Like most athletic gear and equipment, the majority of bicycles have been designed and built to best serve a certain (thin, male) body type. Thankfully, the industry is slowly starting to realise that people of all shapes and sizes love cycling and are taking that into consideration when designing new models and components.
So, if you consider yourself a little on the bigger side, there’s no need to be apprehensive when shopping for the right set of wheels. Plenty of brands are now making more durable bikes for plus-size riders who need a studier setup to feel safe and supported. Here is an overview to help you find the right components and pick a bike that suits your needs.
Check weight limits and component material
When it comes to feeling safe on your bike, it is critical to be able to trust that all weight-bearing components—seat post, handlebar, stem—have been approved to handle a bigger load. This generally means that an aluminium bar is a safer bet than carbon although you should always check with the manufacturer regarding the weight limit before purchasing. Also, keep in mind that you want a nice, wide bar. If your bar is too narrow, you’ll likely end up getting uncomfortable on longer rides and might even find that the bike is difficult to control. A drop bar, meanwhile, should be approximately as wide as your shoulders.
The frame itself is also important. And while carbon frames have been steadily getting more robust, metal is often still the better option for heavier riders. Steel is also a relatively affordable material that still offers a lot of strength but it makes for a heavier overall setup. If you don’t mind dishing out a little cash, titanium is pricier but provides many benefits. Light and incredibly strong, it also gives you the option to fine-tune the ride quality with non-standard tube sizes and shapes.
Search high and low for the perfect saddle
We’ve said it before and will say it again — you won’t enjoy riding a bike if you don’t have a comfortable saddle, regardless of your size. When searching for one that is right for you, keep in mind that having an ample backside doesn’t necessarily mean you have wide sit bones — and that is what matters. The right saddle will adequately support your sit bones and facilitate an even weight distribution between the handlebar, seat, and pedals. To save yourself time and a sore tush, it is a good idea to ask at your local bike shop where they can measure your sit bones and recommend the right size range for you. Privilege comfort above all else, and err on the wide side, especially if you aren’t super concerned with speed.
Invest in strong wheels
As with frames, metal wheels are probably the way to go when looking for a higher weight limit. It is also essential to pay attention to the spokes and lacing pattern — the more spokes you see, the stronger you can expect the wheel to be.
Ready-to-roll, plus-size bike options
If you’re ready to purchase a bike and get riding, here are some of the top picks for excellent options that are perfect for plus-size riders.
Clydesdale Draft – A Sturdy Gravel Steed
This one is definitely an investment but with a titanium frame that won’t fatigue over years of riding — it will likely be the last bike you’ll ever need to buy. Its wheels are custom hand-built and are rated for up to 450 pounds. The Draft also comes with reliable Shimano hydraulic disc brakes, a precise Shimano 105 drivetrain, and a weight-saving ENVE All-Road carbon fork. It is also equipped with proportional-length cranks and an extra-wide handlebar to better fit riders with broad shoulders.
Diamondback Haanjo 3 – Super versatility for a reasonable price
With a comfort-oriented fit and a whole bunch of tyre clearance, the Diamondback Haanjo 3 is built for maximum versatility and a very pleasant ride. The weight limit is 300 pounds, and it features a 51cm-wide bar, which you won’t find on many drop-bar bikes. Coming in around £800, you also get an aluminium frame and fork, 700c wheels, and 37mm-wide tires. This plus-size-friendly bike is ready for adventures on everything from trails and gravel roads to the pavement. Plus-size riders will also really appreciate that this model has a higher-than-usual stack height and very short reach, so you can maintain an upright riding position despite having a drop bar.
sixthreezero Reach Your Destination Women’s Hybrid Bike – A stylish women’s bike
Plus-size riders looking for something sleek and stylish will appreciate this laidback cruiser from sixthreezero. With the semi-slick tread on its 700 x 35c hybrid tyres, this bike is best equipped for paved surfaces but is sturdy enough to carry a lot of weight over appropriate terrain. The frame is designed with women in mind but the low-step profile also means that all riders will find straddling the bike less of a struggle. The high-set handlebars give the bike a vintage beach-cruiser feel and allow for a comfortable, upright riding position.
Zinn B.I.G. – Heavy duty mountain bike
Only available as a custom build, this mountain bike was designed to overcome the problems encountered with other plus-sized frames. It offers a more compact frame design that won’t shimmy at high speeds. This mighty mountain bike fits riders up to 6 feet, 10 inches and is available in 4-, 5-, or 6-inch-travel builds. It also relies on a traditional four-bar suspension design that’s proven plush and reliable. A purchase of one of these bad boys also includes a custom bike fit.
Addmotor Fat Tire 26 Inch 750W – Power electric mountain bike
Depending on the type of riding you’re planning to do, fat tyres might just be the solution you’re after. Naturally suited to plus-size riders – when combined with the pedal assist and throttle capabilities of this e-bike from Addmotor – you have one of the most accessible bikes for plus-size cyclists. With a top speed of 23 mph, this powerful machine will help you tackle off-road obstacles or cruise at a nice clip when rolling on flat. Of course, a bike of this magnitude isn’t the easiest thing to manoeuvre; even with the light aluminium alloy frame, it comes in at a hefty 68 pounds. This bike isn’t for everyone but it could be a heck of a lot of fun for the right rider.
All in all, you have plenty to choose from when it comes to finding a fast, reliable, and comfortable ride — no matter your size. You don’t have to break the bank but investing in high-quality components that have been designed to bear more weight will ensure that you always feel safe and supported.