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  1. #1
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    MTB 29er HT recommendation for big guys ? having issues when test riding bikes

    I am 6' 265lbs and looking to get back into trailing (easy) biking.

    I purchased a cannondale 29er SL3 last fall but it was nothing but a boat load of trouble and finally the tech @ REI suggested I return it to get something else. Subsequently I tried REI's top of the line prebuilt MTB, 'intrepid' but that is also having one issue. (The chain slips under load @ the back gear 10 position and front 1 position).

    After much discussions, the good folks @ REI are suggesting a steel frame rather than Alu and those options look pretty scarce on a 29er.

    Based on reading here, any decent MTB should be good, but my experience so far is almost wanting me to give up on MTBing.

    A bit of info to help me make a educated decision:
    • Budget is upto $1.5k; would prefer it to be half of it since I am not sure how much time I may have for this new hobby;
    • I am Handy but not skilled in bikes anymore.
    • Initial 6 months rides will be on 'easy' trails and I will walk the bike up more difficult areas; Most ridding will be on walking / running trails, some on golf course trails
    • Happy to spend more into the hobby as it grows on me
    • I am a big guy but have an OK fitness level; Can keep up with medium cardio for 45+ minutes
    • No plans to compete or race;


    Priority:
    • I want the dang thing to work; After 6 trips to REI and countless wasted hours on a 'decent' bike, I am happy to give up features / sex appeal for reliablity


    Questions:
    Any suggestions on bike? I am open to call options; LBS, REI, airborne , bikes direct
    Should I be changing the profile of bike I should consider?

  2. #2
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    MTB 29er HT recommendation for big guys ? having issues when test riding bikes

    Don't throw in the towel just yet ..... Was in you shoes not long ago. I'm 6'4 290 and I bought a 2013 Trek Stache 7. I paid $1550.00 at my LBS. This machine is very fat guy friendly. I have about 40 miles on mine (easy to hard trail riding) and have not a single problem. Air fork is great for my size , through axles keep bike very stable even when I push it and everything seems to be holding its own just fine. Trek max rating is 300lbs.. It even looks good next to me when I'm pushing it up the large hills.....I know it's at the top of your budget but you should def check one out. Well worth the money. Best wishes...

  3. #3
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    Most any HT bike is fine for you. You are only 10lbs heavier than me and that is OK with most of what is out there.

    What was so wrong with the Cannondale? It is a reasonable straightforward bike with fair reviews and no bells and whistles over most any other mountain bike.

    Nothing wrong with alu frames. Most mountain bikes are made with them and they are all made to the same safety standards as the steel ones, so nothing to be gained there.

    When you say '10 and 1', do you mean 'biggest to biggest or smallest to smallest or biggest(front or rear) to smallest(front or rear)'? I am confused by what you mean here and I need to know that before I can offer any advice.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by M320 View Post
    Don't throw in the towel just yet ..... Was in you shoes not long ago. I'm 6'4 290 and I bought a 2013 Trek Stache 7. I paid $1550.00 at my LBS. This machine is very fat guy friendly. I have about 40 miles on mine (easy to hard trail riding) and have not a single problem. Air fork is great for my size , through axles keep bike very stable even when I push it and everything seems to be holding its own just fine. Trek max rating is 300lbs.. It even looks good next to me when I'm pushing it up the large hills.....I know it's at the top of your budget but you should def check one out. Well worth the money. Best wishes...
    Trek Stache 7 looks like a good bike and I will check it out at my LBS. Thank you for the recommendation.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by TooTallUK View Post

    What was so wrong with the Cannondale? It is a reasonable straightforward bike with fair reviews and no bells and whistles over most any other mountain bike.

    Nothing wrong with alu frames. Most mountain bikes are made with them and they are all made to the same safety standards as the steel ones, so nothing to be gained there.

    When you say '10 and 1', do you mean 'biggest to biggest or smallest to smallest or biggest(front or rear) to smallest(front or rear)'? I am confused by what you mean here and I need to know that before I can offer any advice.
    Cannondale had a host of issues, the tech did the following over the visits: cable tension adjustment, middle ring replacement and cable adjustment again, chain replacement, upgraded rear derailer, rear shifter replacement, cable adjustment

    After all of this, shifting became OK but when I would get on the bike, leaving the front gear @ 2 and rear @9, and pushed the bike hard (either by standing or just pushing hard), the chain would slip on the front ring #2. This happens even if I did not shift gear.

