Bicycle Weight Limits


Having a bicycling blog can be interesting in many ways. Not only do you think more about bicycling yourself, but by interacting with readers, you learn about problems and questions other cyclists face, which may not affect you.

One such issue has come up several times when readers were shopping for a new bike. I have written about or reviewed bikes which readers were interested in buying. Unlike me, some readers were concerned about the weight limit of the bikes. I’ve never considered this criterion when selecting a bike because I’m not a heavy rider. Therefore, I have never thought about the possibility of being over the weight limit for any bike.

After someone asked me about bike weight limits, I started to reflect upon the widely held stereotypes about cyclists. They are often seen as fitness freaks, as environmentalists, and as health fanatics. These things may be true about some cyclists. But, what’s often overlooked about cycling is that it’s a worthwhile activity for everyone, not just people who are thin or fit.

People of all sizes are attracted to cycling because of its many benefits and the fact that the rider’s size has nothing to do with participating in or enjoying cycling. Consequently, a surprising number of people interested in cycling are larger people. And the weight limit of a particular bike is of concern to them.

A lot of confusion exists among new and experienced riders over whether all bikes have weight limits, and if so, whether there is some sort of standard rule to determine a bike’s weight limit. Even though many bike manufacturers do have weight limits for their bikes, there is no standardization by type of bike. Each brand is different. This makes it difficult for bike shoppers to know whether a bike is suitable for someone of their size.

Some manufacturers publish their bikes’ weight limits on their websites or in product catalogs. Others do not.

To get a general idea of what typical weight limits might be, we can look at the information provided by Trek, for their bicycles.

“Yes, we do have a weight limit on our bikes and they are as follows:

Rider weight limit of 275lb:

Road bikes with drop type handlebar

Triathlon, time trial or Speed Concept bicycle

Cruisers with large 26″ tires and swept-back handlebar, Bicycles that fold.

Rider weight limit of 300lbs:

Hybrid bicycles with 700c wheels, tires larger than 28c, and flat handlebars

City bicycles: hybrids with special equipment, cyclocross bicycles: with drop type handlebars, knobby 700c tires, and cantilever or disc brakes

Mountain bikes of all types including: standard, race, cross-country, heavy-duty, trail, all-    mountain, freeride, and jumping bikes of both the hardtail and full suspension variety.

Combined Rider weight limit of 550lbs:

Tandem bicycles”

These weight limits are higher than many new cyclists expect them to be. In numerous forums, riders in the 225 to 250 weight range have asked others about whether they’re too heavy for a given bike. They may be at the upper range for some bikes, and could be a little too heavy for others. But plenty of bikes will accommodate riders of their size.

Bikes with lower weight limits include very lightweight carbon and titanium bikes designed for racing. Certain manufacturers limit such bikes to riders who are below 180 lbs.

Carbon bikes not designed to be extremely lightweight have higher weight limits. Specialized carbon frames, for instance, are designed with weight limits closer to those of steel and aluminum bikes. Specialized is very specific about the weight limits of their carbon bikes and components:

“All Specialized carbon frames, forks & components have a weight limit of 250 lbs.”

Folding bikes also have a lower weight limit than non-folding bikes. Bike Friday provides weight limit information for their folding bikes.

“Most Bike Fridays are designed with a rider weight limit of 220lbs. The exceptions are the petite models, which are designed for 125lb maximum rider weight, and the Pocket Rocket Pro and Crusoe, which are designed with a 190lb maximum rider weight.

Air bikes are designed for 200lb maximum rider weight. Up to 220 can be supported with heavy rider upgrade.

On special order, we can build bikes with heavy rider upgrades for riders over 220lbs. This does not include the Pocket Rocket Pro or the Crusoe.”

Recumbent bikes, for the most part, seem to have a weight limit of 300 pounds.

A few manufacturers don’t provide specific weight limits for their bikes. One such company is Jamis Bikes.

“Is there a weight limit to a JAMIS bicycle frame?

While we don’t post weight limits on our bike, when you exceed the average weight of an adult rider compared to its size, you need to exercise caution when riding and may require some different components to help the bike endure the additional weight.”

Jamis’s approach is to caution all riders whose weight is above average. However, they don’t specify how much the average adult rider weighs, leaving the cyclist to wonder whether he or she needs to use different components to make the bike endure additional weight. A statement like this makes Jamis appear confident in their frames’ ability to accommodate large riders. Rather than focusing on the weight limit of the frames, they advise larger riders to consider other factors. This is a good point.

