Update on ebikes for heavy riders


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3:52 PM
Mar 8, 2023
There's an older thread on this topic, but these products are changing fast and would like some updated info.

Which bikes (brands, models, types...) are good for heavy riders. I'm 285#.

Will be using it to cruise campgrounds, easy trails and maybe ride to nearby towns.

I guessing you'll want a step-thru, probably 750W motor, and a 15Ah battery. The larger motor is suggested, assuming you'll need to climb hills and the larger battery is to power it. Of course, if you're only riding a few miles per day then the size of the battery doesn't matter as much.

You didn't mention your height or how much you were looking to spend. You'll also want to consider your riding posture, i.e., up-right vs forward-leaning).
I'm 5'10" and I'm thinking riding upright would be more comfortable for me. Budget, I think I've resided myself to the fact I will not find anything worthy for less $1500 new.

Are the 4" fat tire bikes that much better than the 2.125" beach/off road tires?

How about the 20" vs 24"-26" wheels?

Maybe these questions should be addressed in their own threads.

Is there other trustworthy sites to read "all about ebikes" that are not simply 'copy/paste specs' pros/cons that may be just words to fill the pages?

And thanks to all for the help!
For a heavy rider, bigger tires have a bigger cross section/taller sidewall and more of both equals more load capacity (with inflation at the upper end of the acceptable spectrum). Basically its pretty much the same thinking as with auto tires. There is more to it with respect to the strength of the tire casing, but the short answer is bigger is better when it comes to load capacity, survivability on rough streets (potholes can take out more than a tire/wheel, they can do in a frame, too) and comfort.

Its no longer a budget alternative, but the Sondors MXS is a bike with a very sturdy frame and 27.5"x3.0" tires. That tire size is ideal for your body weight.

20" wheels provide a torque advantage over taller sizes. Thats a good thing in your low budget range as you want to get as much bang as you can for fewer bucks. So a 20x4.0 wheelset would be a good fit for you.

I weigh maybe 240 lbs myself and I've been riding as heavy as 275. The bike I like to ride the most has 2.0" and 2.3" tires on it, inflated to 60 psi and 40 psi respectively. One of my cargo bikes is using 26x2.8" tires and it feels like riding on pillows versus the former 2.0" tires that were on before this. With 2.8's I can air them up before a Costco run and their increased volume allows me to cross the 400 lb mark on total load.

