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I am 6'8" and 255lbs so my figure is a bit between Kevin Durant (not as skinny) and Lebron (in shape but not as muscly). For smaller bikes such as what you would find in Wal-mart, I frequently see bike weight limits of 200lbs or so despite me still being able to still ride the bikes without any noticeable issues other than my knees hitting the handlebars. I thought bigger wheels (27"+ or 650b) would help, but I still see this weight limit which is absurdly low IMO as I'm a pretty skinny guy.. I saw another bike that had a suggested limit of 300lbs, but the recommended height limit was 5'7-5'10. Then I found another bike which claimed to support up to 6'3 and 220lbs, but the bike frame was smaller than all of the others at 17" where the others were set at 18".

Because I'm looking for bikes under $500 so that I can ride around my neighborhood, I'm going to have to compromise in some size aspect but am not quite sure which size aspect matters the least: bike frame size, recommended weight limit, or wheel size. I saw other questions about tall riders but nothing specifically addressing this aspect.

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    The most important dimensions are leg extension (from seat top to bottom of pedal stroke) and "reach" (whether it is comfortable to hold the handlebars while seated in normal cycling position). Any non-suspension, non-hoity-toity bike should be able to handle 255 pounds. Unfortunately, too many bikes these days are built for minimum weight, with undersized carbon, etc, but there are certainly some decent ones out there. The problem is your price limit. You might want to see if there are some suitable used bikes available. – Daniel R Hicks Mar 30 at 12:49
  • Years ago, I had 300+ pounds, and every cheapo bike's wheels or frame broke within some months (not fun when you are riding a bumpy downhill fast). With your weight, you need a class above Walmart bikes, but 500$ might just barely work. – Aganju Mar 31 at 2:04
  • At this point I'd go for a decent second-hand. With lockdowns ect it might be a bit slower than usual but in normal times spring is the time when last-season's bikes are sold on for decent prices. – Borgh Mar 31 at 9:12
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Of the three issues, wheel size matters the least. Size and weight limit are both important. If the bike is the wrong size, it can be uncomfortable and go unused. It may even be dangerous (e.g., knees into the handlebars or feet hitting the front wheel when turning). Weight/load is something to consider. For larger riders, there can be problems with the wheels, specifically, breaking spokes. This can be handled with wheels with high spoke counts (e.g., 36 spokes per wheel). Over longer time periods, larger riders typically put more wear on the drive train and brakes over any given mileage, requiring more frequent replacing of parts. Larger riders are probably at higher risk of breaking a frame, but a frame breaking is rare. Frames on new bikes typically carry a lifetime warranty for the original owner.

At your height and weight, for riding around the neighborhood, some kind of "hybrid" bike is an option.

  • A hybrid bike has a more upright position (generally more comfortable in the back and neck) than a road bike and is still meant to be used on pavement (Tires narrower and smoother tires than a mountain bike, meant for speed).
  • A mountain bike might better handle heavier loads than other bikes, due to the large volume tires.
  • For your height, you'll be looking at the largest size available. Changing out some parts may be need to get a comfortable fit (e.g., longer stem at a steeper angle, steerer tube extension, re-cabling.)
  • Disc brakes are something to consider: They'll provided better stopping power (especially in wet conditions) and will still work if the wheels go out of round (another issue to be aware of at your weight). If the wheels go out of round, they need to be "trued" (adjusted back to round).
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  • Thank you so much for this level of detail while still being direct. I always find it difficult to select best answers, but I feel like this one was just a bit better. I did learn a lot from each of you, however. – djsoteric Mar 30 at 20:41
  • Some hybrids (also called trekking bikes) are built to carry touring kit, and should have a higher total weight limit. Touring bikes are another options, and tend to be built with sturdy wheels. Some touring frames are available built up with flat bars, and can get down to the OP's budget even new. – Chris H Mar 31 at 11:22
  • I'm not sure bikes under $500 have such a warranty, or that the warranty will remain valid for a rider over the weight limit. – Phil Frost Mar 31 at 15:24
  • In my two years of working at bicycle shop, Trek and Cannondale provided warranties on all frames, regardless of price. On the few frame warranty issues that I dealt with, they never inquired about rider weight. – John Apr 1 at 18:18
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Among quality aka dealer-level bikes, each model comes in a range of sizes. Wheel size in and of itself is immaterial to fit. Published weight limits are not typically contingent on frame size, i.e. it's the same number for the whole size run.

There are questions on here about how to interpret weight limits, but most dealer-level bikes are somewhere around 300lbs, especially for more entry-level bikes.

All but the biggest bike companies wrestle with economies of scale for bikes on the far ends of the size bell curve, so that's usually the main place someone your height will need to look. In other words, you're likely looking at barely squeaking in, if that, on an XXL hybrid or MTB, and many companies only go up to XL. In the US, brands I know that do XXL on a lot of bikes are Trek, Specialized, and Cannondale.

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    I agree, and I might add that the OP's height could be the greater barrier than his weight. 255 lbs /116 kg is large but not absurd (although if the OP is a very muscular 255lbs, he could break some weaker components). 6'8" (203cm) is very tall indeed compared to most people. Maybe it's not that tall for pro basketball players, but that's an extremely select population. – Weiwen Ng Mar 30 at 18:07
  • @WeiwenNg's right. I'm shorter than the OP, but I'm at the top end of XL in some brands and would be XXL in others at least for a good fit. – Chris H Mar 31 at 11:26
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Either way, you probably won't find what you are looking for at walmart. They dont carry different sizes of bikes, each model is exactly one size.

You should go to your local bike shop and try out their largest size of whatever type of bike you are interested in. Most high quality bikes from bike shops have weight limits around 300 pounds for mountain bikes and hybrids. Road bikes are so sometimes specified lower, around 250 pounds.

You may want to look into DirtySixer bikes. They make bikes specifically for tall people. They specifically engineer them bit big people in mind, starting with 36 inch wheels. They are extremely expensive, but if you have it in your budget, it might be a reasonable approach.

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  • Just wanted to clarify - I know Walmart won't have what I'm looking for. That's just the only in-store comparison I have because my wife's bike came from there. – djsoteric Mar 30 at 13:43
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    I don't see how they charge more than a motorcycle for a very basic looking bike. Of course the price on many bikes baffle me these days. Spoiler, those Dirty Sixer bikes are $6000-$8000 for an aluminum frame and steel forks. – JPhi1618 Mar 30 at 15:06
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    @jphi1618 They are a very low volume operation targeting a very small user base. Everything they make is custom, as they start with 36 inch wheels and have to build everything around that. Basically everything is non standard and not "off the shelf". – Kibbee Mar 30 at 17:21

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