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I'm 6ft 4" (1.8m) and 22st (139kg). I do a fair bit of cycling, mainly spinning and mountain biking.

I would like to get into road riding so I'm looking to buy a road bike. I want to spend between £500-£750.

I've had some issues in the past with pedal shafts rounding off the crank, especially when riding hard standing up on my mountain bike.

What things should I look for when choosing a road bike? Obviously a big frame, but what are the sizes? Also, a strong crank; are there any makes that are stronger than most?

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In bicycle circles, big folks like us are called "Clydesdales". –  Jay Bazuzi Jul 27 '12 at 17:34
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Remember that most bike stuff is designed to minimize weight, with barely enough strength. For us, weight of bike is not important, but strength matters much more. Especially in frame and wheels. –  Jay Bazuzi Jul 27 '12 at 17:38

4 Answers 4

Well, you're a big guy, so a lightweight racing bike is probably not for you. You might want to look at touring bikes, and, in particular, some of the Surly models.

For the crank problem you probably should have a splined vs square crank, and you need to regularly check the torque on the crank bolts.

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Surly has a reputation for making heavy duty road bikes. Definitely check them out! –  WTHarper Jul 21 '12 at 23:41
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Splined bottom brackets tend to have weaker bearings, however. A gxp/whatever shimano makes would be best of both worlds. –  mpw Jul 23 '12 at 22:18
    
@mpw - Splined cranks are generally less likely to cam off than square cranks. Going to an external bearing setup is a whole 'nother price range. –  Daniel R Hicks Jul 24 '12 at 2:36
    
Thanks for info Daniel. I've gone for a Specialized Allez which has a Shimano Tiagra. I'll watch out for the torque settings, thanks for the heads-up! –  Steve Dunn Jul 26 '12 at 21:36

A 59-61cm frame, most likely.

Also, I would recommend you up your budget a fair bit, unless you are willing to replace the bike in a relatively short time.

The weight of a frame should not be a major consideration for you, but the lateral and vertical flex should be a primary factor. Those things will affect your direct power output. Something like a Storck Scenero would be a good choice, because they manufacturer each frame size using proportionally larger components, which means that their frames have the same excellent ride quality from a 49cm frame to a 63cm.

In addition, you need to focus on buying something with a strong set of wheels, or learn to ride smoothly. Or both. A set of Xentis wheels would be my choice, although that is far outside your budget, because they have the highest rated rider weight limit of any wheel I am aware of. (120Kg) While that is lower than your weight, it is better than the Mavic (100Kg) or Zipp (85Kg-100Kg) weight limits. And as always, there is a good safety margin built in to those limits.

I hope that helps. Feel free to ask if you come up with any other questions.

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Many thanks for the info, much appreciated. I went for a 2nd hand Allez Elite (2012). –  Steve Dunn Jul 26 '12 at 21:30

Here's what I'd recommend

As others have suggested, you should avoid a stock bicycle. They're designed with the top of the bell curve in mind, and you're simply half-again as much man as the normal one. For more information on any of these topics, consult a bike shop!

  • Crankset: Since you asked specifically about them, I'll start here. The stiffest, strongest crank you can get is an a two-piece crank with an external bottom bracket. There are different types, made by different manufacturers, but they've been around long enough that they should all be durable (and as a bonus, better bearings!).

  • Sizing: The right size bicycle for you is determined by your leg length. A good shop should be able to measure you for the proper frame size. Along with stand over height, you should be measured for reach (which is a combination of your torso length and arm length), and handlebar width (measurement across shoulders, I believe).

  • Frame: Material doesn't particularly matter here. In the past, carbon has had durability issues, but that's largely been solved (so long as you select a quality manufacturer). However, with your budget in mind, steel or aluminum is a better choice.

