Tourer for a BIG bloke

I suspect one forum member might be particularly useful here:biggrin:

The lovely husband has finally realised that he doesn't like trailing behind me and Liesl as we fly up hills (ish) and wants a new touring bike for next year's Alpine Extravaganza!! So what should we get him?

He's BIG. He's 6"4, weighs 16 stone (although it's all muscle, honest) and has slightly disproportionately long arms...(no nasty gorilla comments please!!). So he needs a solid, big steel frame with a long reach.

I was planning to nag him into a Dawes Galaxy or some variant of it, but one of the blokes on our India trip who's a mechanic was raving about Kona cyclo cross bikes, or some other brands I hadn't really considered.

Also, should we go for a traditional tourer or would a cyclo cross bike be better? I don't know much about cyclo cross so am a bit stumped!!

Finally, the bike has to be good enough so he can get up mountains happily and not struggle...but not better than Liesl, as I still want to beat him!
 

Tim Bennet.

Entirely Average Member
Location
S of Kendal
Although cyclo cross bikes can be versatile machines, there are some variations you need to be aware of. Sometimes they use a shorter chainstay in order to get more of the riders weight over the drive wheel. So you need to check that a combination of big bloke's feet and panniers will still fit! They also don't have all the same braze ons for third bottle, full size pump , front lowriders, lights and double eyelets on the rear drop outs for rack and guards that you might want.

And it's hard to actually think what advantages it would have for touring over a true tourer. Some high end crossers will be lighter, but will these more specialised machines be quite so good for touring?

The more 'specific' your sizing requirements, the more sense it makes to go and see someone that does a good sizing service to ensure the bike fits from the word go. The only one I have experience of is Paul Hewitt. His tourers are only a little more expensive than a comparable Galaxy and might even work out cheaper over the medium to long term. Especially as there will be no swapping of parts to get exactly what you want. The wheels will also be completely reliable for a big bloke and luggage. I think it would be worth the trip.
 
I think lightness was the thing actually - because Richard's quite heavy and he'd have panniers, the thought was that the lighter the bike, the better for getting up hills!

I agree about going to a specialist. I was thinking about Spa Cycles as I've heard good things about them. But Richard also quite fancies a custom made bike (don't we all) so that might actually be an option!
 

Tim Bennet.

Entirely Average Member
Location
S of Kendal
Just a word about 'custom made'. If an 'off the peg' frame is a perfect fit, then having someone hand make the identical thing is, I believe, an unnecessary luxury.

Hewitts (and others) start with a bare mass produced frame. Paul will tell you categorically whether it will fit, and then you choose the braze-ons you want plus colour of paint, graphics and all the parts to build it up. It works out substantially cheaper than full 'custom made', but gives you choice where it matters.

However should Paul feel that no standard frame will fit, only then will he suggest they start with a blank sheet of paper and go the fully custom route.

Beware of places that only offer one system or the other. They have a vested interest in making what they have appear your best choice!
 
This is an "I love them" or "I hate them" thing, but..........

I have just bought at Thorn Nomad, and it is exactly what you are after, big, solid and in different sizes to suit. The cheaper Raven Tour, and derailleur .versions are equally varied,
 

Fab Foodie

hanging-on in quiet desperation ...
Thorn, Galaxy, Hewitt. That's a Holy trinity of serious off-the-peg tourers of which if money is not the issue I would tend towards Hewitts or Thorn as both are more 'customisable'.

I would throw Roberts and Mercian into the ring for consideration, especially if you really feel a custom frame build is the only way forward!

Weight-wise, I think it's not worth getting too picky about the grams esp. as hubby is a big guy and you'll then add panniers. Comfort and strength should be the priority IMO.
 

Bigtallfatbloke

New Member
ok...well as you know I ride a Dawes Galaxy. I cant comment on the other bikes because I know nothing about them at all. But here fwiw are my thoughts on my bike:

I am 6'4" tall. At the start of this year I weighed 21 stone, now I weigh in at 17 and a half stone. I have long arms and size 13 feet.

My Galaxy has served me well so far. It holds my bulk well and I have never felt that it would let me down. I have a 64cm frame (the biggest they make) and it fits well enough. Initially whilst I was getting 'fit' I was gratefull for the smaller cog on the triple, however it's been several months now since I have needed it....except once on the very steepest of hills.

I did need to make some modifications to the supplied bike:

1) I added a brookes b 17 champion saddle (the selle italia gel was rubbish)
2) I added some shimano spd pedals (the supplied ones with toe straps were too narrow)
3) I added two blackburn low rider custom front racks

I have no problems with the panniers hitting my feet.

I seem to have finally settled on the set up after months of messing around with the settings. At the moment the bike feels light underme and all is well. As far as the reach is concerned I still have a niggliong doubt that I may need a longer stem as there is a little pressure on my hands on a long ride...but it's no big deal and I have ridden over 3000 miles this year since may.

I did break a spoke on tour, when the panniers were fully loaded and I was riding on rough off road ground, otherwise no probs. The schwalbe marathon tyres seem almost bullet proof and the bar end gear levers work well and smoothly once you get used to them.

