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So I have wanted to ride a bike for a long time, I do strongman training, I am 6'6 (200cm) tall and kinda fluctuate between 440 - 480 pounds (200-220 kg) depending on what training I am on.

We are going in and out of lockdown in Australia and I think a bike would be a great way to keep my cardio up while gyms are opening and closing.

My question is, will I destroy a bike? I have gone into my local bike shop and they have said that a bike with dual suspension will be my best bet as they can dial it up for me. I have also seen that having double walled rims and fatter tires is good too.

I have found a 2nd hand 2020 Merida one forty 600 XL in stock which I really like, looking on the Merida website they have a limit of 120kg (260 pounds) max for the rider.

Am I wasting my money? I know there is like fat guy steel frame bikes but they are not available in Australia, cost way more, and seem to have worst components than a basic MTB from the local shop.

I am just going to be doing riding around my streets and maybe some very very light bush trails, nothing crazy or with jumps, please please please give me some direction because I am getting this bike in 2 days and need some advice, do I go for it or do I save my money and just keep walking?

""
Stock photo of the Merida bike.

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    What riding. A touring bike would suit you better than a MTB is you are planning on riding on roads and cycle paths and not riding single track. Tourers are made to carry heavy loads, reliability over long distances of roads of all kinds. MTB's, especially full sus, have a lot of moving parts that wear and break, and I am doubtful a standard shock and fork can be pumped up high enough to be properly setup with your weight.
    – mattnz
    Aug 8 at 5:47
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    You really don’t need or want rear suspension. I don’t think any shocks will physically support your weight. You will also eat pivot bearings like candy, the shock will need frequent servicing because of the high forces, and the trunnion mount that bike uses is especially bad at handling beefier riders.
    – MaplePanda
    Aug 8 at 5:56
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    So, one thing that makes this request a bit trickier than normal is that this person is heavy and physically very strong. It’s not uncommon for strength athletes to get into cardio as a complementary sport, since it presumably helps them perform for longer in season. The Op might be interested in googling for bicycles for US basketball or football players to see if they can draw any general lessons. I may expand this into an answer if I can find anything substantive that doesn’t duplicate other answers.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Aug 8 at 14:21
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    This is not a full-fledged answer but: Nothing off the shelf will be suitable. All load bearing components (wheels, handle bar, crank shafts, frame and fork) will fail, after a few thousand kilometers. Try to find heavy duty dirt bikes, perhaps custom made ones. The dynamic loads they are designed for may make them endure a permanent load that's 2.5 times what regular bikes are built for. Nathan's advice to get custom wheels is probably correct: Those will fail fastest. (Source: When I crossed the 80 kg marks almost all those components started to fail on me.) Aug 8 at 14:47
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    (What the OP should of course not attempt is doing any kind of jumps or the other stuff that MTB suspension is really designed for.) Aug 8 at 19:05
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At 480lb/220kg:

  • You need good custom handbuilt wheels from day one on any bike you get, regardless of genre or usage, and it has to be from someone who knows what they're doing. Rims exist that can do that, but not many of them, and this is also an application where you really want 48 spoke, which takes a builder that's willing to jump through some hoops. The good news is that this is the most major weak point of stock bikes, and it's a solvable problem.
  • In the age we live in, there's a lot to recommend limiting your options to boost or superboost bikes, for the more symmetrical rear wheel. That will make it much more durable. You still need custom handbuilt from day one.
  • You still may break frames even with your handbuilt wheels, but it will take time. The main solution here would be either a custom frame or doing something along the lines of, for example, using a steel freeride hardtail frame as your everyday bike. The good news here is that there are frames in that milieu that are accessible and fairly economical.
  • I'm missing the part where you're not going to be blowing way past max pressure specs on any stock full suspension bike, especially any relatively inexpensive one. Take no further advice from whoever said getting a full suspension bike should be plan A. It's not to say it's not something you can have if you want, but it would be a huge and expensive project. If you go that route, it's going to be something along the lines of coil everything with fancy and specific spring upgrades.
  • There are simple chromoly suspension-corrected rigid forks that are seriously burly. If you're looking at relatively inexpensive mountain bikes, your reasonable options are switch the fork with one of those or with a DH fork and spring that costs 2-3x the cost of the bike.
  • For the usage you describe, a lot of brakes will be okay, but ones that are mediocre for an average weight rider won't be. Something like the current 4-cylinder Deore brakes would be a good choice at a good price.
  • Being tall, heavy, and strong, there's a lot to recommend looking at getting tubular chromoly cranks, especially if you found yourself settling on lower-cadence pedaling habits. This isn't an immediate need though. This upgrade is also a way to get longer-than-normal cranks, like 180 or 185, which many taller riders and/or lower-cadence riders enjoy.

