I restarted cycling on a mountain bike that I’d had in the loft for about 15 years fitted slick tyres to it and took to the road.There is plenty to choose from but an £80 full suspension mountain bike is best avoided. It’s important that the seat height is not set too low, the general rule is that you should be able to place your heel on the pedal with your leg straight. Both feet flat on the ground from the seat is for kids learning to cycle.

Whatever you decide to buy, beg, steal or borrow, if your just starting make sure its a “triple” which is three chainrings at the front. Your going to need every gear you can get once you start tackling anything remotely hilly. My first forays had me using gears that I would never use now but I was really out of shape.

Check the spokes or have the spokes checked for you as wheels get a lot of pounding if your carrying a lot of weight. I had a pair made up for me when I bought a road bike and after a few teething problems with loosening spokes they have not given me anymore trouble. The trend is to stronger rims with fewer and fewer spokes if in doubt ask.

I’ve had all of my upgrades and a pair of wheels built up by Colin at Wheelbase , if you’ve got a wheel problem or a repair you can’t tackle yourself Colin is your man.

The main thing is take it easy at first and don’t bite off more than you can chew. Starting off on the flat you’ll be surprised what distance you can cover, you’ll soon be building up the miles.

One thing you need to be aware of at the cheaper end of the bike spectrum is that they maynot come with quick-release wheels. This can be a bit of a problem if you want to transport the bike to a location in a car as it means carrying the relevant tools to remove the wheels. Punctures also mean you have to patch the hole rather than swapping the tube over which should only take a couple of minutes.

It is important to make sure the bike is the right size for you. Your no longer a kid so your not going to grow into it anymore but your position on the bike may alter as you put more and more miles in. When I first started on a racing bike my hands were always on the tops of the bars. Now they are always on the hoods. They are hardly ever on the drops.
26 Jun 07 Just noticed this section getting a fair number of hits and it needs a bit of freshening up. It is aimed at getting the overweight back on to a bike to restart cycling. If you start off on a Mountain Bike and wonder why you are slow, it’s the tyres. The difference between them and a 700x23c racing tyre is like night and day. The rolling resistance is significantly reduced. Comfort is also reduced and you are likely to loose the suspension. You can’t have everything. I’ve gone down the lightweight racer route as if I went mountain biking and had a fall I couldn’t have afforded the time off work. When your big you seem to hit the ground a lot more heavily. You’ll find a problem with just about any aspect of cycling when you start off but all can be overcome.

If I was going to reccomend a bike for the road (presuming you want to hit the road) it would be a Trek 1000. Comes with Shimano Sora STI,s and has mudguard clearance and eyes for a rack. This will let you go out in all weathers. More a bit later.

Called in at Wheelbase yesterday to have a bottom bracket fitted to the new toy.
There was a Claud Butler San Remo in the window which seemed like a good entry level bike. £299.  Equiped with Sora levers which I find fine. These are entry level levers but don’t let that put you off. These levers have never missed a shift EVER.

You don’t have to spend megabucks  to get into cycling. I really like my Trek but rides out on the Iceni arn’t that much different. Your much better spending time and money into reducing your weight than buying the lightest bike on the market. Improved performance comes with no costs, it really isn’t about the bike.
Winter BikeHandlbar setup.jpgBrakesColnago Carbitubo

Be under no illusions it’s still a hard slog, if I can do it anyone can do it. Don’t look for excuses with the equipment or the weather.

Thanks to Chris for the link to the Gear calculator below.

26 Jul 08 Two years on things are much the same as they were, the Madone is the number 1 bike for Any ride that doesn’t require mudguards. If your starting off you don’t need to spend shedloads on a bike. I still find use for a triple even today.
You can spin out on a triple rather than grind too hard a gear. For a roadbike on a double 39X27 is as low as you can go on Shimano. Compact which is a halfway point is 34X27.
For a club rider this is all they need even for the really steep stuff. For mere mortals it has to be a triple.

69 thoughts on “Bikes”

  1. Hi Frank.
    Just found your site by searching for Garmin edge.
    I have just bought a 305 with HR & Cadence.
    Weighing in at 18 stone and 42 years old I am looking to lose weight and hopefully extend my life.
    Your story is a great inspiration to me.
    I have a group of mates at work who are in to mountain biking but obvuously a lot fitter than me. But when we go out they will wait for me to catch up, (Nice Blokes!!).
    I am planning to do my own gentle rides to gradually improve performance. Any tips for me???



  2. Thanks for the comment Jim, comments are my inspiration to keep going now.
    The first thing is are you following any sort of diet or eating plan?. I’ve been following the British Heart Foundation “So you Want to loose weight… for good” healthy eating plan for over a year now and it is the single most important part of my weightloss. Sorry I’ve missed out the most obvious one to others but the hardest one to realise, the decision that you’ve taken to do something about it. That was the hard part for me making that first decision, only you can make that decision and it looks like you have. Others, like a partner can put you on a diet but are allways on a looser untill you make that decision.
    It is far far easier to regulate your eating than it is to loose weight through exercise alone. A Mars bar is 284 calories try going to a gym and burning off 284 calories in half an hour, you’ll never eat one again without that thought in your head.

    The next step is regular exercise, I was told to do half an hour a day at least five times a week. It can be anything, even walking, just something your not doing now. This I’ve also stuck to religously, the rides and exercise diary is the proof.

    A 500 calorie a day deficit looses you 1 lb of fat a week (3500 calories in a lb of fat), 52 weeks in a year ……you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to work out that by just cutting out a Mars bar a day and one other high calorie item means you could could loose a couple of stone in a year.

    I assume you have a 9 to 5 job so the mountain biking is confined to the weekend. This is play and should be seen as such, sure it’ll do you good but by doing the 1/2 hour to an hour a day during the week means your mates are going to see a steady improvement. Three stone lighter means your going to be right up there.

