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Bike Recommendation for 350 lb. Rider

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Bike Recommendation for 350 lb. Rider

Old 07-15-20, 09:28 AM
  #1  
taylorgeo
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Bike Recommendation for 350 lb. Rider

First post here!

It's been 15 years since I rode a bike. I'm 5'8", 350 lbs., down from 400 lbs.

I'll be riding predominantly on smooth pavement, with some bumps here and there, and occasionally on flat dirt trails.

My concerns are...

1. Frame failing at the head tube
2. Front wheel coming off open fork dropouts
3. Cracking the seatpost

And anything that would cause me to hit the pavement that I'm not aware of!

Just wondering if it's safer to lose another 50 pounds and wait till next summer to ride (I live in the Northeast).

My budget is $600.

Thanks!
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Old 07-15-20, 05:30 PM
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Surly bikes like the Long Haul Trucker/Disc Trucker and the Troll are rated for around 300-330 lbs, but 350 should be just fine as well, as they don't have a hard and fast number for rider weight limit. Both have 26" wheels, for strength, and 36 spoke wheels. Maybe look out for a second hand one within your budget.

Worksman cycles also have a cruiser just over your budget (https://www.worksmancycles.com/inb-rhc.html).
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Old 07-16-20, 02:10 PM
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Thanks so much for the suggestions!
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Old 07-16-20, 04:48 PM
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Another option would be a Giant Escape. This one: https://www.giant-bicycles.com/us/escape-2-disc is right on your budget (the 2021 version will be out soon and will probably be all but identical). The bike's rated for 300 lbs, but if you are careful, it should be okay. If you go for a bike like this, rated to 300 lbs of rider and baggage weight, you should take really good care of the wheels. The frame should be fine--Giant frames are usually built like a Bulgarian Shot Put champion--but their wheels are often the weak point. You can have a bike mechanic tune them up every few weeks and have their hubs rebuilt every few thousand kilometers (ball bearings changed and grease reapplied) or buy the tools and spare parts and learn to do the job yourself. Being obsessive about hubs will keep a cheaper bike going for much longer than it otherwise would.
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Old 07-17-20, 04:05 AM
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I'm the same weight as you and I'd recommend an old steel frame because of your budget. Definitely used with $600 to spend. I think if you're careful most reputable bikes should be ok once you dont bunny hop off kerbs and stuff. Definitely dont wait for 50 lbs. I have an old Raleigh 531c which is a dream to ride. It's over 30 years old and never looks like breaking. And if it did I can get it repaired. I do also have an aluminium Brodie Romax and it is great I have to say. Never gave me any trouble but I dont have the same peace of mind riding it.

Tldr - steel frame and good wheels
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Old 07-18-20, 07:28 PM
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Hi, this is my first post here

taylorgeo, your situation is very very similar to mine. I was close to 400 and decided I'd had enough, started doing more exercise (including biking) and watching my intake. Now I'm at 340 and hopefully will continue to drop the weight.

I've been riding my trusty Trek 800 Sport that I bought in 1998, still going strong. Over time the bikes have gotten better and faster and so forth with aluminum frames and carbon and so forth, but ironically that has made them less accessible for overweight people. Aluminum frames simply aren't as strong as steel frames, and you can't find any bikes from any major manufacturer that officially support 330+. There are some specialist companies like Zize that make bikes specifically designed for fat riders, but they are generally very very expensive for what you get. There are also a ton of fat tire bikes (like the mongoose malus etc) that can support a lot of weight, but generally aren't particularly good for just riding on flat path's etc -- too much resistance, and are generally pretty low quality components as well.

