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I remember when I first decided to get back into running. I needed to lose weight and, having been a runner in my younger days, figured that was the way.
I set out my shoes and shorts the night before so I would be sure to get out the door and crawled out of bed right at 5:30 a.m. (or maybe it was 7:30…I forget). I had decided to run down the main road right by my house which was pretty long and straight.
So I ran…and ran…and ran.
By the time I was totally out of breath and aching, I could still see my house. Not only did I feel like my boobs had been punching me in the face, but I felt like I had run a million miles and had literally only covered a couple of blocks. I managed to pass only a dozen houses and stores that I drove by within 30 seconds of getting into my car every morning.
That was when I remembered why I quit running.
Running sucked, and I was fat.
Despite the fact that I used to pretend to enjoy running, I knew I needed to find something different for my current body type. I knew that if I wanted to get around town, have more fun, and lose some weight I would have to leave my running shoes in my closet and look for a bike that would hold 300lbs (or a bit more, in my case).
The problem was, I gave up riding a bike long before I gave up running. Now that I had kids, however, I figured I could bring them along so I could ride with someone that wouldn’t leave me in the dust. That is if anyone even made a bike for a 300-pound mother…
It turns out, they’re hard to find but they’re out there! Lots of research and trying to ride led me to the following conclusions about bikes for fat women:
In general, a hybrid bike with a slanted center bar will provide the easiest riding experience. Avoid mountain bikes or dedicated road bikes as they require a level of physicality that you likely don’t currently have.
Also, look for:
- A reinforced steel frame (instead of an ultralight version)
- Heavy-duty wheels (the more spokes, the better)
- A wide well-padded seat
- Upgraded brakes for more stopping power
The best example of these features (and the best bike for 300lb women, in my opinion) is the Schwinn Discover Hybrid. I haven’t won any races on mine but it has made it much more enjoyable to get out and start riding again!
Do note that, while the max weight for this bike is only 250lbs, I have not had any issues with it and neither have several other 300+lb men and women that I know.
Getting back into cycling as a 300lb woman…
Actually, forget that 300lb marker. Even if you are 400 pounds or more, cycling is, in my opinion, one of the best methods of exercise for heavy people. Not only is it great for weight loss, but it also has dozens of other advantages that I didn’t fully appreciate until after I got back into it!
Three of the main ones are:
- Cycling has a much lower impact than jogging or running. As a heavy person, going out for a jog may be the last exercise you do for the week. Running when you’re heavy is extremely hard on your joints, namely your ankles, knees, hips, and back. In fact, running or jogging slowly is even worse than sprinting! Cycling, on the other hand, may leave you with a sore butt for the first few times, but is much less detrimental for your joints and tendons, especially if you haven’t been exercising for a while.
- Cycling avoids the tedium of running or indoor exercise. If you are a person that lives for soap operas or reruns of The Office, an indoor treadmill might be for you. If you’re more like me and need some fresh air and Vitamin D once in a while, it is much more invigorating to get outside to exercise. Also, since I can cover about 3-4x the distance on a bike as I can running, I don’t get bored nearly as easily!
- Cycling doesn’t require me to wear two sports bras and wrap my chest with an ace bandage just to stay comfortable. Let’s face it, as a 300-pound woman on a bike, I need far less support than I do when I’m trying to jog.
So, why do you want to ride?
If you haven’t ridden a bike since your elementary school days, you might not be excited to know that there are actually a dozen, very different types of bikes that are designed for very different types of riding. So, if you want to have the best possible experience, it is best to choose a bike that is as closely aligned with how you want to ride as possible.
My piece of advice here is: don’t fool yourself. Most heavy women are conned into buying a road bike by the super fit and lean guy at the bike shop and they never ride it.
So don’t kid yourself that you’re going to want to go out and crank out 20 miles on a dedicated street bike every day.
You’ll probably get much more use and enjoyment out of an all-arounder hybrid-style bike. So think for a second about the type of riding you’ll probably do the most of, and then let’s talk about the best bike styles for plus-size women!
