Author Topic: best touring bike for a fat boy  (Read 4000 times)

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Offline pipedreamer

best touring bike for a fat boy
« on: June 30, 2010, 01:13:42 am »
so I've decided to start training for a cross country trip.   I'm severely overweight at present (which is part of the motivation for the trip) but was an avid cyclist in my younger years and I'm confident my body will remember and adjust in time.   Right now, all I have to train on is a heavy-as-hell Giant Cypress mountain bike, which I have no intention of riding cross country.  If all goes well (i.e., if I can secure the funds for a new bike/cash for a couple months of riding) I'd like to leave from Minnesota this fall and make my way out to Oregon, and hopefully continue southward from there.   I'm a photographer (http://www.timfeeney.net), and my main motivation for the trip is the photo ops, and the potential of keeping a travel log and putting together a book upon my return.   If I do leave this fall, I'm obviously going to be physically under-trained, but am prepared to adjust on the road, provided that I can find a touring bike that can support my chubby self (280 lbs last time I checked) as well as camping gear, a few lbs of photo gear (not looking forward to the extra weight of my tripod), etc.  I'll probably also invest in a bobgear trailer or something comparable, if funds allow.  I've read some good things about the surly long haul trucker, and I like the fact that the company is local, but I'm wondering if this (or any touring model) is cut out to support a man my size.  Any and all suggestions would be greatly appreciated! 


Offline rvklassen

Re: best touring bike for a fat boy
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2010, 06:50:16 am »
There are folks who put all of their gear on the bike, and carry upwards of 80 pounds of it.  You're talking about putting the weight on a trailer, so that's like someone at 200 lb and 80 lb of gear.  200 lb is not overweight if you're 6'6" (which is on the tails of the distribution, but not way out there). 

So the bike should make it.  The LHT is a very nice bike for touring. 

One caution would be the wheels.  If you find yourself breaking spokes, you would be best off getting wheels built by someone who knows what they're doing (like Peter White). 

Offline CastAStone

Re: best touring bike for a fat boy
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2010, 06:54:07 am »
The Surly LHT is a good choice, but make SURE you buy it from a store with an EXPERT wheelbuilder, not just your average bike mech. I mean a wheelbuilder so good his wheels dont go out of true, ever. You'll have some mad issues otherwise.

The problem guys like us (315# here) have isn't the frames, its the wheels. A steel frame like the LHT or the Trek 520 will be more than adequate, but you'll need much stronger wheels than the average person. Wheels that come on racing bikes are typically made with a weight limit of 180 lbs, on most other bikes the weight limit is 250 or 275 - and that's assuming that you have a top-notch wheelbuilder building the wheels.When you see those numbers, you need to include your gear and the weight of the bike. Some touring bike wheels are built to support a little bit more; the stock wheels on the LHT are right on the line of good idea/bad idea for you. Consider having the shop special order wheels for whatever bike you choose; wheels with XT hubs and Mavic A719 rims should do the job nicely; ask for 36 spokes in a triple-cross pattern.

The only frame issue you'll have with an LHT versus a 180lb person is a shorter fatigue life, expect to retire the bike after riding only half of the typical 50,000 to 100,000 miles expected from a steel bike.

Offline litespeed

Re: best touring bike for a fat boy
« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2010, 03:56:16 pm »
I weigh 200-210. My bike and gear weigh about 75 pounds. My Litespeed Blue Ridge with custom wheels (36 spoke and wide rims for 38mm tires) is more than adequate for my needs even packing extra water. Such a rig (or any quality touring bike) would probably handle you just fine even if you used panniers. Hauling a trailer should be no problem. As CastAStone says make sure you have good wheels - and tires.

