Plus Size and Buying the Best Bike for Me

During quarantine, quite a few things have become apparent to me. One is that I don’t get enough movement in my day-to-day (which I already knew but the creaks and cracks in my body have been screaming at me lately), the other is that I don’t get enough sunlight. As the weeks have gone on, I have felt these two more and more until I was on Instagram and saw a number of my friends on their bikes. *Light bulb comes on* duh, bike riding may be the quarantine hack I didn’t realize I needed. But as a plus size person, I had no idea where to begin when it came to bikes and what would work for me.

When I first started looking for bikes, I only wanted something cute. I’d found a cute white bike with thin tires, a brown leather seat, and a wicker basket in the front for all of the flowers and loaves of warm bread I’d planned on transporting (that’s what people go on bike rides for, right?). My friend Callie Thorpe posted this photo of her new bike so I was convinced I needed the same thing. Unfortunately, she is in London and the bike isn’t available in the US so I kept looking. 

Eventually I connected with Uptown Bronx Bicycle and ended up at Westchester Pro Bike Shop in The Bronx. Interestingly enough, they don’t have great ratings (and honestly UBB advised that I don’t go there), but I had a stellar experience there! As soon as I walked in, the owner took one look at me and said “I know what bike you need”, walked into the back closet and came back out with a box, and started putting the bike together for me. I stood kind of bewildered, pointing at other bikes (including another cute one with a basket and a folding bike) and he said “those bikes are going to hurt you, and you are going to hurt them” and kept building.

..and I ended up with a bike I LOVE.

The Specialized Roll bike is literally everything I was looking for in a bike. It’s a comfortable ride, the height is perfect, and it looks sleek and edgy (I realized once I got the bike that I would have looked super goofy on a frilly bike, that’s not my style lol). The tires are thick and durable, and I feel like my weight is supported in a way I didn’t think was going to be possible. So what are some things to consider when buying a bike as a plus size rider?

Weight Limits Are Forreal

I wouldn’t get on a theme park ride if I exceeded the weight limit, so why would I have different energy for a bike? I consulted with a few people about whether or not my weight mattered and I got conflicting answers, but most said this does have an effect. But in terms of physics – if you’re on a bike that can’t support your weight and you try to brake quickly, the bike won’t cooperate because there’s too many forces working against it. Just want to make sure you’re safe! Just make sure when you’re doing your research to look at the limit on the site, and most sites have a quiz to take to see if the bike works for you – or even better, they have someone that looks like you in the imagery! 

To Step Through or Not?

I didn’t know what a step-through frame bike was until last week. But there are lots and lots of versions of them on the market! As a plus-size person who has childhood trauma of not being able to get up on a bike, a step-through felt like a perfect bike for me. But not all step-throughs are made the same so be cautious. Very low step-throughs like this one don’t provide much balance or support for someone heavier and you could really hurt yourself. My Specialized Roll is made on a great angle, so the frame isn’t technically step-through but I have no trouble getting on and off. 

Are Wide Seats Really That Important?

The jury is out on wide seats as well. But I will say this – the seat that came with my Specialized Roll is NEVER getting swapped out for something else. As far as bike discomfort goes, I’m not really feeling as much as I thought I would having so much junk in the trunk, lol. Specialized is known for their Body Geometry Saddle that they put a lot of love and care into creating. More important than a wide seat is the type of pants you are wearing! I’m still on the hunt for a pair of plus size padded bike shorts. If you get a budget bike, I imagine you will have to change out the seat if you have a bigger booty, but this seat that came with mine is perfect. 

Have any insight on being a plus size bike rider? Please share below in the comments! 

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