Bike shops are getting this question more frequently, what are the best bikes for heavy riders? Well, the answer is pretty easy. There isn’t just one, but quite a few bikes that, depending on how you want to ride, can fit your needs. The key part to understand is that bikes have their weight limits. Not all of them, however, are built to carry those weights.
For example, some manufacturers state a limit of 300 lbs, with a very flimsy frame. Others use cheap components that wear out quickly if the rider is slightly overweight.
The Mongoose Dolomite is classified as a fat tire mountain bike. The big plus is the huge tires and rims allow the bike to handle higher weights easily. The steel frame and fork should be able to handle most anything you throw at it.
At this price range the Dolomite does ok on the components. It features cable-driven mechanical disk brakes that work amply. The drivetrain is a bit basic, with only a rear derailleur operated with a gripshift. This should be more than enough to get you out and rolling around.
There are two things you will want to address if you purchase this bike- the seat and the bars. For a bigger rider, you will want to find a seat that matches your build a bit more. Additionally, this bike is sized as a mountain bike, so you will want to pick up a different stem with more rise to raise the bars up further to your liking.
Mongoose used to be a premier brand in the cycling industry. The brand is starting to re-emerge in the last year, through brisk sales in several large retailers in the US. Mongoose is expanding their lines once again and building higher quality bikes, with competitive parts and components.
Overall there are 6 levels on offer with the Framed Minnesota bike. You will see several options that offer 18-20 gears for instance. Additionally, top-end bikes will feature hydraulic brakes over mechanical disks, and with that increased stopping power and modulation.
The brand Framed is a newer manufacturer in the market. They feature bike shop quality throughout their models which equates to serviceability and longevity.
In a side by side direct comparison with the Mongoose Dolomite, there are significant upgrades with the Minnesota fat bike. Also, the Minnesota comes in several different grades, and with that, various price points.
There are two factors that could sway one to upgrade to the Minnesota. One is the increasing quality of the entire bike will hold up better under heavy use. Secondly, if there is damage, the bike shop quality parts are fairly easy to service and be brought back into shape.
The Co-op DRT model is more mountain bike than the previous bikes reviewed. With thinner tires and larger-diameter rims, the setup of the DRT is quite a bit different from either the Dolomite or the Minnesota. Again, the DRT is a bike shop quality bike, so it will have different sizes, quality of components and better serviceability.
Co-op Cycles is an in-store brand for the outdoor retailer REI. Over the years, REI has marketed a variety of bikes specific to them that have stood the test of time and are revered by many riders. REI can easily be characterized as a bike shop, with everything else you would want for the outdoors too.
The DRT features a full suspension model. If you are a heavy rider, say well over 300 pounds, stay away from full suspension, as well as shocks in the seat post. While it may seem nice to have a cushy ride, most suspensions will be at or beyond their maximum with higher rider weights. Remember, it isn’t just your weight, but as you hit rocks, and jumps, your weight is amplified.
The Firmstrong Bruiser is one of those simple bikes that can go a long way in value. The Firmstrong as a brand largely focuses on economical beach cruiser style leisure bikes. They feature steel and aluminum framed models. The Bruiser is a steel frame model that features an oversized top tube for increased frame rigidity. Being that this is a reasonably priced bike, the main Bruiser model is a coaster foot brake, although there are multi-speed models also available.
Bikes do not have to be complicated to go and have fun riding around or even getting a workout in on the beach bike path.
While most bikes can handle higher weights if designed well, the Bruiser would need to be watched and maintained. The rear wheel will be of concern as coaster brake bikes run a narrow hub, and the structure of the wheel is not quite the same as with a fat tire bike.
The Firmstrong Urban Lady is one of the most basic bikes reviewed here. The step-through style ladies frame is suitable for most women. This particular model is a single speed coaster style brake for simplicity.
This model uses 26” wheels and a 15” frame. With the seat all the way down a rider of around 5’3” should feel fairly comfortable and safe, although they would touch the ground with their toes.
Again, most bikes can handle increased weights like this bike. You will want to maintain the rear wheel, the same as with the Bruiser model above. Higher weights will stress the rear wheel adding the need for maintenance.
With the Co-op Cycles CTY the CTY stands for city. Another closely related bike is called a hybrid. The hybrid came about from people wanting bigger tires and the upright position of a mountain bike but the speed and maneuverability of a road bike. Just like all other adult bikes manufactured by REI, CTY series has a weight limit of 300 pounds.
The CTY offers several different levels of bike, from entry-level to more advanced with a suspension fork which is enough suspension for most enthusiasts. Beware though, if you are heavier, some city bikes come with a basic suspension seat post. These are not designed for higher weights and will fail.
If the CTY is more your style, look to REI to help fit the bike appropriately to you. If you want the bars up higher, trade out a rise stem to help with that position. Check out the CTY 1.3, while it is pricy, it features a cool ultra quiet belt drive instead of a chain. This drivetrain can easily last 4 more times longer than a chain drive, with less ongoing maintenance.
The Co-op Cycles ADV comes in several configurations. From fully loaded touring around the world on the 4.2 model to the beginners level 3.1 there is an adventure bike waiting for your needs.
One of the newest types of bikes on the market is the adventure bike. It technically is a hybrid of a mountain and a road bike. Where the Co-op CTY aimed more toward the mountain side of things and adventure, or a gravel bike aims toward the road bike arena. Adventure or gravel bikes are not made for technical hard core mountain biking, but give this bike some gravel roads and light trails and it will be the fastest thing to explore your neck of the woods.
Don’t be afraid of the thinner wheels and tires on these bikes. They are just as strong as any other bike wheel. They will wear and fatigue a bit faster with heavier weights. However, that is nothing new. Fully loaded touring bikes can weigh almost 100 pounds without the rider. Ask any tour rider, and they will tell you that they replace and rebuild rims frequently.
The Raleigh Tristar is a newer design trike. With that, the frame is made of steel but features a very low step-through to make climbing on super easy.
Many potential bike riders remark that they don’t feel all that safe on a bike anymore. They don’t trust their balance amongst other things. With that, a trike becomes a potential solution.
The Tristar is a bit smaller than older style Schwinn trikes that ran larger wheels. This model has 20” rear wheels and a 24” front. This compact sizing makes it a bit easier to handle and store. However, turning this bike into electric, which is becoming very popular on trikes is a bit harder due to the small wheel sizes.
This is just a small list of the best bikes for heavier riders. While we covered a variety of bike types, a tried and trusted fat tire bike like the Mongoose Dolomite or the Framed Minnesota can truly handle higher weights with ease. However, if your style is more urban, the REI brand Co-op has many models to suit your needs.