Offline pipedreamer

Re: best touring bike for a fat boy
« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2010, 10:02:11 pm »
thank you all for your suggestions, they make a lot of sense.   And thanks also for not saying "you're crazy, you're too big to make the ride, forget about it, etc etc."   That said, if I'm honest with myself I really AM too big to make a ride of that magnitude any time soon.
Unless I hit the powerball or something, I won't have the money for the gear/journey in time.  I could probably scrape enough together to make it happen, but that would leave me returning essentially dead broke, and that would be a huge buzzkill after a liberating trip like that.   I think a smarter way to approach it would be to shoot for next fall, and have a year to plan and save.   My last "long" ride was from St. Cloud, MN to Omaha NE in 1995, and it was a disaster because of poor planning, unexpected high winds for all 4 days, and the fact that my traveling companion and I were in nowhere near good enough shape to do roughly a century a day for 4 days in a row.   And that was the time in my life when I was in the best shape of my life!   Anyway, another question might be asked at this point- what are your thoughts on a good recumbent bike for such a journey?   I know they can be expensive as hell, but my back ain't what it used to be, and it's another option I'm considering.  Can anyone suggest a sturdy model that doesn't break the bank?  Thanks again for your help btw ;D

Offline Tourista829

Re: best touring bike for a fat boy
« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2010, 10:25:18 pm »
I would go with a recumbent or trike, although I have an upright, I rode one the other day very comfy

Offline drmweaver2

Re: best touring bike for a fat boy
« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2010, 02:19:20 pm »
Quote
My last "long" ride was from St. Cloud, MN to Omaha NE in 1995, and it was a disaster because of poor planning, unexpected high winds for all 4 days, and the fact that my traveling companion and I were in nowhere near good enough shape to do roughly a century a day for 4 days in a row.   And that was the time in my life when I was in the best shape of my life!
Well, that being said, and since you're delaying the trip for a bit, you have your "work" cut out for you - ride ride ride. Doing so will accomplish a number of things for you:
1. You'll get into riding condition - slim down/tone up naturally, your lungs will improve, even your current muscle/back problems may improve.
2. You'll regain the confidence in yourself you had in earlier days.
3. You'll dial in your equipment for efficiency, comfort and reliability.
4. You'll have experience with different terrain, road conditions and weather that you currently don't have - and which may be causes of concern/doubt at this point.
5. You'll realize that "doing a century a day 4 days in a row" is not necessary when touring - unless you really want to. (But 400 miles over 4 days doesn't leave me much time to actually see what I've ridden past. That's not "my" definiton of touring though it may be yours.)
6. You'll find support from family and friends grows as your training and dedication becomes part of their world knowledge wrt you. This will embolden you and also add to your determination to finish what you started once you actually start.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: best touring bike for a fat boy
« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2010, 01:51:29 pm »
Despite breaking an REI Randonee on the first day of my trip (starting at 265#), the last 4400 miles went fine on its replacement (another Randonee).  Any touring bike should be fine -- just stay clear of the racing bikes with thin tubing.  REI Randonee (if you can find one) or Safari, Surly LHT, Trek 520, Cannondale touring series, Jamis Aurora -- any of them should work just fine.

You may have problems getting one this late in the season.  Most manufacturers make a limited number of touring frames every year.  They'll hit the showroom floor in March, and often be gone by the end of May.

Let me (strongly) echo the advice to get the wheels tensioned.  Most of these bikes, ~$1,000, will have machine built wheels.  They may be true, but they're not tensioned high enough, and the spokes will start breaking between 200 and 500 miles.  Find a good wheelbuilder, tell him what you're doing, and pay him to bring them up to tension.  It'll be the best money you can spend before leaving!

Offline whittierider

Re: best touring bike for a fat boy
« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2010, 05:30:43 pm »
Quote
just stay clear of the racing bikes with thin tubing.
That would be the steel ones, as all the others use fatter tubing.  The steel ones were the first to break in this test.  And in the years since that test, steel has gotten frightfully thin in an effort to compete weightwise with the other materials, while carbon has advanced and improved much more than the metals whose technology was already pretty mature by then.  There are a lot of riders at 300 pounds and more on carbon, without frame problems.  I weigh 170 though and have broken steel, twice, as have several friends (actually a heavyish neighbor broke an expensive steel frame his on his third ride), and my carbon bike has a lot more miles than it took to break the steel.  (Carbon does not fatigue like the metals do.)  If you do break it in an accident, it is easily repaired and even made stronger than new.  The wall thickness of both steel and aluminum tubing however has gotten so thin that most welders won't touch it for repairs.  It's a shame carbon bikes virtually never have the eyelets to mount racks.  It would only cost a few grams, but I guess the likes of Lance Armstrong wouldn't be caught dead on anything that even remotely resembles a touring bike.