    Either join a gym or use your Edge to increase your Aerobic capacity, this means knocking the idea of gentle rides in the head. There is no hiding once you’ve bought an all singing dancing Edge.
    You can ride all day in the fat burning zone at around 120 BPM. You may be short on time so that may mean an increase in pace to achieve better results. The gym is the fastest way to burn calories and improve your fitness overall.

    As you’ve just bought your Edge you need to get out there and start using it, save some rides as courses and then go out and race against yourself using the virtual partner, you’ve only yourself to beat. Above all go out and enjoy yourself, if your diets OK and your doing enough exercise the weight will take care of itself.



  3. Thanks Frank,
    I am a shift worker doing four on four off so I go out for 3 to 4hrs twice a week as well as the half hour to hour sessions.
    My work is manual and I’m on my feet for 12 hours.
    My diet is the biggest part I think I need to adjust as I’m already burning calories it is just now cutting down the intake.
    I am going to France in 7 weeks so that is a good initial target for my weight loss.



  4. Jim,
    I was on 4 on 4 off 12 hours while I was loosing all that weight. At the start before I was on the healthy eating(diet)I was doing a 35 mile ride, eating a Mars bar, a Coke and maybe an Ice cream less than halfway round. Don’t make the same mistake, ride on water and maybe oatbars.
    I was doing the exercise after the 12 hour shift as I would class my job as sedentary. I got into a routine of doing the 35 mile route on three out of the four days off.
    Download the pdf of the diet and have a look at the weightloss diary. You are on the same shift pattern so I’d say a kilo or maybe two a week should be within your grasp. I’ve been on days for the last three weeks so my riding and exercise plans have had to be altered.

  5. Frank, I’ve noticed a TREK Madone 5.2 on the internet for £1499. I am prepared to buy it (Cos i don’t want to buy crap only to upgrade again) How much difference would you say riding something like this is to a £500 bike? Is the difference that noticeable?

  6. Phil, it was a treat to myself for loosing nearly 30 Kg. I was still 105 Kg when I bought it(but still loosing weight). Ive a picture of me after the Liverpol-Chester-Liverpool ride and I’d say I was still big. It is a great bike and I just love riding it.

    Now I wouldn’t buy the Madone as your first bike. You should get a Trek 1000 with triple chainset. Here is why. It is a £500 bike funnily enough but it has mudguard and rack eyes on the frame.
    It gets best buy in all the reviews.

    Buy it from your local Trek dealer as you want the backup. He’ll also get you the right size for you. There are no weight limits on Trek,s. Ask about a discount as you want TWO!!!.

    You also want a Trek 1000 WSD for your wife/partner, that way you can both go out. The first rides I wrote up were the flat ones for the beginers and the overweight. As both bikes have mudguard eyes you’ll be able to go out when it’s wet or raining.

    Learn your riding trade on the 1000 and then think about the bling bike. I still go out on my Iceni that I had built up and it still feels good not as good as the Trek but it’s all in the mind.

    Buying two will also put less stress on your relationship, having his and hers bikes means no one is left out.

  7. Hi Frank, I have been into a Trek dealers to buy the 1000 you recommend, but the guy in the shop said that as i’ve never had a road bike before and the fact i have a back problem i’d be better off going for the Trek Pilot. As i wouldn’t know where to look, have you heard any reviews about the Pilot, Good bad or indifferent?
    Also, what’s the difference between a double & triple chain set? and would a novice like me notice the difference (Apart from visually)
    Cheers F

  8. Phil, he may have a point. I didn’t realise you had a back problem too. The Pilot has a longer headtube so the bars are higher than the 1000. I think it also has brake levers on the bars so you can brake while your hands are still on the bars. It’s also 150 quid dearer.
    The difference between a double and a tripple is the number of chainrings on the front. You need three, don’t even consider two. I used three on Sundays ride, you could just about manage a compact after a while. Just look what the CTC riders use. All are on triples, you need that granny ring for when it gets steep or when you get tired. I started with a double on the Iceni and had to swap to a triple. It meant new STI shifters and set me back £200 so was an expensive upgrade. Far easier to get the right bike first time.

  9. Cheers Frank, Can you also advise on how to judge what size frame i need. Should i be able to stand on the floor and the bar be touching me or an inch clearance or what?
    By the way Frank, just re-read the “Bike” bit now you’ve updated it and it’s great. I’m 21 stone and seeing what you’ve done is inspiring me to keep going. Thanks

  10. The dealer should be sorting out the frame size. The inch or so clearance applies to a parallel top tube like the Madone. There will be more clearance on a sloping top tube or compact frame. A Pilot 1.0 is £500 and the same spec as my Iceni with Sora STI shifters.
    The Pilot 1.2 has Tiagra STI shifters which is a better spec but you pay for it. Sora is 8 speed, Tiagra 9 speed, Ultegra 10 speed.
    I have never had a missed shift with Sora so don’t discount it as being entry level.

    Phil the biggest gains came when I had sorted my diet out. I was doing 30 mile flat rides but stopping off at the pitch and putt at New Brighton for a Mars bar, a Corneto and a can of Coke. It was no wonder I wasn’t getting anywhere fast. I think the post is on the Maps page.

    Back to the bike, any would be fine. I’ve got the Race Lux saddle on both my bikes now as I’d tried a couple including a Brookes leather one. Just start out gently, you need to be able to get back home or to your start point. You could read this site and get a sense of how easy this has been for me. Well at the start 30 minutes a day riding around in the dark, rain and cold is hard work. Don’t let that put you off, the benefits are immense.

  11. Hello frank, Forgive my ignorance but where on the handlebars are the tops, drops & hoods? I’ve google’d it and can’t find a diagram. These 3 points are they parts of “Standard” handlebars fitted to a road bike or are they the two horn like bars that look like add on’s which make you lean right forward~?