It would be easy to waste money by getting something too basic, but hopefully the above gives you some ideas for how to get into something functional without spending a ton.

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    Thank you for that, super clear and direct. I have made up my mind to just get the Yoder from Zize, it is probably about $1000 more than what I was going to spend on the Merida, but from reading reviews, it is rock solid, and will be able to handle anything I throw at it. And they are in stock
    – Phil
    Aug 8 at 7:22
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    @Phil zizebikes.com/product/yonder This, right? I think this will pay off, it looks solid. Wider hubs than normal, wider bottom bracket, custom frame, 36 spoke wheels, all looks very sensible.
    – Nobody
    Aug 8 at 11:00
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    I would recommend while riding you pay attention to shifting. At your power level you can break things if you are in the wrong gear. Let the gearing do the work. If you try to muscle your way up hills you will break things. I have seen riders with less strength than you bend individual cogs in a cassette, break chains or bend axles.
    – mikes
    Aug 8 at 12:16
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    @Phil You will easily save $1000 in otherwise broken parts :)
    – MaplePanda
    Aug 8 at 18:26
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    @armb One of the tricky things about the whole question is that tandem hubs are still mostly QR, but reasonable bikes for the application are mostly boost or superboost. The more symmetrical wheel spacing is highly desirable here, but those are the more practical ways of getting it. (It's true that just stretching a 135 QR frame is another way.) There are a few of the high end hub makers that will custom drill you a shell (White is who I'm thinking of) and tbh that's probably the direction I would pursue if I was building this wheel/speccing out this bike. Aug 9 at 17:54
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The weight limit on a bike frame is the loading at which a manufacturer can deny warranty claims. So this Merida won't fail suddenly at 121 kilograms, but it will likely suffer from more punctures than normal, and potentially more broken spokes. Also, the brake pad life will be shorter than an average rider would experience due to more kinetic energy (momentum) to be dispersed.


If you plan on loosing weight then this bike might be a good start, though do remember to give it a periodic safety check before every ride. (Search for M-Check)

If you're intending to use a bike to maintain general fitness, and expect to stay around the same weight then it could go either way. Either this bike is insufficient and you need a custom-made frame, or you ride it carefully and avoid jumps and potholes and kerbs/curbs.

In my experience, the frame and forks are not the failure points. When static load (rider and cargo) rises the bike "wears" faster. When dynamic loads spike up (potholes, any kind of sudden event) that's when things break. And the first thing to fail is normally a wheel, frequently the rear wheel because it carries 60~70% of the load. Punctures are more common with more weight too.


Separately, don't confuse "fatbikes" with 100mm wide tyres for bikes having any higher load capacity. A Fatbike is primarily intended for sand and snow and shingle, where a wide footprint helps maintain grip.

There are bike frames designed and built for heavier riders (who are sometimes called clydesdales ) For example https://zizebikes.com/zize-bikes-for-riders-over-400-lbs/ but as you note, they're not cheap. No affiliation.

(general comment for future readers) I'm not sure how Australian healthcare works, but if there's a medical condition involved, there are schemes that supply "enabling equipment" like scooters, crutches and build ramps/showers into homes. It is possible that a high-capacity bicycle could fit in this scheme and be subsidised by healthcare.

  • A separate option is an indoor bike - a stationary bike, sometimes called a spin-bike like you might see at the Gym. They're useless for transport, but great for exercise. They can be overbuilt without penalty and generally carry a lot more weight. Downside, indoor cycling is BORING.

TL;DR Get the bike if its not too expensive. Can't start if you're always waiting for the perfect thing. If something fails, replace that thing with better. Expect wheels to be early, so get good high-spoke count replacements at the time. Learn to fix punctures, and carry spares for roadside repairs.

You can ride a bike - make a start and the rest will follow.

