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Looking for a Fast Bike

Old 10-12-19, 12:10 PM
  #1  
NickOnABike
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Looking for a Fast Bike

Ok so I've been biking around town and to work for years. I started on a fixie and have only worn bike shorts a handful of times... I'm a city rider. In the last year I've done more longer rides. I've enjoyed challenging myself and I've impressed myself. But I'm riding a Big Dummy and a LHT. These are not bikes built for speed. I want a bike that I can use to go on adventures and that won't hold me back in terms of speed. Maybe I want to bike the C&O canal in one day or bike across Michigan. I think I might like races and randos. The thing is, I'm 6'4" or 6'5" and 260lbs. I'm a big dude and I don't think that most bikes can handle my weight. I think maybe I should stick with steel. What do people suggest? I would like to spend under $2,000 but could go up to $2,500. Should I just get a gravel bike and change out the tires as necessary? What brands should I be looking at?
Thanks for the help!
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Old 10-12-19, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by NickOnABike View Post
The thing is, I'm 6'4" or 6'5" and 260lbs. I'm a big dude and I don't think that most bikes can handle my weight. I think maybe I should stick with steel. What do people suggest? I would like to spend under $2,000 but could go up to $2,500. Should I just get a gravel bike and change out the tires as necessary? What brands should I be looking at?
Thanks for the help!
Have you considered a vintage (80s or 90s) MTB or road bike? I know that there are a lot out there that are made for someone your height. Because they're so tall, the prices are pretty decent--there are more bikes than possible riders. Bonus, a lot of them are steel.

At 250, I used to ride a 2002 Trek hybrid. I wasn't a fan and moved back to a road bike after a couple of years. But it did handle my weight just fine.
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Old 10-12-19, 12:56 PM
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Whew... TALL...

I think there have been some people that have been happy with road bikes up to around 250 lbs... so don't completely exclude them. Especially if you can find a good road bike with > 62cm (hopefully made for the tall, strong riders). Get good strong wheels, perhaps even custom wheels with 32 or 36 spokes.

As @TriBiker19 suggests, good vintage steel bikes show up in taller sizes from time to time, depending no where you look, the size of your community, and whether you wish to get a bike or components shipped.

You might also look at some of the cyclocross bikes in tall sizes. They should be made strong with reasonable "road" features. Some are even made out of carbon fiber, but designed to take some abuse.
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Old 10-12-19, 12:59 PM
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Oh, you've also got the budget. If you can't find what you want off the shelf, you could have a lot of fun doing a custom assembly (of parts you've scavenged).

You can do a custom frame, but you should be able to find frames that fit, say 62cm to 66cm
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Old 10-12-19, 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by TriBiker19 View Post
Have you considered a vintage (80s or 90s) MTB or road bike? I know that there are a lot out there that are made for someone your height. Because they're so tall, the prices are pretty decent--there are more bikes than possible riders. Bonus, a lot of them are steel.

At 250, I used to ride a 2002 Trek hybrid. I wasn't a fan and moved back to a road bike after a couple of years. But it did handle my weight just fine.
I had not considered anything vintage because I don't think I'm interested in a bike build. The more I think about it thought... I may be overthinking this. Perhaps I should just choose new tires for my LHT and see how that changes the performance. I mean... if I'm looking at staying with steel then how much of a difference would there actually be?
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Old 10-12-19, 01:13 PM
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Originally Posted by NickOnABike View Post
I had not considered anything vintage because I don't think I'm interested in a bike build. The more I think about it thought... I may be overthinking this. Perhaps I should just choose new tires for my LHT and see how that changes the performance. I mean... if I'm looking at staying with steel then how much of a difference would there actually be?
Honestly, at that price point, you could pick up a good vintage bike and have it customized for you. There's a lot of information on the C&V forum about them and really, if you wanted to go that route, you could post there and see what folks suggest. Most of the higher end bikes will be well under the $2k price.
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Old 10-12-19, 05:00 PM
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I raced in Southern California Cat 3 in road races against former Olympians, Tour de France riders, national champions, and world champions. (Of course, I never won anything. Are you crazy?)

At the time, I was 6'3", 255--265 lbs. I raced exclusively on carbon frames with Ultegra group sets, and (later) carbon rim on my wheels.

Your mileage may vary, but don't knock 'til you've tried it.