I also want to upgrade from my trusty old bike just because I'd like to have something newer and a little smoother, but there just aren't that many great options out there when you're 300+.
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Old 07-18-20, 07:39 PM
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I was nearing 400 a couple years ago, and though I did most of my initial weight loss with hiking and walking, I eased into riding as well.
The two bikes that bore me well are my Montague Paratrooper, which only has a 240 lb factory claimed weight limit, but they mentioned the wheels as being the limiting factor.
So, I found a 36h Rhyno Lite wheelset, and they've held up very well.
I also bought a Surly Long Haul Trucker, for the reasons mentioned above, and swapped the original wheels for a set of Velocity Chukkers. These also held up well.

Now that I'm below 240, I've started going to lighter wheels on some of my bikes, and I swapped the original Alex Adventurers back on the LHT. I'll probably figure out the best sweet spot wheelset for that bike at some point, but these are doing very well in the meantime. They might have been just fine at my fattest, but I don't plan on ever testing that again.
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Old 07-18-20, 09:48 PM
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Can't find any vintage steel frame bikes. The Trek 820 is steel, but the wheels are only single wall, with rim breaks. Jamis makes an inexpensive steel MTB, but no suspension fork.

My local bike shop is getting in the 2021 Kona Lana'i. Any opinions? Aluminum frame, but looks like the sturdiest bike out there for $600.
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Old 07-18-20, 10:12 PM
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Originally Posted by taylorgeo View Post
Can't find any vintage steel frame bikes. The Trek 820 is steel, but the wheels are only single wall, with rim breaks. Jamis makes an inexpensive steel MTB, but no suspension fork.

My local bike shop is getting in the 2021 Kona Lana'i. Any opinions? Aluminum frame, but looks like the sturdiest bike out there for $600.
The wheels on the trek 820 are single wall, but both of my treks (the 800 sport and the 800 mountain track) have the same single wall wheels and they did fine holding my 380+ lbs (at the time). The frames are extremely sturdy and stiff on those. You can pick up one of those (or an 820 or something similar) for very little cash, and then perhaps upgrade the wheels if you're unsure about them. Also, while having a suspension fork can make the ride a little smoother, for people like me (and you) who are not planning to take bike on the trail but rather just staying on nice paved areas, I don't think a suspension is a must. To each his own of course, just my 2 cents

Edit: Also, another thing that I like about the Trek's is that the seat posts seem very solid, and at no point did I ever feel like they were going to crack/break or otherwise fail. Hopefully I'm not jinxing myself!

Last edited by BuckeyeBiker; 07-18-20 at 10:17 PM.
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Old 07-19-20, 09:16 AM
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Unfortunately, the very bikes that'd suit you best are the ones that have dried up with the recent buying frenzy, but they'll be saturating the gently-used market soon.

Suspension, I found early on, is a problem for big guys, and unless you're wanting to spend a bunch, I'd go rigid. I swapped the fork on my Paratrooper for this reason, and haven't regretted it at all. I may find a decent quality suspension fork at some point, when I'm wanting to return it to MTB use, but again, it won't be a cheap elastomer or spring model. Helps that I'm a lot lighter now.
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Old 07-19-20, 11:06 AM
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I am taller but in your weight range. The Trek Marlin 6 is a decent bike in that range. It is a little bit over but can be found.
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Old 07-19-20, 05:35 PM
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Originally Posted by taylorgeo View Post
Can't find any vintage steel frame bikes. The Trek 820 is steel, but the wheels are only single wall, with rim breaks. Jamis makes an inexpensive steel MTB, but no suspension fork.

My local bike shop is getting in the 2021 Kona Lana'i. Any opinions? Aluminum frame, but looks like the sturdiest bike out there for $600.
The Kona Lana'i has a Suntour fork with 100 mm of travel. Forks like that are fairly cheap and don't like taking the weight of bigger riders all that much, plus, they absorb pedalling energy. If you have a lot of gravel/off road paths nearby, and intend to ride relatively smooth off road trails, it might be an okay idea. Edit: I just read your original post; I'd look for a bike with a rigid fork; see below.

