Recommend a bike for a heavy novice

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
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Recommend a bike for a heavy novice

Postby photobike » 9 Feb 2017, 12:48pm

I am asking for a friend - no really!

This guy is in his 40s, about 6ft 4" and comfortably over 20st. He is looking to alter his lifestyle which would involve reducing to one car in the family and him switching to a bike for short runs initially < 5 miles mostly to link up with trams to work etc. The terrain is mostly flat suburban but has a few short sharp hills for many of the typical journeys. While he is not currently very active, in recent years he 'trained' and walked the Dublin City Marathon including losing quite a lot of weight (> 5 St), much of which has gone back on.

He is very taken with the appearance of Fat Bikes as they look the part. I am not as persuaded that it is what he needs. The choices are to buy new on a bike to work scheme (I am in Ireland so the scheme here allows you to recoup about 52% of the cost depending on your tax rate) or to buy 2nd hand. The bike to work scheme that some hardly used bikes come on the market for < 1/2 new price. There is also the option of an older 2nd hand style tourer but these are harder to find in Ireland and the shipping costs can make it expensive if buying from GB, although some retailers have decent shipping costs to Ireland and it might be possible to arrange a pickup address in Northern Ireland if that was the only way to get something shipped. The latter option is messy as it would involve a round trip of 100-200 miles depending on where the NI address was.

In the medium to Longer term he is hoping to occasionally be able to make the approx 60km journey to a family mobile home at weekends along a largely flat coastal route with again a number of short sharp hills.

Any thoughts on the type of bike that would suit in the first instance, and specific new bike recommendations which might make the bike to work scheme attractive, particularly from anyone who has experience of this height and weight.

Thanks in anticipation


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Re: Recommend a bike for a heavy novice

Postby Vorpal » 9 Feb 2017, 1:01pm

If he wants a Fat Bike (or another brand with fat tyres), it's probably not a bad choice for him. Frankly, at his size, I think he will struggle to find anything else as comfortable and sturdy. Many mountain bikes and hybrids will have suspension, which will not be durable under his weight.

A tourer is another reasonable possibility, but a fat bike is like to be more comfortable, as the tyres will act as a suspension. It may be mroe durable for the same reason. He can always put skinnier tyres on it if he wants to. Or buy something else after he has lost a bit of weight?

I haven't ridden a fat bike, yet, but the people I know who have them absolutely love them.
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Re: Recommend a bike for a heavy novice

Postby Spinners » 9 Feb 2017, 1:16pm

A steel touring bike with strong wheels would be best. The two I've had recent experience of are the Fuji Touring and the Specialized AWOL with the latter being beefier and I've used it genuinely off road and not just on 'gravel'.

I really wouldn't want to be riding a Fat Bike for 60km with occasional short, sharp hills - way too much rotating mass.
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Re: Recommend a bike for a heavy novice

Postby pete75 » 9 Feb 2017, 1:35pm

What sort of price range is he considering?

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Re: Recommend a bike for a heavy novice

Postby tykeboy2003 » 9 Feb 2017, 2:50pm

Steel frame is a must..... Possibly made out of angle iron and 1" rivets.

Only joking....

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Re: Recommend a bike for a heavy novice

Postby martin biggs » 9 Feb 2017, 3:54pm

i would forget the fat bike

and try and find a good old 80's ish Road Touring bike and see how he gets on , and if he enjoys it then look for something newer

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Re: Recommend a bike for a heavy novice

Postby 531colin » 9 Feb 2017, 7:32pm

"Malaconotus" is your man for this query. (He is the only person I have heard describe how he can make the front mech. rub on his LHT by pushing hard)
Doesn't visit much these days, but a P.M. is always worth a punt.

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Re: Recommend a bike for a heavy novice

Postby Bowedw » 9 Feb 2017, 8:02pm

What about a Pashley Pronto which was the last of the Postal bikes. are selling refurbished post bikes for a reasonable amount. You could remove the metal carrier at the front and just bolt it back on if need be. Generally heavy people are very strong and will be more than capable of skipping along at a fair old pace especially on flattish terrain. No joke please about the unfortunate name of the bike, this is a serious suggestion.
You could upgrade again and not lose much in the sale or keep it as a shopping bike. I admit I am a bit biased as I have one and it is fun to ride.

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Re: Recommend a bike for a heavy novice

Postby The utility cyclist » 9 Feb 2017, 8:08pm

Sorry but to those saying you can only ride or should only ride steel are incorrect.
20+ stone is nothing to be concerned about unless you're buying a wafer thin tubed steel frame or an early aluminium racing frame.