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Old 10-12-19, 08:01 PM
  #8  
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I ride a steel vintage KHS roadbike, and a Cannondale CAAD8 aluminum bike. I'm 6'1" and 245 pounds. Both bikes roll 2 spoke wheels and 700x25 tires. I might push the old steel bike to 28s, but there isn't enough room on the Cannondale. I don't worry about either bike under me. Though I have no intention to race. I also ride an aluminum 29er MTB, an older aluminum 26" rigid MTB, and feel pretty comfortable on all of them...

I would second whats mentioned above. Find a frame that will fit you and build i up. Even a classic. I see tall old Schwinn roadbikes for cheap locally. And I have seen a few tall bare frames as well.
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Old 10-13-19, 12:15 AM
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KHS Flite 747. Usually around $2k with 105 group, 36-spoke wheels, 210 cranks, all the big 'n tall stuff.
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Old 10-14-19, 09:04 PM
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I am 6'3" I started back riding at about 260lbs on a full suspension aluminum MTB at around 250lbs I bought a carbon fiber Cutthroat at about 240lbs I started riding homebuilt steel bikes all mostly on 28 spoke wheels. I have not had a problem with breakage. You should be fine no matter the material.

Look into a carbon gravel bike with hydro disks and through axles, it is expensive to switch from mechanical disks to hydro disks.

This is a good time to buy a new bike as they close out the 2019s

One example

Niner RLT 9 RDO carbon fiber about 1k below msrp
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Old 10-14-19, 09:28 PM
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First and foremost, narrower slicker tyres will make a world of difference to the speed that you can ride and the effort required. When I was at university I used to commute on 26x1.75 high pressure slick tyres on my alloy MTB. They were a whole different world from knobby tyres, but still a step below narrower road tyres. Fitness can count a lot too. We had a MTB guy ride his 29er along with my local road bunch and keep up all the way until it just got crazy fast, but he was one fit mofo!

I'm 6'5" and currently hovering around 285lb, been as low as 240, been as much as 310, all while riding carbon and alloy road bikes. None have imploded. I've on-sold and upgraded to work towards the right size bike for me, which is currently a Canyon Ultimate CF. Don't sweat your weight, just factor in that your wheels might need regular TLC or even replacement with something more appropriate. But also add that appropriate doesn't have to mean built like a tank so it's heavy and depressing to ride.

Next, get to know what reach and perhaps stack is. Forget bike "sizes". They are truly a ridiculous way to compare actual bike sizes these days because of the wildly different ways that a manufacturer comes up with them. Reach and stack are the way to compare and size frames apples to apples. If a manufacturer won't show those figures in a geo table, ask for them or just plug the other figures into any one of the wide array of calculators available online to get the values.
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Old 10-15-19, 01:10 PM
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niner makes a 62cm reynolds steel frame

https://www.jensonusa.com/Niner-RLT-...Star-Bike-2020

save some $$ if you want to squeeze on a 59 an run setback seatpost https://www.jensonusa.com/Niner-RLT-...STAR-Bike-2019

better sram build in 62 size https://www.jensonusa.com/Niner-RLT-...xclusive-Build

Stem changes per arm/fit needs either size frame

change tires/wheels as needed. one guy on the B+ club ride uses lyskey gravel with 45mm tires. Doesn't slow him down and sure its a plush ride.
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Old 10-15-19, 02:33 PM
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I have the same bug and am trying to talk myself out of the 2020 Jamis Renegade S3
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Old 10-15-19, 04:42 PM
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> The thing is, I'm 6'4" or 6'5" and 260lbs.

I'm right around your size. I'm 6'5" and started the season at 266 lbs and was 252 lbs on the scale this morning, heading towards a goal of 240 lbs.

> have only worn bike shorts a handful of times...
> I think I might like races and randos.

You might want to check into the Infinity seat which is popular with randonneurs. I'll make a more detailed post when I get the time but I recently changed saddles from a Specialized Avatar to an Infinity E2:

https://infinitybikeseat.com/shop/in...v=7516fd43adaa

It's completely different from any saddle I've tried before and the closest thing to saddle nirvana that I've come across. Plus there is no need for bike shorts with chamois (Infinity recommends compression shorts or shorts with thin chamois pads).

> I think maybe I should stick with steel.

