• 07-22-2009
    Commuter bike for 290 pounds dude

    I'm rather newbie to bike purchasing and bike components. I've never really invested significant amounts of money in quality bikes, although this might soon change ...

    I know some previous threads have already discussed this topic (I did read them), but I wanted to get some fresher advice, since bike models evolve from year to year, etc.

    Here's the deal ... I'm 6"2 and weigh approx 290 pounds. I'd like to get rid of my current cheap steel frame mountain bike for an aluminum commuter/hybrid type bike. I do roughly 10 miles every single week day and 30 miles, during some weekends. I don't perform any off-road or mountain biking - the worse I could do is some fine grained gravel bike paths.

    Ideally, I'd like to get the following features off my new bike:

    - Aluminum frame and fork
    - Hydraulic disk brakes
    - Good quality shifter as well as the other components
    - Thinner wheels/tires than my current mountain bike (for lesser road friction)
    - Lightweight (to the extent where it can handle my body size)

    I don't need front/rear shocks ... Or at least I don't believe I do, unless proven otherwise.

    The bikes I've currently identified are the following:

    - Kona - Dr. Dew
    - Norco VFR Disc 2

    I'm just not sure the different components and actual frames from these bikes are suited for my body configuration and typical usage.

    I roughly have 1,000$ to 1,500$ I'm willing to spend on this new bike. Any recommendations from anyone? Other bike suggestions are happily welcome!

    Thanking you in advance for your feedback,
  • 07-23-2009
    You might want to x-post this in the Clydesdale forum as well.
  • 07-23-2009
    Hey pmaster. First off congrats on deciding to purchase a new bike. It sounds like you've been commuting for a while already which is good since you have an idea about what you want. I really can't imagine your size being much of an issue with a commuter. I know a man significantly larger than you who rides a steel frame road bike with cantilever brakes around town just fine. Here's a bit to think about before you spend $1500.

    Have you ridden those two bikes? Did you ride others that you didn't like as much? My advice would be to go to every bike shop in the area and tell them what you're looking for and ride as many different bikes as you can. If there is another town within a reasonable drive, it might be worth it to see what shops are there and what brands they sell and then take a day and drive there to ride some more bikes. If you end up getting a bike that fits you better then 3 or 4 years from now when you still like riding it that day's drive will have been well spent.

    Also, hydraulic brakes are nice (I have them on my MTB), but I'd rather have a solid set of Avid BB7 mechanical disks on a commuter than a cheap pair of hydros (like the Juicy 3's). The BB7's are bomb-proof and easy to adjust. I know several people who run them on MTB's because they are cheap, functional, and durable. Mechanical disks are still going to feel so much better than whatever rim brakes are on your current bike. If you like a bike that comes spec'd with them fine, but don't get attached to them when looking at the bike as a whole.

    Another thought... depending on how much of a project you want to take on, you could build a really nice bike for $1500. If you order a frame, the LBS can install the headset, fork, bottom bracket etc, and everything else just bolts on(assuming you buy a wheelset and don't lace them up yourself). This is what I would do personally. There are plenty of websites/tutorials to help with this. Plus, bikes are just more fun to ride if you've built them yourself :thumbsup:
  • 07-23-2009
    Thanks for the tips, particularly regarding the brakes. I didn't really know there were hydraulic and mechanical disk brakes - I thought all disks were hydraulic. I looked it up and you seem right about the BB7's versus the Juicy3's ...

    I wouldn't mind building my own bike although I don't know much about the components I should choose - at least now I now about the brakes ;) ...

    I will most probably go into some shops next week or so, but wanted to get my act straight before doing so, knowing a bit more about what's good and what's not ...

    Considering my height and weight,

    - What brand/model of aluminum frame would you suggest?
    - What brand/model of non-MB tire/rim/etc would you suggest (I want narrower tires)?

  • 07-23-2009
    I did just fine on the Specialized Tricross at over 350lbs. Super beefy crossbike. No problems with the carbon fork or anything. I did however end up removing the road bars and putting mtb bars on it.

