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I am new to this site and I would really appreciate any thought on this. I am 32 years old male. I used to be in good shape most of my life. my weight fluctuated between 180 to 220 lbs. three years ago. I had bad right knee and foot injury, runner knee and PF, planter facii, in my foot. I stopped every thing all together and started gaining weight. I reached 235 ads, and decided again to get back to active life style. I bought my first bike, which was specialized diverge I believe. Guess what, I fell in love with cycling, after a few months I decided to buy my a good racing bike, but injuries hit hard this time in both knees. I had to stop cycling as the pain was bad, burning sensation during night. I was busy finishing my phd and stopped every thing all together. I gained weight, this time is 270 lbs. I started active style again and lost 10 lbs and feeling good. knees bothering me from time to time but looks like I know how to handle them.

I got a job and saved some money. The dream still in back of my mind, I want a good racing bike. It happens I am visiting the states so I can get the bike I want, which is not easy in the country I am from and cost extras for shipping. I am seriously considering Madone SLR 7, which is ulteagra di2 system. the question is: Am I being a child who wants something and keep begging for it here? should I wait until I look like those athletes, or go ahead and buy it? if you recommend so, would it be good for average distance riding like 30 miles or so 3 times a week as for fun and exercise?

Also if there is any thought I would really appreciate it. my height is 6 foot and 258 lbs.

  • Hi there, welcome to Bicycles.SE. Product recommendations are considered off-topic, but I'm sure there will be plenty of advice available to help you know what to look for and what kind of bike is most suited to the riding you want to do. – Swifty Jul 25 '18 at 19:51
  • @Swifty I am so sorry, I am new here, and thank you. – abu3ttallah Jul 25 '18 at 20:03
  • No problem at all, and you’ve asked lots of good questions about choosing and riding a bike which people will be happy to answer, but the decision making will be up to you ;) – Swifty Jul 25 '18 at 20:19
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    has your riding caused/aggravated your knee issues ? Could be your bike fit needs work. – Criggie Jul 26 '18 at 3:37
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    Race bikes are not the most comfortable bike for extended periods (i.e., aggressive position), they are designed for racing, not for more casual riding. The Diverge is a well sorted good handling bike that can run wider tires. Its probably one of the better options for a quick spirited bike for a heavier rider. If you have your heart set on bling, better wheels and tires can really transform a ride. – Rider_X Jul 26 '18 at 5:00
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I won't get too much into product recommendations, but some general things to consider...

You're going to wind up spending a lot of money on things other than your bicycle. At your size and presumed strength, you may need really good carbon-fiber soled cycling shoes to be able to ride any distance - plastic-soled shoes may be too flexible, which winds up giving you hot spots on your feet. And such a pair of shoes can be $300 or more - and you might need them. I know I do. You simply can't ride any decent amount with shoes that don't fit or that give you hot spots. Shoes that feel great when you walk around in them for three minutes in a store might feel like flaming instruments of torture two hours into a ride. So when you start out make sure the return policy on the shoes you buy is really good - that's one reason good cycling shoes are so expensive - the people who buy them have a really high likelihood of returning them. Once you find shoes that work for you, then you can go bargain hunting.

Or you can just buy a relatively inexpensive pair that seems to fit well, and hope they still work when you wind up doing 80-mile/120-km rides.

The problem is you won't know that you're unable to wear a certain pair of shoes because of hot spots or poor fit on long rides until you actually do long rides.

You may need to play musical saddles before you find a saddle that you can sit on for hours without going numb in certain parts. Good saddles aren't cheap, either. You might need to pay $100 or more for a saddle, because it's the only one you can find that doesn't rub you raw. Literally.

And you may find out what works for shorter rides starts getting really painful on longer rides.

You're going to need things like a good pump (with a pressure gauge!), and if you really want to not spend money in the future the tools needed to maintain your bicycle. Do you really need to spend $50 or more in labor to just change the chain and cassette when they wear out, or to recable your brakes and shifters after a couple of years of riding? You are going to need to changes tires - either to fix a flat or replace a worn-out tire. Park Tool's website has a lot of really good videos on how to work on your bicycle. (At least they did the last time I looked...)