One of the biggest problems facing heavy riders — people who fit bikes for larger riders will tell you — is not the frame but the wheels. Rims and spokes can break under the weight of a very heavy rider. To combat this problem heavier riders can opt for 36 spoke wheels and durable rims. Such rims should be thicker and wider than the typical rims found on stock bikes. Stainless steel spokes are also stronger than all steel spokes, due to the nickel content in stainless steel.

For riders exceeding the 300 lb limit for stock bikes, there are specialty bicycle companies who cater to very heavy riders. Super Sized Cycles carries an assortment of bicycles, electric bikes and tricycles that carry up to 550 pounds. These super sized bikes are made out of cromoly steel.

With all the hype over exotic materials like titanium and carbon as being the “strongest” frame materials, and aluminum as being lighter than steel, when it comes right down to it, steel, the old standby, may be the most durable frame material of all. According to companies who specialize in bikes for heavier riders, steel will not crack under the weight of a very heavy rider.

Large riders should always contact a manufacturer directly if no weight limit is included in a bike’s specifications or on the manufacturer’s website. Sometimes, instead of including this information as part of the bike’s specifications, manufacturers provide weight limit information on their website’s FAQ page. If after a little research, this information can’t be found, then a phone call or e-mail to the manufacturer is in order. It’s better to ask about a bike’s weight limit before buying a bike, than to buy it and then worry about the bike failing due to the rider’s weight.

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35 Responses to Bicycle Weight Limits

  1. Pingback: Bicycle Weight Limits | IsolateCyclist

  2. notbikesnobnyc says:

    having had some experience in this area, I need to add a few things:

    1) people worry about frames, but that’s not the main concern. frames are pretty study in general. the real problem is rear wheels, which bear the brunt of the weight. A heavy rider may pop spokes on a rear wheel that has few spokes or was poorly adjusted. I had this problem with two different bikes, and upgrading the wheel was the solution. So, if you are worried about “the weight limit for a certain bike” you should be looking at the rear wheel, not the frame. (of course, if you are 400#+, the frame may start to have trouble too)

    2) please do not generalize to all folding bikes from the Bike Friday specs! I rode a Xootr Swift, which is rated for 260# and I weigh more than that. Now, it doesn’t fold up teensy like a Brompton or BF but you can take it on the subway or commuter rail. (And even BF makes a sturdier version of their bikes for a 260# rider for an extra $100 or so.)

    3) in general, just like maximum PSI ratings, the weight limits published by manufacturers are designed to keep them from getting warranty claims and lawsuits. the bikes are probably good for a bit more weight than they are speced. that said, rear wheels are usually the first to go.

    • Thanks for the additional information. I agree about rear wheels bearing the brunt of a rider’s weight. Heavier riders should be aware of this problem. To avoid breaking spokes or rims, it’s probably best to upgrade the wheels when purchasing the bike.

  3. BigGuy says:

    Thank you for being considerate enough to write such an article. Many overweight people would like to get into cycling to get fit and they may be rather large when they go about beginning.

    My personal concern, when it comes to weight capacity, is not so much the frame or even the weight on the wheels, but the pedals. Some bikes are just made cheap and if too much weight is put on the pedals they will strip out and fall off, eventually, if one stands on them for any number of reasons. I’ve had this happen with bikes and my brother (who is not a big guy like me) has had it happen to him as well. Granted, such a concern has more to do with poor machining and design than weight, but lots of manufacturers will cut corners if they know that a certain thread pattern is cheaper to manufacture than one which would increase the weight capacity by 20 pounds, or the durability by more than a year.

    What sort of threading and pedal/crank construction would you recommend heavy people (and probably most people) look out for, in particular? Do you have any recommendations on the weak points of a bicycle which should be of particular concern to heavy riders who are shopping for a bicycle? Typical weak points which should be closely examined?

    Thank you.

    • “My personal concern, when it comes to weight capacity, is not so much the frame or even the weight on the wheels, but the pedals. Some bikes are just made cheap and if too much weight is put on the pedals they will strip out and fall off, eventually, if one stands on them for any number of reasons.”

      You’ve hit the nail on the head with your observation about some bicycles being made cheaply. That’s why you and your brother have had problems with pedals stripping out and falling off. With bicycles it’s not so much a question of the thread pattern as the quality of the parts. The other thing to consider is that manufacturers are obsessed with making bikes as light as possible. So they sacrifice durability for weight savings. To combat this problem, try to avoid parts designed specifically for racing because those are the least durable.

      Mass produced bicycles usually come with cheap pedals. Often cyclists replace these pedals at the time of purchase. For larger riders, it’s important to work with a local shop to get pedal and crankset recommendations. Using the flimsy parts that come with some bikes can be a safety hazard.