But if the shop has a Lana'i, maybe they can can get a Dew? It's an urban type bike with fairly wide tires, but crucially, it has rigid forks and it should be around the same price as the Lana'i (the base Dew version; the Dr. Dew and Dew Deluxe will be more expensive).
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Old 07-19-20, 08:45 PM
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Originally Posted by PDKL45 View Post
The Kona Lana'i has a Suntour fork with 100 mm of travel. Forks like that are fairly cheap and don't like taking the weight of bigger riders all that much, plus, they absorb pedalling energy. If you have a lot of gravel/off road paths nearby, and intend to ride relatively smooth off road trails, it might be an okay idea. Edit: I just read your original post; I'd look for a bike with a rigid fork; see below.

But if the shop has a Lana'i, maybe they can can get a Dew? It's an urban type bike with fairly wide tires, but crucially, it has rigid forks and it should be around the same price as the Lana'i (the base Dew version; the Dr. Dew and Dew Deluxe will be more expensive).
I just don't like the idea of hitting pot-holed streets, tree branches, or any other on or off-road hazards with a rigid fork. At 350 lbs., I feel like I may lose control, or even worse, loosen the QR skewer.

I know the Giant Talon has a hydraulic lockout... maybe that's the way to go?
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Old 07-20-20, 12:27 AM
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Losing control from hitting obstacles with a rigid fork doesn't really happen in my experience, you usually go around or stop in time to move it or carry your bike over. Personally, I'd go for a rigid bike, because all of the parts, other than the forks, are going to be nicer on a rigid bike, due to the company saving some money on that item. Still, it's up to you, and the Kona is a fairly nice bike.
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Old 07-22-20, 05:57 PM
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Originally Posted by taylorgeo View Post
I just don't like the idea of hitting pot-holed streets, tree branches, or any other on or off-road hazards with a rigid fork. At 350 lbs., I feel like I may lose control, or even worse, loosen the QR skewer.

I know the Giant Talon has a hydraulic lockout... maybe that's the way to go?
When I was around 360+lbs I had a entry level 29er that had a 100mm Suntour fork. When I got on it with the preload maxed it was at around 50+% sag. Ideally you would want 20-30% sag but what this meant is that the fork was bottoming out almost always. It also didn't rebound properly so it felt as if I was already running a rigid fork, but heavier.

What I would personally recommend is a 27.5/29" rigid bike with the largest tires you can fit. That will let you run lower pressures which deform better over obstacles and are not too jarring. Or a fat bike. I really enjoy that especially if I'm not looking to ride super fast.
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Old 07-22-20, 07:57 PM
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I'm no expert, but I weigh just slightly less than you and never thought twice about something breaking. The only thing I ever broke was a bottom bracket cup on my old commuter bike, but I think it must have been defective. And it just made a noise for a week until I got it replaced.
I ride aluminum and steel. From my recent research on "fitness bikes", they are guaranteed for a 300 + 30 (cargo) pound load, and that's probably just conservative. My current bikes are not recent models, though, so I can't make any recommendations.
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Old 07-27-20, 01:09 PM
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OP, please post when you finally make your purchase! Can't wait to see what you go with on this.
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Old 07-27-20, 01:17 PM
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I'm far more concerned about broken spokes than any of the concerns you mentioned. After several years hiatus I started back up on a Giant Escape and felt it was a good starter bike. Definitely upgrade the wheels, though. I got some from Velomine (Velocity Deep V 36 spoke) when I bought my current bike and have been very happy.
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Old 07-28-20, 04:07 PM
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Originally Posted by insignia100 View Post
I'm far more concerned about broken spokes than any of the concerns you mentioned. After several years hiatus I started back up on a Giant Escape and felt it was a good starter bike. Definitely upgrade the wheels, though. I got some from Velomine (Velocity Deep V 36 spoke) when I bought my current bike and have been very happy.
Gotcha... thanks for the feedback and wheel recommendation.
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Old 07-30-20, 10:19 AM
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Strongly recommend an Electra Townee. They are a little heavy, but extremely sturdy, I lost well over a hundred pounds on two of them and they ride very nicely, especially on pavement! I was at around 320 when I began riding after having lost close to a hundred pounds I plateaued and decided to ride. I now ride a TREK Domane. Still own the two Townees and ride them when I do slow leisurely rides now, but don't let them fool you, I could pick up the pace on those bikes easily.

