Bicycles made big!

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.

They are seeking funding for their research and you can donate to them here.

One thought on “Bicycles made big!

  1. I always get so frustrated by this topic. I’m 5’9″ and well above the weight bikes are usually stated to support. Yet I’ve been riding bikes since 2007. Getting an appropriate back wheel built (I’ve never broken a front wheel spoke) and buying Thompson Drop seat posts for all my bikes (Thompson Drops are mountain bike seat posts made to handle ten foot drops in a 240 pound mountain biker and this old lady is only interested in riding nicely on an asphalted trail) are the two main modifications I’ve made to my bikes to accommodate my size and make my bike safer. Total cost of these two modifications were $180. The other thing I always suggest to larger people who want to ride is to look at a hybrid or mountain bike. Both let you sit more upright than a road bike with drop handle bars and I find them much more comfortable. I also added ergonomic hand grips which made a huge difference in wrist pain, but I’m not sure that’s a problem due to size. Many of my smaller biking friends had the same issue when we started.

    None of this is rocket science requiring thousands of dollars in added costs. I ride at least a 1500 miles a year and since I made these modifications I haven’t broken a spoke nor busted a seat post.

    And as for wearing Lycra, I love how awesome I look in it. Someone on the trail doesn’t like it? Then I suggest if you don’t like my peaches, don’t shake my tree. I happen to look hot.

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