I have road bikes with frames in steel (1983 Fuji Supreme 3x6 that will get an upgrade to Shimano 105 2x11), aluminum (2016 Felt F75 2x10 SRAM Apex), carbon fiber (2012 Specialized Roubaix, 2x11 Shimano 105) and titanium (2015 Habanero Team Issue Neuvo, 2x11 Shimano 105). All materials have their pros and cons as a frame material but, if properly designed, any of them can support your weight without issue. That said, if I could have only one do-it-all bike for the rest of my life, it would be my titanium Habanero. Titanium has a high modulus of elasticity that lends itself to a smooth but lively ride. Titanium bikes are also very durable as they can take a larger impact before deforming or cracking/bending. Also, the geometry on the Habanero is better for cornering than my other bikes. Some of the early titanium frames got a reputation for being noodlely (flexed under power) because they copied the small diameter tubing sizes of steel race frames. To have equivalent strength, titanium needs somewhat larger diameter tubing (though not as much as aluminum) than steel. Habanero has 62 cm and 64 cm, either of which will work for you. I built my bike up from a bare frame. Initially, I wanted a 64 cm frame but Mark at Habanero pointed out the 62 and 64 cm frame share the same geometry, the 64 cm frame just has a taller head tube. That limits how much you can drop the stem so I went with the 62 cm frame and have no regrets. My Fuji is a 27" frame (27" = 68.58 mm) with a silly tall head tube and I'm just about the shortest guy who can ride it comfortably. Panasonic even offered a 28" frame which was suitable for NBA centers.

Built up Habanero bikes with the 2x11 Shimano 105 groupset are in $2300 to $2500 range. If you shop around and build it yourself, you can save a fair bit over that. Mark made me a really good deal on a 62 cm frame that had been hanging around the warehouse for a while. I built it up with a compact double (50/34) and swap between different 11 speed clusters (11-23 for flat roads and up to 11-32 for really hilly rides). To be able to do that, you'll want to get a long cage derailleur. Mark will also build the bikes with a triple crank set up (3x10 Shimano 5700) if you want a wider range of gearing without having to swap out clusters.

You'll want to stay away from a bike like the Felt F75. It has a race type hydro-formed aluminum thin wall frame. To make an aluminum frame close to the weight of a carbon fiber or titanium one, they compromised the strength. The result is a frame that flexes quite badly under power and has a limited fatigue life. The only reason I have it is that I had a leftover SRAM Apex groupset after I upgraded the Roubaix. The frame was new-in-the-box, the right size and I got it cheap from a local rider who got it as a crash replacement but decided to upgrade. The frame came placarded and the instructions had warnings that if you are a heavy and/or powerful rider you should have the frame inspected by a professional bike mechanic periodically. Aluminum is inherently stiff and other aluminum frames with larger tubing diameters and thicker walls can be made to handle riders of our weight but they tend to be harsh riding, at least on high pressure tires. The ride quality advantage of titanium is most apparent when running high tire pressure (required for guys our size on 25mm tires). A frame that has a rough ride with tires inflated to 120 PSI may be acceptably compliant at 80 PSI. Some of the carbon fiber bikes now have passive suspension (leaf spring seat posts, elastomer frame inserts or spring/damper headsets) to improve the ride quality. A friend recently got a new Specialized Roubaix with the spring/damper headset as a loaner while they were repairing his older Roubaix and was quite impressed with the way it rides.

One advantage of carbon fiber is that it can be produced in aerodynamic shapes for that last bit of speed. My N+1 bike would be an aero road bike but that's not going to happen anytime soon. I do run air foil shaped carbon fiber handlebars, aero wheels and aero water bottles on both the Habanero and the Roubaix to eak out a little more speed. Continental GP4000 II tires are noticeably faster than the Specialized Armadillos I ran before. I snapped drive side spokes on the 24 spoke rims but have had good luck with the clydesdale build 28 spoke wheels from Flo Cycling. I've tried longer and shorter crank arms but didn't notice any difference between 175 and 180 mm arms in terms of performance but anything less than 175 mm felt like I was pedaling a kids bike. Beyond 180 mm, the hip motion feels exaggerated and seems like it could cause pain in the long term. I had a professional bike fitting performed and asked the bike fitter about it and he claims that crank arm length has been extensively studied and there's little performance difference so run what you like. He did mention time trialists tend towards shorter crank arms as it reduces the effective cross-sectional area.

