Hardtail for big dude?

Hi Lee
I need some advice on buying a mountain bike xc hardtail. I would like to get a 29er in a single speed or 9 speed. I would like to do trail riding (single track). I am a aggressive rider however I don’t take unneccessary risks. I am very powerful, and I put a lot of stress on my cranks.

I would like to buy a stock bike if there is one out there that will do the job, but if I can’t find one then I guess I can piece it together. It would be nice to stay under $2000.00. I am 6’5″ and 280lbs. Any advice would be nice.

Thanks Lee

Hey Eric,

A 29er hardtail sure would be sweet. You’d get the tightness of a hardtail with about six percent easier rolling than 26-inch wheels. The thing is, I’m not sure how most 29-inch rims will hold up to your Awesome Power(tm).


A. Buy a stock 29er bike. Put on a chain guide or single-speed conversion. Ride the heck out of that bike and replace whatever breaks. That’ll be most cost-effective, at least in the short term. The issue: Most 29ers are made for XC riding, and they come with light parts.

B. Build a custom bike. For a dude of your dimensions, this might be the way to go. Pick a frame, any frame (they’re all overbuilt these days). Put on wide, oversize bars. Rock some quality cranks (XTs are hard to beat). Run stiff wheels. SunRingle makes its all-mountain Charger wheelset in 29″. I have the 26″ versions on my Stumpy; they are pretty light and very braaapable.

Whichever option you choose:

– Run freeride or DH tires converted to tubeless. You’ll want the durable casing and lack of pinch flats.

– If you can find adequately huge bikes, take them for test rides.

– You should be under $2,000.

Have fun,

— Lee

5 replies
  1. jason says:

    Hey Eric,
    Check out the 23″ Specialized Sumpjumper Comp 29. It is stock 9 speed, but has adjustable dropouts for singlespeed conversion right out of the box. A buddy of mine rides one who is 230lbs and he intentionally built it up light as possible from frameset only.

    $1800 out the door!

  2. Eric says:

    Surly Karate Monkey!! Steel 29er frame that is well designed, tough as hell and pretty cheap! My buddy, who weighs about 270-280 and rides hard, has had one for a couple years and its held up just fine! You could build it up nearly any way you want for under $2k.

  3. leelikesbikes says:

    Ron Gager, co-owner of The Fix bikes hop in Boulder, has a Karate Monkey. It’s his favorite bike.

  4. Adam says:

    Check out the Salsa El Mariachi complete bike. It comes set up with a 1×9 drivetrain and a chain watcher up front. Also, it has an eccentric bb, making single speed conversions simple. The El Mariachi wheelset is buit with Salsa’s Semi rims, not a freeride hoop, but should hold up well to a bigger rider. It comes stock with a rigid fork, but is priced well under your $2000 budget, so if you like, you can upgrade to the suspension fork of your choice.

    check out Salsa’s website for more details


    I’ve been riding a 22″ for several years and it’s been a great bike.

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