I'm around 230lbs. Since I do enjoy biking, I was looking up old school racing bikes on craigslist. Some of the frames are built with "Tange 1" steel which specify weight limits (180lbs). Is it really possible that I might damage the bike if I choose to ride it?

For someone my weight or higher, what kind of bike and/or frame should be used? Is there any concern if an aluminum frame is used? Or does all of this depend on the manufacturing quality (eg, Tange 1 instead of Tange 5)?

  • 3
    I wouldn't worry about it too much. Only a very lightly built frame could not handle a 230 pound rider. If the bike is equipped to handle sufficiently wide tires (you'd want at least 23mm, preferably 28 or so) then it should have a sufficiently robust frame for your weight. Probably best to stay away from aluminum, though, unless it's built for off-road or touring. (Re tire width, note that frame/brake clearance is more often an issue than rim width.) Commented Jul 28, 2013 at 19:05
  • 3
    230 lbs is nothing. Most bikes that I've seen with maximum rider weights are around 300 lbs. Some racing bikes are probably around 250 lbs, but I don't think I'd buy a bike that could only take a 180 lb. rider even though I'm only 140 lbs, because a bike should easily be able to support more weight than that. A 175 lbs guy who's in really good shape and racing will probably put a lot more stress on the frame than a 250 lbs guy who's just riding for recreational purposes.
    – Kibbee
    Commented Jul 28, 2013 at 23:43
  • I'm 6'3" 230lbs and have no problem on the road or mountain bikes I have ridden. Just make sure you have your tires inflated to the correct pressure to prevent pinch flats. Commented Aug 1, 2013 at 3:11

4 Answers 4


Old-school racing bikes (I have two) are not as comfortable as old-school MTBs when you resume riding, especially if you have a bit of a gut. The upright riding position that the vintage MTBs offer (or a modern equivalent) is one of those things that can keep you on the bike until riding a road bike becomes more comfortable.

When I resumed riding (as a middle-aged adult), I was fortunate to get this at a local garage sale for $20:

1986 Peugeot Orient Express

With the benefit of hindsight, I can tell you that had I resumed riding on an old-school racing bike, I would have certainly quit. I was way out of shape, and the bent-over position required for riding a road bike would have been so uncomfortable that there is no way I would have persevered. But this Peugeot was just what the doctor ordered, no pun intended. I rode it for about 1,400 miles (about 2,250 km) before upgrading to the old-school road bike.

Of course, YMMV, and you didn't mention your height or your age.

BTW, one of my old-school racing bikes has Tange #2 tubes and I am still around 200 lbs. I put about 1,500 miles on that bike, for what it's worth.

Final thought: you may find this subforum helpful. There are (and have been) many folks in the same boat.

  • I would recommend finding something similar to the pic here. Or even some old steel rigid MTB without knobby tires, they can still be light, sturdy and fast, but more comfy. And cheap for the quality. Not because of your weight (my uncle is around that and rides a very light carbon road bike) but for starters... Also check the clydesdales and Athena's subforum indeed as posted
    – gaurwraith
    Commented May 10, 2015 at 20:22

When I was racing seriously, I got down to 235 lbs, and am now closer to 275lbs.

I ride a Titanium Litespeed, and classic steel frame bikes. (Have four bikes at the moment).

While I have cracked my Ti frame (and gotten it welded) and broken some steel frames, it is a very rare thing. I.e. Over years of riding regularly, I broke an old steel frame. Replaced it with a similarly old same model frame, and finally just cracked a drop out. Got that one welded, and moved on.

The things where weight matter are usually pedals, since you apply a LOT of force to a fairly small piece of medal. I have broken a couple of seats over the years. I had borrowed my brother in laws Walmart style bike, and I bent the cheap steel seat post (when it was over-extended to make up for small frame size) and I was climbing hard, seated. But that was an extreme example. I bought a cheap replacement from a bike store, of greater quality than the cheapo bike deserved and it was fine.


I'm about your weight. I've ridden an off-the-rack aluminum step-through (Electra Townie, specifically) and a custom steel tourer (also a step-through) and both have served me well. (Step-through frames are not as intrinsically strong as diamond frames; I once read a cycling how-to book that utterly dismissed step-throughs on that sole basis. Whatevs. When that author rides to work in a dress on his diamond-frame bike, he can criticize my step-throughs.) I can't speak to carbon fiber or titanium or exotic frame materials like bamboo, however.

Basically, I concur that you'll be fine. The only thing I'd warn you about based on my own experience is tightening your seatpost clamp; I've had seatposts decide to lower themselves, particularly after bumpy bits of trail. Do also remember to loosen the clamp and move the seatpost every once in a while, so they don't end up forever stuck in place.

Potential bonus: I have never, not even once, been street-hassled over my weight while on a bike. (It's happened while I was a pedestrian, many a time.) I cannot entirely explain this -- it may partly be my penchant for interesting-looking and extremely purple bikes -- but I'm not complaining!

  • Seatpost clamps are the big issue here for me - my old cheap bike just wouldn't hold however tight I did the bolt (I was probably just over 100kg at the time) and I ended up snapping the bolt because it had bottomed out in the dome nut. Replacing with a hardware store nut and bolt meant using 2 spanners but made the problem go away.
    – Chris H
    Commented Aug 1, 2013 at 9:21
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    I had to get some goo to put on the post to increase the friction. After that it's been rock-solid.
    – D.Salo
    Commented May 10, 2015 at 19:12

I have a 2013 Trek X Cal and also a 2015 Trek Remedy 9 29er. I'm 6'2", and when I started biking about 8 months ago I weighed 321lbs, now after over a 1000 miles of mountain biking I'm a trimmed down 255lbs. I believe the Treks are also rated at 300 lbs and I have had no problems with either bike. I've also never felt that either frame or rims were being stressed because if my size, and both bikes still feel like race rockets to me, even on my large frame. I've also ridden a couple Santa Cruz and and Kona bikes and they also feel like we'll built bikes to me as well; probably capable of handling larger riders as well.

I have heard from a couple people that the 29er wheels are better for larger people, but I don't really know for sure if that's true?

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