Every Bike is for Every Body
Let's start with some undeniable truths: cycling is super fun. There are few things as gratifying as speeding down a big hill, wind flowing through your helmet, the smell of fresh air and nature all around you. Being on a bike feels like being a kid again, in all the best ways. Unfortunately, there is a distinct lack of plus-sized representation within the cycling industry, and that can lead some cyclists-to-be to feel uncomfortable or even unwelcome in a bike shop. We're here to pull down the veils and expose the real, honest-to-goodness truth: every bike is great for every body, and every human being can find a bike that will give them that feeling-like-a-kid-again joy. Let's break this down misconception by misconception and show you how to find a bike that you'll love, no matter what your body type is!
That's SB badass, Anne Michael, after completing the California Sprint Triathlon in 2018 on the Cannondale Synapse rental bike!
"I can't ride a bike because I'm too heavy."
A bike is the most efficient machine built by humans (yes, we're a bit prejudiced, but it's still true!) and the basic framework of every bike is designed to support more than it weighs, for a lot of reasons - the torque from your legs on the pedals and the rigors of the road in general are much more strenuous to the frame than your weight is, trust us. Plus, the multiple points of contact on your seat, hands and feet, spread weight evenly across the bike. On a well-made, well-fitted bike, your weight can and will be supported without any bends, breaks or blown-out tires. That's not to say they won't happen anyway - an overfilled tire or a loose component can bring down any cyclist, regardless of their weight. A bike is designed to be strong and supportive - if something does go wrong, it's the bike's fault, not yours, and it's almost always solvable.
"I need a special kind of bike to support my weight."
No matter what kind of cycling you're interested in, from road to mountain, there's a bike that can be perfect for you, no matter what you weigh. Finding the right bike is less about weight limits (again, bikes are too well-designed for that) and more about finding a style of riding that's comfortable for you. We highly recommend e-bikes for newcomers to the sport, especially if you're interested in road cycling - it's so rewarding to go super fast while remaining at ease, and the control you have with an e-bike means you can ease your way into the sport at your own pace. Mountain bikes and gravel bikes are also excellent choices - their tough frames can handle rough terrain (which describes much of the Bay Area, even the paved bits), and having a bike that can take you off-road can open the door to a ton of fun. Plus, mountain bikes and gravel bikes are built for wider, thicker tires that will feel more stable beneath you (helping you feel more confident) and disc brakes, which have top-notch stopping power (helping you feel safe)! If you're looking to get into road cycling but you're not feeling the e-bike scene, we'd recommend taking a closer look at some gravel bikes - the geometry is pretty much the same as a road bike, it's just built more for strength and durability than a lightweight road frame (some of which can have weight limits around the 250lb mark).
"I can only get into cycling if I'm doing it for weight loss."
First of all - your body is great. We haven't seen it, but if it's holding in your heart and your brain and all of your awesomeness, then it's gotta be pretty stellar. Second of all, cycling is super fun! Everyone should ride bikes for no reason other than that it's enjoyable. Yes, it's low impact and easy on your joints. Yes, it's a great way to get some fresh air and have an adventure. Yes, it's great for the environment, too. All those things benefit all bodies equally. At Sports Basement we just genuinely want to share our love of cycling with you - weight loss is great if that's what you're into, but cycling is a sport worth loving no matter what your goals are!
"I need special apparel for cycling, and it probably doesn't come in my size."
You really don't need anything special if you're just getting into cycling. Comfortable clothes that allow you to move easily will definitely do the trick. Regular workout clothes are great too, but if you're looking for a little more support in the seat, there are more than a few cycling apparel vendors that make cycling shorts (with chamois pads on the bum) up to size XXL. Cycling shorts will certainly keep you more comfortable on longer, more regular rides, and feeling good is what it's all about, but a comfortable saddle (the seat part of your bike) can be just as crucial for that feel-good comfort. Not only that, but since saddles support your bony structures, your saddle will not need to change if your body changes.
"I'll need special accessories and equipment for my bike to work for me."
You can definitely get into cycling with a bike straight off the rack (especially ours! We do not mess around with our bike selection), and you will do absolutely fine. The "sorta" comes in because every bike will fit better with some adjustments (this goes for every body, not just plus-sized ones). What does "adjustments" mean? Well, a saddle that feels good on your bum and fits your skeletal structure will do wonders for your comfort. Handlebars that work with your arm reach will help ease the stress on your back, too. We also recommend that newcomers to the sport start out with wheels that have a higher spoke count (28-32 is good). This means the wheels are stronger, not just to support more weight but to make them last longer. Any wheel can "taco" if you crash hard enough, but tougher wheels can handle rougher terrain more easily. Along with wheels, we'd also recommend tougher, higher volume tires. Yes, they can support more weight, but the real bonus is that they feel more grippy on the road and again, can handle rougher terrain than a slim tire. You want to be able to roll over the bumpiest roads in the Bay without risking a puncture, so tough tires are the way to go.
"Bikes are expensive, and I'm not sure I'm gonna get into this hobby."
Yeah, that can be true.
But you're in luck! At Sports Basement we rent some seriously excellent bikes, including e-bikes and mountain bikes, for super low rates so you can dip your toes into the wonderful world of cycling without too much of a commitment. You can even try a monthly rental, so you can give yourself as much time to get into the sport as you like! Then, when you're totally in love and you never want to take your feet off the pedals again (it'll happen), come on into our bike department and let our bike mechanics, sales staffers and buyers (basically all the people that helped write this article) wax poetic about the wonders of cycling until your ears fall off.
Buffy Joseph says...
Thanks so much for this fantastic size acceptance bicycling article! You are the best.On July 24, 2020