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Gravel bike for 6'6'', 255 lbs, Long Arms and Legs. Under $2k

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Gravel bike for 6'6'', 255 lbs, Long Arms and Legs. Under $2k

Old 05-03-19, 09:48 AM
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GreenHoliday
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Gravel bike for 6'6'', 255 lbs, Long Arms and Legs. Under $2k

Someone please tell me my situation isn't hopeless. For the last year, I have been searching on and off for a drop bar, all-purpose bike for exercise, getting around town, bike path riding, some gravel. I haven't ridden much as an adult, so I like the versatility of a gravel bike because I don't know what type of riding I will be drawn to. I am not interested in group riding, nor am I the type to dwell on top speed, 3-ounce weight savings, etc... I am most interested in stability, durability, and dependability. I plan on keeping this bike for a long time.

Height: 6'6.5".
Weight 255 lbs
Cycling inseam of 37" (I think).
I have broad shoulders and a 7'2'' wingspan (I'm basically an ape).

Other considerations:
I originally set out looking to spend around $1000. I am not willing to go over $2000 all-in. That means custom is probably a no-go.
I intend to trailer a toddler or put a seat on the back at least part of the time.
I would like at least Shimano 105 or SRAM Rival.
Disc brakes are a must... I don't know enough about mechanical vs. hydro to have a preference.
I don't have a problem with a 1x drivetrain

Because of my long reach, I think 61 cm frames are out of the question. As far as I can tell, here are some of my best options (listed with frame size/TT length/stack/reach):

Surly Straggler 62cm 623/628/421 (steel)
Used Niner RLT 9 62cm 605/636/406 (steel w/ carbon fork... have my eye on a used one that way out-specs my needs but is well under $2000)
Canyon Inflite XXL 617/637/428) (aluminum w/ carbon fork)
Canyon Grail XXL 631/644/440 (aluminum w carbon fork)
Used Van Dessel WTF 62cm 620/634/426 (steel)

None of my local shops have anything in store, nor will they order one without a non-refundable deposit, so I have to sort of roll the dice here. I feel like the Surly is my safest bet. It is steel and probably checks all of my boxes but I am very worried about the tiny head tube length. It is only 185 mm (the others are between 205-214). It doesn't seem like there are enough spacers in the world to make up that difference. That seems like it would put me in an awfully aggressive posture for a bike called the Straggler. The Canyons look to be HUGE in the reach department. The thing that scares me about them is the aluminum frame. There seems to be a difference of opinion on this matter and I am only concerned because I am not exactly light. Personal biases aside, is it a bad idea for me to consider aluminum? Finally, I don't know anything about the Van Dessel besides it looks to be big.

I haven't really found any reviews by Clydes close to my size who have ridden the Canyon XXLs. I find it hard to believe that they would offer such a large frame with aluminum as an option if it wasn't up to the task.

That's enough for now. Any input is greatly appreciated.
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Old 05-03-19, 11:01 AM
  #2  
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Originally Posted by GreenHoliday View Post
Someone please tell me my situation isn't hopeless. For the last year, I have been searching on and off for a drop bar, all-purpose bike for exercise, getting around town, bike path riding, some gravel. I haven't ridden much as an adult, so I like the versatility of a gravel bike because I don't know what type of riding I will be drawn to. I am not interested in group riding, nor am I the type to dwell on top speed, 3-ounce weight savings, etc... I am most interested in stability, durability, and dependability. I plan on keeping this bike for a long time.

Height: 6'6.5".
Weight 255 lbs
Cycling inseam of 37" (I think).
I have broad shoulders and a 7'2'' wingspan (I'm basically an ape).

Other considerations:
I originally set out looking to spend around $1000. I am not willing to go over $2000 all-in. That means custom is probably a no-go.
I intend to trailer a toddler or put a seat on the back at least part of the time.
I would like at least Shimano 105 or SRAM Rival.
Disc brakes are a must... I don't know enough about mechanical vs. hydro to have a preference.
I don't have a problem with a 1x drivetrain

Because of my long reach, I think 61 cm frames are out of the question. As far as I can tell, here are some of my best options (listed with frame size/TT length/stack/reach):

Surly Straggler 62cm 623/628/421 (steel)
Used Niner RLT 9 62cm 605/636/406 (steel w/ carbon fork... have my eye on a used one that way out-specs my needs but is well under $2000)
Canyon Inflite XXL 617/637/428) (aluminum w/ carbon fork)
Canyon Grail XXL 631/644/440 (aluminum w carbon fork)
Used Van Dessel WTF 62cm 620/634/426 (steel)

None of my local shops have anything in store, nor will they order one without a non-refundable deposit, so I have to sort of roll the dice here. I feel like the Surly is my safest bet. It is steel and probably checks all of my boxes but I am very worried about the tiny head tube length. It is only 185 mm (the others are between 205-214). It doesn't seem like there are enough spacers in the world to make up that difference. That seems like it would put me in an awfully aggressive posture for a bike called the Straggler. The Canyons look to be HUGE in the reach department. The thing that scares me about them is the aluminum frame. There seems to be a difference of opinion on this matter and I am only concerned because I am not exactly light. Personal biases aside, is it a bad idea for me to consider aluminum? Finally, I don't know anything about the Van Dessel besides it looks to be big.

