If you’re bigger than the average cyclist, it can be hard to make sure you’ve got a great mountain bike. You don’t have to miss out, though. Mountain biking is a great sport for the larger among us; you just need to make sure that you’ve got the right bike. That’s where I come in; I did the research to find a collection of bikes suitable for both larger folks and any type of mountain biking.
What is the best mountain bike for big guys? For my money, the Mongoose Dolomite is the best mountain bike for big guys. It can hold more weight than anything at a comparable price point and comes with fat tires that make it easy to conquer obstacles. With a few upgrades, it’s suitable for heavy riders of any skill level.
If you don’t think that’ll fit your riding style, however, there are still a ton of great options out there. All it takes is a bit of knowledge about what you want. So, think a bit about your riding style and read on. I made sure there’s something here for every prospective large mountain biker.
Last update on 2021-04-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Reviews of the Best Heavy Duty Mountain Bikes for Big Guys
1. Mongoose Dolomite – Best Overall Mountain Bike for Big Guys
For bigger guys, the Dolomite Fat Tire Mountain Bike is a great choice. The fat tires make for a smooth ride, and all of the basics for a good trail bike are included without the need to upgrade components.
The fat tires make this one really stick out for larger riders. They allow the frame to hold quite a bit more weight than a normal bike would be able to, and it’s one of the few bikes which should hold riders who are well over 300 lb without issue.
This bicycle is complemented with a great mechanical disc brake system and a simple derailleur which runs through seven gears. The latter works well for beginners, giving enough gears to have a wide range of pedaling pressures, but not requiring management of a front sprocket as well.
It’s not a great bike for cross-country riding and it really shouldn’t be used for extreme downhill biking. It’s also rather heavy, coming in at 48 lb. It’s not perfect, but it’s an excellent choice for big guys who are new to the sport.
Overall, the Dolomite is probably the best all-around choice for big guys. It’s heavy-duty, easy to ride, and able to be adjusted for a wide range of heights. It should last for years, and with a few upgrades, it’s suitable up to a medium-level of riding, as long as you’re not planning on mountain biking competitively.
- Fat tires
- Heavy-duty steel frame
- Excellent mechanical disc brakes
- Can be upgraded easily
- Weighs 48 lb in total
- Poor handling due to fat tires
2. Schwinn Bonafide Mountain Bike – Runner-up
If fat tires aren’t your thing, then consider the Schwinn Bonafide. It has 29” wheels, disc brakes, and excellent front suspension. All of this makes it an excellent all-arounder for trail riding and even light cross-country courses.
The bike will support riders up to 300 pounds easily, especially with the 2.25” wide stock tires that it comes with. It’s a 24-speed, so you’ll need to learn to manage the front sprocket as well as the back if you’re new to higher speed bikes, but it shifts smoothly and doesn’t have the “kick” you’ll find with cheaper shifters.
The geometry is good for someone who’s just getting into the sport. It’s a bit more aggressive than your usual road bike but not overly so. For a 29”, it actually handles remarkably well, having a stable but somehow high center of gravity that allows for relatively tight cornering.
That said, there’s a reason it’s the runner up. The front shocks can’t be adjusted or locked out, so you’ll be stuck with the 3” of travel no matter where you’re riding, although they can be switched out if you’re willing to spend the money. It’s also only available in a smaller frame size, making it unsuitable for riders 5’10” or taller.
That said, it’s an excellent entry-level bike with a sturdy frame for the larger among us. It just might take a bit of modification before it’s ready for more technical trails.
- Sturdy frame capable of holding 300 lb
- Great shifter
- Excellent all-around geometry
- 29” wheels
- No adjustment on front shocks
- Not suitable for tall riders
3. Diamondback Bicycles Hook – Best Cross Country Bike for Big Guys
The Diamondback Hook is one of the best entry-level cross-country bikes you’ll be able to find. It has a sturdy frame, great geometry, and frames available to suit people of every height.
It comes with 27.5” tires, which make for a good combo of obstacle-handling and maneuverability. This is another bike with mechanical disc brakes, and I found them to be the best of the mechanical setups in the bikes we reviewed.
This is an 8-speed bike, which I’ve found is great for beginners. There’s just less to worry about when riding, and the rear sprockets allow for both easy climbs and insanely fast descents. It may not win competitions, but if you’re looking to get into cross-country riding in the future, it’s an excellent training bike.
The biggest problem with the bike is cosmetic; the front logo sticker seems to want to come off within a few rides. The brakes also require a lot of pull, which makes them less responsive, although I found them to be fine once I got used to them. No amount of adjusting seemed to change this, so it may be a problem with the cable system.
