"Fat" bike / heavy rider

Hi there. I’ve been asked about building a bike for a pretty heavy person (~165kg). My guess is that (esp due to wheels weight limit) the only option is a fat bike thingy? Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

By fat bike, do you actually mean a bike with 4-5in wide tires? How tall is the rider?

From a technical perspective, tandems often have to carry 165kg (365lb), there are parts that are rated for the weight. I do agree the wheels are probably the weakest link.

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I asked my hubby what we would have sold to a customer of this stature in our LBS. Perhaps look at the beefy details for comparison…


Rider is about 185 cm. Exactly, that is what I mean by “fat bike”.


Nearly 20 years ago now, Bob Brown (http://www.bobbrowncycles.com/) built Scott Cutshall a custom bike to support him, when he weighed 500lbs. Story at 'Large Fella on a Bike' | GearJunkie [note: I fixed this link]

I don’t know if Bob is still actively building, but you might consider getting in touch with him and asking how he built Scott’s frame. I recall that he made a heavy-duty custom fork crown, and used a tandem wheelset.

-Jim G

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Is the choice of fat tires for the weight of the rider? or the riding situation?

If it’s not being ridden in snow or sand, I personally think building it around mountain bike parts makes more sense. You have way more wheel, rim, hub, and tire selections.

We build a few mtb’s for 260lb+ people. We ended up using a 38.1mm seattube to add more stiffness and allow the use of a 34.9 dropper (steel bike). Overkill? Maybe. The weak link in the bike ended up being the freehub on the wheels. Doing it over again, I think the DT-swiss star ratchet style distributes the torque evenly and has a good track record.

Totally guessing here, for someone 185cm and 165kg (6’1 and 365lbs) to do mountain biking, I would do:

  • 22.2x.09 CS
  • 22.2x09 SS
  • T47BB
  • 38x.09 or 35mmx.09 ST
  • 35mm TT
  • 42mm 979 DT
  • 44mm HT

Thats an inspirational story, thanks for sharing that.


I rode fat bikes for years but mostly on snow or mtb situation, they are great and I love them BUT

  1. If you are looking for a somewhat performant bike, wheels need to be light and light fat-bike wheels are expensive, we are talking thousands.
  2. You WILL feel heavy wheels on any bike but on a fat-bike, with the extra rolling resistance, everything is x10.
  3. If your rider is not someone that cares, fat bikes will make it THAT much difficult to get parts, not all shops carry a good selection or any selection at all. Even finding tubes is hard. This depends on the customer, I order everything online as my local store is utter garbage and I do all of my own maintenance so it would not be a problem for me but it’s not for everyone.

That said, I believe there are wheelsets that can hold 165kg or they can be built, my guess:
Hope hubs (thru axle)
2mm spokes
Sun Ringle rims, something DH rated.

What about PLUS sizes? Like 29+ or 27.5+? That could give him more comfort and maybe avoiding having to run them too high of a pressure (I am thinking tires will need to be run at high pressure to avoid pinching)

Note: I rode with people that were close to 2m and whose weight “guesstimate” was around 120kg and they rode classic 29er from the stock catalog, I know 165 is definitely more but I wonder if a DH-rated wheelset would just be enough for XC riding.


@Matt @Daniel_Y thanks guys. What you say is more less what I was thinking. I’ll see if this guy decides o build this bike with me. If so - I’ll post an update.