I haven't really found any reviews by Clydes close to my size who have ridden the Canyon XXLs. I find it hard to believe that they would offer such a large frame with aluminum as an option if it wasn't up to the task.

That's enough for now. Any input is greatly appreciated.
First -- so familiar with blind shopping large frame bikes for us normal height folks. Huge pain.

So -- I don't have your wingspan (quite -- and that's a first; I'm 6'7 with a 7' wingspan) but I actually find the really long arms have been a HUGE advantage in bike fit. I'm all torso, but I can increase the effective reach on a bike significantly by eliminating a LOT of spacers without actually ending up in an overly aggressive riding position because of the arm length. (For instance, prior to a slight accident in November that broke the bike and me, I was on a 56cm Ridley crossbike without overly compromising the fit)

I suspect that with a toddler, you'll want an actual gravel bike, not a cross bike (Grail vs. Inflite). I'd suggest you go with hydro brakes; my personal experience is that the quality is night and day and it's worth the extra investment, especially since it's a fairly involved upgrade (DAMHIK).

I won't comment on AL vs. Steel; what are the weight limits from the manufacturer? Have you contacted Canyon to ask them about sizing? (They have that sizing tool on the site I assume you've used)
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Old 05-03-19, 11:17 AM
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I wouldn’t worry about aluminum at 255. I used a CAADX for years at that weight without issue
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Old 05-04-19, 06:04 AM
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I share your issues with Surly's lack of stack height, and have seen quite a few stragglers/cross checks built up with ridiculous numbers of spaces because of this issue. For my gravel bike I found the perfect geometry in Black Mountain Cycle's Monster Cross, which is a steel frame bike that can fit up to 45c tires. They have frame sizes that go up to 64cm, but I think as it's a small shop and builds are semi-custom, a complete bike would cost you a little over your $2000 limit. I just bought a frame and built mine up for about $1500, admittedly some of the parts were recycled.

https://blackmtncycles.com

I'd personally avoid Aluminum frames like the plague, but that's just like, my opinion man.
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Old 05-05-19, 05:37 PM
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I'd have a serious look at the Canyon Grail. I have an Ultimate in 3XL (equivalent to 2XL in current models) and it's a totally awesome bike. I'm a long leg and arm 6'5". I had a Felt prior to that that was nice and solid with massive tubing but the short head tube was too aggressive to call comfortable. I was hesitant with the Canyon as it is such a huge bike, but mine is as solid as I could ask for. They really do know how to build a good bike in a big size.

The Grail has a lot of reach, but if you are going to take the thing off road, then shorter stems give better handling and so you can have that with the long Grail. If you don't think that you will do that, then you could possibly look at a shorter bike, but that stack is undeniably drool worthy in those Canyons.

Originally Posted by dr_lha View Post
I'd personally avoid Aluminum frames like the plague, but that's just like, my opinion man.
Interested to know why you have this opinion? Frame material really means squat. How a bike is made means everything. Given my carbon experience with Canyon and my alloy custom Duratec track frame (63cm TT and I can barely flex it!), I'd be more than happy to go with a Canyon alloy.

If there's any spare money, it could be worth your while to see a person with a fit bike. There are guys around that will (for a small cost of course) plug in each frame dimension to a fit bike and can see which one is right for you, so you get what you want the first time
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Old 05-05-19, 06:28 PM
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Soma Wolverine frame comes in 66cm (240mm headtube!):

https://www.somafab.com/archives/product/wolverine

Only comes as a frame, not a complete bike. It would probably cost you close to $2k to build it out.
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Old 05-05-19, 08:47 PM
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CaadX love mine and i am heavier than but a bit shorter. I have 4 years on mine ands a great bike.
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Old 05-06-19, 05:29 AM
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Originally Posted by brawlo View Post
Interested to know why you have this opinion? Frame material really means squat. How a bike is made means everything. Given my carbon experience with Canyon and my alloy custom Duratec track frame (63cm TT and I can barely flex it!), I'd be more than happy to go with a Canyon alloy.
You speak as if you haven't been around BF for a while and haven't read a thousand boring threads where people argue the merits of frame materials. Like I said, that's just my opinion, based on riding bikes and owning bikes. "Frame material means squat" is really a hilariously ill-informed position to take, but whatever, if that's your opinion, fine.