      You didn’t mention whether you’re planning to ride with clipless or platform pedals. For clipless, go with Look or Time pedals. They both make durable pedals which hold up better than the ones that come with component “groups.” For platform pedals, look for models that can be rebuilt. They are better made and last longer since they can be serviced.

      As a general rule, steel and titanium are stronger than aluminum, which is the material most cranksets are made of. Aluminium is used due to its strength to weight ratio. It’s lighter than steel and less expensive than titanium. If you can’t afford titanium — or just don’t want to spend so much money on components — then consider getting steel cranksets. Be sure to purchase good quality steel. Cheap steel won’t be any stronger than aluminium. Steel is heavier than aluminium, but it’s also more durable. Unless you’re planning to race the bike, the additional weight won’t make any difference.

      For heavy riders, the weak points are the wheels, and as you’ve pointed out, the pedals and crankset. Other than those items, heavy riders shouldn’t have any problems with bikes — although I recommend buying the best quality bike you can afford. Bikes are like anything else: you get what you pay for.

  4. Deqna says:

    I hadn’t thugoht of changing the tires, that’s a good suggestion. Next time I’m in the bike shop getting some riding shorts and a bike pouch thing, I’ll have to take a look at tires.

  5. George Hill says:

    do you sell or recommend a good heavy duty back wheel ( I need to change gears also)
    for my 2011 jamis cruiser. I weigh 290 and my spokes are loosening and I need something heavier in the back- my front tire and wheel are fine the tube is a 700c 35-45. The tire tho says 28 x 17/8.
    Ineed something solid and you apparently are the one who can recommend what I need for my jamis 2.0 cruiser, 8 speed. Thanks GAH

    • George,

      You have couple of options. First, you may not need a new rear wheel. If your spokes are just loosening up, instead of breaking, the spokes may be too loose and/or the wheel may be out of true.

      Before you buy anything, take the bike to a reputable bike shop — ideally one that employs someone who handbuilds wheels — and explain your problem. Properly tensioning and truing the rear wheel might make it usable.

      If the shop’s wheel builder thinks that tensioning and truing the wheel won’t correct the problem of the spokes loosening, then ask them to recommend a wheel for someone your size. A handbuilt wheel is your best bet, and the shop may be able to build one for you.

      There are several rims on the market which are good for larger riders. Of these, I prefer the Velocity Dyad. It is a very tough rim which is often used for loaded touring. Velocity makes some of the best rims on the market and sells them at a reasonable price. After choosing a strong rim, have the wheel built with either DT Swiss or Wheelsmith spokes.

      In any event, it’s worth a trip to your local bike shop to discuss the matter. They will be able to evaluate the condition of your wheel. And, they will also be able to help you with any problems you may encounter with your wheels in the future.

      • Big Rob says:

        Heavier guys need to have their wheels trued and then apply spoke freeze to the nipples. If your wheel builder will not use spoke freeze, find a different one. The wheel can still be trued after using spoke freeze, it just takes slightly more effort.

  6. Reallywantstobike says:

    I really appreciate your blog and the article about weight and bikes I researched and reviewed a lot of bikes (in my price range) prior to purchasing a bike a few days ago. The same manufacturer had another bike which had a weight limit of 225, so I opted to go with the large frame upgraded version of the bike designed for taller people up to 6’5″ (I’m 6’2″). There was no information about the weight limit for large frame bike. After the purchase I got curious so I called the manufacturer. They said all their bikes had a weight limit capacity of 225-250 and the one I purchased was 250. Well I’m 270. I called a local bike shop about upgrading my wheels to support the extra 20 lbs and the response I got was there’s nothing you can do as far as upgrades for your bike that will increase the weight capacity limit except lose the 20 lbs. Now I’ve got a bike I can’t ride until I lose 20 lbs. The whole reason for getting it was to get more exercise to lose more weight. Catch 22. I would appreciate any feedback anyone has. Thanks.

    • Phil S. says:

      I’m not going to pretend that I know a lot or much at all about this but I am just over 300 pounds and I am about to buy a jamis commuter 2. When talking to my bike savvy friends they said to not worry considering the extra force a 250 pound rider would put on a frame. Unless you are purely going on well paved trails, you will add extra weight to the bike by just riding it over a curb or at the bottom of a big hill or hitting a little bump. If your bike can withstand a 250 pound person hopping a curb , it can handle you riding it. I would say try it our, just don’t go all crazy stunting on it.