5 Best Types Of Bikes For Plus-Size Women
1. Hybrid Bikes
Hybrid bikes are the most capable type of bike, the one that we recommend as the best bike for big guys, and one of the top choices for heavy women as well! This bike style is the jack of all trades and is probably the quintessential style most people draw when they try to draw a bike in Pictionary.
Depending on the tires, a hybrid bike can be comfortable cruising around a college campus, commuting to work, cruising down gravel roads, or just taking a pleasure ride! I started off with a more dedicated street bike but found that it was not very comfortable for the slow rides with lots of stops that I went on with my kids.
Characteristics of Hybrid Bikes
- Handlebars. Hybrid bikes almost always have straight or slightly curved bars which are better at handling and fitting tight places, but not necessarily for comfort.
- Frame Style. Most beach and comfort cruisers have long, curved frame bars. Hybrids, on the other hand, typically have a straight frame that is functional and strong.
- Suspension Options. While most hybrid bikes come without suspension, there are options available to better suit your riding style, from suspension seats all the way to full suspension bikes.
- Multiple Speeds. I would never recommend that anyone get a single-speed bike. There is no advantage and they are just too slow and taxing to ride. Hybrid bikes typically come with several speed options so you can cruise faster and climb steeper hills.
- Good Tires. The tires on this type of bike are a good mix of offroad and road bike tires, providing good traction and a smooth ride.
- Minimal Fluff and Accessories. The lack of options like fenders and baskets makes hybrid bikes lighter, more nimble, and easier to ride. Heaven forbid you to need to carry a cruiser up a flight of stairs.
Best Overall Bike For Heavy Women
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2. Cruiser Bikes
If nothing comes to mind when you think of the word “cruiser,” then maybe we need to add the word “beach” before it. And if anything comes to mind when I say “bikes for fat people,” it’s probably a beach cruiser.
Cruising beach boardwalks and markets is what this bike is most comfortable doing. If you are mainly interested in getting around touristy areas, then this is a great option for you.
Cruisers are typically heavy and aren’t practical for commuting long distances, so if you’re looking to cruise to work (and work somewhere besides a seaside farmer’s market), keep looking. With that being said, they are extremely fun bikes and provide a good way to sightsee while getting some exercise. This makes them one of the best bikes for women over 300lbs since we probably won’t be riding far anyway!
Characteristics of a Cruiser:
- Handlebars: The most notable characteristic of a cruiser is, without a doubt, the handlebars. They are not short and straight, but are long and swept back with a certain amount of “rise.” Bars like this are pretty good for comfort and style, but not the best for handling.
- Tires: Cruisers typically have large tires meant for street or very light offroad use. These tires make for smooth riding and good flotation on sandy areas. Large tires are an integral part of bikes for people over 300 lbs, as they spread your weight out over a larger area.
- No Suspension: As they typically see minimal hard use, beach cruisers rarely have any suspension.
- Unisex-ish: While manufacturers do make both men’s and women’s versions of cruisers, the main difference is simply the color and size. If you find a bike that you like and fits you well, don’t stress about what gender it is “meant” for.
- Accessories: Because beach cruisers are made for casual riding (where weight doesn’t matter and creature comforts are nice) they are also available with fenders, lights, baskets, large cushy seats, chain guards, and more!
The Best Cruiser Bike For Women Up To 300lbs
sixthreezero Around The Block Cruiser
- 300lb Weight Capacity
- Comfortable positioning, a wide seat, and an ultra-durable frame will give you years of riding enjoyment!
3. Mountain Bikes
I think mountain bikes or BMX are the styles that typically interest kids in cycling. For me, it was both. I wanted to have a mountain bike for jumping off cliffs and flying over rocks in the mountains, and a BMX bike for jumping through flaming hoops in my backyard…while all my friends watched. What can I say, I wasn’t a girly girl.
Mountain biking is the type of riding that is most enjoyable for me when I’m at a better fitness level. Since mountain bikes are typically meant for rough offroad terrain, it is a more physically demanding style of riding than a hybrid or cruiser. If you get tired on a hybrid you can simply slow down. But there really isn’t that option on a mountain bike since you have to make it to the top of the hill!