    The intrepid is showing similar behaviour, it is configured in a 2x10 gears and if I have it on the largest gear in the front (1) and the smallest in the back (10) and push it a bit hard by standing, the chain at the rear appears to slip.

    The sales manager @ REI (he does not have my confidence yet), said this is due to using ALU frames on cannondale. According to him, he is a avid biker and had similar frame "flex" issue on his alu bike and now only buys steel and that is what he recommended.

    So my search is now expanded to include:
    1) Novara Intrepid ($1119+tax on sale)
    2) 2013 Trek Stache 7 (need to see if LBS has one)
    3) Surly Ogre ($1275+tax)

  6. #6
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    MTB 29er HT recommendation for big guys ? having issues when test riding bikes

    I've got. 2012 giant xtc I bought late last summer when I was 330 lbs. Right at 300 now and only have 100-150 miles on it but no troubles out of it. It sat for most of the winter but drug it out and put another 30+ on it last month. I'm probably 75% pavement though. The 2013 is supposed to have a better drivetrain and front fork too.

  7. #7
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    He is talking bull. 99% of alu bikes are stiffer than steel bikes - it is the nature of the material. Steel is more resistant to flexing so is often used to give a more 'springy' ride when it is used. Alu tends to be made with bigger tubes, hence the stiffness. The only flex I've had in 6 alu bikes (road, hybrid and mountain) was crappy wheels - never the frame or forks - and he is probably a lot lighter than we are! Edited to add: any flex in a bike will be designed around the rear stays and designed to be vertical and not lateral.

    Cable tension is something that all bikes need, especially after the first 100 miles or so. The inners stretch a little as they bed in and get used. This is normal for everyone.

    Nothing wrong with the components on the bike either - so no idea why they were replaced - and really got no idea why the middle ring and chain were replaced unless it was a mechanical.

    Unless the gear indexing is out, there is no reason why the gears should slip - I'm pretty sure if you somehow managed to FUBAR the rear freewheel, it would show itself in more than the highest gear.

    I'm altogether a bit confused why all this is happening. Either you are being overly harsh on the components, or the bike isn't being set up properly. None of the issues have had anything to do with the frame and changing to another frame would still see component issues, so not solve your problems. I'd suggest finding a friendly bike mechanic to look things over, or a friend who cycles to check how you ride and that you are not abusing the gears.
    Last edited by TooTallUK; 05-25-2013 at 05:45 PM.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by TooTallUK View Post
    He is talking bull. 99% of alu bikes are stiffer than steel bikes - it is the nature of the material. Steel is more resistant to flexing so is often used to give a more 'springy' ride when it is used. Alu tends to be made with bigger tubes, hence the stiffness. The only flex I've had in 6 alu bikes (road, hybrid and mountain) was crappy wheels - never the frame or forks - and he is probably a lot lighter than we are! Edited to add: any flex in a bike will be designed around the rear stays and designed to be vertical and not lateral.

    Cable tension is something that all bikes need, especially after the first 100 miles or so. The inners stretch a little as they bed in and get used. This is normal for everyone.

    Nothing wrong with the components on the bike either - so no idea why they were replaced - and really got no idea why the middle ring and chain were replaced unless it was a mechanical.

    Unless the gear indexing is out, there is no reason why the gears should slip - I'm pretty sure if you somehow managed to FUBAR the rear freewheel, it would show itself in more than the highest gear.

    I'm altogether a bit confused why all this is happening. Either you are being overly harsh on the components, or the bike isn't being set up properly. None of the issues have had anything to do with the frame and changing to another frame would still see component issues, so not solve your problems. I'd suggest finding a friendly bike mechanic to look things over, or a friend who cycles to check how you ride and that you are not abusing the gears.
    agreed I'm 6'3" 250lbs and a personal trainer so you can guess that i'm a lot more muscle than fat. Aluminum is WAY stiffer than steel. you could possibly have a freehub issue though if it's only happening in one gear that doesn't sound like a hub issue. it's possible you somehow damaged the teeth on that last cog but that should be easy enough to get replaced.

    if your chain is slipping up front, you could have damaged the chainrings on a log over or something. i don't know what kind of trails and how aggressively you ride

  9. #9
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    Thanks Good to hear that ALU is an option. He did come across as someone who just wanted to get rid of a customer rather than help one. The cannondale simply had parts that were not functioning and were either incorrectly installed or poorly manufactured. I actually thought that the ring and chain were not compatible on the cannondale and had they actually investigated it properly it would have been resolved. That final issue was happening w/o any gear shifts.