Offline sprocketman

Re: best touring bike for a fat boy
« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2010, 01:24:23 am »
Hi,
 I just finished a 1473 mile tour from Pennsylvania to Florida two days ago. The wheels will be your concern. I weigh 220 pounds and carried 30 pounds of gear (on the bike, no trailer). I have Mavic wheels with 36 spokes. They stayed perfectly true with no broken spokes. Have your wheels tuned by a professional right before your trip. Use at least a  700 x 35 tire to absorb shock and keep them properly inflated. Carry a couple of spare spokes.  Lose whatever weight you can. I When I started training, I weighed 262 pounds. On departure date, I weighed 220. Don't try to save money on your bike / wheels. Buy decent equipment, but don't go crazy. Keep in touch with your bike shop. Even if you do break something, they can Fed Ex a new one to you just about anywhere in a couple of days. Contact me if you have any questions  kobesh4@optonline.net.

PACK LIGHT. YOU ONLY NEED HALF OF THE SHIT YOU THINK YOU DO.

Eric

Offline sprocketman

Re: best touring bike for a fat boy
« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2010, 04:14:45 pm »
Don't buy a Cannondale. Their service sucks.

Offline pipedreamer

Re: best touring bike for a fat boy
« Reply #11 on: July 19, 2010, 02:09:13 pm »
thanks again, everyone.  I'm going to try to raise the money for a surly lht by the end of this fall, and I have a tacx cycleforce trainer that my folks got me a few years back that I'll use so I can be in decent shape by spring.  Good advice all the way around, btw.  I'll find a good wheel builder, I'll lose as much weight as I can, I'll definitely travel as light as possible, and I'm going to try and stay in the 50 mile a day arena.  4 days of centuries (which it didn't quite work out to be, because of poor planning/accidents/etc) was biting off way more than I could chew, even back then, and I'm now almost 2 decades older, and my recent exercise regimen has consisted mainly of 10 minutes here and there on my mini-trampoline, and the occasional hike/photo op hunt through the woods (visit http://members.photoportfolios.net/timfeeney if you want to see my photography).  It's depressing to think about.  But anyway, the whole point for me is to enjoy the journey, to take plenty of time to photograph the scenery (especially the national parks) and to write a book upon my return.  I won't be breaking any land speed records.

one question to assuage my final concern- Is there a book/dvd that you could recommend for someone who knows only the very basics of bicycle repair?   Flat tires?  Piece of cake.   Wheel knocked out of true?  I'm dead in the water. 

Offline CastAStone

Re: best touring bike for a fat boy
« Reply #12 on: July 19, 2010, 11:54:40 pm »
The most useful thing I ever bought was a book called "Quick Bike Repairs" by Chronicle Books. Its tiny and easily fits in a handlebar bag or pannier. Good luck finding it, but if you do its fantastic, pictures, diagrams, easy to understand.

Otherwise, this is a pretty good book:
http://www.amazon.com/Bicycling-Complete-Bicycle-Maintenance-Repair/dp/1579548830

Offline Janie

Re: best touring bike for a fat boy
« Reply #13 on: July 28, 2010, 09:33:35 pm »
I hope you'll post again and let us know how the training is going and eventually the trip.  I am not an athlete or in great shape and I really enjoy bike touring and it is a great experience!  Slow and steady.  I admire your getting back into bicycling!

Offline ducnut

Re: best touring bike for a fat boy
« Reply #14 on: July 29, 2010, 06:00:33 pm »
As others have said, wheels are probably going to be the weak link. Peter White has made a living out of building some of the highest quality wheel sets available. His are wheels for a lifetime.

http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/index.html

Bicycling magazine did a story on a guy who once weighed 500lbs. They chronicled his journey to a current weight of 170lbs. He started with riding down the street one block and worked his distances up from there. It was an truly inspiring story. Unfortunately, I can't find the issue to get the month/year. Anyway, it sounds like you've got some time to train. I'm training off some weight, myself. I've been off work, since April, and sure put on the pounds. The nature of the procedures prevented me from riding my bike and I've only been back at it for a month, or so.