Good Luck!!
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Old 07-30-20, 08:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Robalero View Post
Strongly recommend an Electra Townee. They are a little heavy, but extremely sturdy, I lost well over a hundred pounds on two of them and they ride very nicely, especially on pavement! I was at around 320 when I began riding after having lost close to a hundred pounds I plateaued and decided to ride. I now ride a TREK Domane. Still own the two Townees and ride them when I do slow leisurely rides now, but don't let them fool you, I could pick up the pace on those bikes easily.

Good Luck!!
Yeah, I was looking at those. They also seem safer with the "Flat Foot Technology." Were you able to get good leg extension and still touch the ground with booth feet while seated?
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Old 07-31-20, 05:45 AM
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Originally Posted by taylorgeo View Post
Yeah, I was looking at those. They also seem safer with the "Flat Foot Technology." Were you able to get good leg extension and still touch the ground with booth feet while seated?
I was, the largest I could get was with 26 inch wheels, but the frame is pretty large. Raised the seat and the way the handlebars are shaped my stomach did not become a problem. Smooth Shimano gears and brakes, I got the 7D model, its perfect for a big man. I will try to post a pic of one of them later today. Good Luck!
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Old 07-31-20, 06:37 AM
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Here is a pic of my black Townee, note the handlebars, for a large man, beginning on his quest to lose that gut, the style and position of the handlebars is probably the most important element in a safe and comfortable ride. Of course, having a strong, sturdy bicycle has to be the priority. I was able to put in 20 miles daily on my bikes, I also have another Townee in blue. I My gut is gone now, so I ride a TREK Domane and can put in thirty to forty miles on a daily ride. Need to heal up from my surgery first. Once again, good luck!

Electra Townee 7D
If its not a 7D, it will come with different handlebars.
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Old 09-11-20, 12:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Altair 4 View Post
OP, please post when you finally make your purchase! Can't wait to see what you go with on this.
Originally Posted by Robalero View Post
Strongly recommend an Electra Townee. They are a little heavy, but extremely sturdy, I lost well over a hundred pounds on two of them and they ride very nicely, especially on pavement! I was at around 320 when I began riding after having lost close to a hundred pounds I plateaued and decided to ride. I now ride a TREK Domane. Still own the two Townees and ride them when I do slow leisurely rides now, but don't let them fool you, I could pick up the pace on those bikes easily.

Good Luck!!
Drumroll... I got the Electra Townie 7D! Pretty anticlimactic at this point, but it was tough trying to find a suitable bike. This was the perfect blend of comfort, safety and durability, and it's pretty sharp looking in person.

I'll be on a MTB next summer after I drop more weight!

A million thanks to those of you who have been so generous with your time, making suggestions, sharing your stories and for encouraging me.

THANK YOU

P.S. I'm sure I'll be back to learn about maintenance and repairs.
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Old 09-11-20, 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by taylorgeo View Post
Drumroll... I got the Electra Townie 7D! Pretty anticlimactic at this point, but it was tough trying to find a suitable bike. This was the perfect blend of comfort, safety and durability, and it's pretty sharp looking in person.

I'll be on a MTB next summer after I drop more weight!

A million thanks to those of you who have been so generous with your time, making suggestions, sharing your stories and for encouraging me.

THANK YOU

P.S. I'm sure I'll be back to learn about maintenance and repairs.

Congratulations!!! The bike will serve you very well! I am recovering from surgery right now and it is my Townie's that are my workhorses for my recovery. Good Luck and keep us posted on your weight journey. Remember, you can't ride the pounds off, you need to work equally hard when you sit at the table!!!!
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