Guide To Heavyweight Biking
Biking is brilliant fun, and something we firmly believe should be accessible to everyone. We founded sixthreezero in part to bring our love of riding bikes to more people, by removing the barriers that stop them from pedaling. After all, what’s more democratic than the humble bicycle?
Injury, lack of fitness or time, and fear of riding in traffic are just a handful of the most common excuses you might give for not riding your bike as much as you want, but what about those people would love nothing more than to ride, but can’t find a bike that suits them?
If you’re heavier than the norm, either by being overweight or simply being taller than average or more muscular, you may find that you’re too weighty for ‘standard’ bicycles. Many bicycle manufacturers will stipulate a weight limit for the use of their bikes, which if exceeded can sometimes void the warranty on the product. This can be an extremely limiting factor for those of the heavier persuasion who would like nothing more than to go biking with their friends, or young family, but can’t find a machine on which to do so.
Why do Bikes Have Weight Limits?
Well, a lot of this is to do with safety. If a rider who is too heavy uses a bike that can’t withstand the forces applied, it could result in a catastrophic failure of the frame or significant components. That’s not something you’ll want to countenance, particularly if riding at high speeds.
The major obsession in most of the cycling industry is with speed, and one of the most effective ways of making a bike go faster is to make it lighter. As such, the trend tends to be towards bikes that are manufactured to be light, but not necessarily super-strong – and this is particularly in evidence in bicycle frame design.
If you consider the average weight of a Tour de France cyclist is 140 pounds, it’s not hard to see how a rider weighing almost double that might not be safe on a bicycle designed for elite competition.
While the frame is the key part of the frame that ought to be optimized for a heavier rider, it’s also worth considering the wheels you put on your plus size bicycle. Wheels take a real pounding as your bike’s contact point with the tarmac or trail, so it pays to invest in a set you can be confident in. We’ve heard plenty of stories of wheels failing for heavyweight bikers, particularly in the realms of trail and off-road riding – where your bike’s subjected to far greater impacts and stresses.
Other components that come with a weight limit can include handlebars and seat posts – as these are typically quite lightweight bits of a bike and can often be constructed with carbon fiber. Often with a factory built bicycle, some components will be cheaper than others as a way of reducing the overall cost of the bike. As such, while a frame may be more than tough enough to carry a heavyweight rider, the fact that the bike company ‘cheaped out’ on the wheels makes the whole thing ‘unsafe.’ That’s why in many cases it’s best to choose a frame and components separately and either build the bike up yourself or get a bike store to do it for you. That way you at least know the exact weight limits for each part of your new pride and joy.
While we totally agree that bikes having a weight limit is sensible from a safety perspective, it can still be really frustrating for those riders that are above the 225-pound threshold that is usually standard for most bike brands. So where are the bikes for heavy riders? And what bike is suitable for a heavyweight person?
Choosing a Plus Size Bike
When you’re on the lookout for a bike suitable for a heavier rider, then the frame is going to be one of the first things you look at. What is it made of? And is the geometry of the frame going to be relaxed enough?
More often than not, the frames best suited to heavier riders are made with metal, either steel, aluminum or – in some cases – super-fancy titanium. This is because metal is easier to work with when it comes to strengthening particular parts of the frame – the builder simply adds more or less welding material in one spot, or selects a thicker tube to build with. Our advice is to stay clear of carbon fiber, which is super strong relative to its weight but definitely can’t match the likes of steel and titanium.
You’re also going to want a frame that offers a relaxed riding position so that you are comfortable at all times when riding your bike. Carrying a few extra pounds will exaggerate any strain on your joints, effectively amplifying any discomfort you might find. Look for handlebars that are quite high up off the ground and a saddle that is quite close to the front of the bike (so you aren’t positioned really far back and having to lean right over).
If you’re not sure if a bike is suitable for you, perhaps the weight limit is not made public on the website you’re searching, then you’ll have to get in touch directly with the manufacturer’s customer service department. They should typically be able to tell you what the maximum weight is for a rider on any one of their frames.
We thought that process was a little bit long-winded, so on our website, you can enter your weight into our Body Fit metric right there on the product page and it’ll tell you right away whether one of our bikes is suited to your needs. The benefits of a Body Fit bike are pretty great, in fact, we believe it’s the best online bike fitting tool out there.
Sixthreezero Bikes for Plus Size Riders
Of course, we couldn’t sit by and let some people miss out on the joy of riding just because of how much they weigh. That’s why we make sure to have a selection of bikes in our range that are suited to the heavier ‘Clydesdale’ build of rider. Check out the three bikes below and see which one might suit your intended riding style the best:
Our IntheBarrel model is a brilliant choice for heavier riders, coming as it does with a weight limit of 300 pounds. That’s considerably more than the industry-standard 225lb. The IntheBarrel is one of our super cool custom beach cruisers, and can be customized online using our online tool. Choose whether you want it to run single speed, or with three or seven gears, and take your pick from three different frame colors.
The IntheBarrel is designed to give you a smooth riding experience with its high-rising, wide and easy-to-steer handlebars, plus a super-reliable drivetrain and comfy seat. It brakes with a coaster brake, rather than having a lever on the bars, for a clean, easy and classic look. All you have to do is pedal backward when you want to reduce speed.
The name of our super-popular hybrid cruiser pretty much says it all. The EvryJourney is incredibly versatile, as well as being suited to riders up to 300lbs. This wonderful do-it-all bike can be ridden by riders up to 6 feet, 4 inches too, so the taller demographic can finally feel well catered for. It’s also available for both men and women.
Just like the IntheBarrel, it can be tweaked to your heart’s content with our online customizer, so you can pick between a single-speed machine perfect for cruising about the neighborhood, or a fully-geared 21-speed machine that can handle much bigger adventures up and downhill. Two front brakes give you plenty of control, while the thick and grippy tires ensure you’ll always feel stable – even if you take the bike off the asphalt and onto the trail.
Our Ride In The Park model is safe for riders up to 300lbs and is a gorgeous example of the classic city bike. Built with a durable steel frame and Shimano 7-speed gearing, it has plenty in the tank to carry you uphill should you wish, with a decent top-speed for those days when you’re in a little bit of a hurry.
A rear rack allows you to carry extra luggage, while the fenders on the wheels will keep you clean and protected from the worst of any wet weather. Our online customizer allows you to add plenty of accessories to the bike, from a cup holder to a surfboard rack.
If you’re a larger rider who has been inspired to ride a bike and you think you might like to do that on a sixthreezero model, we’d be delighted to talk you through the process. You can get in touch with our customer service department using the information at the foot of the page. And of course, you’re free to play around with our online customizer to your heart’s content, trying out as many possible combinations as you can dream up.
Take our Free Body Fit Questionnaire
If you fall outside the average measurements of most folks, you know that sizing items are...
Getting started when biking uphill, it's going to be hard when you start off, especially if...
Now that spring is here, it's sunny, you definitely want to get that vitamin D and...