  12. Andy, I’m talking about a racing dropped handlebar. The “drops” are the lower part of the curved part that runs parallel to the frame. The “hoods” are the STI lever rubber hoods, this is the position I use these days your fingers are covering the alloy lever so you can change gear with a flick of the hand or brake by moving your fingers back towards you. The top of the bars are the flat bit of the bars either side of the stem. This is the most upright position and you’ll probably use it when you start.
    It is the position that offers the least control as you have to go on the “hoods” or “drops” to brake or change gear.

  13. Frank, What made you go for a Carbon bike? What is the difference between that and an aluminium one? Is it just weight?
    Also have you any plans to get the 2008 Madone?

  14. Phil, the Colnago Carbitubo that I broke was carbon although I didn’t know what it was until I tried to get it repaired. It’s a plusher ride, aluminium can beat you up on a long ride. This can overcome to some extent by getting a carbon seatpost and carbon forks.
    The Iceni has both now. The carbon fork has mudguard eyes so that mudguards can be fitted.
    I wanted a Colnago but they had a weight limit on them(the one I wanted had a weight limit of 88 kg) The Trek Madone didn’t have one and comes with a lifetime warranty, Oh one other thing, they had knocked £350 off the list price. I see in Cycling Weekly that you can get a Trek 5000 for £999 which is full carbon.

    2008 Madone, only if it comes in Discovery Channel colours. I wouldn’t mind a TTX. I really like the Madone it feels great every time I ride it. It weighs 7.5 kg so making it lighter is an expensive option.

    This all has to be put into context, I,ve lost over 6 Trek Madones weight wise. I feel I can indulge myself now and again.

  15. Frank, I notice on your early postings you mention a “Turbo Trainer”. What is one of those? Where did you get yours from? How much would you expect to pay for one? Would you recommend one?


  16. Phil, it’s a frame the bike slots into which applies resistance to the back wheel. They start around about £100.
    I bought one to avoid going out in the cold and wet.
    It’s been a waste of money as I’ve only ever used it a handfull of times. It is far better to get out and get some miles in.
    Spend the money on mudguards and some Aldi winter cycling clothing when it comes up.
    It is also the most boring thing I have ever done. You need a Heart Rate Monitor too to monitor your efforts. You’ll spend hours out on a ride but if you put more than 30 minutes in on a turbo trainer you’ll be lucky.

  17. I have been trying to diet and get my Trek 1000 out for some weight loss too! I do have a quick bike question. The other day I was on a ride and doing about 16 mph when I came to a sharp right hand turn, I applied a little brakes and felt the back end fish tale a little bit as I made the turn. It had rained that day but the pavement appeared dry. I stayed in control and actually felt like I was decently in control of the bike. The question is, when I left the street again a little later I came back on to the main road and felt another slight fish tale when I took a small turn, then again when I was on a flat but pushing the pedals pretty hard. It if is written off to possible moisture on the road that would be fine, but I was afraid it may be a weight issue. I am 6’2 290lbs. Probably alot of torque on my down stroke at some points but I was worried maybe the tires weren’t holding my weight. Should I be concerned with what type wheels I have. They are the standard wheel on a Trek 1000. Sorry for so wordy.


  18. Mark, the only time I’ve had something similar happen was on diesel and that stuff is lethal for anything on two wheels. As it happened again at the same place it’s probably the location and a contaminated surface.
    To spin the rear wheel out requires a snotty track in Wales and a 20% plus gradient. At that gradient all your weight is over the front. I don’t think it is a weight issue. Change the tyre if your worried, I’ve written about Bontager Race X Lites as they are what came with the Madone but in all honesty having tried a few others there is nothing in it.

  19. Hi Frank. I am very interested into getting into cycling. I am overweight and i am looking to lose some. I was really inspired by your story and i would like to do the same. I know you recommend the Trek 100. I had my eye on this bike before even reading your recommendation. I know i should get it with a triple chainset. What other equipment would you recommend me to buy. I am new to the sport and i honestly don’t have a clue.


  20. Michael, thanks for the comment. The next thing on the list is clothing, its starting to get a lot colder and last year was my first full winter on the bike. I did spend a year on the Mountain Bike but felt a real difference going to a roadbike. Padded shorts are a must your going to have to do a bit of suffering first to learn the craft. There was a phrase that was mentioned to me twice by two indiviuals All the gear and no idea. You get the drift, don’t throw money at it but put the effort in. Your going to be spending a lot of time on the bike so factor in the lifestyle changes. Aches pains and a sore backside are all part of the journey. Mudguards first, waterproofs, lights. Above all you should be enjoying yourself. Mine has been a gradual procession that has paid off by sticking with it.

  21. Hello Frank and everybody, I stumbled across this site and have bookmarked it. I’m finding Frank’s tale inspirational and the site bursting with tips. However it’s probably going to make me improvrished as I buy all the kit.

    I’m 43, 6ft 1 and 290lbs like the other Mark above. I’ve put on 4 stone in 18 months after we had our first baby. The wife and I both used to go running to keep fit but stopped when she became pregnant.

    I’ve started cycling to work. I have a 5 year old Specialized Hardrock which does the job. The route is 6.55 miles and involves a couple of uphill stretches. My record for the run is about 28 minutes but at the moment (at 20 stone) it’s nearer 45 mins. To be fair I’m taking it easy at this stage.

    Does anyone know how many calories my commute might use?

    I get conflicting information. The NHS site reckons that ‘Cycling’ (no speeds given or terrain) when you’re 290lbs uses around 1600kcals if you do it for an hour and a half.

    The plan is to continue the commute, (I’m also training for a 10k run in May) and then when I’ve shed a few pounds buy a nice new bike. (This is where the impoverishment comes in) The comments about the Trek 1000 hve been very useful. I’m also tempted by the Garmin which seems to have come down in price substantially. At the moment I record all my runs in Nike+. I have a cateye on the bike.