  7. Robb says:

    Everybody here, makes a lot of sense…to the Blog Site Proprietor, Kudos to you…you are not only helping others figure their problems out, but helping others make sense of some issues brought about by common “substance” failure.
    I have an 0? OCR1 Compact Road Cycle, and Love it…though the front (carbon) forks failed on me, after lubing the bearings, in short order. My fault, for not putting the right torque value on the bearing nuts, and especially the lock nuts, which do the job of keeping the other nuts from backing off, and spinning out…thereby ruining what was a decent set of forks…
    I agree with everything that’s been covered here…but…concerning the spokes, if they are loose, they were more than likely sold that way, best to complain to the manager of the shop/store you bought your bike(s) from…could have been a small error…one way or the other, you could get them adjusted for free, but watch them as they work.
    If you want to see what happens to carbon forks, after getting spun out, here are a few pix I took, just for this…ok…have pix, can’t attach…help…?

  8. David says:

    Thanks for the information, not exactly what I was looking for but was enough to get me thinking in the right direction. I am wanting to build a custom electric trike (not electric assist as I am unable to pedal and in a wheel chair). I want to be able to get out of the house and ride the neighborhood again. As a former century rider and mountain biker, I miss the air in my face and the freedom of cycling, and do not want the noise or pollution of a gas powered motor.

    A note on pedals:
    Any good quality pedal (even aluminum) should be fine for almost any rider. The amount of force generated by a powerful peddler will greatly exceed the weight of even the heaviest rider’s weight standing on the pedals. The leg strength of a cyclist shows easily on a leg press in a gym. Cyclists who have never lifted weights can perform very well in comparison to even weight trainers on the leg lift, far surpassing the average person who does neither.

  9. Alexxa says:

    Thanks for this posting! My fiancé & I would love to go riding together with my son who lives to bike ride but I’m over the weight limits for bikes. I know riding would help with getting more exercise & a great way to spend time together. I just know from experience and common sense that things aren’t always meant to handle to weight of heavier people. My fiancé is also 6’4″ and 275 so he has the weight issue, tho just barely, but the height issue too. So really height and weight are our issues for finding bikes (I’m 5’3″). It’d get us out of the house more too. I will definitely keep all this information in mind & research before buying any bikes for us. Thanks again!

  10. Cole says:

    Awesome article. When I was younger I had a Fuji Absolute DX hybrid which I was in love with but as I got older I got a lot heavier and I would break a rear spoke with almost every ride, so I had to switch to a mountain bike. This past year I’ve been losing weight like crazy and I’m finally light enough to switch back to my precious hybrid just in time for the 5 Borough Bike Tour in NYC 😀

  11. Cassie says:

    I am so glad I found this post. I have been speaking to a local bike shop about making modifications to my bike to withstand my weight, but they basically told me I need to buy one of those super size bikes for about 2,000 dollars. I don’t have that kind of money. I think my local shop was afraid I would blame any issues I had on them. I still want to make the mods anyway, but I am not sure what to look for. I know nothing about wheels and crank shafts. How do I know a wide crank from a regular one? And everyone here has mentioned stronger wheels, but does that just mean the rim or does that include the tubes and tire? See? Clueless! I know I have a 26″ cruiser with a steel frame. Not looking to tackle mountains, just flat trails to start with. Please help!!

  12. Richard says:

    I’m a 300+lbs cyclist, and ride a pretty standard hybrid bike. After 3 years of daily commuting the back wheel failed last week, and my local bike shop are rebuilding it with stronger hub and spokes to account for my weight. I’ve been told that hand-built wheels are usually stronger than factory built, and so the new wheel will be more resilient.

  13. Robert says:

    Hi, I have trek 7200 an I keep getting flat’s i m 6’4 267lbs I dont know if i ride to rough
    or am i to heavy

  14. Jacob says:

    Thanks for everyone’s input. At 29 6’4 300lbs I am wanting to get back into biking. My riding will consist of mostly smooth trails roads & occasional off the beaten path adventures. I’m hoping to stay under $500. I’ve seen a lot of hybrids that I like, but am unsure if my large frame & weight may become a problem. I’ve looked @ a few mountain bikes @ general retailers dicks,Dunhams, Walmart,etc and noticed most bikes were ranged 5’2- 5’10. I will likely do final purchase online but would like to try it out as far as feel. Is there a brand that supports large frames better than another, or is it just choose what I like and just plan on investing on strong back tires& pedals? Any suggestions would be appreciated thanks.

    • Bebe says:

      I really appreciated finding this article. I found a line of bikes on Sears website that list maximum weights up to 350 according to the company website. The brand is Firmstrong, they have an even larger variety on their website. I was only interested in cruisers. Hope this help.