For a larger guy wanting to get into cross-country riding, it’s a great start. The geometry of the bike is well suited for both climbs and descents, the forks have 4” of travel, and the 27.5” wheels combined with the heavy-duty frame put it ahead of other bikes at the same price point.
- Great brakes once engaged
- 27.5” wheels
- Excellent frame geometry for XC riding
- 4” of travel on the front suspension
- Brakes could be more responsive
- Stickers don’t want to stay on
4. Mongoose Boot’r 27.5 – Best Downhill Bike for Big Guys
Downhill bikes for bigger guys are hard to find. They tend to be too short and the frames are made to be lightweight since maneuverability is key. They’re also expensive, and the Boot’r is no exception to the rule, but it’s an unwise idea to attempt serious downhills with a cheap bicycle.
That said, if you’re serious about getting into downhill, this is a great bike to start with. All of the individual components can be upgraded as your skill level advances and the 27.5” tires and the internal routing of the hydraulic brakes are perfect.
The bike has 7.8” of travel on a free-floating suspension. Even the biggest rider will be able to take heavy hits on this bike without a hitch. The bike tests out fine to about 300 lb, although at the upper limit the rider may want to be careful about catching big air.
Still, this is strictly a downhill bike. While it’s much better than the rest of the bikes on my list, in overall quality, it’s not suitable for trail riding or cross-country: the suspension will soak up too much of your pedaling, and the geometry is too steep for good climbing.
For downhill riding, however, this bike is the best option for bigger guys. There’s a frame available for every height and it’s well-engineered from the ground up. The heavy frame makes it suitable for large riders and the individual components are of superior quality for the price.
- Internal routing of hydraulic brake cables
- 7.8” free-floating suspension
- Heavy-duty frame to take hits easily
- Easily upgradeable
- Expensive compared to the rest of the list
- Only suitable for downhill riding
5. Merax 26″ Mountain Bicycle – The Budget Option
Not every rider is sure that they’re going to like mountain biking. In that case, a cheaper bike makes sense, but finding a suitable heavy-duty bike for large riders can be hard. This Merax is a great pick, coming in at an affordable price.
It has a 330 lb weight capacity and good frame geometry for trail riding. For the price, the mechanical disc brakes work surprisingly well, although they don’t compare with the big names. It also has a lightweight aluminum frame, which is a good surprise considering the lower price point.
All of this combines to make the Merax a good trail bike to get started with. The geometry is also suitable for riding on the road, so you won’t have to retire it if you decide that mountain biking isn’t your cup of tea.
This is an as-is bike, however. If you decide to get serious about the sport, you’ll be better off replacing the bike entirely, rather than upgrading it. Overall you get what you pay for in this situation, but at the price point, it’s great.
For those looking for a heavy-duty, budget-priced mountain bike, the Merax offers impressive value. However, you may want to pass it up if you’re already dead set on mountain biking – for a bit extra money, you’ll get a much better bike, and this one isn’t worth upgrading.
- Excellent price
- Mechanical disc brakes
- Suitable geometry for street and trail riding
- Heavy-duty frame
- Not worth upgrading
- Not as high-quality as other bikes on the list
How to Choose an MTB Bicycle for Big Guys – Buyer’s Guide
There are a few things that you’ll want to keep in mind when you’re looking for a mountain bike. The truth is that you’re mostly going to be excluded from the cheaper bikes on the market if you’re over the 250 lb mark or so, but most quality mountain bikes will hold someone up to 350 lb.
That said, when you’re trying to pick a bike, it’s important to match it to both your size and your use, so pay attention to the following when trying to decide which bike is the best for you.
Mountain biking covers a wide variety of different styles. When you’re looking at a bike, it’s important to make sure that you’re matching the style you’ll be riding most frequently.
A quick breakdown of the basic mountain biking styles would encompass the following:
- Trail Riding: What most people refer to as “mountain biking”. Generally, riders will be on marked but unpaved trails without any serious obstacles along the way.
- Cross Country (XC): Cross country riding is usually done over longer tracks than trail riding. A good analogy would be comparing an exercise run to a marathon. Emphasis on lighter weight and quick handling are usually found in cross country bikes.
- Downhill: Downhill is exactly what it sounds like. These bikes are made to handle quickly at high speeds and usually have full suspension to compensate for the larger drops and jumps made while cycling downhill.
While there are other styles of riding, most of the bikes used in them will be hybrids of the above three styles and are quite specialized.
If you’re completely new to the sport, then a trail riding bike is a great choice since they’re “all-around” bikes rather than being as specialized as XC or downhill bikes.
Some people do start in either the XC or downhill spaces, however, so ask other riders what’s available in the area before you commit to a certain type of mountain bike.