    I’ve just downloaded the BHF healthy eating diet which I’m keen to look at. I’d be very interested to hear from the other mark how he’s done sicne last August).

    My diet is pretty good I think, observing a few basics 5-a-day, carb curfew at nights, smaller portions. For me too the key is keeping a diet diary.

    Generally the diet goes:

    Breakfast:Porridge (40g with semi skimmed milk)
    Lunch:Ham sandwich on wholemeal bread
    Dinner: Steak, spinach & broccoli or salmon, broccoli and another veg.

    Snacks – satsuma’s, oranges, apples, bananas, nuts, apricots and dried figs.

    Drink – trying to keep to a bottle of red wine at weekends – typically half a bottle on a friday and maybe another on Saturday. or Sunday.

  22. Mark, thanks for the comment. First off you need an Aldi HRM that should still be in the shops at £12.99. This has a calorie counter that will tell you how many calories you are burning on your commute. You’ll also learn about heartrate zones, you should be able to ride in the fat burning zone for couple of hours.

    Regarding the bike, stick with your Hardrock for a while longer but if you haven’t already put some slicks on it do so. I used to pump them up to their maximum rated pressure to get that rolling resistance as low as possible. Once I had an idea of how many calories I burned for a given exercise or ride I looked at what I was drinking and eating on a ride wasn’t being burnt off by the ride.

    The BHF plan is based on a 500 calorie deficit a day. 1 pound of fat = 3500 calories so 7 x 500 calories equals 1 pound a week weightloss. It will be more once you up your exercise. I never ran until recently as my knees were shot, purely down to the weight.

    Bear in mind I was also going out for hours and still do. Your going to have to factor building some more exercise into your lifestyle, sticking a few miles on to your ride home would be an easy one and if you up your pace it’s not going to take too long.

    I owe such a lot to the BHF plan as it worked for me from week one. I’m still following it and plan to follow it for the rest of my life. It is titled “So you want to loose weight for good ” after all.

    Good luck.


  23. Frank, thanks for the Aldi HRM tip. I’ll have to find out where the nearest Aldi is. A year or so back I got some bargain cycling/running gear from Lidl. The running jacket was ace. £4.99 and as good if not better than anything Nike or Adidas make. The cycling jacket wasn’t as good. Same price, one or tow good features and a fishtail. I prefer my Altura, especially when it’s blowy. Good windproofing but lousy when it’s hot.

    I forgot to mention. I used to live on the wirral and know the roads and lanes pretty well. I now live in London, Walthamstow and have to go out a fair bit to find good routes. My route to work isn’t bad, of the 6 miles 4 are essentially off road. Not sure if the slicks are going to be an option though. I tried some thinner schwalbe marathon last year and could feel lots of bumps so I changed back.

  24. Mark, Lidl did a jacket that had removable sleeves that was superb when I was starting out and it was dirt cheap. Schwalbe Marathons are supposed to one of the most puncture resistant tyres out there.
    If your feeling bumps with them your going to feel everything once you graduate to a road bike.
    It’s just that the rolling resistance is so much lower on a road bike that you gain a couple of mph instantly. When the Aldi cycling offers come up again there is a wireless cycle computer with heartrate monitor that counts calories which is superb value.
    I’d never been out the Wirral when I first started and it was only after going out with other riders that I got to explore Cheshire and North Wales.

  25. frank
    can you give any advice about what pedals and shoes to use, I dont what to spend loads ??

  26. Paul, for a first timer it has to be Shimano SPDs. A double sided pair are easier to get into than a single sided pair.
    As for shoes I’ve a pair of NorthWave ones that I bought in a sale.
    At least you’ll be able to walk on SPD,s and they wont wear out cleats like you do on Keo’s.
    Lidle had cycle shoes the other week for £15 they may have the odd pair left as some things are hard to shift. They are allright as I have a pair, I just don’t get on with the orange colour.

  27. Hi Frank,
    I’m 18stone and 5’2. I really want to start cycling, but don’t know where to start in finding the right bike for me, and what I should be looking for. I don’t plan on doing any mountain biking, but mainly using the bike to commute to work and other places. I also would use it to simply just go for a bike ride. Is there any kind of bike you could recommend to me? I’m kind of short on funds, so affordability is also very important.


  28. Susie, anything is better than nothing. I wouldn´t dismiss a mountain bike, just make sure it´s the right size. The tyres can make it seem like hard work at time when you start but they do start very cheaply.
    The only real thing I would look for is quick release wheels as the vey cheapest bikes don´t have them. This is important for when you need to remove the wheel to repair a puncture.
    The second skill you will need, is to be able to repair a puncture on your own.
    If you get into it your requirements will change and you will be looking for different things. Your going to need comfort to start with so the right size frame with a comfy saddle set to the right height is what you are looking for.
    Take it from there. Cañ´t gurrantee any saddles as I went through lots.

  29. Susie, one of things I didn’t mention before was tyres and pressures. You need as much air in them as the casing will stand. It will have the rating on the tyre. This lessens the likelyhood of a puncture and makes the bike roll better. A track pump from Aldi or Lidl when the offers are on is ideal.
    If you end up buying a secondhand bike factor a pair of tyres and tubes into the price.
    This is because the rubber in the tyres and tubes will have started to perish over time. If they are airtight they won’t be for much longer.
    I was running about 70-80 PSI in the mountain bike tyres. I wasn’t doing any offroad riding as I couldn’t afford a fall.
    Just take things easy and take your time, I was going out on my own for about 18 months before I got serious about cycling. It was flat rides at the start until I ran out of flat places to ride.