    I don't have it anymore 'cause I gave it to my nephew who is getting into road biking but if not for that, I'd still be riding it.
  • 07-23-2009
    If I recommended a specific frame, I'd just be pulling it out of my arse. For your purposes, you can basically consider most frames within a given price range as "equal quality." What will vary is the geometry of the frame, and how that geometry fits your body. I'm 6' 2", but my inseam, torso length, arm length, and riding style are different from other 6' 2" riders so the bike that's comfy for me might make someone else miserable. This is why you need to ride a lot of bikes and take note of what feels good.

    Now, this gets complicated if you decide to build your own because many of the frames available will not be built up for a test ride at the LBS. However, you can still get an idea about what fits you by paying attention to head angle, top tube length, bottom bracket height, etc.

    As for wheels and tires... In general 26" wheels (MTB) are stronger than 700c wheels(road), but the tires for 700c wheels are skinnier. However, you can buy 26" slicks that are pretty skinny and hold 80-100 psi and they roll pretty nicely. You can also build 700c wheels that are pretty burly, that's what people run on "29ers." I have two commuter bikes. One is my old mountain bike with a rigid fork and slick tires. It has a rack on the back and is geared. I use it for commuting when I have more to haul than I want on my back, and also for running errands with the trailer. I also have a singlespeed 700c with slick road tires on it. It does roll easier, but its less versatile the way I have it built up. But sorta like a sports car it sure is fun :D

    Hmmm... Check out www.sheldonbrown.com for more bike info than you can shake a stick at. I would say don't make this decision too quickly. Ride lots of bikes, even bikes that might not look like what you think you want. Look through the "post your commuter" thread to see all the different bikes people ride. If you do decide to build, picking components won't be that bad once you get a little more research done. There's lots of info on this site once it comes down to specifics. The general "which bike" questions are the hardest to answer. On the other hand, if you find a complete bike that feels great, snatch it up and ride it:thumbsup:

    Edit: Out of curiosity, what kind of bike are you riding now?
  • 07-23-2009
    I have a VeloSport Volcano. I don't even know if this brand/model has good or bad
    reputation. All I know is that this mountain bike has approx. 10 years old and is getting tired. It
    also isn't suited for the type of biking I'm doing ... road, not mountain or trail.

    I like my current bike's frame geometry and size (I'm used to it). Maybe I could just have
    it matched against a lighter/newer similar model, more suited for road ...

    Thanks again for the tips once again!
  • 07-27-2009
    Yep - consider a cross bike instead of those commuter bikes. I'm 6'2/288lbs and keep untrueing my road wheels. Check out the Surly Cross Check complete or even a LHT. If you have a Kona dealer check out the Jake series. Higher spoke count will be your friend.

    All modern frames should have no problem dealing with your (our) weight.
  • 07-27-2009
    I'm pushing 230 and my stock Surly Cross Check has served me well, all 3700 miles. Is there a specific reason you want aluminum? If it's just a weight factor, then you will be cheating yourself out of the fine ride of steel. Steel will flex with you as opposed to the rigid feel of aluminum. I went from aluminum to steel and haven't looked back.
  • 08-05-2009
    Whatever bike you decide on my advice would be to sell the stock wheels and invest in 36 spoke hand built wheels. You will quickly destroy the wheels on just about any stock bike, especially a cyclocross or hybrid. I know from 10 years of riding, 4 years of selling bikes and being 260 lbs.
    I'd recommend Surly hubs laced to DT competition spokes and brass nipples to Salsa's Delgado cross rims. Negotiate the price for bike and wheels when you’re at your local bike shop.
  • 08-09-2009
    What Pushinpixels said...the wheels are critical, the heavier you are. I know this from experience:) I also suggest from my experience you consider a STEEL frame MTB, with nice plush tires. My Redline D440 1x8 fills the bill as a perfect commuter for way less than you want to spend...and it'll do most anything else you'd reasonably want a bike to do.