BTW I'm glad you can't flex your aluminum track frame, because if you could, it would break from metal fatigue.
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Old 05-06-19, 07:41 AM
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Anyone who says aluminum frames are "fine,"likely has not ridden any other material. I put many thousands of miles on an aluminum frame, broke it, and replaced it with a steel frame-- of nearly identical geometry. It was a revelation.

So write me in as another who doesn't recommend aluminum.
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Old 05-06-19, 12:56 PM
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Thanks for all of the input everyone.

I will try to skirt the steel vs. aluminum debate. My takeaway is that I'm not necessarily crazy to at least consider aluminum. I will say that I think I would already own the Canyon Grail if it were steel. I don't care about weight and I tend to be hard on my equipment... steel just seems right for me.

Originally Posted by brawlo View Post
How a bike is made means everything.
I'm not being facetious, but have you seen the welds on those new Grails? Gives me pause for concern. I don't want to come across as some sort of fancy boy who needs to have an immaculate bike, but that is a structural component and I don't know that even the most satisfied Canyon customer could look at the welds and not admit they are pretty sloppy. That being said, it is reassuring that you have ridden and recommend a Canyon.

In a perfect world, I would build up a custom bike, but I have plenty of other hobbies that I neglect. I really don't want another project.

So for now, the search continues. I'm very open to other suggestions.
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Old 05-06-19, 05:49 PM
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Originally Posted by dr_lha View Post
You speak as if you haven't been around BF for a while and haven't read a thousand boring threads where people argue the merits of frame materials. Like I said, that's just my opinion, based on riding bikes and owning bikes. "Frame material means squat" is really a hilariously ill-informed position to take, but whatever, if that's your opinion, fine
I have been around for a long time, and I have read posts ad nauseum re frame materials. There's lots and lots of opinion out there, but something you really have to dig hard for is context. When posts/comments are made there is often no context involved, and it becomes no more than a whinge. "my frame broke and now I hate material a" is extremely common. It is seriously common for those riding their beginner bike that is alloy. Context, where it is given, is that those bikes are far more often than not, a cheap entry level bike, and not properly made for the punishment that the riders are giving them. As a beginner, you probably don't know any better, but dismissing a whole frame building material because of it is akin to dismissing all gas cars because you bought a cheap piece of junk and it failed on you.

All frame materials come in different tube profiles, thicknesses, butting to provide different characteristics. You absolutely must acknowledge, with this being the clyde forum, that the vast majority of bikes are made for 60-70kg riders. That means that these, often poorly designed cheap bikes are just not suited to the riders in this forum. So they go to a steel bike, but the steel bike guy has built a bike to cater for a rider that is on the bigger side. Of course it will ride better. But that's not just because it is steel, it is because it was designed better. But if you get an alloy frame that IS built to take your weight and perform then it will ride and last every bit as well as anything else. The same can be said for every other frame material, and that is why I say the material itself doesn't mean anything. It is all about how the bike is built through tube characteristics and tube junction treatment. The problem is that there just aren't many manufacturers that cater for our end of the market. Extending on from this, there are very very few makers that make allowances for larger riders and larger frames. Most makers just cut longer tubes of what is on their XS bikes, and they end up handling like poo. Canyon is one maker that does cater for larger riders and I would stand by what they put out. Felt is another company that makes necessary changes as bikes get larger. I can't talk to a lot of other makers as they just don't make bikes big enough to come onto my radar. My Duratec track bike is custom. Custom wall thickness and hydroformed tubing to cater to my weight and what I wanted to do with it. It's stiff because I had it built for track sprinting, and they designed it very well for that purpose. My next road bike when I move on from my Canyon will most likely be a custom alloy from Duratec.

Frame material in the end is a personal preference and as for everything in the end, YMMV

Originally Posted by GreenHoliday View Post
I'm not being facetious, but have you seen the welds on those new Grails? Gives me pause for concern. I don't want to come across as some sort of fancy boy who needs to have an immaculate bike, but that is a structural component and I don't know that even the most satisfied Canyon customer could look at the welds and not admit they are pretty sloppy. That being said, it is reassuring that you have ridden and recommend a Canyon.
As someone that is currently doing a welding course I would say that I'm actually encouraged by those welds on a bike that has been made to stand up to the rigors of off road riding. But it certainly must be said that it does affect the aesthetics of the bike. Whether that is something you could put up with is a personal choice, but it is far better to put up with that than a bike that isn't the right size for you.

