April 18, 2005

    I’ve recently lost my drivers license due to a medical problem and I need to get around and maintain some kind of freedom. I’m pretty sure I’m going to purchase a bike but I have not been on a bike in years.
    Although I am in the process of losing weight, currently I weigh 295 lbs. and I am 5’8" tall. Obviously I need a bike with a strong frame and a strong, well padded seat. I’m hoping you have some suggestions. Thanks.


    A lot depends on how much you want to spend. I often say that one can find a decent bike for about $300, but if you plan to ride a lot it makes sense for you to spend more because heavy riders tend to break cheaper bikes—and, anyway, you’ll have lots more cash without all those car expenses.
    Also, some of what I recommend requires you to replace the standard equipment that comes with a new bike. So I strongly suggest you don’t buy from a department or big-chain store; go to an independent bicycle dealer that’ll give you personal service. Ask people you know where they bought their bikes and whether they got satisfaction. Or use the dealer finder at the Web site of the National Bicycle Dealers Association.
    In the $300 range I recommend a mountain or “city” bike, distinguished by wide (about two-inch) tires that you’ll probably need, for sturdiness. You might not, however, like how much a mountain bike makes you lean over; so you can have your bike dealer replace the existing handlebar stem with one that puts the handlebar closer to you.
    If you get away from mountain bikes to something that goes a little faster (with narrower tires) you should make sure the bike has sturdy wheels. Ask your dealer about "box section" wheel rims and wheels with 36 or more spokes. (Many bikes have 32 or less.)
    If you want to make a bigger investment in your new transportation mode (which I encourage), a couple of models about which heavier folks have given good reports: the Trekking Lady by Eddy Merckx and the Hoss by Kona Bicycle. I also suggest you check out Super Sized Cycles, an on-line store “where anyone, no matter how heavy, [can] come and find a welcoming, size-friendly environment.”
    You might also wanna replace the bike’s seat with something more comfortable. You have many options; check out the ones listed in my book, Urban Bikers’ Tricks & Tips, and ask your bike dealer to show you some. But take care with suspension (shock absorbing) seat posts; most manufacturers don’t design them for heavier folks. If you want a suspended seat post that you can adjust for your weight check out the Thudbuster by Cane Creek.

Mr Bike

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