If you categorize yourself as bigger, taller, or heavier than the average cyclist, and avoid (or just have a hard time) shopping for cycling gear because of it, it’s time to change your old-school thinking. Plenty of brands make gear and apparel for those who need a little more durability here and a little more room there—from sturdier wheels to wider shoes to stronger bikes. See at-a-glance reviews below of five of our top-rated plus-size gear recommendations, or scroll deeper for full reviews of these and other high-ranking options, plus more buying info.
Look for Clothing That’s Comfortable and Technical
Padded shorts should be the first item on your list of clothing to purchase. Having that extra layer between you and the saddle makes for a more comfortable ride—especially when one hour turns into four. If you feel uneasy about wearing tight shorts, look for a pair that comes with a baggy outer (think mountain bike shorts). Some come as a one-piece liner/outer, while others can be detached and worn either way.
While you may be inclined to stick with your favorite loose-fitting cotton tee, this is not an ideal option. Cotton holds onto moisture and dries slowly. A better choice is a jersey or shirt made from lightweight, technical fabrics designed to wick away sweat and dry quickly. Don’t fret: Not every company is focused on making only formfitting, race-cut jerseys.
Find Components That Fit
Weight-bearing components—seatpost, handlebar, stem—are key here (if you’re not sitting on it, you’re leaning on it). Some carbon bars are safe for heavy riders, but be sure to check with the manufacturer regarding weight limit before making a purchase. The safest bet: an aluminum bar with a diameter of at least 31.8mm at the clamp (a pretty standard size), which provides additional strength. As for the width of the bar, the wider the better. A narrow bar can feel restrictive and uncomfortable over long rides and can make the bike harder to control. As a rule, a drop bar should be as wide as your shoulders.
More than any other part of your bike, the saddle can mean the difference between a good ride and a bad one. This is true for all cyclists, not just bigger, taller, heavier ones. The right saddle will properly support your sit bones—by the way, a wide backside doesn’t necessarily mean wide sit bones. Your local bike shop can help measure your sit bones to find the right size range for you. Let comfort be your guide, and feel free to go wider if you aren’t planning on going too fast. The rule of thumb when shopping for a saddle is to get one with enough width and padding to support the sit bones, with an even weight distribution on the handlebar, seat, and pedals.
Choose Steel or Titanium Over Carbon
While carbon frames keep getting better (and stronger), many still have limits, so check with the manufacturer or retailer first. For heavier or taller riders, metal can be a better option. Steel is strong and relatively affordable, but it can be heavier than the other frame materials. Titanium is pricier but gives you the option to fine-tune the ride quality with non-standard tube sizes and shapes, adding incredible strength with minimal weight penalty.
Strong Wheels Are Critical
As with frames, metal wheels will likely have higher weight limits than carbon ones. Also look at the spokes and lacing pattern. More spokes can equal a stronger wheel. Go with something with at least 32 double-butted steel spokes in a three-cross pattern (each spoke crosses over three others). Custom wheels are also an option. Many shops or online retailers like wheelbuilder.com can help you find the right pair for your needs.
How We Chose These Products
We’ve scoured the cycling industry to find equipment that doesn’t cater to flyweights. Every product on this list has been thoroughly evaluated and vetted by our team of test editors. We research the market, survey user reviews, speak with product managers and engineers, and use our own experience with these products to determine the best options. We chose these products based on fit, function, weight limits, size range, comfort, and style to come up with this list of products that will best serve the needs of anyone looking for bikes and gear made for bigger, taller, heavier riders.
Clothing and Shoes for Big Riders
―BEST BIG TRAIL SHORTS―
Zoic Ether Shorts + Essential Liner
The Ether Shorts come in size 3X, which Zoic claims fits up to a 46-inch waist. Six pockets (two on the hip, three zippered pockets on the legs, and one in the back) give you plenty of room to stash a wallet, phone, keys, and nutrition. Abrasion-resistant DuraFlex fabric is said to stretch and move with you, and the removable liner comes with Zoic’s Comfort Chamois.
―BEST BIG SHORTS FOR WOMEN―
Zoic Posh Short + Essential Liner
The women’s Posh Short is made from the same flexible and abrasion-resistant fabric as the men’s Ether and comes with a removable liner with Zoic’s women’s chamois. Two front pockets, a zippered pocket on the leg, and a zippered pocket in the middle of the back give you adequate room for stashing trail goodies, and the elastic waistband and button closure fits up to 48-inch hips and 39-inch waists in size XL.
―BEST BIG JERSEY―
Aero Tech Design BIG Men’s Sprint Jersey
This lightweight cycling jersey is specifically designed for larger riders, and the tailored, loose fit keeps it comfortable without flapping in the wind. A full-length zipper is a high-end touch and a nice feature for extra ventilation on hot days. Three pockets in the back are easily accessible, and the 100 percent Wickaway polyester fabric keeps you cool and dry.