You don't NEED fat tires but they offer increased stability at speed and a much larger fudge factor for a heavier rider.
Get a full frame not a step through. Recommend a tig welded 6061 aluminum type frame specifically made for ebikes not a conversion setup with a bolt on battery. Mine has the primary battery inserted into the down tube and still with that frame cutout virtually no frame flex. I’m 230lbs, carry 3 batteries (33ah total) that add 20 pounds or so, front and rear racks with 4 pannier bags. I carry probably 40 pounds extra when touring in the panniers.
I have a Wallke F1 500w bafang rear hub eBike and it rides perfectly fine when loaded. I did have a Gen3 Stride step through, but it had way too much lateral frame flex and really worried me so I sold it 2 weeks after I got it. My wife still has her Gen3 Stride step though and is perfectly happy with it. But she doesn’t carry the extra weight and doesn’t ride as aggressively as I do.
The major thing to upgrade for being a heavy rider is the tires. Fat bike tires (4”) will handle your weight, however fat bike tires have a big contact patch with the road and have a lot of friction. I upgraded my 2.1” tires after 300 miles and am running 26x2.35” width Schwalbe tires and my wife’s bike has 26x2.15” width Schwalbe tires. Basically the widest that would clear the chain stays. Specifically they are Schwalbe Pick-Up Super Defense Cargo Bike tires. These tires are load rated for up to 340 pounds per tire. Hardly any LBS stocks them, so it will have to be an online purchase. They are so stout that I only run 40-45 psi loaded. I can not recommend these tires enough. They are amazing, pretty much bomb proof. I doubt I will ever get a flat. Combined with Continental DH tubes I only air them up every couple months. They are super comfortable and handle lateral loading very well with hardly any sidewall flex. I have been an avid rider for 40+ years and during my teens or so I worked in the bicycle industry for 12 years at 4 shops in a university town, one of which actually built custom frames and bike builds. I mainly do touring riding (some mountain biking with a couple tramadol onboard) but due to back vertebrae fusion, neck disc issues, torn up knees and one torn up ankle from 25 years as a Firefighter I switched to an eBike for improved comfort due to wider tires, suspension front fork, suspension seat post and more upright riding position. I’m 61 and getting ready to do a 200 mile ride across FL in a couple months with a retired buddy of mine. We’re planning on doing 60-70 miles daily, and both will be riding the same type eBike. Happy cycling!
Take a look at a Magicycle Cruiser. My wife and I both have Cruisers, hers is a step thru. I have over 600 miles of desert riding her in Arizona. We did a very challenging 21 mile ride today and when we arrived back to the parking area we still had 67 percent battery capacity, and that was at times using a little greater percentage of pedal assist through some of the desert washouts. And I weigh 275 lbs, just saying, great bike, great warranty, and outstanding customer support, it’s wort a look, just my two cents, great riding.
Ride On
Yes, those are very nice bikes. Even the step through has a top tube to stiffen the frame which is a big plus. Other pluses are 750w hub motor, 15ah battery and fenders included. At that price point those are a pretty good deal for what you get.I like that they are 26” wheels too. Even though they have a 350 lb. Max weight rating I bet they will handle more than that.
E-bikers come in all sizes -- short, tall, and everything in between. The same is true about the weight of e-bike riders -- slight, muscle-bound, light, heavy and everything in between. For heavier riders, finding the right e-bike can be a challenging. If a rider weighs, for example, 275 pounds, then an e-bike with a 250 pound payload is a real problem. Even with a 300 pound payload, there is very little leeway for gear and accessories.

Further, a weighty rider may come very close to maxing our the e-bikes payload rating with nothing more than body weight. This puts added stress on the bike when it is carrying the maximum payload nearly 100% of the riding time. Payload limits vary widely among the available e-bike brands and styles. Be sure to check the official payload rating before purchasing any e-bike.

There is no legal requirement for e-bikes to have a particular payload capacity. The responsibility lies with the rider to be aware of a bike's payload rating. Overloading an e-bike, or any bicycle, can expose the rider to problems As you might suspect, exceeding the payload rating is very hard on the braking system, putting the rider at great risk. Overloading is also hard on other components of the e-bike, including the motor and gears. You can easily see how important it is to insist on an e-bike that has an adequate payload rating for your body weight plus any gear or accessories that you may want to add.

For riders wanting an especially strong e-bike with an exceptional payload capacity. The Magicycle Deer Full Suspension ESUV bike has a payload of a generous 400 pounds. It is rated with the frame strength, motor power, torque, and braking system to handle a heavy load. This means that even if a rider tips the scales at 280 pounds, there's still payload capability for 120 pounds of gear and accessories.


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A concern I would have about a full suspension bike for a heavy rider would be that rear shock, regardless of what the manufacturer says its rated for. I recall seeing a manufactured full suspension fat bike with a claimed 'carry' load rating of 450 lbs, which didn't include the bicycle weight. But its Rockshox rear air shock was limited to an adjustment range that topped out at a rider weight of 250.

I've had challenges with rear shocks due to my weight and found the only way to truly get the bike to work was to put in a high end coil shock on a frame that could support a long stroke, and then uprate with a badass spring that could support proper sag and never bottom out. You want to know what that shock is and then see if you have upgrade alternatives in case the seller's marketing department won the argument on rider capacity.

Brakes have been pointed out as well. We've seen tragic results recently on this score that re-emphasize how important it is to put strong brakes on an ebike that travels faster than a bicycle and weighs twice as much. 4-piston hydraulics would be my choice, with 2.3mm thick downhill/ebike rotors.