And whatever bike you buy, at your weight the stock wheels will probably need to be replaced as the lightweight wheels that come on most higher-end bicycles won't support you for long. I'd say you need at least a good 32-spoke 3-cross rear wheel with a substantial rim. The front wheel doesn't have to be anywhere near as substantial, but it's hard to get a wheelset that isn't something like 32-hole both front and rear. Google "32-spoke wheelset" for examples. Decent hubs here are important - at your size, you want a steel freehub so the cassette cogs don't cut into it, so I'd say get a wheelset that has Shimano hubs, such as 105 hubs. You don't need to pay for a hub with a titanium freehub, and you want to stay far, far away from any hub with an aluminum freehub.

So don't blow all your budget on your bicycle. (FWIW, IMO 105 is the "sweet spot" for Shimano groupsets - I race on that. It's plenty good. Ultegra is basically 105 with a different finish and a few grams shaved off. DuraAce is overkill, IMO, even though it's really nice. As is electronic shifting - yeah, it's great and really shifts well. But it won't get you in better shape nor make you faster. Don't worry about paying extra to shave grams off your bicycle until you can ride a cat 4 pack off your wheel in a USA Cycling sanctioned race. And if you seriously get into triathlons you're going to need a whole other bicycle anyway...)

When you start, don't set a distance goal - just ride to how you're feeling. 30 miles may be months away, depending on your current level of fitness. Once you get started, it's not too hard to figure it out.

You may want to get a heart-rate monitor so you can track your effort and your fitness. FWIW, if you do, you should probably also get one with GPS, so you can record your rides. You can start with a phone app to do this, but beware, as using your phone for that can drain your battery fast, so it's not good if you ever get up to doing four or five hour rides or longer.

And be prepared to face growing pains - the second and third week are probably going to be tough. You'll probably go through phases such as

  • Phase 1 - Hey, it's raining out, I get to skip my ride! :-)
  • Phase 2 - Hey, it's raining out, I'm gonna get wet! :-(
  • Phase 3 - Hey, it's raining out, it'll keep me cool! :-)
  • Phase 4 - Hey, it's raining out. Been there, done that, I'm riding the trainer.

Don't be afraid to take a day or two off here and there. You will need to recover at times. A good sign of this is your legs being sore day after day and you can't seem to get any stronger/faster (OK, that's really deep into overtraining when that happens, but I suspect you'll probably drive yourself into that pretty quickly...)

And get a compact 50/34 crankset. You'll appreciate the extra low gearing when climbing at your weight. And I don't care how strong you are, you can't spin out a 50-11 gear combination anyway, so you really can't make use of the bigger gears a standard 53/39 crankset gives you.

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    "Don't be afraid to take a day or two off here and there. " - I put it "You don't get fit exercising, you get fit recovering from exercise" - it changes the mind set to focusing on proper recovery and helps avoid over training. – mattnz Jul 25 '18 at 21:15
  • thank you so much, very informative and constructive. I really appreciate your effort to help people like me. – abu3ttallah Jul 26 '18 at 1:25
  • Phase 5 - Life is too short for riding the trainer, skipping 1 ride won't hurt right? – Andy P Jul 26 '18 at 8:50
  • @abu3ttallah All the advice is great on this, just wanted to chime in that as a 6'3", 260# rider, I've had very good luck with mid-level Specialized shoes (XC comp), as well as the stock saddles - so I'd recommend starting there. – Trey Jackson Jul 26 '18 at 20:27
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Fact: True pro-level road racing bikes from all eras, including but not limited to the current iteratons, prioritize being light as possible while durable enough, and the right kind of durable, for a pro racer.

Fact: A heavy non-racer riding for fitness and pleasure doesn't really get any utilitarian benefit from the extra bit of weight reduction that distinguishes really high-end bikes, at all, other than potentially the psychologically driven kind of utility, i.e. you have a light, sexy bike and that motivates you to ride more.

Fact: There's a whole ton of ways the durability factor could bite you. That said, none of them are individually super likely. A related thing is that really high end bikes cost more to maintain and replace components on, especially if you care about keeping everything high end.

Fact: Wheels are going to tend to be the biggest and/or most immediate trouble spot if you do go for it.