―BEST FOR CASUAL STYLE―
Aero Tech Design Women’s Specific Cycling Jersey
The Women’s Specific Cycling Jersey is a great option for bigger riders who don’t want a tight-fitting top. It’s cut to accommodate the cycling position: It has extra arm room to increase comfort and is longer in the back than it is in the front to avoid bunching up. A zippered back pocket keeps your necessities secure, and two side pockets make for quick access to a phone, key, or energy gels. Finally, a 14-inch front zipper makes this jersey easy to put on and gives plenty of options to increase ventilation on hot days.
―BEST BIG BIB SHORTS―
Aero Tech Design Men’s Elite Endurance Shorts
Available up to size 5XL, the Elite Endurance Shorts are designed for all-day comfort, which is great if you plan on tackling a century. A hidden pocket in the back of the shorts is perfect for stashing little items you need to carry but don’t need instant access to, and reflective stripes on the side of the shorts enhance safety and your visibility to motorists. Silicone grippers on the leg bands keep the shorts in place, and the bib straps are soft and stretchy to stay in place without pulling hard on your shoulders.
―BEST CASUAL BIKE SHORTS―
Aero Tech USA MTB Padded Cargo Short
If you want padded shorts but don’t like the look of Lycra, the USA MTB Padded Cargo Short may be the answer. The nylon outer shell is a loose fit, but not baggy, and has two deep pockets and a drawstring waist. The liner is made from a spandex/polyester blend and has the chamois pad sewn in place. Silicone leg grippers keep the liner from riding up while pedaling, and two reflective strips on the exterior enhance your visibility to motorists. These shorts are available for women up to size XXL and for men up to 5XL.
―BEST BIG TRAIL SHOES―
Shimano ME4 Mountain Bike Shoes
Performance and value are combined in these Shimano mountain bike shoes that are available in sizes up to 50 (roughly the equivalent of a US16). The ME4 features a high-density synthetic leather upper that’s designed to withstand scrapes from rocks and other trail obstacles. The upper is also perforated to help keep your feet cool on hot days. Closure is achieved via a pair of offset hook-and-loop Velcro straps plus a Boa dial, which allows for precise micro-adjustments to enhance fit. Underneath is a reinforced glass fiber midsole with a Shimano stiffness rating of five. That means efficient power transfer to the pedals, but also enough torsional flex between the heel and toe to keep you comfortable when off the bike and walking.
―BEST BIG ROAD SHOES―
Sidi Genuis 7
A high-performance road shoe with a full carbon sole, the Sidi Genius accommodates large feet up to size 51. Mega sizes provide additional room across the ball of the foot, heel cup, and instep. The buckle closure at the top of the shoe, paired with two Velcro straps lower down, feel secure under pressure and are easy to adjust on the fly. The outer is coated in Sidi’s Water-Tech treatment, making it water-resistant and easy to wipe clean.
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Components for Heavier Riders
―BEST HEAVY-DUTY ALUMINUM WHEELS―
Velocity Clydesdale Disc Wheelset
Available in 700c, 27.5, and 26-inch diameters for road, mountain, gravel, and cyclocross, the Velocity Clydesdale Disc wheelset has a rider weight+gear limit of up to 300 pounds. Velocity even provides handy guidelines, noting that for individuals between 200 and 229 pounds, the recommendation is a front and rear spoke count of 32 each. But if the weight range is 230 to 259 pounds, it suggests front and rear spoke counts of 36 each. And if the scale reads between 260 and 300 pounds, the numbers jump to 36 front and 40 in the rear. Regardless of how many spokes you need, these wheels come with Velocity’s bombproof ATB Disc hubs that are compatible with Shimano/SRAM 8, 9, 10, and 11-speed drivetrains as well as SRAM’s popular 12-speed XX1 drivetrain setup.
―BEST CARBON WHEELS FOR BIG RIDERS―
Alto CC52 Clincher
Not only are these wheels claimed to have no weight limit, according to Alto, but they’re also meant to be used with any brake pad you like without fear of delaminating or overheating the braking surface. The CC52s are tubeless-compatible and have 52mm-deep rims, 20 spokes up front, and 24 spokes in the rear. When purchasing, you can choose from 16 decal colors, six hub colors, and stainless steel or CeramicSpeed bearings.
―BEST SADDLE FOR A SOFT RIDE―
If you love your bike but hate that narrow, uncomfortable saddle, check out the Specialized Cup. Featuring Specialized’s Body Geometry V-groove design to improve comfort, this saddle is designed to support your sit bones and is extra wide to also support everything around them. The elastomer rail suspension system also adds instant comfort for casual riding and commuting.
―BEST LIGHTWEIGHT STEM FOR STRONG RIDERS―
PRO Vibe Sprint Stem
First made famous by professional bike racer and sprinter extraordinaire Mark Cavendish, who used it to win multiple Tour de France stages, this oversize carbon fiber road bike stem is built to handle massive forces without flexing (or worse). Available in 105mm, 120mm, and 135mm lengths, it has a minus-10-degree angle and is designed to work with traditional 31.8mm handlebars. That length and drop mean it’s likely not the best fit for casual cyclists, but is if you’re a Clydesdale-sized racer looking for the ultimate in stem strength and rigidity.