  15. Rob says:

    This is the first time I’ve seen anyone address this problem so THANK YOU! I haven’t always been heavy but I’ve never been as slim as the pros so it came as a surprise when I broke my first rim last week. I’ve got an idea where it may have happened but as to the how… See, I like low-rolling resistance but for the past 12 years I’ve had a dual-suspension bike. The one I broke was a spring-and-a-half Next Avalon. It had that sort of frame with the cheapo fork shocks and apparently an even more cheap tiny rear shock they put between the seat tube and seat stay (I had to look that up). I didn’t know it when I bought it, but the manufacturer rated it for 220 lbs. I’m 280, and I carried 2 loads of laundry on it over 4 miles of dirt road (both ways) for a month while my car was under the weather. It held up fine even though it showed no signs of failure before it actually failed. By the way, when I scavenged it for good parts (there weren’t many after 2000 miles), I noticed I’d bent that tiny rear shock as well! I feel better about my new bike now after reading your article because it’s got 700c rims and according to the Trek specs you listed, I should be fine.

  16. Peter says:

    I have ridden 2,600 + plus miles since March 17 2014 and reduced my weight from 339lbs to 276 lbs . I have ruined 3 rear wheels (purchased 1 from a bike shop and 1 found in garbage and 1 purchased at a garage sale.) I am in despite need of a strong 700c x 35 rear wheel. Can anyone point me to a reasonable place to get a strong back wheel for a reasonable price? Thanks

    • Bryan Beard says:

      From 2009 to present, I have ranged from 260 to 320 pounds while cycling 3000 to 5000 miles a year on Spinergy wheels. The spokes are made out of strands of encased fiber. I have not had to true them yet. They are remarkably strong.

  17. Eric says:

    I’ve always been well over the 225lb weight limit of my 15lb carbon Focus Izalco road bike. I’m 6’1″ and have been anywhere between 230 and 255lbs while taking this bike for day trips in excess of 60 miles through paved roads and even a few miles of gravel and dirt. I had some buyers remorse initially, thinking that I spent far too much money on a bike that was way too good for me. I bought it used off of a college team racer who was injured off season and hardly got to put any miles on the frame. I want everyone to consider that the high end, featherweight “pro” racing bikes are also built to be very strong. My bike is outfitted with very high mileage SRAM Red hardware and a lightweight aluminum SRAM S30 wheelset. The handlebars, stem and seat post are Zipp Carbon (the previous owner had lots of sponsors) . It’s a top tier race bike that was built for a guy that was my height, but 80lbs lighter. Even so, the fact that it was made for a real racer instills a bit of confidence. While my big butt may be well over the rating that the bike manufacturer indicates, I know that even while standing up on the pedals and pushing with all of my weight, I still can’t produce half the torque that professional cyclists can generate at the crank. After 2 great years of use, I’m glad I “went overboard” and bought a bike that most riders would consider way nice for someone at my weight and ability level. I had been looking at new road bikes in the $1500 range and was getting frustrated with how you still got low end wheels or a second rate drive train on the bigger name carbon frames (Specialized, Cannondale). The Focus was almost an impulse buy when I saw it on eBay… I ended up bidding on it and won it it for $2100. My excuse for spending so much was that the bike would have likely cost $4500 new and I could always re-sell it if I didn’t end up rifding it. The thing is, it’s such a nice bike that I really love riding it. Of course I still gets looks from “real” cyclists and I’m sure they are either thinking that I’m either a total poser that I’m probably too rich and fat to appreciate the fine German engineering, but I could care less. It gets new tires and a tune-up every spring and I’ve never had a flat or issues with the spokes.

    • Ben says:

      As far as strong wheels go, I would recommend going to a good bikeshop – not every LBS knows how to build a good wheel – and have them build you a good set of wheels.

      Some pretty standard Mavic Open Pro combined with decent rims with 36 spokes will make for a very strong and comfortable wheel.

      In 2004 I bought a Eddy Merckx Team Sc with Dura Ace and Mavic Ksyrium SSL (? – not sure about the ssl, they were top of the line Ksyriums that time)
      The Merckx was known to be a comfortable frame, but I couldn’t be on the bike for half an hour without being in a lot of pain in my shoulders/neck.

      Spoke to my LBS and decided to give a good old-fashion set of more or less standard rims, 36 spokes with DA hubs a try. What a difference.
      No, it’s not as aero as a fancy wheelset, but it’s pretty much bomb proof and much, much more comfortable.
      By the way, I’m around 230lb myself.