However, because of their physically demanding nature, mountain bikes for heavy women are an excellent option for getting in good physical condition. But because they typically take more abuse than a road bike, mountain bikes for women over 300 lbs are hard to find. We have, however, found the best option! If you are well beyond the weight limit of this bike, you are probably better off choosing another riding style until you lose some weight.
Characteristics of Mountain Bikes for Big People
- Suspension. Mountain bikes run the full gamut when it comes to suspension options. There is every option available from no suspension, front suspension only, and full suspension. This is for obvious reasons, as offroad situations are rarely smooth, but most people find suspension makes all of their riding more enjoyable.
- Offroad tires. Mountain bikes for big guys and gals typically come with knobbly offroad tires that provide good traction. A lot of people actually take mountain bikes and replace these tires with hybrid or street-style tires to get the best of all worlds: a light bike with suspension and easy-rolling tires.
- Gears…. a lot of them. When you’re riding offroad, you need all the gears you can get. Having more gear options makes it easy to pedal slowly up steep hills and pedal more easily when you’re cruising on a flat or downhill section.
The Best Mountain Bike For Women Over 300 lbs
Mongoose Tyax Expert
- Multiple sizes make this a great option for both short and tall riders
- The large tires front suspension provides an excellent amount of travel to soak up the bumps
- Hydraulic disk brakes provide strong stopping power both on and off the street.
4. Road Bikes
Road bikes are probably the bike that everyone who wants to get in shape thinks they need. I personally really like my road bike, but if I could only own one, it wouldn’t be that one.
Road bikes are an excellent option for covering lots of ground with your head down. They are designed to be efficient, not necessarily enjoyable for an activity such as sightseeing or cruising. I enjoy the time I spend on my road bike…but then again I enjoy the time I spend on a stationary bike as well. They are quite similar in my mind.
If you are looking to ride mainly for the sake of enjoyment, I would steer clear of a road bike. Other options are more comfortable, allow you to look around while riding, and are far more versatile. If you are simply looking to get somewhere fast or get in a good workout, though, you need a road bike! And if you’re a big woman, we’ll need to find one of the very few road bikes that are built specifically for people over 300lbs.
Characteristics of a Road Bike
- Skinny Tires. These tires roll great….on the road. They are hard and don’t have much resistance so they are super easy to pedal. Which is one of the reasons that many people think that road bikes are the best bike for people over 300 lbs. However, these tires have almost no traction in wet or slippery conditions and provide no cushioning on bumpy roads.
- Riding Position. It’s probably easy for you to call the mind the riding position for a dedicated street bike. Bent in half over the handlebars so you can reduce wind resistance as much as possible. Good for speed, bad for comfort. If you are big and heavy, this position is even more uncomfortable. Imagine sitting down with your legs out and trying to touch your toes. Your belly either gets squished or has to sit down between your legs. This is one of the main reasons why we recommend that large people or people with large bellies get a bike that they can ride in a more upright position.
- Lots of gears. Road bikes have lots of gears for nearly the opposite reason that mountain bikes do: for going fast with less pedaling.
Best Road Bike For Heavy Women
Schwinn Phocus 1400/1600
- Strong aluminum frame with a lightweight carbon fiber road fork
- High-profile alloy double-wall rims with paired spokes are lightweight and strong
- Promax brakes for great braking power
- Widely considered to be the best overall entry-level road bike!
5. Fat Tire Bikes
When I was shopping for the best bikes for heavy people, everyone seemed to be recommending fat-tire bikes. I don’t know if they just thought that because it had the word “fat” in the title, it would be one of the best bikes for fat people… but maybe they were right!
Fat tire bikes have exploded in popularity over the past couple of years and have been used in all sorts of areas where they don’t really work well. Fat tire bikes were originally meant as an off-road option for people who want to ride out of season or in areas where the ground was squishy, muddy, snowy, etc. While they obviously still work on the roads where a lot of people use them, you’ll find that they’re difficult to ride on pavement as they require significantly more effort to pedal than a thinner-tired bike.
