad

Cross chaining or not, with a traditional setup (like on my aged Gary Fisher) there's certainly some near overlaps ... so the 27 available ratios aren't all that distinct. Without the power assist of my Stromer, I have to admit I do need that "granny" ring in the front. But it is certainly more of a nuisance to get there ;>
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Old 08-08-18, 12:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Khb View Post
Well, either I misunderstand 1x or cross chaining. With one sprocket in the front, and a bunch in the rear (my understanding of 1x) I don't see how there's any cross chaining.
Yes, it depends on how you define "cross chaining". I contend that the chain spends more time at higher angles in a 1x system. As I said, if you have a 1x system with a 40t chainring, on the road, you'll be spending a lot of time in the small cog with a fairly extreme chain angle. Whether you call that cross chaining or not, it's still an extreme chain angle and will have the drag and increased wear that comes with that chain line.

(sorry, kind of derailing the thread here.)
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Old 08-08-18, 01:51 PM
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Have you seen this thread? Lots of ideas on what bikes out there for riders like us. (In case you wanted to see more bikes/looking for more ideas)
What are you riding and how much are you pulling?
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Old 08-08-18, 04:10 PM
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Lots of useful feedback here, thanks.

Originally Posted by Khb View Post
SRAM and Shimano seem to have different positions vis a vis cross chaining. https://road.cc/content/feature/2134...really-all-bad
Interesting article, thanks. It’s a given that “cross chaining" in 1x11, if that is even a relevant term in such a setup, is just a fact of life. On the plus side, you’re guaranteed to always be on the best available front chainring...

Originally Posted by ill.clyde View Post
Re: your bikes of consideration there ... I'd probably opt for the Cannondale ... I ride AL, and an older AL at that. Don't poo poo the idea of AL because of what you've heard (same with the steel is real thing). Not saying Kona's aren't good bikes, I've owned a Kona ... and I loved it. But I'd go with the C'dale if it were my money.
Thanks for the specific recommendation. I’ll make sure I try both for sure, looking at feel and comfort, and differences in geometry. The reason for your Cannondale recommendation is mainly due to your preference for Al, the 105, or something else?

I’ve been checking a lot of threads all over the place, including the "What are you riding" one. Many of the sweet rides in that thread are rated for the slightly more delicate Clyde (sub 250) it seems. YMMV, I guess, but there is no lack of ideas.

Last edited by Blumenkraft; 08-08-18 at 05:03 PM. Reason: Add reverse weight shaming.
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Old 08-09-18, 08:18 AM
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Mainly because I like AL over steel ... but that's a YMMV thing of course.

I personally like the rigidity that AL provides, especially as a Clyde.

The specs on the C'dale are nice too ...
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Old 08-09-18, 08:25 AM
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Another thought ... in terms of the e-bike stuff.

Unless your hills are prohibitively too much, meaning you avoid riding because of them, you'd be better served to ride yourself into shape, than to rely on an electric assist. Last year, I was in your neighborhood, in terms of weight, and quite honestly a little heavier. I started riding, and had moved to a new area that I didn't realize was SO hilly. Not long hills, but short punchy ones, one right after another ... and it SUCKED!

But I rode them anyway ... sometimes I walked them ... but I was out there. I spent all winter riding with Zwift and this year, the hills suck much much less. In fact I enjoy them to a degree. And every time I ride them, I get a little stronger.

If you seriously think you might need an e-assist of some sort, look at the Copenhagen wheel. My local bike guy sells them and he loves them. With just the wheel, you can use it if you want/need, or leave it at home and go with the traditional pedal style.
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Old 08-09-18, 08:30 AM
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First off, I applaud your attitude. Deciding to go from not riding to suddenly riding 10 hilly miles in to work is quite a bite.....and with that, I am going to stress a bit of caution. Before you set that cart in front of the horse, you might consider taking a few test rides, and then when you make a selection do some build up rides. Going from nothing to 10 miles (or 20?) a day is a great way to injure your knees and cause some undue stress to your back, neck, backside.