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    So I am not getting a bike to lose weight really, even at my super cut down weight im still 180kg, I am just a very big guy and have near 140kg of lean mass. I have seen the zize bikes and honestly that might be the ticket, even if they are expensive, but like I said I dont love the look of them, are the parts okay on them? I know zero things about push bikes. As for the person who said something about a touring bike, how would this be stronger then a MTB? according to my bike shop the more suspension I had the better? Also I do alot of riding on exercise bikes at the gym, dont need at home
    – Phil
    Aug 8 at 6:33
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    At 200kg, suspension is likely to bottom out and stay there. Unless you can change the springs for much stronger ones. And spoke breakage could be more or less avoided with tandem purposed wheels that are ready for higher loads. The best way would lead via a frame-builder.
    – Carel
    Aug 8 at 7:06
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    @Carel air shocks (the most popular style of MTB suspension) can be custom-adjusted without exchanging springs or anything, just add more pressure to the shock. It's true that even pumping to the maximum rated pressure won't prevent the bike from sagging quite deep if the rider is that heavy, but an enduro or downhill bike certainly won't bottom out permanently. As said in the answer, the rear wheel is the main problem point, not the frame. Aug 8 at 12:27
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    @leftaroundabout: air shocks may be adjustable in a certain range but I have strong doubts that the adjustment range would go up to 200+kg. Which pressure would be required?
    – Carel
    Aug 9 at 15:08
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    I tried to find, without success, piston diametre for the shock (RockShox RL) and lever ratio for the frame. A ruler might do for the latter though. Calculating the pressure for steady state oughtn't be difficult if we know that.
    – gschenk
    Aug 9 at 15:30
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Thank you all for your responses, it was very very helpful.

It has become clear to me now as to what I need to do and I am going to be buying a Zize Bike - Yonder.

It seems to have everything I will need right off the shelf: stronger disc brakes and frame, as well as a stronger seat post and gearing. It is a little stretch out of my budget, especially considering I will need to ship it to Australia but I feel in the long run it is well worth it and it seems like they have a very good warranty specifically to do with weight breaking things.

All the reviews and what I have read online seem to be very positive besides the price but I guess when you are making a very niche thing, you can charge what you like.

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    Hi Phil, glad to see you've found a suitable bike so quickly! Thanks for reporting back, that can really help future visitors as well. However, this website is slightly different from a "regular" forum in that it tries to adhere to a strict Q&A format. So the question you posted in your answer is a) not in the right place: questions should be asked as a new question, not in an answer and b) quite broad: if you have a specific question/problem about the bike you're getting feel free to create a new question about it. Hope you'll have a fun time riding your new bike! Aug 9 at 10:23
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    The yonder has a adjustable stem. I wouldn't trust it with the forces the bike will have to take. Best keep it only while you adjust the bike and replace it with a (very) solid stem after you have dialed everything in.
    – gschenk
    Aug 9 at 13:18
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    Check if those brakes are good enough. For slow riding they may be sufficient. If you go fast or down consider replacing them with a set of solid Shimano brakes with four pistons and 180 mm rotors.
    – gschenk
    Aug 9 at 13:23
  • Hey Gschenk, I have been told that about the stem, I will only be doing casual riding to begin with but they are meant to be pretty good, as for the breaks, they actually use Shimano disc breaks to help with the extra weight and force behind the bike so fingers crossed. If not, I guess it isnt a huge deal to change
    – Phil
    Aug 13 at 5:23
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I would be looking at a steel framed touring bike with handbuilt 36-spoke wheels. For example Surly Long Haul Trucker (sadly, not available anymore but you can buy the Disc Trucker even today) is rated for 136kg rider and 25kg cargo for 161kg total carried weight. That's in the right territory even though you still exceed it by a bit.

Most bikes come with wheels so you'll at least want to hand the existing wheels to a professional wheelbuilder to touch them up, ensuring they are fully stress relieved, and have even and high spoke tension. Even then, I would be very careful when riding the bike, using high volume low pressure tires (the thickest you can fit) and riding over curbs very carefully. If the spoke nipples tend to loosen and making them evenly and highly tight won't prevent nipples from loosening, you may have to resort to using threadlock on the spoke-to-nipple interface threads. Note that threadlock is still not a substitute for quality-built wheels and often suggesting applying threadlock needlessly is a sign of a poor wheelbuilder, but even quality professional wheelbuilders may have to resort to threadlock in some speciality applications like really high system weight.

I'm bit below 110kg. I know that a rather weak framed Cannondale Synapse Neo EQ e-bike that weighs over 20kg and can carry 16kg cargo withstands my weight. That's about 146kg system weight. In your case, the system weight for a standard non-e-bike would be about 225kg, even more if you carry cargo.