If you ride short distances, take rides on the beach, or ride in any of the above conditions, you might find that a heavy-duty fat tire bike is a good option for you.
Fat Tire Bike Characteristics
- Sturdy Frame. Fat-tire bikes have very similar frames to a mountain bike or hybrid bike, just with a lack of suspension. The main difference is that the forks are wider and a bit more heavy-duty to allow the fitment of the larger tires.
- Multiple Speeds. You’ll need them to keep those tires moving, especially if you’re using the bike on sand or snow.
- Fat Tires. The most obvious and notable difference of a fat-tire bike is, you guessed it, the tires. They are much wider than a normal tire which gives you more traction and flotation when you’re cycling on terrains such as snow, mud, or sand.
Best Fat Tire Bike For Women up to 300 Pounds
- Disk brakes in front and rear effectively slow down even the heaviest riders
- Ultra-strong wheel design will not bend or fold with heavy riders.
- The conservative 300lb capacity will support all but the largest riders.
- Extremely comfortable and easy to ride.
High Capacity Trike for Big and Heavy People (Up to 500 lbs)
If you haven’t found the right option in this list thus far, we might find that the best bike for a woman over 300 lbs is not a bike at all!
When I was younger, there was an old man by the name of Brent who would ride his trike all around my neighborhood. In my younger days, I would cruise past him on my pink bike and grumble under my breath. I didn’t appreciate his genius.
Trikes are one of the most stable and comfortable bikes for heavy people. The addition of a third wheel allows you to slow down without tipping over, pause to take a phone call, or just sightsee. The other huge advantage that a trike has is its amenities. Because weight and performance are not as important, trike manufacturers include items such as shocks, large baskets, and even steering wheels.
However, because we’re interested in bikes, I’d recommend sticking to a trike that is as close to a bike as it can be. The closer to a two-wheeled bike it is, the more maneuverable and easy to pedal it will be.
One of the main advantages of a trike is that it can be made extremely heavy-duty to withstand the force of plus-size cyclists. While it may take some searching to find them (and they won’t be cheap once you do), there are trikes out there that can hold up to 500 pounds! For example…
Another Option For Obese Women (4-500lb Capacity)
Worksman Personal Activity Vehicle
If you’re worried about a bike supporting your weight (or you’re not sure about your balance) then you could also consider a three-wheeled bike.
A trike has a bunch of options if you’re a beginner that want to increase your fitness level in a safer way.
This option in particular is built for heavy people. Some of the reasons I recommend are:
- It’s extremely strong (rated at 500-pound capacity)
- It has a thickly padded tractor seat with adjustable back
- It has a strong rear coaster (foot) brake for sure stopping
- It’s recommended for riders 5′ to 6′ which applies to 98% of people reading this
You can also check out the Schwinn Meridian (Amazon link) trike which is a great option as well but has a slightly lower weight capacity.
What happens if you exceed the weight capacity of a bike?
If you’ve looked at the price of some heavy-duty bikes, you’re probably wishing you could just run down to your local sporting goods store and find a cheaper option. Well, the truth is, you could do that. While it might be a frustrating and more expensive option, in the long run, the world will not end if you buy a cheap bike with a low weight capacity.
You may run into some problems buying a cheap bike, however. To start with, many bike manufacturers don’t actually publish weight limits for their bikes because “there are too many variables to consider.” Riding style, terrain, maintenance, and many more things all play into how much weight your bike will carry and for how long.
The frames of most bikes can hold more weight than almost anybody is going to subject them to. While frames do break, it is almost always from extreme off-road use. Not from a big gal pedaling them down the street. So what would even happen if you’re too big for a bike?
If the frame will hold your weight, then what else is there to fail? Well…the rest of the bike. Your wheels take the brunt of the force every time you hit a bump and are often the first things to break or bend. Low-quality bikes almost always come with low-quality components (wheels), and will not last a big person very long.
Since we are talking about cheap bikes to consider, let me just say that not all of the bikes we picked are cheap. While we did our best to be budget-conscious, we prioritized picking bikes that are specifically designed to withstand the forces that a 300-pound (or more) woman will put on them.