    I used to MTB about 10 years ago, once a week with a low end FS bike and that did not have any of the issues I have been having. Granted I was about 50lbs lighter then , but I used to push it much harder also by taking it on rougher trails around town. Even today that el cheapo sams club bike has lesser # of issues than these higher end REI ones appear to have. It could be me, so the next step is the top mechanic to see what I do before finalizing the next purchase.

    Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.


    Quote Originally Posted by TooTallUK View Post
    He is talking bull. 99% of alu bikes are stiffer than steel bikes - it is the nature of the material. Steel is more resistant to flexing so is often used to give a more 'springy' ride when it is used. Alu tends to be made with bigger tubes, hence the stiffness. The only flex I've had in 6 alu bikes (road, hybrid and mountain) was crappy wheels - never the frame or forks - and he is probably a lot lighter than we are! Edited to add: any flex in a bike will be designed around the rear stays and designed to be vertical and not lateral.

    Cable tension is something that all bikes need, especially after the first 100 miles or so. The inners stretch a little as they bed in and get used. This is normal for everyone.

    Nothing wrong with the components on the bike either - so no idea why they were replaced - and really got no idea why the middle ring and chain were replaced unless it was a mechanical.

    Unless the gear indexing is out, there is no reason why the gears should slip - I'm pretty sure if you somehow managed to FUBAR the rear freewheel, it would show itself in more than the highest gear.

    I'm altogether a bit confused why all this is happening. Either you are being overly harsh on the components, or the bike isn't being set up properly. None of the issues have had anything to do with the frame and changing to another frame would still see component issues, so not solve your problems. I'd suggest finding a friendly bike mechanic to look things over, or a friend who cycles to check how you ride and that you are not abusing the gears.

  10. #10
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    Thanks cpfitness, all these issues were on a very easy trail (a running/ biking/ stroller trail around town). Hopefully these issues will go away with the next bike.


    Quote Originally Posted by cpfitness View Post
    agreed I'm 6'3" 250lbs and a personal trainer so you can guess that i'm a lot more muscle than fat. Aluminum is WAY stiffer than steel. you could possibly have a freehub issue though if it's only happening in one gear that doesn't sound like a hub issue. it's possible you somehow damaged the teeth on that last cog but that should be easy enough to get replaced.

    if your chain is slipping up front, you could have damaged the chainrings on a log over or something. i don't know what kind of trails and how aggressively you ride

  11. #11
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    I would highlight the 'riding with someone experienced' to check what you do - you might be the common factor here after all. If you are standing and mashing the big gears, you might be better off learning to sit and spin and use the gears to better advantage - for example.

  12. #12
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    Re: MTB 29er HT recommendation for big guys ? having issues when test riding bikes

    I'm 280 lbs and ran into the same problem on the rear with the freehub getting insanely sloppy and growling. Found it to be the free hub design. This is on a Trek Marlin 29er. Immediate fix after warrantying second rear wheel was I made a tool to force auto synthetic wheelbearing grease into the freehub body bearings and problem gone.

    I ended up simply buying a new set of wheels with slx hubs and keeping the stock wheels for commuter use being I don't trust the freehub on the trails.

    Don't give up, find the problem and address it directly. When it comes to us big guys the best and lightest are a bad thing, cant handle our strength to move our weight.

    Sent from my HTC Sensation Z710e using Tapatalk 2
    Trek Marlin 29er

    Like It, Love It, Want Some More Of It!

  13. #13
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    Salsa El Mariachi - Very good steel framed option in the price range.

  14. #14
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    Everything you describe sounds to me like they were caused by poor mechanic skills. I think your best bet would be to find a better shop rather than looking for a different bike.

    The bike not shifting right, or staying in gear is not caused by your weight.

  15. #15
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    Re: MTB 29er HT recommendation for big guys ? having issues when test riding bikes

    Quote Originally Posted by tigris99 View Post
    I'm 280 lbs and ran into the same problem on the rear with the freehub getting insanely sloppy and growling. Found it to be the free hub design. This is on a Trek Marlin 29er. Immediate fix after warrantying second rear wheel was I made a tool to force auto synthetic wheelbearing grease into the freehub body bearings and problem gone.

    I ended up simply buying a new set of wheels with slx hubs and keeping the stock wheels for commuter use being I don't trust the freehub on the trails.