  18. Tyler says:

    I’m 21 5’11 and close to 300lbs and I haven’t ridden a bike in at least 6 years. I have a MAX $150 budget right now and I have no idea where to start. Help please!

  19. Rick says:

    I’m having the same problem, basically.

    I am over 150kg (that’s over 331 lbs, for those pre-metric types…), and it seems to me, that the ENTIRE bicycle industry, is obsessed with racing, and making parts for racing bicycles.
    Now, I understand, that racing, as in motorcars, can be a really good way to develop, and test, new technologies, and to help to perfect them.
    But, it seems, that they have surpassed that, and now focus so maniacly, on ultra-lightweight equipment, that they routinely sacrifice durability, for lower weight.

    And, in order to do so, the weight ratings, of many items, result in the maximum weight ratings, ending up in the 80kg range (i.e. 40kg per wheel), for road bikes, and about 105-120kg, for anything else!! {And I weigh 100kgs, when I am skinny, with my ribs sticking out, and have a “six-pack” stomach!}

    And obviously, this is a real problem, for the heavier rider – and especially so, for those of us, that have woken up one day, to discover that we have gotten fat, and when we decide to “Get Fit” or “Lose Weight” – we are shocked to discover, that the “fitness” industry, has decided to abandon us, in our hour of need!!

    BUT, the REAL issue, from my perspective, is that the whole bicycle industry, seems to have forgotten, that a bi-cycle, for MOST people, is a form of transport, for the average “Joe” – and that NOT ALL people, race!! OR, are even interested in racing!!
    And, that in consequence of that, it has split into two basic camps – the “Quality” manufacturers, ONLY manufacture, super light-weight, “Quality” components, and the other camp, makes cheap, crappy components, usually from steel, and weigh far too much, and are poorly made, work poorly, and fail constantly.

    There just DOES NOT seem to be, a nice middle ground, irrespective of price – that most “NORMAL” people fall into.

    I mean, I want some decent hydraulic brakes – and by that, I mean, I want something that stops well, and is reliable – and I don’t NEED them to weigh 139g, or something, but the alternative, is to buy some mechanical brakes, from some low end manufacturer, or buy some hydraulics, from a cheap, Chinese manufacturer. Personally, I’d like to buy some high quality brakes, from a decent manufacturer, that hasn’t been put on such a strict diet, that they fracture, or fail, simply because the manufacturer, chose to lose a few extra grams. I want some good, quality, normal, every day brakes – but it seems, that they don’t make those!
    It’s like, if, in the car industry, where, you can ONLY buy Formula-1 car brakes, or tractor brakes!! Nothing in between, for the average commuter – at least, that’s how it seems to be heading. Top end RACING, or bottom end!! No average commuter stuff, that is reliable, and works well, even if it is a bit heavier – but it shouldn’t need to weigh a tonne, either! Make it good, just don’t go crazy, with shaving the weight down so far, that they become good, only for a few races!! And unreliable.

    What, you may ask,has this got to do with weight ratings??

    Well, why do you THINK, that it seems, that ALL bicycles, seem to have such low weight ratings??

    I work in the Engineering field, and the weight ratings, comes down to the strength of the structure – and THAT is provided by materials, and intelligent design. But, essentially, all other things being equal, more material, equals higher strength, and therefore weight!!
    As always, engineering, is a process of intelligently selecting compromises – every engineering decision, effects some other aspect of the design – and the real ART of engineering, is to come up with the “IDEAL” set of compromises, for a given situation, product, and circumstance. Really GOOD products, satisfy ALL of the requirements, of the specification, in the perfect balance, but also including cost, manufacturability, weight, strength, aesthetics, durability, reliability, lifespan, and profit margin!

    Personally, I think that they have skewed this balance, TOO far, towards the RACING fraternity, and TOO far away, from what WE, as average customers want, and need.
    I am NOT saying, that they shouldn’t make racing components – but DON’T forget about all of us OTHER customers, that have gotten older, fatter, and have reached the most financially stable periods of our lives, quite often, with fat, and healthy Bank accounts, looking for some way, to regain our youthful health – or at least our youthful weight!!

    BUT, for me, the MOST ANNOYING aspect, of trying to find a suitable bicycle, and/or components thereof, is the almost TOTAL LACK, of REAL, actual specifications sheets, and Data, that would exist, in almost ANY other field of endeavor these days – just simple, basic data, that a manufacturer MUST ALREADY have, from their own engineering tasks, on weight ratings!!
    I mean, most data sheets, on PC’s, HardDisks, Stereo amplifiers, TV’s, DVD Players, DishWashers, Vacuum cleaners, Electric Drills, and any manner of other domestic items, usually have a brochure, with a proper “Specifications” list, at the back of it!!