If you want a cheaper bike, you can probably find one. Just be aware that you will have to spend money fixing or upgrading it much sooner, as the components will not last as long.
If you want a high-quality bike but have a thin wallet, I’d recommend heading to your local bike shop and asking if they have any used bikes for sale.
Buying it from a bike shop will allow you to avoid paying for a tune-up or adjustment, and you will know you are getting your money’s worth. If, however, you are confident in your own skill and ability to not get swindled, check out Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace where you can score some awesome deals on used bikes.
What To Look For In A Heavy Duty Bike
While we’ve talked about a fair number of bikes for big people, it is possible that none of them appealed to you or, possibly, still none of them will support your weight.
Say you weigh significantly more than any of these bikes will support, what do you do then?
Well, luckily, there are a few relatively cheap and easy upgrades that will greatly increase the weight capacity of most bikes (or at least reduce the likelihood of failure):
The wheels are the weakest link of any bike, and so are often the first thing to fail on bikes that aren’t meant for riders over 300 lbs. Fortunately, wheels can be relatively cheap and you can get ones that will support your weight.
When shopping for a heavy-duty wheel, you want as many spokes as possible. You can think of spokes as legs on a chair. The more you have underneath you at any time, the more weight the chair (bike) will hold. Stock bikes come with a variety of spoke numbers, but if you are after weight capacity, look for a wheelset with at least 36 spokes per wheel.
2. Seat Tube/Post & Seat
If you are after bikes for 300 lb women, odds are it already has a hefty seat post and seat. If you are trying to slide under the radar for your weight and buy a lesser bike, be sure to upgrade both of these if you want your back end to survive!
A seat post is exactly what it sounds like. The little tube that holds the seat up. You’ll need to check the size of yours and find one that fits! Any bike shop should be able to head you in the right direction.
As for seats, the best plus-size bike seats are not cheap. There is an option, however, that won’t break the bank and I can heartily recommend it! Just be aware that you get what you pay for. If you head to Walmart and buy the widest bike seat you can find, you will end up with an inferior product that will not last and will be hard to actually use. What we want is a blend of comfort and rideability. Too wide, and it will be difficult to pedal your bike.
The Best Plus Size Bike Seat For Overweight Women
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While you may be able to swap the seat yourself (especially if it comes in a complete kit like the one above), do take note that most bikes will be shipped to you in pieces. When you get it, I would highly recommend that you take it to have it assembled and tuned at a bike shop. Also, check out our full article on the best bike seats for fat people!
Is there really a difference between men’s and women’s bikes?
The real answer to this question is: yes.
There are different styles of bikes that are uniquely created for either men or women. The real question here though is: does it matter for you and me? Probably not. The more specific the style of bike you get, the more it matters. Getting a racing road bike? Get a gender-specific bike as it will be more likely to fit you and be comfortable. Just looking for a cruiser? Get a bike in a size that fits you and is the color you want. Just make sure it fits you!
Useful Links For Heavy Woman Cyclists
How to measure what size bike you need: Choosing a bike that fits you is integral for comfortable long-term riding. An ill-fitting bike will be more difficult to pedal and you’ll probably end up with a sore back and knees.
Bike Path and Trail Finder: You’ll enjoy riding if you always have somewhere new and interesting to go. You’ll be shocked at how many paths there are available near you!
Beginner’s Cycling Program: If you are riding for fun, you don’t need a program. Just ride when you want to! If, however, you are riding to lose weight or get better at riding, having some structure will increase the likelihood that you follow through and will speed up your progress.
Essential Bike Maintenance for Beginners: Maintained bikes last longer and support more weight. You paid for it, care for it. After all, bikes for big people ain’t cheap.
Hopefully, this article wasn’t overwhelming in any way. If I could summarize how I wanted to it would be like this: biking is a great way to lose weight and is tons of fun.
It really doesn’t matter that much what type of bike you get. Find one you like that will support your weight and ride the wheels off it. Whether you are looking for bikes for 300 lb women or even heavier, there are lots of options to be had! So get out and enjoy the ride!