  30. hi frank
    do you clean your chain after every ride ? if you do or dont what do you use to clean it and lubricate and how often

  31. Anon, not every ride but I do look out for it. Winter is a wetlube and it still gets washed off the rollers. Wetlube still picks up all the grit so it ends up like grinding paste.
    Now is the time to start looking at the dry wax lubes. They look and are a lot cleaner.
    A Park chain wear tool gets regular use, simple to use. Bin the chain when it gets to 1% wear. It’s all messy, buy a box of rubber gloves.
    I’ve a BBB chainwasher that I fill with white spirit that does a good job but gets everywhere.

  32. hi frank

    do you use any puncture protection ( slime or tyres )any ideas will help thanks,I have just bought a specilialised tricross bike and had a flat, first time out the tyres where at their max inflation 100 psi, by the way great site always reading it when i can, and very helpful keep up the good work


  33. Paul, I don’t use any puncture protection and think it is more down to luck and not riding in the gutter. My brother has set up a mobile cycle repair business that repairs punctures among other things and he was showing me the tyres he stocks. There are loads including some that aren’t stocked by the shops as they are too dear, that one had a puncture guarantee.
    He is dealing with the bottom end of the market where the first question is how much?
    I’ve just changed the tyres on what is now the winter trainer to Continental Ultrasports as the Rubino pros I had on were cut to ribbons. They have a Kevlar belt which does seem to give a level of protection. The main danger is glass for which there is limited protection followed by thorns after the hedge cutting season. Wet conditions just exacerbate things.
    Guess it wasn’t your day, I had a similar day when I went out on the Mountain bike for the first time down RestHill. Rode on the verges as I was now a mountainbiker and two hundred yards later I was pushing it home as I had three flats, the hedges had been cut.
    If your still using the tyres take a look at the carcass it may only be very thin as it has to be flexible for the mud.

    Thanks for the comment Paul, I think I’ll add a tyre category following your question. I’ve a pair of Conti-Ultrasports on the Colnago that I bought because they were the lightest thing I could put on for racing. I figured at the time it was cheaper to reduce weight at the circumference of the wheel than to lash out megabucks on a light wheelset.

  34. hi frank
    have you any information about turbo trainers or rollers, which do you think is the best and are they any good or just a waste of money?

  35. Paul, mine is a £100 bikestand at best, I can’t comment on rollers.
    If you can get out on the bike, even for 1/2 an hour.
    Here is me preaching about getting out on the bike and I do spinning classes at the drop of a hat.
    I can’t do it on a turbo with no direction, if I had the top of the range trainer linked to the PC with the full works maybe but it doesn’t work for me at home.
    If your working hard and feel it’s for you go with it.
    Above all enjoy your rides as there is nothing like getting out there and doing a ride for the rides sake.
    In the end it hampered me as I didn’t want to go out if it was raining or MIGHT rain. I was lazy full stop.
    Rain with decent clothing is no excuse otherwise your riding would only be the finest days of the year and there aren’t many of them.

    On a turbo you need to be looking at an HRM all the time as you are working to a program otherwise what is the point. This isn’t gospell and verse pick up a secondhand one and see if it is for you.
    It wasn’t for me.

  36. Hi Frank,
    Your site is excellent and I really do admire your dedication to maintaining it. It must be a huge amount of work!
    I am 55, 6ft, 19 stones. I have played rugby all my life (prop of course) and my size has never been a problem although I always knew that I could (and probably should) carry less weight. 6 years ago I was diagnosed as type II diabetic. About 4 years ago I was out of work for a year and established a routine of swimming 1km each morning and spinning 5 nights a week. I lost over 2 stones with out really modifying my diet hugely. Once I got back into work I was not able to keep the exercise up and here I am at 19 stones again. I accept that most of us (me included) convince ourselves that there are good reasons why we cant do things (ie excuses) but I also think that unless you are a particular type of person, you need to make things as easy as possible or you will give up. For example, I travel a lot and cant establish a routine, I work all over the UK and visit Canada and the USA for 3 weeks a time 5 times a year. I find that it is hard to establish a patter as I did when I was at home for the year.
    Anyway, enough of the cant’s! What I have done is decided to start cycling again. I really enjoy it and living in Lincolnshire it is easy to find loads of routes, finding hills is more of a problem.
    I have a Giant “Cypress LX” which is a comfortable hybrid, what do you think of this as a starter bike? I am quite prepared to change if and when I will get a benefit. I have also bought a Garmin Edge 305 which will satisfy my geeky side and allow me to be competitive with myself which is essential!
    Thanks again for the site, would be really interested in your comments.

  37. Thanks for the comment John, regarding maintaining the site I’ve built it into my routine and it is not a chore. I’d lost 10 kg and then plateaued as I didn’t know what I was doing.
    Modifying my diet really did it for me so out went the full English and in came the Quaker Oat Granola. In future I’m going to take a packet on holiday as I go through so much of it.
    I was prescribed 30 minutes of exercise a day and took the medicine like I was told, even on holiday. You should be able to fit something in.
    Any bike is suitable when you first get into it. I go out on the CTC rides and a number have flat bared bikes. We all get up the same hills and you would only loose out on a fast downhill where I could go on the drops and have a blast.

    I spent a long time riding on my own as any average cyclist would pass me. Venturing into the Eureka Cafe was a big step for me but it opened up a whole new world of cycling. First I went out with a group of guys who called themselves ” The Sicknote Club” they had all had heart attacks and rode at a steady pace but didn’t do hills.

    I had a great summer with them, they taught me lots and directed me in the path of the CTC. Midweek rides with the CTC mean you are generally going out with retired riders and pensioners. Sunday rides are much the same but with maybe two groups depending on the section.

    With your Edge you should be looking at your average speed over an number of your rides. This doesn’t happen overnight.
    Now I’ll mention Barry who was in a similar position to yourself, he has commented on here on a few occasions and is a Northender like myself.