What i have found as I have become faster during the year is that I have a hankering for a road bike...the galaxy is a good tourer but it's not going to keep up with the roadies around here!

So far my top speed on this bike is 34mph downhill...so you can see it's not a fast bike....more of a steady cruiser I would say....horses for courses I suppose. You can see a pic of the bike in my sig below.

I bought the galaxy because I needed a bike to support my weight, it has done so well.
 

Tim Bennet.

Entirely Average Member
Location
S of Kendal
I post this, not in anyway to be critical of BTFG, but just to illustrate some of the advantages of buying from a shop like Hewitts

None of this should be necesary or happen with a new bike:
I did need to make some modifications to the supplied bike

I added a brookes B17 saddle (the selle italia gel was rubbish)

I added some shimano spd pedals (the supplied ones with toe straps were too narrow)

I seem to have finally settled on the set up after months of messing around with the settings.

As far as the reach is concerned I still have a niggling doubt that I may need a longer stem

I did break a spoke on tour
You need to put some 'value' on not having to deal with any of this when working out which bikes are 'better value'.
 

Tim Bennet.

Entirely Average Member
Location
S of Kendal
I meant no disrespect to your bike or your choices you made. However their are differences in the way you can buy a bike and these should be considered when making a decision about what to buy. It would be naive to think that all bikes and shops are comparable. I only use Hewitts as an example as it is the one I have found that gives a better service than many others round here. Of course there will be other shops elsewhere and I'm sure people will highlight those based on their own personal experience.

But taking some of your points: Obviously saddles and pedals are a personal choice, but many people have some idea what they like and having limitless choice enables you to pay for what you want without having to discard the factory fitted options first.

Fitting is not trail and error. It's done using a jig and the experience of someone who has sized hundreds of people over dozens of years. It is uncanningly accurate, even improving on what I had always assumed had been my 'perfect fit'. Many people who have struggled to be comfortable on a bike have benefited from a fitting and I think it is the most important 'comfort giving factor' in buying a bike.

Not all wheels are created equal. There are a number of builders who are recognised at being masters at it. I certainly would never equate spoke breakage to getting a puncture. Of course Hewitts can't guarentee a spoke will never break, but when I asked to buy spares before embarking on a long trip he said it was unnecessary as he would fly out and fix it himself should one ever break. I don't know if he still gives that assurance, but I've never had to call him!

Ultimately people can buy what they like, from where they like. But forums like this can at least highlight the options that are out there.
 

Bigtallfatbloke

New Member
Knowing what i now know (being an experienced cyclist now;):biggrin::o) I would definatly go for a bike fit before buying a new bike...and as soon as I can afford a new bianchi (or sim) I will do just that. When i bought my Dawes I was clueless...just a middle aged lump with some strange notion that he wanted to ride a bike into a new life. So i did some basic research on the net for bikes designed to carry heavy weights...the dawes seemed to fit the bill and the notion of touring fitted with my plans as I needed to 'get away'. So having figured out that I needed a big frame I headed off to the LBs's...most of whom were hopeless...just order takers...anyway i found the bike on Canvey Island and just started to ride it. I learned by asking questions on this board, reading posts and cycle sites, and simply by turning all the screws and bolts and seeing what happened. ...I think for a beginner that is a good thing to a degree as you get to understand more about your machine.
But like Tim says...a pro fit is a worthwhile thing (i understand that now...at the time I didnt even know a bike could be 'fitted'). I think the fit is probably more important for us 'largeish chaps' than , dare I say it, the more medium build chaps....dunno...but I will get apro fit on my next bike purchase (currently scheduled for 2067 looking at the bank statemen:sad:t)
One thing i found a PITA was the need to get stuff on line...like the saddle, shoes etc....very difficult to try before you buy...whereas a pro fit thing like Hewits would likely deal with all this before you buy.
 

rickangus

Über Member
Location
west sussex
I guess most folk recommend that which they already own. This may be because they have invested much time in ensuring their purchase is just right for them.

I am 6' 5" and also weigh 16 st although the hospital scales (don't ask) say 17 st. Not all of it muscle either.:biggrin:

Either way, I have recently taken delivery of a Hewitt custom frame built by his UK builder to the Cheviot geometry, appropriately beefed up and designed to accommodate my proportionate cranks of 200mm.

I chose to make the long trip from Sussex to Leyland bacause of the hugely detailed measuring process which one goes through, which reassured me greatly that I was getting a frame "just for me". I did visit Chas Roberts whose frames are beautifully built, but felt I was going to end up up with "what I was given" and not necessarily what I wanted.

It wasn't a quick process though. A new car ordered at the same time arrived before the bike frame! May not be as well built as the bike frame but faster nonetheless.

Anyway, when all is said and done, here is another big thumbs up for Mr Hewitt.
 

rich p

ridiculous old lush
Location
Brighton
rickangus said:
I did visit Chas Roberts whose frames are beautifully built, but felt I was going to end up up with "what I was given" and not necessarily what I wanted.

Rickangus, I was going to trreat my wife to a Chas Roberts as women's tourers are even harder to get off-the-peg. Would you recommend me not to go to Roberts. It is a lot nearer than Hewitts onviously for me in Brighton, but I really don't want her to have to compromise this time.
 
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