    Bicycles, and components, seem to have an awful lot, of subjective waffle, generated by a marketing department, but NO, or VERY LITTLE, or at best, fuzzy Data, on the ACTUAL, mechanical, and physical specifications – and ESPECIALLY SO, for the most important one, the WEIGHT ratings!!

    AND, this is a CRITICAL safety specification!!

    Imagine buying a car, to Tow with, that has NO Maximum Towing capacity rating, by it’s manufacturer – and how DANGEROUS that would be, because WE, the non-technical user of it, have to GUESS what it is!!

    I wonder how many people, have been injured, maimed, and KILLED, because they had an accident, caused by exceeding the non-listed, or NOT EASILY obtainable weight rating, of their Bicycle, wheel, or component – and that is not even considering, the “contributing factor” element, of a wheel, that is constantly going out of true, or breaking spokes!!

    Personally, when I was a boy, I would have had hundreds of accidents, from THIS factor alone!! Rim brakes don’t work real good, on a buckled wheel – and pretty much, exept for the single speed, pedal back brake bicycles, that was ALL that there was, way back then!! ANY geared bicycles, had rim brakes!!
    And between poor brakes, from a repetitively buckled wheel (after having it trued, etc), and the resulting brake rubbers popping out, down a steep hill, I have had many, serious bike accidents – and still have the scars, to prove it!!

    It should be made LAW, that ALL bicycles, publish their official weight ratings, ON THEM, stamped into the frame, by letter punch, and in ANY brochure, or specification sheet, from the manufacturer. This should ALSO be required BY LAW, for ANY weight bearing component, or structure!!

    So that someone like US, can easily obtain, and compare Bicycles, to quickly eliminate those that are NOT suitable for us!!
    It is a VERY BASIC safety requirement, for a VEHICLE, that will be ridden at SPEED, that is usually ridden, with very little protection, has a sufficient safety margin, for the WEIGHT that is to be carried on it, and including any baggage, or cargo, that will be additional to that!!
    ANY manufacturer, who FAILS to provide this information, at the point of sale, AND easily located, on the frame itself, and in their brochures on it, should be made 100% responsible, and liable, for any accidents that occur, due to a failure of the frame, wheels, or Bicycle, due to overloading!!

    If WE are to be able to, sensibly, and responsibly, select a suitable pedaled VEHICLE, then this BASIC information, must be EASILY obtainable, in our selection criteria, our use, and be EASILY verifiable, if it is second hand, and simply to remind us, if we forget it, and make it easily possible, to check – so that WE have NO EXCUSE, for ignoring it!!

    The situation is quite hard enough, to select a suitable bicycle, or whatever, without having to chase manufacturers, or suppliers, and wait weeks, or months for replies to emails, for BASIC information, that SHOULD have been supplied on their Brochures, or Specifications sheets.
    Most people, are unlikely to be able to spend MONTHS doing this, so that they can actually find a suitable Bicycle, and they shouldn’t HAVE to, either!!
    People will, due to basic human psychology, become impatient, bored, and give up the effort, due to the sheer magnitude, and complexity, of doing so – and simply buy something, and hope for the best!!
    A simple visit to the manufacturers website, should be sufficient, to look at, or download their brochure, or specification sheet, should be all that is required – and if they are in a shop, the full specifications, should be THERE, right at the point of sale, so they can know IMMEDIATELY, if it is suitable for them!! If NOT, they can check, at a STANDARD location, on the frame itself. I would suggest, that the Weight Rating, should be stamped in the metal, on the Right Hand Side, just above the Bottom Bracket/Crank bearings. Easily seen, and noticed, and therefore, will reminded often of it, should their weight be climbing!
    As ANYONE that has tried to find this BASIC INFORMATION, about any particular Bicycle, Wheel, Brakes, or any other equipment, can be quite an ordeal in itself, and as much as some staff, in Bicycle shops may be able to assist in this – the fact is, THEY are trying to sell, what they have in stock, usually, and word of mouth data, is only as reliable, as the person who speaks it – so, for my part, I would prefer to rely, on the weight rating, stamped into the frame itself!!

    And due to the SAFETY aspect of this – this should be MANDATORY – and, I would think, a “NO-BRAINER”, to anyone who thinks about it!!
    Riding a Bicycle, that is OVERLOADED, is DANGEROUS, and potentially FATAL!! People get killed, maimed, and suffer brain damage, just from sitting on CHAIRS, that are underated – and overloaded – let alone one that is MOVING!! Moving, that is, in between cars, trucks, buses, trams, and trains…

    Sorry about the length of this – BUT THIS IS IMPORTANT!!