    He is an ex rugby player, similar height and probably weight at the start. Lost around 5 stone (I’ll find out). The thing is because of his background he knows how to train, I don’t. Last Tuesday he took out over of 2 minutes out of me, where as on the first ride of the year I put 50 seconds (I think) into him.

    I’m using Barry as an example as he knows how to train having a similar background to yourself. I’m at the stage where my weight is reasonable but the fitness is less so. Club cycling is competitive most of the time where leisure cycling isn’t. Keep enjoying the rides, if your not enjoying them the end is nigh. Excuses start coming into play. It’s raining, it might rain, it’s cold, I don’t want to get the bike dirty, the list is endless.

    Look at your diet first, if your haveing trouble fitting in exercise due to your job you need to be eating a bit less. We are not talking about starving yourself here, just eating sensibly.


  38. Frank,

    Thanks for the advice and of course you are right, diet is the key. When I was younger I could regulate my weight through fitness, just train harder (which I, maybe perversely, enjoy). Its not so easy now of course. The food issue is a big one especially low fat. Sweet things are not a big weakness of mine but I love butter, cheese etc. It is a big issue with my travelling because I eat out all the time and gosh the temptation when on your own after a hard day! There is no easy answer of course. I feel I have to make a start somewhere and use it as a platform to encourage me and motivate me to start to make the other changes. The “edge” is waiting for me to unpack when I get home tomorrow, cant wait to get out.
    Another thing I wanted to as was I have looked at the map software you have mentioned and I do love the google maps stuff but none of it shows bridleways and paths well…here in Lincs we have thousands of them and I would love to cycle them. I can get them off the explorer OS series but wondered if you had any other ideas up your sleeve? Also with your experience with both, might I have been better to go for the 705? the cost is not an issue…been saving!!!
    Thanks again for a brilliant site

  39. John, the bike looks fine with really low gearing. Similar gearing to the Mountainbike I started on but with more suspension travel!!.
    You’ll have outgrown it when you find 48×11 too low on the flat. When your carrying a lot of weight you tend to want to stay in the saddle because it is uncomfortable out of it.
    Once your fitness improves you may find coming out the saddle a better way of getting up a short steep hill. Then you will find the bars too high and too close to you. That’s when to start looking around.
    If you get around to wearing the tyres out, try something narrower, rim width permitting.
    It’s the sort of bike Susie (post 27) should be looking at.

    Regarding your Edge, try the Tracklogs 1:25000 series to look at the paths that Google, Garmin and 1:50000 OS maps don’t support. Just buy the area you plan to ride and it won’t cost a fortune.
    Tracklogs supports Courses. You can still use all the Google stuff for planning Routes but you have the digital maps to fall back on.
    Enjoy your rides,

  40. Hi Frank – What a great site. I have to commend you on your efforts! You must be very pleased with yourself, or at least you should be, because you actually did something about your weight.

    I used to ride with the Chester Road Club when I was 15-16 and I completed the Liverpool to Scarborough Coast2Coast in 1991 at the age of 16. That was on my “new” Raleigh Elan (with a Shimano Biopace oval chainset)!

    17 years later I am now considered obese, BUT, I still have the Elan :o) It went in to storage after I learnt to drive when I was 17 and was never used again until last Friday when I got it out and rode about 3 miles… I thought it was going to kill me. I also suffer from mild asthma which doesn’t help.

    I am so glad that I went for that ride and since then I have been out a few more times including today (got to be some benefit of being on strike!) where I took on a 20 mile round trip from my home in Great Sutton to Parkgate with my Father. Not far I know, but I really enjoyed it! Being with my Father meant I could pace myself as I need a new cycling computer (I’ll be queing outside Aldi tomorrow). That helped a lot and I had clearly been pushing myself too hard over the last few rides.

    I am hoping that returning to cycling will be my key to getting fit again (a flight of stairs was enough… and I’m only 33). My wife is shedding the pounds at the moment too and so the diet shouldn’t be an issue.

    Hopefully over time I’ll be able to take on some of your rides – keep an eye out… I’m the one on the Elan.

    Wish me luck


  41. Darren, thanks for the comment. I worked with a guy who did the Liverpool to Scarborough ride. Finished in the dark with no lights.
    Throw some new tubes in your bike as the rubber will have perished and is bound to let you down sooner rather than later.

    Look closely at the diet as it was the key to my success. Your going to be on this for the rest of your life. So it is important to get it right.

    Regarding rides your ideally situated for rides to the Ice Cream Farm. It’s flat and there are 101 ways there and back.
    You don’t need luck once you have made the commitment.

  42. Hi, nice web site. I lost 20 pounds (sorry, I don’t know how much weight a stone is) just by bicycling to work every day. You give great advice. I like the part about the 500 cal/day deficit losing you a pound a week. It really is that easy. Thanks for the tip. BTW,congrats on your awesome weight loss. I hope you keep it off, and are healthy and happy for the rest of your life!

  43. Thanks Dee. A stone is 14 pounds so you’ve lost a stone and a half.
    There was a girl in the Weight Management class last Wednesday who has lost 13 stone. She had a BMI of 56 versus mine of 42.
    It’s too long a day for me to ride to work so I have to work the rides into my days off.
    I’m about 7 pounds up on what I was but it flucuates. I follow the trend and if it is up I do something about.
    There is no going back after what I’ve been able to do over the last 2 years.

  44. This is all very inspiring. I’m a 20 stone ex rugby playing guy who goes to the gym 4 days a week. I’m mostly muscle, but am battling a litltle stomach. I was doing 25 miles 4 times a week on my mtb. It was unncomfortable, and I just wanted to go faster and further. I sold it, imagining I could easily get a road bike. Us big guys sometimes don’t know how big we are!