I would seriously recommend putting some money into a bike fitter. It may cost $1-200 to do, but that is money saved if you end up on the wrong bike for you physically. When I was fitted for my track bike, it just so happened that the fitter had a new frame in the shop built for a guy 6'6". Theoretically it should be too big, just. No it wasn't, we had to put a 170mm stem on it to get it the right length for me! So that should help you to see that a few basic body dimensions can change things completely. Maybe you don't need something as big as that Canyon, maybe you do....
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Old 05-07-19, 12:02 AM
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6ft 5in at 265lbs. I find your comments about the welding on the Canyon frame to be spot on. When looking at bicycles, durability is predicated on how well they are built and to what standards. Rightly or wrongly I tend to err on the side of actual or perceived durability over weight saving. I ride old school bicycles now with 64 to 67cm frames. I've had to experiment with many stems, handlebars, seats and pedal extenders to get to where I have really comfortable, relatively fast and reliable bicycles. Like you I'm not interested in super light as much as light and very durable. My bicycles don't break down and leave me stranded. I use 32mm to 40mm tires and have very good luck with their durability. My riding is an equal mix of on road and dirt road riding so all my bicycles are set up for both. For my weight and size I have had much more luck finding steel frames with which to modify to my preferences and being old school I tend to trust steel more than other materials. I do all my own work on the bicycles and this may weigh into your decision making process as to what level you are comfortable wrenching at. As to the disc brake sales pitch you have to remember rim brakes are disc brakes also. Disc's make sense to mudders, downhill MTB riders and maybe trick riders. I wouldn't not consider rim brakes just because this year they are not the big fad. I've never felt underbraked with rim brakes in emergency situations in traffic, or coming down long grades with rim brakes or even in the rain. Good luck in finding your bicycle.
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Old 05-07-19, 08:21 AM
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I'm about 15 pounds lighter than you and I went with a Surly LHT as my first bike when I got back into riding which for me is a mix of pavement and gravel out in the country.

I'm happy with a bike as long as it's comfortable for me to ride for the length of my rides though.
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Old 05-07-19, 01:14 PM
  #14  
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
Anyone who says aluminum frames are "fine,"likely has not ridden any other material. I put many thousands of miles on an aluminum frame, broke it, and replaced it with a steel frame-- of nearly identical geometry. It was a revelation.

So write me in as another who doesn't recommend aluminum.
I have ridden steel and aluminum. I prefer aluminum. Don't assume that everyone who has had your experience has come to the same conclusion.

I have also broken an aluminum frame... granted I was doing 30 miles per hour down a hill in the dark and hit a car exhaust left in the road... but I still want an AL bike. All depends on what motivates you. I need speed, acceleration, responsiveness. Steel frames always feel (to me) like I am dragging an anchor around behind me. Its subjective but it is my ride, so I get to be subjective.

OTOH I would never trust a carbon frame at my weight. So go figure.
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Old 05-07-19, 01:22 PM
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My aluminum frame failed due to metal fatigue, after less than 20k miles. I wasn't going fast, I didn't hit anything. It had just had enough. Other frames can be repaired. That one hangs on my shop wall.

Test rode a handful of bikes, some of them aluminum, including a CAAD12. Horrible. I spent those years on that aluminum frame just thinking that's how it was supposed to be. But as it turns out, it was harsh and unforgiving. I won't ride aluminum again.
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Old 05-07-19, 01:35 PM
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Stupid newbie question: Am I a potential candidate for throwing some drop bars on a 29er? I would think that would solve my TT blues... What are some of the potential downfalls that I'm not taking into consideration?
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Old 05-07-19, 02:19 PM
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Originally Posted by GreenHoliday View Post
Stupid newbie question: Am I a potential candidate for throwing some drop bars on a 29er? I would think that would solve my TT blues... What are some of the potential downfalls that I'm not taking into consideration?
I think you'd have a limited selection of drop bar shifters and brake levers what would work with a mountain drivetrain, and the drop bars add effective reach.
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Old 05-07-19, 03:26 PM
  #18  
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Originally Posted by GreenHoliday View Post
Stupid newbie question: Am I a potential candidate for throwing some drop bars on a 29er? I would think that would solve my TT blues... What are some of the potential downfalls that I'm not taking into consideration?
Perhaps you are a candidate for a 29er. But if you were set on drop bars I’d stick with the gravel bike. 29ers are extremely versatile if set up correctly. They have 700c wheels so you get to choose all the way from skinny road tyres all the way up to plus size tyres depending on clearance and rim width. A 29er with 2 sets of wheels could be a great do-it-all bike.