I use 28mm high pressure tires pumped up to 7 bar even at 146kg system weight. If you select for example 40mm tires pumped up to 5 bar, such as Schwalbe G-One speed that are rated for 100kg, you should be reasonably safe. You still exceed the tire load rating because most of the load is on the rear wheel so the rear wheel will be carrying perhaps about 140kg load. But if you ride carefully, that should not be an obstacle. Remember to pump the wheels up every single week, because bicycle tires leak pressure quickly and ordinary riders may have to inflate only every other week but in your case the margin between acceptable pressure and maximum pressure the tire supports is practically nonexisting.

Most likely even though you are heavier than ordinary, your arms probably aren't much stronger than ordinary, so most of the weight is carried not on the handlebars/stem but rather on the seatpost. Thus, select a two bolt seatpost where the failure of a single bolt won't make the seat loose. Ideally the seatpost would have polished smooth, not anodized surface, because polished components have higher fatigue endurance. I would also not ride without mudguards and rear rack -- if your seatpost fails, your butt will hurt a lot from the spinning rear wheel onto which it falls. The mudguards and rear rack cover the spinning rear wheel. Also I suspect you need a really big honking seat collar because your seatpost WILL slip. Surly Constrictor is one that's compatible with Surly Long Haul Trucker and I suspect Disc Trucker too.

Inspect your high load components often for beginning cracks. That includes in your case very dense inspection schedules for at least seatpost, cranks and fork. You might to want to keep an eye on the handlebar and stem too, although I suspect they won't receive much of the extraordinarily high load. The fork should be pulled regularly and have its steerer tube inspected for fatigue cracks. Similarly don't just eye externally the seatpost, rather pull it from the seat tube, regrease and reinstall. Might be good to check the welds of the frame often too. Usually, for riders with ordinary weight, frame failure won't cause the rider to get hurt, but in the case of very heavy riders, it's possible if one weld fails the remaining welds can't withstand the high weight and fail too immediately at the same time.

You'll wear out the wearable parts -- chains, cassettes and brake pads -- very fast. Keep a stock of spares. Also bottom bracket is something that can fail at any time from the high weight so keep one at spare, and if you don't want to stop riding waiting for a replacement seatpost or crankset to arrive one of each in spares should prevent that wait. Hub bearings might wear faster than ordinary from the high weight too. I suspect that cup and cone bearings, being full complement, last more than standard industrial machine bearings that are half complement.

Then there's the braking problem. Normal weight riders can usually brake so hard using only the front brake that the rear wheel rises into the air. You probably have to use both brakes at the same time, because otherwise you won't get enough braking force. The low mechanical advantage and flex in bicycle brakes otherwise would prevent an acceptable braking force.

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    The OP mentioned he is strong from weight training. Perhaps you might want to edit your section on the front of the bike with that in mind.
    – gschenk
    Aug 11 at 10:10
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    In this case the disc trucker seems much more appropriate as disc brakes can more easily upgraded to the stopping power requirements needed for m > 200 kg.
    – gschenk
    Aug 11 at 10:11
  • My experience with rim vs disc brakes is the opposite. Rim brakes, specifically cantilevers, are very stiff and can provide lots of braking power. Disc brakes (although I have used only hydraulic) bottom out on the weakest braking force, limiting the braking force to a low value. I can raise the rear wheel on rim brakes (cantilevers), but on disc brakes I can't.
    – juhist
    Aug 11 at 14:12
  • Juhist, I appreciate good rim brakes and think they are often more suitable than disc brakes. (The cantis on my CX bike are even my favourite brakes). However, for sheer stopping power good disc brakes are excellent. Maybe there is something else wrong with the disc break setup you used? (Eg bad design, contaminated pads, air in brake line). There is a reason disc rather than rim brakes are used for all motorbikes. A light one is in the weight range we are talking about here.
    – gschenk
    Aug 11 at 15:33
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A German manufacturer has a model rated for 200kg max rider weight. At about the same price, the specifications are of much higher class (the bike itself weighs 18.5kg, compared to 24kg). You'll also get the full range of gears with front triple, which makes the bike more versatile - you'd be able to do mountain riding on it in case you get into it.

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  • The last sentence is strange. A front derailleur is a pretty archaic thing on mountain bikes. One can get the same gear range with 1x setups that one used to have with triples and narrower cassettes.
    – Vladimir F
    Aug 13 at 20:06

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