    My budget isn’t massive (£800 for bike and accessories) and I’ve been scouring websites looking for good advice. I’ve been to some LBSs to look at some bikes. The consensus seems to be that I’ll need some very solid wheels and should try to get them custom built. Trying to do that will surely cost a bomb won’t it?

    I’m also 6 ft 3 and a bit, so I need a big old bike. MTBs are no problem, but road bikes are proving an altogether different kettle of fish. Today I felt myself giving up and looking at hardtails again, even though I just sold mine out of frustration at not being able to go far enough as fast as I’d like.

    Help needed as I consider my options.

  45. GE, have a look at a Trek 1.2 at around £500. It superceeded the Trek 1000 which was a great entry level bike. You need a triple.
    Treks come with a lifetime frame warranty with no weight limit hence my purchase of the Madone.
    The Iceni had a set of custom built wheels but the Bontrager Select wheels are similar and should be fine. If spokes do loosen off have it retrued and use Loctite on the spoke nipples.
    It has to have mudguard eyes for mudguards. The dealer will advise on size.
    Bar width should be the width of your shoulders.

    You’ve now got £300 to spend on kit. Shoes, pedals and a hat should be on the list. You don’t need to go overboard. Bibtights with a pad for big guys in this weather. If you’ve got a gut don’t ever buy shorts ever.

    A trackpump needs to be on the list as 23mm tyres need at least 100psi in them to roll well. The difference is like night and day once you’ve had a go of a decent roadbike.

  46. Amazing! A Trek 1.2.

    So a standard road bike with with fairly solid components will be able to handle me doing anything up to 150 miles a week in summer and a little less in winter? I sound so amazed because LBSs have been telling me all sorts of things, probably based on their desire to shift bikes.

    Many thanks. I now feel a good deal more confident, though still a little intimidated by the thin nature of road frames and wheels / tyres. is there anything you can say that will just give me a little more confidence wheel / tyre wise?

    I will certainly bear the loctite trick in mind!

    Mnay thanks.

  47. I had the same worries looking at wheels with next to no spokes in them. The Bontrager Racelights on the Trek looked like they would give me problems but have been fine.
    Tyres need to be kept hard so you’ll need a trackpump.
    I think the most important thing is to get the right size which is up to the shop. I thought I needed a 56cm frame but the Madone and the Iceni are a 54cm.
    Seat height makes an incredible difference to the feel of the bike as I’ve just found out. It’s something that an experienced rider will tell you, you’ll probably not notice it.
    Shoes and clipless pedals also help, SPD’s at least allow you to walk about.

  48. Hi Frank
    Just found your website and am really enjoying the content, and wondered if you can advise please. I have always cycled but at the tender age of 58 have decided to buy an entry level road racer. Reading all your comments and researching, I have test ridden at my local bike shop a Spec’ Alleze 27 and loved it, they are checking to see if they can track down a Trek 1.2 and I am looking forware to riding it, my query is “mudguards” a full set can be installed on the Trek as per your advice but the bike shop says that a set of SKS Raceblades will do the trick on the Spec’ Allez. If I preferred that bike. Will these raceblades give me the full protection I am used to on my current bikes as I’m assuming the Trek will or is the protection limited. Your help would be appreciated. Many thanks.

  49. Alan, in a word NO. Val has a Trek 1000 WSD with mudguards on and I did a ride yesterday where Mike had a new Trek 1.2 with guards on.
    I have raceblades for the Madone but the while they do offer protection it is not total. The front guard offers limited protection and wouldn’t protect your chainset.
    The rear will stop your backside getting wet but offers no protection for a following rider.
    You’d be banished to the back on a clubride.
    I suspect they want to sell you a in stock bike rather than what you want.
    The front raceblade marked the fork on my Toy as I hadn’t put on he protective plastic the first timeI use them.

  50. Thanks Frank. You’ve confirmed what I thought, I hope to hear from the Bike shop tomorrow re: the Trek, sounds like the bike for me. (complete with a full set of mudguards). Your comment about the club ride is interesting and something I would not have been aware of, I have pretty much been a lone cyclist, so unaware of riding protocals etc. but will be trying to find out about local clubs, so I can join in the clubs rides and social scene etc. Any advice on clubs would be welcome. Regards

  51. hi Frank – any advice for me? I’m trying to choose between 2 bikes (I havent ridden for years and am shortly doing 300km in 3 days london to paris. eek.).

    the two bikes are;
    – specialized allez – at around £540 from a chain store
    – or a handmade bike using an iceni frame built by a smaller (respected) store for around £120 more. it’s very cute and the components seem much better. the shimano gears are the model up (tiagra rather than sora is it?) and the wheels are also apparently handbuilt.i’m not worried necessarily that it’s steel framed, i just have no idea which is the smarter choice.

    any words of wisdom for a very confused individual? the only other bike i’ve really enjoyed testing was a flat-barred giant fcr 2 if that helps at all…


  52. David thanks for the comment, I now reccomend a Trek 1.2 as it has mudguard eyes for the winter, I’m not sure if the Specialised Allez has. It didn’t when I wrote the page a few years ago.
    I’ve an aluminium Iceni that is pictured above that is now used as a winter trainer. The Iceni also had a set of handmade wheels and has a Tiagra chainset.
    The smaller store is likely to give you a better fit as things like bar width and stem length get taken into account when measuring you up.

    Just make sure your comfortable on it and have a saddle your happy with as three days is a long time with a bike giving you grief.
    Have a good ride,

  53. Hello,
    I have been using a basic hybrid bike for that last couple of months. Lost 2.5 stone. Now thinking of upgrading to a Gary Fisher Wingra. Am I fooling myself and wasting money into thinking a better bike will help lose more weight. Or should I look to improving speed and times on my starter bike.
    I have of course tried to improve my diet as well.
    Thanks for the very effective guidance and advice.
    Kind regards

  54. Tony, I’m late getting back to to you. The Trek was my reward for loosing about a third of my bodyweight and I went on to loose about another 20 kg. I think the two go hand in hand, a good bike makes you go out to enjoy it as you can’t blame the bike anymore.
    Two bottles and a toolbag equal a third of the Treks weight and it is noticeable.