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Old 10-16-19, 01:52 PM
  #15  
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Gravel bike + extra set of wheels is likely a great solutions.

Most bikes are coming now with lower-spoke-count wheels, and that is going to be the weak link, so you can keep the stock wheels for 'performance' riding and get a set of 32 spoke wheels for more demanding rides (tours and commuting and gravel and whatnot).

I am about the same size as you and I don't think our weight is really all that excessive unless you are shopping for an ultra-light bike, or try to use ultra-light wheels.
Also, be sure you get one that fits well because the 'XL' in many brands and models may not be big enough for you to be comfortable. When shopping on-line, look for the geometry charts and compare the 'stack' and 'reach' dimensions, if available. In a traditional road bike frame you would probably want a 62 or 64 cm frame, but many manufacturers don't measure bikes the same way any more, so their XXL might be a good fit for you but they call it a 59cm or something.
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Old 10-21-19, 09:58 AM
  #16  
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You'd be surprised what you can ride. You're not THAT big/heavy. I'm 6'8" and a tish over 250.

I had a specialized roubaix that I loved, have a custom 64cm Gunnar Sport custom geometry that I built to run looooong (210) cranks, and currently am enjoying a Canyon Endurace. I also have a 60cm Ritchey Breakaway Cross that has been epic awesome and fits into a standard luggage sized case. I was worried about the wheels (zettas) but they've been solid.

Stock wheels are likely a weak point. I never rode the DT's that came on the Specialized as they flexed too much. Had some HED Belgiums built up with 32H and never looked back. The Reynolds Assaults that came with the Canyon have been bombproof in the 2 years I've had it.

Find a fast bike you like, maybe get some beefier wheels and ride it like you stole it.
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Old 10-21-19, 01:13 PM
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NickOnABike There is a lot of science to going fast on a bicycle. Jan Heine of the Bicycle Quarterly has published quite a few blind studies he funded that debunked a bunch of cycling go fast myths. Go to his website and cycle through his stuff. He is the guy that started the move away from ultra narrow road tires by the pro cyclists. I haven't read his latest but he was into some pretty good size tires on racing bikes he had built for his tests and they were going as fast or faster than narrow tired bicycles. As a big person myself at 6ft5in. I did my share of on road bicycle racing in the 1970's and the one takeaway from that experience is that smaller men can be just as strong as big men with a much lower aerodynamic presence. The power to shove our big bodies through the air is quite a bit more than a smaller person so it is much harder to be a successful bicycle racer at our size on diamond frame style bicycles. Of course you could try recumbent bicycles which by their design place the rider in a much more aerodynamic position and gets rid of a lot of that drag. No amount of aero engineering on an upright diamond style frame can make them as slippery as a recumbent. But recumbents are not allowed into diamond style races under international rules the french came up with in the 1930's against recumbents. After reading Jan Heine's studies I think you will have a better notion as to what material and style of frame you might be looking for. The advice from all the respondents so far is very good and is also a good starting point in your search for a racing bicycle. I ride a 67cm 1980 27x1 1/4" steel bicycle that is one of the fastest I've ever ridden. You can find fast a lot of different ways.
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Old 10-23-19, 01:19 PM
  #18  
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I think that at your weight you can ride any frame material. Steel shouldn't be a problem but if you go vintage, be sure to look at the tubing. I recall that 35 years ago, the LBS didn't recommend Columbus SL for my weight so I got a frame that was SLX. So there are some lightweight frames that my not be suitable for your weight. See if the manufacturers have a weight limit for their specific frames.
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Old 10-24-19, 10:21 AM
  #19  
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Talk to Mike Varley at Black Mountain Cycles about his road or cross bikes depending on how much of an all round bike you want. His frames are lighter than Surly's. He's also 6'3" and understands how to design a frame for taller riders. I have his cross in 65cm and love it.

Soma also makes taller sized steel frames, but based on their stack and reach I think they are smaller than BMC's.

New builds from both of these should come in around $2k.
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Old 10-24-19, 01:01 PM
  #20  
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You mention being interested in randos and races. Races as in road races? You'd need a road bike. They will handle your weight just fine. Get one with a good lifetime warranty on the frame. It may come in handy if the bike wimps out and you will receive a free replacement if your warranty states that.
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