I haven't dipped under 16stone for some time and peaked at 17 not long back and rode often with loaded bags to easily 3.5 stone plus the bags and all the bits bringing it to 21stone and more, hammered the bike up/down rough trails, dropped off kerbs, bunny hopped over speed humps AND have on occasion ridden with a passenger (another 9 stone plus handbag :lol: ) on board whilst medium loaded for a 2 mile journey, once every other week for half a year. Oh yeah, she'll do 46mph down alpine descents in the right hands too.

My bike, of around 7 years or so, a specialized globe pro, alu triangle and carbon fibre seat stays and forks. It's been rear ended in a hit and run, I've dropped it too many times from careleess perching/leaning against walls/bin sheds/back of the car etc, I've come off an icy night time run down the hll to the supermarket, it's being involved in a spill when someone ran into me from the side of the road and still it goes on. No sign of damage, no sign of cracks or wear and tear other than a few pock marks and abrasions to the paint and a little bit of chain slap where the stay protector falls short.
Oh and the rear wheel is a Mavic Open pro on 32 spoke Ultegra hub, the front a 36 spoke MAvic MA2 on a 1990s Sansin sealed bearing hub, so nothing heavy duty and I run it with 32mm rear and 25mm tyres. (more recently 28mm on rear)
I really have beasted this bike like no other that I have owned, I was so impressed I bought another and turned it into a fastish audax/liesure, winter machine that could equally be used for heavy touring or as an off road 'gravel' bike. It'll even take 29er wheels if need be and wide tyres up to 55mm without mudguards and around 45mm with.
If you can find a really good one, the pro or the Elite, buy one.
I'd also say the Specialized Tricross too.

Of new bikes, not much personal experience but some of the sturdier frames from the big names plus KTM should be fine, KTM aren't a well known brand here in the UK but having bought an ex continental pro team racing frame a couple of years ago I've been mighty impressed, many people in continental europe buy them as everyday bikes and for more rigorous adventures.
Weight limits in manufacturers booklets/warranties, buttock covering.

Hope you find something suitable for him.
Last edited by The utility cyclist on 9 Feb 2017, 8:10pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Recommend a bike for a heavy novice

Postby Cyril Haearn » 9 Feb 2017, 8:09pm

I have occasionally seen bikes marked with a maximum load, maybe 120 kg rider and luggage, not sure whether this is compulsory. You are lucky, the Republic is staying in the EU :)
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Re: Recommend a bike for a heavy novice

Postby PH » 9 Feb 2017, 8:33pm

If they haven't already read it this is worth a look, both for inspiration and information. At 35 stone Gaz was riding... well read about it
https://theamazing39stonecyclist.wordpr ... or-a-bike/

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Re: Recommend a bike for a heavy novice

Postby TrevA » 9 Feb 2017, 11:08pm

Vorpal wrote:If he wants a Fat Bike (or another brand with fat tyres), it's probably not a bad choice for him. Frankly, at his size, I think he will struggle to find anything else as comfortable and sturdy.

There are plenty of us around the 20st mark riding around on normal bikes. I'm 19st, 6ft 2in, have 3 bikes, a Ridgeback Panorama, a Trek Domane and a Triban 520. Guess what? The wheels and frames don't collapse every time I ride them.

Like others, I would say that a touring bike would be able to cope well with the demands here. Low gears for any hills, sturdy wheels, with reasonable width tyres - 32-37mm, to provide a bit of comfort. No need for a Fat bike with its ridiculous 4 inch wide tyres?
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Re: Recommend a bike for a heavy novice

Postby Andy3460 » 10 Feb 2017, 5:30am

Couple of inches shorter than him, but was a similar weight.

Started my adult cycling on a Decathlon hybrid. Despite being pretty heavy, it had mudguards and lugs for a rack and panniers, and low enough gears to get up anything.

I had it for a few years, commuted an average of a couple of times a week in decent weather, 26 mile round trip, rode for fun, and did many rides of 40 miles or more.

Now around 19 stone, (and falling,) retired the old steed last year, and now using a Decathlon BTwin 500 road bike.

TBH, if he fancies a fat bike, he should probably get one. It would do the 5 mile commute no problem. Anything that motivates him to ride is a good thing.
Having said that, maybe he could try a couple of types out before committing to one.

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Re: Recommend a bike for a heavy novice

Postby photobike » 10 Feb 2017, 11:39am

Thank yo all. It is encouraging to hear that a 'normal' bike will probably satisfy his needs. I haven't gone into the details of the budget with him yet, but the Bike to Work Scheme here allows up to Eur1000 about £850 and gives instant relief of up to 52% depending on your tax rate so that might be a guide. I'll discuss the various ideas with him.



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Re: Recommend a bike for a heavy novice

Postby mercalia » 10 Feb 2017, 1:48pm

just tell him/her not jump onto the bike like I did and broke a spoke in rear wheel :lol: get onto it gingerly