Mountain bikes are available with 26”, 27.5” and 29” wheels.
Larger folks can safely discount 26” tires. The lighter weight is an advantage for smaller riders in some fields but as a larger person, you can definitely bypass them in order to use larger wheels which take impact more readily and lose less speed when hitting obstacles due to increased angular momentum.
27.5” wheels are readily available on mountain bikes. They’re halfway between the two “standard” sizes. They’re great for those who have the height to take advantage of them, but shorter riders will still benefit from an increased ability to handle obstacles. When I switched to a 27.5” frame for the first time I was quite surprised at how much easier it made riding through previously difficult areas on trails.
29” wheels are a trade-off. They’re not quite as maneuverable as 27.5” tires but they make hitting obstacles much easier. The size of wheels is directly related to their ability to hit obstacles without bouncing the frame around too hard and 29” tires can handle things that would stop a 26” bike in their tracks.
I’d recommend 27.5” for heavier people under 5’10”, for taller individuals 29” tires are usually the way to go unless you need superior handling for downhill courses or extremely technical trails.
Avoid wedge brakes at all costs. They’re rare on good mountain bikes, but if you’re not satisfied with my list, then at least follow that advice.
Wedge brakes are subpar in stopping ability, which can be extremely dangerous even on relatively safe trails. They also tend to handle much looser as the day goes on since dirt will naturally get on the rim while riding off-road.
The real choice is between hydraulic and mechanical disc brakes.
Both types work well, but hydraulic brakes are easier to pull. The biggest difference is that most hydraulic brake systems are more expensive but better designed overall.
For a beginner, mechanical discs are generally fine with one exception: a dedicated downhill bike should have hydraulic brakes. It’ll help the bike handle better at high speeds and keep you safer during tight maneuvers.
It’s really just a matter of cost for most people. Hydraulic brakes at the same price point will always be better but mechanical discs are generally fine for an entry-level rider.
Fat tire bikes have much wider wheels than a regular bike and are increasingly popular among trail riders. Since they run with a lower PSI than standard tires, they provide a cushioning effect on a trail ride.
The wider patch of rubber also means they’ll naturally be able to handle more weight than standard tires. All of this together makes them an excellent choice for larger people.
Even normal-sized riders are often surprised by them. They grip better and can handle surprising terrain without a hitch. They’re also able to handle well in sand, which is a big advantage on some trails.
Standard tires will slide in slush, snow, or loose dirt. It’s ridable for short patches, but it requires quite a bit of technical skill to throw the bike around properly and beginners will have a tendency to over-correct and end up having to dump the bike or crash at higher speeds. At lower speeds, those with regular wheels may end up just having to walk the bike through longer patches.
They’re not perfect, however. The biggest disadvantage is that they’re slower to respond than normal wheels. They’re great for trail riding on more technical paths and singletrack. They’re not so great for downhill sections that require twitchy handling and good reflexes: the slower response time can lead to a wreck.
It’s ultimately a personal choice but big guys will often be well served by getting a fat tire bike as long as they’re aware of the slower handling that comes with them.
In addition to the above choices, keep the following in mind:
- Frame Size: For people of average height, an 18”-20” frame is just about right. If you’re 5’10 to 6’, consider using a 22” frame, and those of exceptional height will want to find something in 24” if at all possible.
- Geometry: In general, a steeper angle leads to a more “aggressive” stance for a shorter frame and better handling, but a shallower angle makes a bike better for climbing. Short frames make better downhill bikes; longer frames with a shallow angle make better XC bikes.
- Upgradeable Components: Chances are that you’ll want to upgrade your bike at some point. While it’s not cost-effective with cheaper bikes, any bike over the $300-$400 range is usually worth putting some money into if you’re looking to really get into the sport.
- Warranty: See if the bike has a warranty. Mountain bikes take a lot of abuse. Quality control for frames is generally good, but individual components may break before their normal lifespan.
My Choice for the Best Mountain Bike for Big Guys
So, there you have it: there’s a bike suitable for large guys no matter what kind of mountain biking they’re planning on getting into.
If you ask me, the Mongoose Dolomite stands out as the mountain bike that big guys should pick up. It’s great for trail-riding and the fat tires and heavy frame will let it support people of any weight or height. Add in the moderate pricing, a lifetime warranty, and an excellent derailleur and it’s hard to beat.
But, no matter what your riding style is, there’s one thing I know for sure: big guys shouldn’t let their size keep them from mountain biking. Isn’t it time to get the bike you deserve?
Top Rated Mountain Bikes
Last update on 2021-04-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Last update on 2021-04-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API