Do you remember when Shaq got his new bike? It had to be custom made because he’s 7’1 and 360 lbs. See Shaq’s New Custom Bike Is Huge—and Totally Awesome.
Now not many people are 7’1. And lots of people can’t afford custom designed and built bikes. But there are a lot of people who weigh more than 250-300 lbs and there aren’t bikes available for people of that size. (Top end max rider weight varies from frame to frame. My Cannondale lists the max rider weight at 275 lbs, for examples, but some are as low as 230 lbs.)
I’m larger than your average rider but since I ride bikes made for men, and I don’t weigh more than some of the larger male riders, I’m okay. See Big women on bikes. But I know women who are bigger than me and I recommend cycling to them as a fitness activity while at the same time not wanting to scare them off with discussions of recommended rider weights.
It can be a touchy subject. I’m overweight for my race wheels and when I broke a spoke doing a Gran Fondo the mechanic on site didn’t say a word about my size. That’s in sharp contrast to larger male riders who have to endure the ribbing and who even poke some jokes at their own expense. You can buy bike jerseys that say, “Big men break wheels.” My partner Jeff has been known to travel with spare spokes.
So we’re big, maybe too big for our go fast wheels, but we’re not too big for our frames. Lots of people are though. And now there is a project aimed at getting bikes for big people, the Obesity Solution Bicycle Project Fund, and here’s what they have to say,
There are, at this point, zero bicycles mass produced for fat people. Although cycling is excellent exercise for anyone, it is especially wonderful for folks with joint issues – and the assist from a big ole chainring making you go zooooom! just feels awesome and fun; more like something you want to do and less like something you have to do in order to make your body slightly more socially acceptable.
Modern bicycles are typically rated for about 230 lbs, but the students and scientists in the CU Integrative Physiology program are working to create a prototype of a bicycle that supports a 450lb rider, and can be made with components common enough that the bike can be mass produced, and not just a specialty item for the fatty with a fat bank account.