Big Mountain Bikes for Tall Heavy Men – Buying Tips for XL Cycles
Tall guys over 6’4” or 193 cm need a larger than average bike but also one that is capable of coping with the heavier weight of a big man weighing, in most cases, well over 200 lb.
While many mainstream brands like Specialized and Fisher make larger frame big mountain bikes up to 24” in some models, a big frame is not the only thing to consider when looking for bikes for tall men.
This article offers tips on what to check when looking at specs of different bikes across different brands and, in turn, which parts may need upgrading to cope with both height and weight differences.
Bikes for Big Guys
Bike sizing guides from specialist bike retailers like UK-based Leisure Lakes recommend a frame size of 22” to 24” for a person of 6’4” to 6’6” and here lies the first problem in buying bikes for big guys: most bike shops don’t stock these XL or XXL frames. So you’ll probably have to test-ride a smaller 21” or even a 19” frame.
It won’t fit perfectly but you can at least check the following:
- Front suspension forks – how robust are they and will they take the additional weight of a tall rider; air shocks, for instance, run the risk of blow-outs under a heavy-duty load, so check manufacturer specs for maximum weight limits and, if necessary, consider a sprung fork rather than one with air shocks.
- Rear suspension – how much does it sag when you sit on the bike and can it be pumped up to cope with your weight?
- Wheels – should have stainless steel spokes and may need to be re-spoked with a different pattern to offer more wheel strength, especially if you weigh more than 250 lb. Consider buying a 29er mountain bike with bigger, stronger wheels to avoid a wheel upgrade.
- Seatposts – tall men need an extra long seat post, plus one that can take the strain of a heavy weight.
- Pedals and cranks – may need upgrading to a larger size for tall men with longer than average inside legs.
Big Bike Brands for Large Bike Frames
Most big bike brands only make large bike frames in their most popular models. Here’s a selection:
- Specialized Stumpjumper– a full suspension bike available in size XXL and a variety of models including alloy and carbon frames and a 29er option.
- Kona Big Kahuna – a hardtail 29er bike available in a 22” stiff, strong but light-weight frame.
- Fisher Mamba – a 29er hardtail available in a 23” frame, competitively priced at under $900 RRP.
What About Specialty Big Bike Manufacturers?
One problem with larger frames is that manufacturers often just elongate tube lengths which can lead to loss of rigidity and metal fatigue; in some cases, it can also cause "frame shimmy," as Lennard Zinn likes to call it, and that means frame shake at high speed which is not only scary but can lead to serious crashes.
At 6’6” tall, Zinn has been building bikes for tall big people for nearly 30 years and can custom build a bike for you that may be expensive, but it will be built to last.
The Big Sur, for example is a 29er steel-framed “big bike, with big wheels…built for big guys” and is designed to be fitted with custom cranks to make it the “perfect cross country bike for the big and tall rider.” The downside; the frame alone costs $2,195 with a full bike price from $3,500.
Bikes for a Big Tall Man
If you’re a big tall man, finding the right bike can be a challenge as you will be limited to either mainstream brands offering 22” frame on selected models, or specialty brands like Zinn for a custom-built bike.
Consider what the bike will be used for before rushing into any buying decisions and compare specs of large frame models plus weight limits on bike parts like forks carefully, either online or by asking advice from your local bike shop or specialty online bike store.