Bikes for Bigger Riders
―BEST GRAVEL BIKE FOR BIG RIDERS―
This all-around, titanium, drop-bar bike comes stock with powerful and reliable Shimano hydraulic disc brakes, a precise Shimano 105 drivetrain, weight-saving ENVE All-Road carbon fork, and custom hand-built wheels that are designed to withstand the unique requirements of bigger riders and have hubs that are rated up to 450 pounds. Frame sizes include L up to 4XL, which covers rider heights from 5-foot-10 all the way to 7 feet. The Draft also comes with proportional-length cranks and an extra-wide handlebar to better fit riders with broad shoulders.
―BEST BIG MOUNTAIN BIKE―
At 6-foot-6 Lennard Zinn understands the unique needs of big and tall riders. That’s why the former professional racer and longtime VeloNews tech editor has been building and selling custom and stock road, gravel, and mountain bikes under the Zinn Cycles moniker since 1982. Zinn employs a compact frame design that aims to alleviate the problems encountered on other biggie sized frames, which often fatigue faster and shimmy at high speeds. The Zinn B.I.G. 29er mountain bike is available in 4-, 5-, or 6-inch-travel builds, and utilizes a traditional four-bar suspension design that’s proven plush and reliable. Notable features include a head tube that’s tall enough to put riders up to 6-foot-10 in a comfortable upright position, and this bike comes with custom cranks in lengths up to 210mm. Purchase also includes a custom bike fit.
Specialized Turbo Como 2.0
Like the company’s Roll Comp X1 Low Entry, the Turbo Como 2.0 has 650b wheels, 2.3-inch tires, a comfortable Cup saddle, hydraulic disc brakes, and a low-entry frame. It feels rock-solid on a wide variety of terrain and is easy to put a foot down without dismounting. But unlike the Roll Comp X1, this bike has a 250w Specialized 1.2 Custom Rx Street-tuned motor nicely integrated into the down tube. Also like the Roll Comp X1 Low Entry, the Turbo Como 2.0’s combined rider and cargo weight limit is 300 pounds.
―TOUGHEST FITNESS BIKE―
Zize 29er Max 2.0
Zize bikes are designed and built especially for heavy riders, and the Zize 29er Max 2.0 is right in the heart of the lineup. Made from aircraft-grade steel for maximum strength, it’s designed for riders up to 400 pounds. With 27.5-inch tires and tubes loaded with Slime tire sealant (to decrease your chances of flatting), it feels sturdy and supple underneath you. An upright riding position takes the pressure off your neck and hands, and an 8-speed internal hub provides ample gearing and requires minimal maintenance. Finally, Zize offers financing options with a downpayment of $1,000.
―BEST CHEAP GRAVEL BIKE―
Diamondback Haanjo 3
With a claimed weight limit of 300 pounds, the Haanjo 3 won’t be for everyone, but it’s noteworthy because it’s not easy to find standard-looking cycling equipment rated for riders over 250 pounds. In this case, you get an aluminum frame and fork, 700c wheels, and 37mm-wide tires that are great for both cinder rail trails, gravel roads, and pavement alike. Larger riders will also really appreciate the 51cm-wide bar, which you won’t find on many drop-bar bikes. This bike also boasts an unusually high stack height and very short reach, so it’s a good bet for riders who want a drop bar bike with a very upright riding position.
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―BEST FOR RIDERS WITH STIFF BACKS―
Day 6 Behemoth
The Day 6 Behemoth splits the difference between a true recumbent and a standard bike, giving riders a position that closely resembles what you find from a stationary bike at a gym. With a stated weight limit of 350 pounds, this bike is designed to get you mobile while keeping pressure off your back. Riders sit on a 16-inch-wide saddle that cradles their hips and receive additional support from a backrest. The upright handlebar puts the controls within easy reach, and 4-inch-wide tires on 24-inch wheels provide a gentle ride on a wide variety of terrain ranging from asphalt to gravel to sand and even snow.
―BEST RACE BIKE FOR BIG RIDERS―
Built with robust 6/4 titanium (instead of the more common 3/2.5 ti), the R480 is designed especially for heavy, powerful riders. And because it’s titanium, the frame won’t wear out over the years and the ride quality won’t diminish—even after 10 years, it will feel the same way it did the first time you rode it. Lynskey offers stock and custom frames, as well as a myriad of component options to match a variety of budgets.
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―BEST BIKE FOR THE TALLEST RIDERS―
For big, tall riders who place enormous amounts of strain on standard equipment, DirtySixer specializes in building durable bikes for really big riders. The company made headlines when it unveiled a bike made for Lebron James, but he was just the latest in a long line of NFL and NBA stars to order bikes from DirtySixer. These supersize bikes are made from wide-gauge aluminum tubing and roll on either 32 or 36-inch wheels for better weight distribution and geometry that suits tall riders. They are custom made, and the price reflects that, but if you just gotta ride and nothing else fits, DirtySixer will get you on the road.
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