Mountain Bikes Designed for 550 Pound Riders

photo: supersizedcycles.com.

In general mountain bikes are designed to stand up to enormous impacts, especially FR/DH rigs where big hits are the norm. Burly bikes typically have wider, deeper rims, stiff suspension components, and oversized welds and tubing to stand up to the extra abuse. Even small, 2 foot jumps can subject a bike to nearly 3-times the rider’s weight so a lot of thought has to go into making frames and components that won’t fail. Most manufacturers typically design mountain bikes to support riders up to plus or minus 200 pounds.

Designing bikes for heavy riders poses much the same challenge as designing a sturdy DH mountain bike so it’s not surprising to see familiar component specs. Super Sized Cycles sells bikes the company claims are safe for riders up to 550 pounds. The New Leaf, for example, features heavy duty, double-walled 26″ rims, a high-strength cromoly frame and rigid fork (I suppose they don’t want riders getting too aggressive off road), disc brakes for extra stopping power, a large seat with extra padding, and “slimed” tires for extra flat protection. The whole package weighs around 40 pounds which is a good rider-weight to bike-weight ratio if you ask me. (As a point of reference, my ratio is about 7; a 500 pound rider on this bike gets a 12.5. Bigger numbers are better.)

Super Sized Cycles also sells the “Big 29er” designed for the big and tall crowd. The Big 29er supports riders up to 375 pounds which is still a lot, though not nearly as much as the New Leaf (perhaps due to the larger wheel size more than anything else). Everything on this bike is said to be “improved for durability” but in the end the bike ends up looking more like a cruiser bike than a mountain bike. The coaster brakes confirm our suspicions that this isn’t like any other 29er we’ve seen. Neither of these bikes seem to be spec’ed for true off-road riding but they do make use of mostly mountain bike standards.

All the heavy duty bikes at Super Sized Cycles are priced at a slight premium due to the custom nature of the designs ($1,850 for the New Leaf, $1,075 for the Big 29er). Still, it’s great to see bikes that larger riders can enjoy and use for fitness. And when folks outgrow (or un-grow) these bikes after a year they can always upgrade to a more aggressive clydesdale mountain bike!

9 thoughts on “Mountain Bikes Designed for 550 Pound Riders

  1. I think this is actually a really good idea. I was just discussing this topic with some guys, and the fact that most bikes aren’t built to withstand those weights does pose a problem for bike shops trying to promote mtbing to fat customers. Since mountain biking/ bike riding in general are sports that promote health and weight loss, creating a bike that is built to handle those weights is a good idea.

    And like you hinted at, a 40 lb bike isn’t very heavy compared to a 550 lb person, haha!

  2. trek7k, you alluded to a ‘clydesdale’ bike, In your opinion, what are some that fit that category.

    For examply, I come in right at 200 with my gear, and I ride a Giant Trance that has developed no creaks, groans or play in 2 years of throwing it around the Colorado Front Range.

    Ditto for my old Specialized Rockhopper for 3 years prior to that (When I weighed more like 225 with gear)

    Anyway, I’m curious if there is a true clydesdale category, or if in your experience some are better than others…

    and Goo, it’s ‘gravitationally challenged’ not ‘fat’ :D

  3. @madd, I guess I didn’t have any particular bikes in mind with that comment, though I know some bikes work better than others for clydesdales. For example, the lightest XC bikes make strength compromises to get weight down. I’m guessing some clydesdale riders also purposely stay away from things like carbon frames, radially spoked wheels, etc.

    I’m also interested in hearing which bikes other clydesdale riders have found success (or failure) with…

  4. I ride a 2007 Specialized Stumpjumper at 300 plbs. And the biggest problem I had with the bike was when it was brand new without any upgrades yet.The rear pawl body broke under my pedaling numerous times,although most of the broken pawl bodys came on a trail named slick rock,the direct traction of the sandstone wreaked havoc on the pawl body three times in one trip to moab,by then the chain had had enough as well and gave up.I also broke a pawl body on red rocks trail which a lot of is dirt but also pretty rocky with limited sandstone areas.I like the stumpjumper even as a bigger clydesdale,although jumping and freeriding type stuff I don’t feel that the bike can handle that at all at my weight.Trail riding is what I consider my riding style to be and I boughtf my SJ for that purpouse and the bike pretty good in my opinion.The bike I rode before the SJ was a steel frame Marin pine mountain XC bike that was pretty solid,steel is a nice material for heavier riders I think and my next bike is most likely gonna be a steel frame.

  5. I am a bigger rider and I ride the 2010 Specialized XC comp. I had problems with this bike’s spokes. I had a new broken spoke every 2-3 weeks. I had to buy better wheels from the LBS and have not had any troubles since.

  6. I should mention that on my Trance I run WTB FR wheels. They’re heavy, but nice and solid for catching air and drops.

    @steve32300, check out Waltworks in Boulder. He makes fully custom steel frames in everything from fully rigid XC to long travel downhill 29′er.

  7. Thanks for the tip maddslacker,I’ll deffinately go check out waltworks.I am currently (and have been for a year or so)thinking of going with the instigator frame and rigid fork and interchanging my fox talas or been thinking of looking into what a karate monkey might be like,(insert shock and awww here,I’ve been known to debate the 29er,hahahhahaa)but I might be interested in a rigid 29er possibly…….I come from a free style and jump background in BMX and even the 26er feels a little big to me because I just think in terms riding trails for there technical aspect and not in terms of point A to point B and how fast I get to the next trail.

  8. I have a specialized enduro pro carbon that I purchased this spring. I weigh in at 205 and have had no problems with the frame, spokes or anything. I have really enjoyed riding a carbon frame, it makes such a difference with weight and vibrations. I am a cross country rider. I really never figured I had to worry about my weight when buying this bike, it seemed to fit me really well and never came up in conversation with the bike shop. It is an XL because of my height.

Leave a Reply