Fact: Pro race bikes tend towards offering position choices that work for pros, and it's very common for this to create difficulties or impasses for non-pros doing long-distance recreational riding. The "endurance road" category was basicaly invented to address this.

Fact, but more contentious one: There can be some nice things about having a really stiff bike as a large, strong rider. That said, the importance of this as it relates to what modern humongous-tubed carbon frames actually give you over the competing options, like say a nice steel frame with 31.8 downtube and 28.6 seat and top tubes, is often overstated.

Opinion: Do it if it's what you need to do. Meeting your goals and having fun while making emotionally driven equipment choices is a lot better than nothing. You won't be the only one. Do make sure your fit on the bike is uncompromised, which you may find to be a criteria that other decisions have to flow from. All that said, many of us find there's another kind of emotional satisfaction in having bikes that actually make sense for who we are and the kind of riding we do.

  • As an added point Race Style bikes put you in a race style riding position. This puts performance first and comfort falls some place after that. If you decide on a true performance bike take a long test ride to make sure the riding position is something you can live with for 30 miles or more. – mikes Jul 25 '18 at 21:47
  • Thank you so much for the informative post. I really did start to reevaluate my choices based on what you said. – abu3ttallah Jul 26 '18 at 1:26
  • Race Style bikes put you in a race style riding position They don't have to. No one is forced to slam the stem - cut the steer tube all the way off and mount a downward-angled stem with no spacers. – Andrew Henle Jul 26 '18 at 15:48
  • It looks somewhat rubbish though on an aerobike when the bars are high. And looks so matter to many buyers of such bikes. – gschenk Jul 26 '18 at 19:46
  • @AndrewHenle Carbon steerers have stack limits that must be adhered to for safety. In my experience it's pretty common for the maximum bar height afforded on true pro-ish race bikes to not be enough for many riders, even with tall stems etc . – Nathan Knutson Jul 26 '18 at 23:16
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Looks as if the Specialized Diverge – even the entry level models – are pretty solid gravel bikes. Considering your weight it doesn’t make much sense to invest in a new, lighter racing bike. Especially the wheels would probably be too fragile.

Instead, invest in your current bike and equipment.

  • Get road tires (at least 28mm width, on a racing bike those wouldn’t even fit) if you are riding road only.
  • Get proper road biking shoes with carbon soles and pedals if you don’t have them already.
  • Get a good saddle and shorts so your ass doesn’t get too sore.
  • Get a bike fit to prevent knee and back pain.
  • Get foul weather gear so bad weather is no excuse for skipping a ride.
  • Always keep it properly maintained. A bike with poor shifting or braking is unsafe and not fun to ride. If you have an entry-level bike you can use the opportunity to replace worn parts with new, better parts.

Those things can easily cost you as much as a new bike but they can make a much bigger improvement for your comfort and motivation. Once you are down to ~100kg and know for sure that you can and want to continue bicycling you can think about a pure-bred racing bike again.

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I think this is a great question!

You've studied hard, worked hard and can now afford it. I don't think you need to look a certain way, like 'those athletes' to deserve a certain bike, anyone who tells you that you do is probably just jealous ;) But, fast, experienced riders are better placed to get most benefit from a race bike; its stiffness, the body position, the aerodynamic integration etc.

I think you are at the beginning of a journey and there are lots of other aspects to cycling which it makes sense to work on first of all, which others have gone into good detail on. You mention pain, one important thing to work on is cycling those 30 miles 3 times a week without causing any unnecessary pain. When you've developed your fitness, clothing/shoe choices, bike fit, mechanical skills, there will come a time when you know for yourself when it's time to buy your dream bike.

The other big practical consideration for me is sourcing spare parts and servicing. Certain high-end race models have a significant number of proprietary, integrated components. If it's difficult enough to get hold of a new bike model, sourcing replacement parts is going to be even harder. Unusual parts are difficult, and expensive, for shops to hold stock of. For now, the more standardised the components are, the better time you'll have keeping the bike safe and fun.

By all means, when you're in the States, seek out different bike dealers and try all the bikes you have time for, try the race bikes, try gravel bikes, try 'endurance geometry' bikes, see if you can rent something and go for a longer ride maybe. That might take some of the guess work out of it, if you find something great you can buy it but stay open minded.

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