But that may not be the end of your TT blues. They’re a different riding position so it doesn’t quite work that way. For the record, I ride a Pole Taival 29er for MTB. One of the newer breed of long reach bikes. Oh and it’s a steel bike
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Old 05-07-19, 04:26 PM
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I had to do some searching, but I found this link again. It's a bit incomplete as there's some bike that I know of that aren't in there, but it's still a useful resource all the same

https://public.tableau.com/profile/a.../StackandReach

This is another that is slightly more complete. Both excellent resources

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...#gid=854010775
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Old 05-08-19, 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
My aluminum frame failed due to metal fatigue, after less than 20k miles. I wasn't going fast, I didn't hit anything. It had just had enough. Other frames can be repaired. That one hangs on my shop wall.

Test rode a handful of bikes, some of them aluminum, including a CAAD12. Horrible. I spent those years on that aluminum frame just thinking that's how it was supposed to be. But as it turns out, it was harsh and unforgiving. I won't ride aluminum again.
The vast majority of cyclists ride under 2000 miles per year my understanding of my CAAD 8 was that it was designed around a 8-10 year life expectancy. So your mileage is probably typical. I found a CAAD 12 frame online new $600 for the frame only- you paid 3 cents a mile. Not bad really. My R1000 was ten years old and bought used for $400 and sold after the frame broke for $150. I paid 12 cents a mile but it also got me from 354-290 lbs. So less a gym membership I figure I made money on that bike. YMMV
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Old 05-10-19, 01:19 PM
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I was about 30lbs heavier than OP for years. My experience was that aluminum was more reliable than steel. But the material is one of the least important considerations - first is the fit of the bike, then the suitability of the bike for the riding you intend to do.

When you have worked your way down the list of considerations towards the bottom, where 'material choice' is located, remember that the actual material is less important that the way the material is used. A superlight steel Italian racing bike from the early 80s will likely not be a good choice for a big rider, but a modern Surly-style (overbuilt) could be very good.
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Old 05-12-19, 12:12 PM
  #22  
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My opinion is yes if you like to DIY. an older hardtail would have a longer top tube and a decent one probably wouldn't set you back over $1000. Leaving you $1000 for the conversion to drop bars. New/used brakes and shifters check ebay some pretty good deals still pop up once in a while. Sram rival levers/shifters will work with their mtb components. Get a full hydraulic disc brake model way better at stopping than cable disc. 10 speed Sram is usually cable brakes and shifters 11 speed Sram are hydro brakes and cable shifters. You could also go with Tektro hydro brakes and bar end shifters.



Good Luck
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Old 05-13-19, 10:03 PM
  #23  
tallbikeman
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Bikes: Modified 26 inch frame Schwinn Varsity with 700c wheels and 10 speed cassette hub. Ryan Vanguard recumbent. 67cm 27"x1 1/4" Schwinn Sports Tourer from the 1980's.

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Dirty Sixer

Dirty Sixer makes both 32 inch and 36 inch wheeled bicycles for the tall heavier riders. They make road, hybrid and MTB styles. If you go to their website you will see a person of your stature riding a bicycle that looks normal. Wheels are not small, Frame seems to be proportional. Up close the bikes are huge like us. This outfit takes wheel and frame loadings seriously and builds bicycles to haul the weight. Of course the bicycles will be heavier than their smaller brethren but nothing is free. These bikes do not fit the under $2000 limit but maybe you can find one used. The manufacturer of these bicycles sell a lot of them to NBA past and present stars among others. They size everything bigger so cranks can go to over 200mm long.
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Old 05-16-19, 08:34 AM
  #24  
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DirtySixer looks cool, but no way you'll get one for under a grand.

If you can find a used Black Mountain Cycles 65cm Monster Cross, it should come in under your budget. I have one and love it. Mike Varley, the designer of the frame is 6'3"rides a 62cm. I am 6'6" and have a 65 and can't say enough about how versatile these are. I have ridden it with 38,43 and 50mm tires depending on where I am going and it rides great.

If you are looking for new, check out the Fuji Jari in 61cm if you can find one. It's Claris, but you should be able to upgrade to 105 10 speed and stay in budget.

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Last edited by Kobe; 05-16-19 at 08:45 AM.
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Old 06-17-19, 02:25 PM
  #25  
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I've gotten a few private messages and I don't think I can respond because I have too few posts.

For now, the gravel bike purchase will have to wait... I bought a new house instead. I will be sure to update if/when I get my hands on a new bike.

Thanks for all of the advice so far!
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