    Too many people get killed, already, riding Bicycles, and just because someone is overweight, and wishes to actually DO something about it, and to get fitter, and lose some weight, and reduce their chances, of a heart attack, diabetes, high blood pressure, and a myriad of othere conditions, they shouldn’t be forced, to ride something that is unsafe, or be forced, to spend thousands of hours, to do the research, to find one that is safe!!

    It’s not so hard, to pass a law, that lets US know, the Basic SAFETY related specifications, of what they are selling to us!!

    To make it EASY for US to comply with that!

    As I have found, when it comes to maintenance – if it is EASY to maintain, then the maintenance will get done – BUT, make it DIFFICULT to do maintenance, then the maintenance is UNLIKELY to get done, either properly, or frequently!!

    And the SAME applies to safety!!

    Let’s make it EASY to select a SAFE Bicycle, for someone that is overweight!!


  20. Reyes says:

    Rick, catch your breath,whew!!! Any I’ve a north star Terra cruiser for over 15 years now ,has Alex HD rims ,just one broken spoke whole time in Front rim. SOLID bike, put it through Stone Groove, Still going Strong!!!

  21. Cvon Fahnestock says:

    I am about 180 pounds and bought a German “Zundkapp” 24 speed in Germany for 200$ . It was inexpensive and nice to get around on. It has been a good buy for what I wanted: something to commute to work on and also go on one-two day bike tours. I bought saddlebags…not true paniers, and typically load up to 50 pounds on my cargo rack. However, I had a spoke break on my rear wheel recently and the bike shop owner told me that I was hauling too much weight on the rear. Does anyone have a recommendation on what I ought to do? Do I upgrade the wheels and tires? Or, as the bike shop owner was commending, get a new bike for a bit more cost (800$)
    He said that the current bike, a big box store purchase, is not designed for repeatedly using it to haul big loads on the rack. He said that this newer type of bike should be able to haul more (heavier rack and aluminum frame). After reading some on aluminum frames, I think I prefer a little extra bike weight with my steel frame. This newer bike has shock absorbers on the fork-is that really that helpful? If I get something like this can I mount a front fork cargo rack?

    Thanks for any advice.

  22. Paul says:

    I am 40 years old and in 2010I suffered from Thyroid Cancer, it has taken many years to get my thyroid under control. I need to start losing weight and I cannot walk far without my back hurting. I currently 400 lbs and this needs to stop. IS there a bike that you can recommend for me. I am not a rich many and I have seen some bikes asking $1700 fr their bikes.

    • Chuckie says:

      Worksman Cycles (NY based) has been building heavy duty steel framed industrial bikes since the early 1900s. They make several heavy duty models of bikes and trikes that are built to carry heavy loads including a line of commuter bikes for heavy people. Their price points are similar to most bike shop intermediate/entry level global brand bikes, usually well under $1000. I bought a used Worksman side by side trike last year so I could ride with my recently disabled wife. It’s built like a brick shickhouse and will last forever, but it is heavy.

      BTW, I’ve weighed 220-270 the last few years and bike a lot. I used to break spokes on my road bike, but had the bike shop build me some custom wheels: 36 spoke, Alex Adventurer hybrid rims, on nice butter smooth Ultegra hubs. I’ve put 8,000 miles on that bike the past few years, including a lot of commuting, and have had ZERO problems. The frame is a pretty basic aluminum Raleigh flat bar road bike (converted to drop bars). It’s held up very well.

  23. Kelly says:

    I just bought a bike without even thinking about a weight limit issue. The weight limit for the bike says 198lbs and I’m about 22 lbs over that. I plan on losing the weight with using the bike and walking so I’m not sure if this will be a big problem or not

  24. Rob F says:

    Re the Jamis comments, half (50%) of riders are above average weight and half below average, thus the definition of average (in a “normal” population, yadda, yadda, yadda.). Does that mean Jamis sells products that are only suitable for half of their potential customers?

  25. YK says:

    Four years ago I weight 380lbs. Went to a local bike shop to explain what I needed for a two day charity ride. Got a Specialized Sirrus Elite Disc with a custom rear wheel and mountain bike peddles. Cost came in just under $2k cdn. I am now down to 305lbs and the bike has seen four of those two day rides plus many others with no issues to complain about beyond the usual wear and tear items.
    Scheduled for the fifth two day ride next year.
    Just thought I would share a part of my story that may help others.

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