None of that comes cheap. @SCADAman29325, With a $1500 budget, most of the suggestions here are either well out of that reach, or you need to revise your thinking about what an ebike is going to cost you. The Lectric cargo bike that @"A" linked is the only one that fits into both your budget and weight capacity, but beyond that its a short list if I take your budget seriously. Your comment that you'd use the bike to cruise campgrounds makes me think you'd want something more portable than a cargo bike. The Lectric XP 3.0 has a 330 lb 'payload capacity' and it folds. Its MSRP is $1000. Now, I would not buy this bike but they have a lot of fans and are known as a good value brand. Your budget is keeping you in this league.

Something else to note is that most bikes' often measure weight capacity as a "total system load" and that includes the weight of the bike. So a 350 lb limit takes on new meaning if thats how they are measuring capacity. You want to check with the manufacturer to see if they are talking 'payload' or the whole enchilada when quoting weight limit.
I’m 6’-7 and 270 lbs. I bought a Velotric Nomad 1 several weeks ago, and it seems to be the right eBike for me: Class 2, 750 W hub-drive motor, 48 V x 14.4 Ah battery, 8-speed cassette, two-piston hydraulic disc brakes w/ 180 mm rotors, 26 x 4.0 “fat” tires, 80 mm front suspension, rider height up 6’-9, load capacity up to 440 lbs., and a step-over frame.

I live in a neighborhood on the side of a mountain, so I increased the front rotor to 203 mm. I also added a 4” (10 cm) extender to the handlebar stem for a more upright riding position. The bike is also available in a step-through model.

So far, so good!
Jim / crewzer
You might want to investigate the Wallke H6 bikes. They're rated for 350# payload and can be purchased for about $2000 as of this morning. 20 x 4 tires / 750w hub @ 48v but has dual batteries for 1680 Wh total. I'm a 5'-10" / 290# plus-sized boy myself and ordered one that SHOULD be delivered today. One thing I was interested in was the ability to actually pedal whatever I bought, and this has a traditional seat / post that can be lowered or raised to get a comfortable leg extension. I've borrowed friends' Super 73 S2 & Ariel Rider 52V X-Class and while I LOVE the power and coolness factor, they were just too uncomfortable to pedal for me. That meant I ONLY rode them on throttle so this new set-up will give me plenty of range at a reasonable 20-25 mph with pedal assist.
For a heavy set guy i would go for the 1000w or more...and you can limit it but 750w is unless its mid drive.
I'd like to confirm that "unless" is instead 'useless' above as this heavy set guy just went with a step through 750W front wheel drive 450# capacity trike boasting an easily adjustable seat (weight) position which at least 'I' believe benefits..wait for it..heavy set riders when more power to the front drive wheel is ever (rarely) needed.
I'd like to confirm that "unless" is instead 'useless' above as this heavy set guy just went with a step through 750W front wheel drive 450# capacity trike boasting an easily adjustable seat (weight) position which at least 'I' believe benefits..wait for it..heavy set riders when more power to the front drive wheel is ever (rarely) needed.
I think Mr EBIKER meant that if it's mid drive, you don't necessarily need a lot of power, since mid drives can use the bike's gearing to their advantage, while hub motor drives cannot.

I think you're OK with 750 W. Only real problem I see is that when climbing hills, you may struggle to keep traction on that front wheel, as the weight will have all shifted to the rear wheels.

Which trike did you end up with?
Soletri M366X (unreleased)...Addmotor apparently figured out that being able to easily shift your weight forward on top of a larger/well supported seat area while using a floor board placed even farther forward helps with front motor hub traction issues. This was a big reason why I went with it for these rare occasions.
I think 750 watts is more than enough as I still can't get anybody to come forward with anything better at this point in time.
That's pretty cool. Since trikes are heavier, they are usually geared lower, and I would think this would apply to the hub motor too. It's probably not that fast, maybe 15 mph max?

I like that it has a UL Recognized battery pack with Samsung cells. That's worth something.