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I have a large friend who doesn't exercise enough. He loves Mtn biking but hardly does it. I'd like to get him started on roadbiking, and he's piqued some interest. He's approximately 5'10" and weighs around 310 lbs. He's got plenty of strength, and at moderate speeds to start, I think he would enjoy it. What equipment suggestions do you guys have? I assume that we'd need to find a steel frame. What about wheel sets and what else should we consider?

Thanks.
 

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Downhill Juggernaut
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While a steel frame isn't a neccessity, I ride an aluminum frame and was about his weight when I started, I would highly recommend some good custom wheels. If he has any questions feel free to PM me, I can tell you what worked for me.
 

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I ride a felt F65 and started at 300+. Make sure you find a good shop that will take care of him. Making sure that he has bike gear that can with stand the demands of a larger rider. A good shop can make all the difference in the world for a big guy.

Make sure he gets a HRM and starts off slow and easy.
 

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General comments from an ex-275 pounder...

I don't think frame strength will be a significant issue for him unless he goes WAY light. I beat the crap out of two bikes at weights above 260 and and never had a frame problem (obviously he should ride smart and "light," avoiding potholes and using his legs to take up the shock of railroad tracks etc). That also helps with the scary prospect of snapping a seat post, which I've never done but have seen twice. I'll skip that, thanks.
Wheels are going to kill him, though. Even at my present 240, I don't have any luck with anything below 32 spokes, and those are iffy. Most of the time, I use 36-spokers (14ga. Wheelsmith, though I think butted would work fine) laced up by Rich at Rivendell. The rear wheel was something like $175, and it's been good for two years (I'd post a link, but they've been out of stock since 1952.).
Most over-the-counter bikes are racing oriented, at least in image, and one of the places the marketing people triumph is in wheels--a lot of bikes come across with 24 or even fewer spokes. He'll fold those up putting the thing on the rack. If he has constant trouble, tandem wheels are available with up to 48 spokes, and he isn't going to break those.
You might look at gearing, too. The standard 53-39 crankset, 26-tooth large cog setup is going to be tough on him unless he's a lot stronger than I am.
 

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Cannot bench own weight
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1. 36 spoke wheels
2. No Carbon Stems/bars/steerers
3. Steel frame
4. Brooks B17 Saddle (nice wide leather saddle)

I have done the above and had great success (though my max was about ~250 and i'm a little taller)
 

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Downhill Juggernaut
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Einstruzende said:
1. 36 spoke wheels
2. No Carbon Stems/bars/steerers
3. Steel frame
4. Brooks B17 Saddle (nice wide leather saddle)

I have done the above and had great success (though my max was about ~250 and i'm a little taller)
I've got a Carbon seatpost, and fork, with an Aluminum frame (although if I had it to do over again I'd probably go with steel- more for the ride feel than durability issues). Haven't had any trouble with them at all. Put about 1500 miles on my bike since August and had zero problems. YMMV

Also, I have a Brooks Professional Saddle. I definately agree with you there about the Brooks!

I would also second the double butted spokes. I have 32 front 36 rear laced 3x and they've held up extremely well. Roll as true today as the day they were mounted. Primetime_75 was dead on with finding a good LBS that can help with decisions.
 

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If it's not a sin here.

I would suggest a bike with flat bars. (particularly if your friend carries his weight up front) My current ride is a Specialized Sirrus disk that has carbon flat bars, carbon seat post, carbon fork, and carbon seat stays. I invested in a set of Chris King 36 hole hubs with Mavic rims and I have yet to have to true them. I have put about a thousand miles on this bike since March and I love it.
By the way bibs are a good thing for a larger guy and I think bike fit will be very important for him. (I should know, I am a 5'11" guy who was riding at 275 lbs.) The extra weight that can be placed on the hands, and discomfort of trying to bend your body around a big belly can lead to discouragement. Performance sells their Ultra bib (not the gel) in big sizes, and there is an Ebay store that has a selection of name brand jerseys in real big sizes (search "red jersey xxl"). If he is more comfortable he may enjoy it more and continue. I think a computer with HRM is a must.

Tell him good luck and keep at it. I started riding on the road just to try to get into better shape for mountain biking, now 90% of my riding is done on the road.

Later,
 

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I've been as high as 275. You can't go wrong with 36 hole Mavic Open Pros. I got a wheelset (on Chorus hubs) through QBP for about $200 and had my local shop give them the once over after I put a couple of miles on them. They have never given me any problems. One thing to look for on a bike for a big guy is tire clearance. I really prefer a wider tire than the "stock" 700x23 that seems to come on every bike made today. A set of 28's can really help spare the wheels some impact. Also, make sure the handlebars are wide enough (if he uses drop bars). That makes a difference for us big boys as well.
 

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My 2 cents...

As a big guy (275 lbs), I would recommend a disc brake cyclocross bike. The Lemond Poprad Disc, because I like the placement of the rear brake mount, or a Cannondale Cyclocross disc which is my current ride and I am pretty happy with it.

I really like having the extra braking power of the discs.

I would also recommend a triple or a compact crank. Climbing sucks as a big guy and having the lower gears will help keep him from getting discouraged.
 

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I am about 285 down form 315. I ride a 2005 Specialized Allez Sport triple and have had no problems. I am running the stock 700 x 23 and have had no problems with anything on the bike. I have hit some pretty good pot holes (not on purpose) and so far the wheels are holding up fine. The stock brakes work great and they have no problems stopping me.
 

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Becky Thatcher said:
I would suggest a bike with flat bars. (particularly if your friend carries his weight up front)

I started riding on the road just to try to get into better shape for mountain biking, now 90% of my riding is done on the road.
Sounds like you and myself are or were very much in the same boat...but I had to get a whole new bike when I decided I wanted to be able to move my hands around. Sold the flatbar bike (A Novara Big Buzz).

I carry a lot of my weight in the chest area...makes for a heavy upper body bearing down on my hands. I had to change things up. Got a Poprad Disc in April.

I also went from MTB to road myself. Funny. :)
 
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