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I recently found some local bike trails that have everything from flat gravel to dirt bike jumps. I'm looking for a bike that can hold me through off road biking. I don't plan on doing any jumps or anything, but definitely offroad trails.

I've looked around a bunch and haven't been able to find many bikes that have an actual weight limit listed.

I'm hoping to find something around the middle of the price range, but I know most things for heavy guys tend to be a lot more expensive.

I am brand new to biking so any and all tips are very much appreciated! I'm 6'3" (~190cm) and 325lbs (~147kg).

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I would be looking at bikes with frames made of steel. A cro-moly frame will be most likely to meet the requirements you are looking for on your budget, and there are a lot of bikes with cro-moly frames available in different price ranges. Companies like Trek and Diamond Back make high quality bikes in every price range, you would just have to look at how each bike specs out for weight limits. Dont rule out alloy bikes, I just think they tend to fatigue faster under rigorous use. There is a company called Zize Bikes that might interest you, although they look pricey.

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    Please stop using the term “alloy” to mean “aluminium alloy”. Steels are alloys too, cro-moly being a particular one, aluminium (even without qualifier) is an alloy, titanium is an alloy, bronze is an alloy... at this point you might as well just say “metal”. Yes, saying just “aluminium” is also not really true pedantically speaking, but it's a whole lot more useful than saying just “alloy”. – leftaroundabout May 25 at 15:04
  • I am aware of that, but I am giving advise to someone who is less experienced than you with what these terms refer to, so since the industry uses the term "alloy" to refer to aluminum, I used it in the same context to help him find what he is looking for. – bradly May 25 at 15:30
  • But @leftaroundabout I am a welder by profession, so if anyone should be bugged by industry's terminology its me. And Aluminum and Titanium by themselves are NOT alloys. (Al and Ti on the periodic table) – bradly May 25 at 15:33
  • Sure, Al and Ti are chemical elements, but nobody uses them as such for building stuff. It's understood that when saying “the plane is made of aluminium” it's actually some alloy, but this convention makes a lot of sense. Like, when saying “the plane is made of wood” it's also understood that not literally all of it is wood, and in fact the steel bolts are probably quite essential for it to work, but the wood parts are still what characterises it best. Meanwhile, “alloy bike” is like saying “biomass plane” in which case it could as well be animal bones and hay. – leftaroundabout May 25 at 16:01
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    Kilage wasn't interested in a lesson on the intrinsic details of bike frame materials, or for that matter antique airplane materials, he is new to biking and is looking for a bike that he feels will suit him. Again, go complain at the people who market bikes. It's their terminology. When in Rome.... – bradly May 25 at 16:14
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Aside from the frame and wheels, suspension quality will make a big difference in price and durability. You will save money skipping rear suspension and going with a hardtail or even non-suspension bike.

Some strategies for saving money: 1) Buy used -- from a local dealer will cost a bit more but should mean the bike is in good mechanical shape. 2) Buy an older model -- bikes depreciate pretty quickly. A 5 or even 10 year old quality midlevel bike from a name brand will be more durable and perform better than an el cheapo new bike. 3) Buy an older technology generation (but not too old!) One or two generations back is often a price/selection sweet spot.

Concrete suggestions: Look at 29er bikes - they're an older generation than 27.5er bikes, and should be better suited to your large size. Go with a hardtail; full suspension will be much more expensive. Avoid the el cheapo entry-level spring-only suspension forks. Consider bikes designed for AM (all mountain) rather than XC (cross country) as the former are intended for more impact/abuse. If you find a bike that fits the bill except for non-robust wheels, you can always have custom wheel(s) built for you, with heavy-duty rims (like Rhyno-Lite), 32 or 36 heavy duty spokes, 3-cross spoke lacing. You can get a quite decent if not super light heavy duty wheelset built for $200-300. Find a knowledgeable "real" local bike shop to work with for maintenance and repairs. They will keep your bike safe and even help you figure out what is and what is not worth spending money on. Note - this is like finding a trustworthy auto mechanic -- you will have to solicit lots of opinions, check Yelp and see if you feel comfortable with them.

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    29" is not necessarily older than 27.5" - did you perhaps mean 26" ? I do totally agree that parts designed to move are more likely to break than parts that are not designed to move, so the hard tail wins there. – Criggie May 26 at 6:05
  • I was more speaking broadly in terms of rough introduction era. There are likely to be more lower-priced but good-quality used 29ers available in the 5-10 year old range. – Armand May 27 at 15:55
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WHEELS In addition to frame, your wheels need consideration. Ideally look for bikes with wheels have a high spoke count.

In modern terms, a rear might be 24-36 spokes, and a front is the same or slightly fewer. More spokes means a stronger wheel. I'd recommend 32 spokes as a minimum for the rear wheel and 36 or more if you can do so. The front wheel carries a little less of the overall load, but when braking can hold up to all of the load, so 32 spokes would be good there too.

Some wheels might have 48 spokes, which was possible on tandems, for load. Any more than that and its likely to be a "lowrider" show bike - 96 was common, and they're totally for show not load.

ANSWER 32 spoke min, more is good, up to 48 spokes. Ideally, avoid wheels with less than 32 or more than 48 spokes.


PEDALS Separately, I'd avoid any clipless pedals. Just stay with normal flat pedals and shoes. A fall can be harder on a heavier person, and you also have more inertia/momentum to deal with. Being clipped in can make a fall that much worse, and if you do have to walk out, then walking in flat shoes is generally more comfortable.

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You'll probably want to upgrade to 4-pot brakes and larger rotors to give you more braking power and cooling ability. Tires with "downhill casings" might also be nice to avoid pinch flats and damaging the rims. Finally, make sure whatever fork you get (if hardtail) is rated for your weight. Air forks usually have pressure limits and coil forks only have so many spring weights available. Without enough pressure, you'll risk bottoming out the fork fairly often and end up damaging internals.

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