Follow through as if you do you will be amazed at how much better you will feel...in the meantime take it easy with the ramp up of that plan so you don't get hurt and discouraged. My first ride back was around a mile and I thought I was going to die.
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Old 08-09-18, 06:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Juan Foote View Post
Before you set that cart in front of the horse, you might consider taking a few test rides, and then when you make a selection do some build up rides. Going from nothing to 10 miles (or 20?) a day is a great way to injure your knees and cause some undue stress to your back, neck, backside.
Thanks for the encouragement and the advice. I intend to go super slow. No illusions about going from zero to hero in a day. Short trial rides, combining public commute with riding part of the way, riding once a week, etc. are all in my "cunning" plan to start slow and not fail before I've begun. I also have no qualms about dismounting to walk up hills when needed.

I intend to keep use of my knees, back and neck for a while yet. My backside though, based on experience, will likely be a lost cause for a while.
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Old 08-10-18, 08:37 AM
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As a means of encouragement ... when I was commuting, 24 miles each day round trip, I was in some of the best shape of my life ... it's SO worth the effort
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Old 08-11-18, 02:12 PM
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As I am fat and have both a Kona and a Cannondale, I feel like I can add something.
Both are great bikes. you can make either one work for you and you will be fine, but it depends on what you want to do.
The plus of the Kona is that it is a beast.It will take the abuse you can dish out and beg for more. I started out at 350 and my Kona Jake took it all and my gear.
Mine also has a good hill climbing gear which is great when you are starting out.
The down side is that it is speed limited. These days I figure about 9.8 MPH over any distance with the Kona vs 11 with the Cannondale. But back when I was in shape I could average 13-15 MPH on a Cannondale CAAD8 vs 10.5MPH with the Kona. for your commute that means it will always be around an hour on a Kona, but could get to be 40 minutes on a road bike (or less if you hoof it)
Cycle cross bikes really max out around 20 MPH even down hill for me. Past that the resistance from the wind and tires is just too much.

If I were you I would start with the Kona, despite all I said. Its more forgiving and less likely to kick your ass when you make a mistake. Plan on driving in Monday with clothes for the week (you will want to change, trust me. Some deodorant might not be out of the question but YMMV on that one.) Bike Tuesday-Thursday and Friday bring all your stuff home via car. Start saving for the road bike though because if you are like me after 3 months the Kona is going to be pushing its limits and you will want to go faster. Figure that at saving $30 a week on your car by not driving it you can afford a $1000 bike if you keep it up for 33 weeks; sooner if you include reduced medical expenses and a better attitude from being in shape. I would just say when the Kona drives you nuts get a faster bike.

The make racks for bikes without eyelets but personally I like to keep it light I bike with a water bottle, tool kit and a mini bike pump. maybe a Lara bar just in case.
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Old 08-11-18, 02:14 PM
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Oh and I started by driving to a Park and Ride 2 miles from work, then working up from there. Hope that helps
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Old 08-11-18, 05:15 PM
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Originally Posted by starkmojo View Post
If I were you I would start with the Kona, despite all I said.
Thanks for this feedback, this is very useful indeed. I do plan to "cheat" by riding one way, part of the way, only doing some days, etc.

But wait; a new challenger appears.
The imminent Cannondale CAADX 105 2019 edition adds Shimano 105 hydraulic disc brakes to the mix. This is starting to sound like a very sweet deal indeed. The Konas or the other C'dales in this price range do not offer that. Link added to thread opener.
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Old 08-11-18, 08:22 PM
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OK I checked out the CAADX and she is a sexy looking CX. I like her. If you got the dough for it cough it up. You might want a road bike eventually but not for awhile with that bike.

If your wanting to get into shape to get a road bike, or want to hop curbs get the Kona.
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