    Don't give up, find the problem and address it directly. When it comes to us big guys the best and lightest are a bad thing, cant handle our strength to move our weight.

    Sent from my HTC Sensation Z710e using Tapatalk 2
    Generally speaking for guys our size getting rid of stock wheels and getting something built for guys our size is the way to go though it can be expensive but doesn't have to be. Shimano xt hubs aren't the lightest and don't have a lot of engagement points but the y seem to work well for everyone

    Sent from my DROID RAZR using Tapatalk 2

  16. #16
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    aluminum frames are not stiffer than steel frames. Cannondale uses the flex of aluminum in their "save" chainstays which are designed to flex and give the rear wheel vertical compliance over bumps on their hard tails, etc... It is possible that a rider pushing 300 pounds with gear could be pushing the limits of that system and frame flex could cause poor shifting, etc. Especially on a near entry level bike with components which are not the most precise of components.
    You should get a steel framed bike. There is no advantage to you riding aluminum and frankly it's just not a good choice if a nice steel frame is in your budget.
    The mentions of getting a wheelset built for you are wise as well.
    The reasons for your bike not giving you trouble years ago is that it's much easier to build a strong 26" wheel and bike than a 29". The greater the distance between the dirt and axles brings on greater forces on the wheel and frame in general. A smaller wheel will perform more consistently for you if you're worried about buying all this extra stuff...

  17. #17
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    Joules, you hit it on the head on this issue. The only reason I stayed with them is that the main tech there is pretty awesome but he is overworked. Yesterday he put aside 45 mins for me and we did a thorough analysis, he saw me ride and saw the slippage.
    Low and behold, the way the X9s were installed in the rear on the intrepids was very poor out of factory having applied much higher torque than they should. He pulled all the intrepids from the floor to redo them.

    ON the cannondale, he confirmed yesterday that the frame on that bike was not right and that was root cause of some of the issues.

    Unfortunatley he didnt have a X9 available in stock, so I ended up with a Novara Pondorosa. 5 mile hike yesterday with my kiddo in a afterburnder and zero issues. I can already see that the fork on this one is much worse than the one on intrepid SR Suntour Raidon-LO Air 29 vs the RockShox Recon Gold TK 29, so that will likely be one upgrade that I undertake once I am happy with the bike.

    It was great to ride yesterday, looking forward to riding regularly from there. Thanks to everyone for their encouraging words and suggestions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Joules View Post
    Everything you describe sounds to me like they were caused by poor mechanic skills. I think your best bet would be to find a better shop rather than looking for a different bike.

    The bike not shifting right, or staying in gear is not caused by your weight.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by asrman View Post
    Cannondale had a host of issues, the tech did the following over the visits: cable tension adjustment, middle ring replacement and cable adjustment again, chain replacement, upgraded rear derailer, rear shifter replacement, cable adjustment

    After all of this, shifting became OK but when I would get on the bike, leaving the front gear @ 2 and rear @9, and pushed the bike hard (either by standing or just pushing hard), the chain would slip on the front ring #2. This happens even if I did not shift gear.

    The intrepid is showing similar behaviour, it is configured in a 2x10 gears and if I have it on the largest gear in the front (1) and the smallest in the back (10) and push it a bit hard by standing, the chain at the rear appears to slip.

    The sales manager @ REI (he does not have my confidence yet), said this is due to using ALU frames on cannondale. According to him, he is a avid biker and had similar frame "flex" issue on his alu bike and now only buys steel and that is what he recommended.

    So my search is now expanded to include:
    1) Novara Intrepid ($1119+tax on sale)
    2) 2013 Trek Stache 7 (need to see if LBS has one)
    3) Surly Ogre ($1275+tax)
    Steel is actually less rigid than aluminum.
    Klunk on............

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtdan View Post
    aluminum frames are not stiffer than steel frames.
    I'm not going to start a flame war over this, but you need to go and look at the difference between alu frames and steel frames. Alu tends to be larger diameter tubing for the same sort of frame. Larger tubes bring greater stiffness and alu is far less resistant to flexing than steel - so, as a rule, alu frames are stiffer (which is why you see far more alu FS bikes than steel - bigger tubes, stiffer for the same weight as steel would be). Yes, the Cannondale frame has flex for compliance, but that is vertical, not lateral. As it is designed to flex, the bike design should be able to cope with this (and vertical compliance will not cause the problems lateral might).
    As for your wheel comments - very 2009. Nothing wrong with 29ers wheels for big guys.

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