A few years ago, I decided that I wanted to take up bike riding. Like most guys, I was pretty uninformed about what exactly that would entail. I thought it meant simply hitting the store and picking up a bike. I learned the hard way, this is not the case. After picking one up from the local big box store, I hopped on, planning to go for a ride. By the time I got to the end of the block, I realized something didn’t feel right. As I continued my ride, a passing cyclist shouted, “Hey, your tires are flat!” I stopped, hopped off, and the tires went back to their original shape. This bike wasn’t made for a guy my size. It was time to do some research and find a bicycle that was up to the task.
No matter your size, there’s a bike out there that will work for you.
Here are some tips to keep in mind that will help you find the perfect one for your needs.
Opt for a Sturdy Frame
Most modern bicycle frames are made of carbon fiber and aluminum, which is good for a lightweight, speedy bike, if you’re planning on riding in the Tour de France. However, I suggest opting for a steel or titanium frame––it will be able to take anything you can throw at it. The thicker the diameter of tubing the frame is constructed from, the sturdier the frame will be. The width should be throughout the tube. You can talk to your local bike shop expert to learn more about their selection of steel-frame bikes.
Check the Weight Limit
Whether you’re buying a bike online or from a bike shop, it’s important that you know its weight limit. Most off-the-rack bikes aren’t made to hold a guy over 250 lbs., so it’s good to know what to expect before your purchase. I’ve heard stories from people who have had issues with bent or broken frames because they exceeded the weight limit of their carbon or aluminum frames (see previous point above); it’s not something you want to deal with, and an ego can only take so much.
Get the Right Tires and Tubes
Remember how I mentioned that my tires looked flat when I sat on the bike? Don’t let that happen to you. Make sure that your bike has tires that are able to stand up to whatever you’re putting on it. Opt for puncture-resistant tubes and Kevlar-belted tires––they might cost more, but you’ll be less apt to have a blowout. As any experienced cyclist will tell you…keep a spare tube with you in an emergency repair kit because blowouts do happen.
Don’t Forget About the Wheels
You can have the toughest frame, tires and tubes, but if your wheels can’t support you, you’re out of luck. Most off-the-rack wheels support a maximum of 250 lbs., so, to avoid the possibility of bending your rims, look for rims that are extra wide, and reinforced with stainless steel spokes. Better yet, talk to your bike shop about building strong, custom wheels with reinforced rims, spokes and a hub to withstand pressure.
Go With a Custom Bike
Are there pre-existing bikes out there that will work for real guys? Sure, but if you want something made especially for you, consider going the custom route. Most cities have good bike shops that can either help you, or point you in the right direction. If they can build a bike for you, they’ll walk you through everything discussed here and more, including ensuring that the bike is perfect for your height and weight, handlebars and seat posts are solid, and that the ride meets your exact needs.
Where Can I Find a Bike in My Size?
There are some specialty bike brands that cater to riders up to 500 lbs. You can find cruisers and 3 speeds at Living XL.
Article written by Bruce Sturgell
Bruce is the founder of Chubstr.com, a style blog that helps guys to find, create, and share their own personal style with the world by offering them articles, resources, and reader photo submissions.
Bruce has been featured in the New York Times, Refinery 29, The Huffington Post, The Cut, The Sydney Morning Herald, MSN, and Le Monde for the unique and interesting content he’s created through Chubstr.