  • Wheels: This is what you should be focusing a huge portion of your budget on. Quality, hand-spun, 3-cross wheels will last much, much longer than any pre-built wheelset.
  • Tires (tyres!): Be sure to select a wider tire than the old standby 700x23. I would even consider a 28, honestly. It's a small sacrifice in acceleration, but in terms of long-term comfort and cruising speed, a wider tire will be better.
  • Other components: What fits within the remainder of your budget. Road bike parts are super pricey, especially those fancy integrated shift/brake levers. Consider bar-end or even downtube shifters if you can handle it.
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Many thanks for info - much appreciated! –  Steve Dunn Jul 26 '12 at 21:37

From my own experience (199cm, quite fit but 'semi-athletic' 120kg): For £500 - £750, you won't have that much choice!

The most important aspect are wheels, and despite extensive research, I haven't come across a suitable "off-the-shelf" setup. Instead, I use handbuilt wheels, 36 double-butted spokes, deep profile rims, quality hubs. I currently have these in use:

http://www.rosebikes.co.uk/product/detail/aid:339581

The other pair I have ordered is the aid:339609. The 105 hubs seem to be identical to the Tiagras, but I have chosen them for the "all black combination". I've combined the wheels with 25/28mm slick tires. The difference in rolling resistance is neglectable, but comfort and protection against pinch flats is much better. The wheels took quite a few beatings from pot holes on longish night rides with added panniers, i.e. the London to Brighton and Dunwich Run. They are still true and fast. I also hadn't any broken spokes since using the replacement wheels.

The whole wheel/tire combination will cost you about £150, which leaves £350 - £600 for the bike, maybe less if you want to invest in pedals, shoes, replacement tubes, basic tools and a small computer.

I would suggest you go with a good alloy frame. Some people don't like their stiffness, but what might be uncomfortable at 70kg and small frame sizes gets much more elastic at 140kg and a bigger frame!

The other important part is the crank set and bottom bracket.

I personally went with a Decathlon Fitness bike (Forme 3, was on offer for £200 and is now back to £250). Note that the front wheel has clearance for 25mm tires only, while the rear wheel can fit 28mm. I also needed to replace the cassette as the bike comes with a 7 speed freewheel setup which is incompatible with typical road hubs. This wasn't too bad as I don't need the mountain-ish 14-28 range and have now a 12-21 instead, which gives about the same range as a 20 gears compact race setup.

The Decathlon was a temporary choice while looking into a more suitable race bike, but it has worked so well that I decided to keep it as my future commuting/fitness bike. The bike I've ordered last week is the Radon R1 4.0:

http://www.radon-bikes.de/xist4c/web/R1-4-0---SSV_id_18452_.htm

It is currently on offer for €849 (around £650) plus about £25 for shipping to the UK. You can probably sell the included 20-spoke Mavic Aksium wheels and tires for £150. It has a good stiff alloy frame with a combination of Ultegra, 105 and FSA parts. The FSA cranks are a bit on the heavy side, but I read about a taller Tour rider who actually preferred these for the added stiffness. Regarding frame and part weights in general, you can probably start thinking about these when you're down below 80kg ;)

As you might expect, I can't give you any long term opinion on the Radon yet.

Other alternatives I looked into were the Chris Boardman bikes which were recently on sale at Halfords, except that they are not produced in my frame size.

Good luck!

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Many thanks for the info, much appreciated. I hope you enjoy your new bike - looks like quality German engineering! –  Steve Dunn Jul 26 '12 at 21:28
    
I have had really good experiences with the Mavic Krysium wheels (bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/3618/…) a bit more expensive than the Aksium, but tough as bricks, just a lot lighter! –  Paul Wagland Jul 27 '12 at 22:06
    
@PaulWagland, the Aksiums and especially the Krysiums are certainly good wheels and I'm tempted to keep mine for Triathlons. However, I doubt that they are suitable training wheels for me (There's still a difference between your 95+ kg and my 120kg. As a former competitive athlete, I'll probably be putting much more force into the wheels. Also body height adds to that, i.e. with 199cm, I get additional leverage when standing up in the pedals). –  Jens Aug 1 '12 at 17:06
    
@Jens sadly my "95+" is closer to 110kg! After what I have out the Krysium through, I am more than happy to buy them again. –  Paul Wagland Aug 1 '12 at 23:33

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