  55. Hi Frank – really impressed and inspired by your story.

    I’ve had a single-speed road bike for a couple years (Specialized Langster) as when i lived in a city-centre flat, it was perfect for nipping out for a paper on. Now ive moved out to the burbs, and finally had enough of weighing 19 stone, i want to use my bike to start losing the bulk. I’ve read all your comments regarding double and triple chainsets – so obviously my plan to get out on my fixie now seems a bit naive. As I currently I do ZERO exercise, would you still see getting out on the fixie for 30-60 mins a day as useful for losing the weight ? Where I live is pretty flat, so the lack of extreme gearing doesnt concern me too much, but i’d certainly value your opinion.

    1. Hi Kirk, 30 minutes of anything is better than 30 minutes of nothing. Use what you’ve got and see how you get on. For big guys coming from nothing it has to be a triple Every time. Even a compact isn’t geared low enough for when it gets steep.
      4 years down the line having been through what I’ve been through, I’d still want a triple. At the end of the day you need a set of bailout gears for when there is nothing left.
      You can’t get a triple in Dura-Ace now but the pro’s wouldn’t need it.
      Just give it a go and see how you get on, expect the usual sore backside, wheel problems, etc etc.
      It’s a learning curve but you will improve.

      At 19 stone having been doing what your doing now, the diet got sorted and things really took off.
      I was doing a 30 mile ride with a break for a coke a Mars bar and an Ice cream and wondered why I wasn’t getting anywhere. A small change can make all the difference.

  56. Hi Frank,

    I am 19 years old and also just hit 19 stone. Ive decided to start eating right and exercising to get me into a routine for keeping healthy. Im thinking about buying the Trek 4500 Disc, its about £549 but i would be using it for trails and road use ( swap the tyres over ) for commuting. Is this a good bike to start off with? I have recently been using an old Raleigh Mirage 🙂

    Thank you, and keep up the good work!


    1. Hi Tom, looks like a nice bike. If your going to fit slicks on it for commuting you may find it undergeared compared to a road bike.
      There is a hell of a difference in rolling resistance between a 23 mm road tyre and a 2 1/2 in MTB tyre.

  57. hi frank, found your story to be inspirational, at 25 stone i’m thinking of taking up cycling. i have a lower back problem so my chiropractor said to avoid drop bars, but flat bars should be fine. with a budget of £700, could you recommend a good bike for that money please?

    1. Hi Brian, take a look at theBoardman Hybrid bikes at Halfords. They have a disc brake and Chris Boardmans mum rides one. I think they biggest problem is going to be getting a pair of bombproof wheels. I had a 32 hole pair made up and still had problems with spokes loosening off until I Loctited them up.
      Gears need to be triple and not a compact. Just take it easy at the start as it is a steep learning curve at the start. Get some shorts of some sort even if you wear them under something and don’t cycle in jeans.

      1. thanks frank. would you have any idea where i could buy cycling gear in my size? 48 waist & 58 chest?

        1. Try Decathlon, they do a blue ticket basics range and have changing facilities. I haven’t been for a while but it was the only place that had big sizes. I was in MTB jerseys to start. You could wear the shorts/tights under tracky bottoms if needed. Bib shorts are best as they don’t fall down and don’t get caught on the seat with embarassing results.
          Aldi and Liddl come up with offers but you might struggle with the largest of sizes until you get some of the weight off you.
          Stick some Sudocrem on your backside before your rides as it is chaffing that causes the the saddle soreness.
          One other thing buy a helmet, it’s not for the cars, it’s for your head.

  58. Frank, I’m looking to upgrade from a hybrid Scott Sportster to a Cannondale Sora. The Sora doesnt come with pedals. I’m not confident enough to be riding more than 10 road miles at the moment TBH. With that in mind what footwear (and pedals) would you recommend?

    1. Shimano SPDs at least you can walk around in most of them when you stop. You will have a tumble getting out of them, everyone does it once. Just decide which leg your going to use and rember the heel goes out and not into the chainstay like I’ve seen in the past.

  59. Hi Frank, great website and your success in definitely inspirational. I’m 17.5 stone (43 yrs old) and desperately trying to shed the pounds through cycling. I think a similar story to yours as I have started off using my old mountain bike (with road tyres). Its was a hard slog but managed 25 miles yesterday. Am targeting to get up to 60 to be able to visit a mate in Lancashire. Anyway, I was wondering if you could help. I’ve told myself I’ll get a new bike when (if) I get down to 16 stone. Now, carbon seems to be the way forward but are they as strong? Many riders seem to be small or light etc and at a heavier weight are they more likely to get damaged or should I just go for an steel or alu frame? Any advise? Thanks. Mark

    1. Hi Mark, the bikes are strong enough it’s only the lightest of bikes that have a weight limit. Carbon is more susceptible to impact damage. You can get a carbon obsession about the weight of this and that. I was 105 Kg when I bought the Trek and things really took off then, I couldn’t stay off the thing.
      The difference between a road bike and a mountainbike even with road tyres is like night and day, the rolling resistance is so much better.
      Just make sure you get a triple as compacts don’t go low enough for big guys when it gets hilly.

  60. Thanks Frank, thats great. Think I’ll aim for an alloy frame of some description to start off with. Been looking into gear now (as you do) for a little more motivation – titanium is looking rather tasty – oh dear my £700 budget might have flown out the window! Anyway I am certain you are right about getting a triple and I would definitely get this as the embarrassment of having to get off and push would be too much. Thanks for your advise. I live in Chester so may see you around some time. Kind regards, Mark.

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