Heavy riders and road bikes?

meanwhile
meanwhile Posts: 392
edited June 2009 in Workshop
I'm planning on getting my first road bike (sort of: I'll probably go for a cyclocross bike, for the all-weather brakes and versatility). I'm worried about how skinny tyres and a road frame will cope with my 220lb weight? Hopefully better than my arches - oyy, the aches if I go out without my arch supports.

In fact, I'm generally built like a rhinoceros (umm, except for the horn and thick grey skin and tail) - I'm average height but with big shoulders. And possibly to make matters worse I'm used to riding mountain bikes and years ago I worked as a courier, so my riding style is fairly abusive. Are there any more issues I should watch out for in switching to skinny tyres and drop handles? Like handle width, maybe? Or fork rigidity?

Anyway, I'm looking for a fast tough all-weather commuter. I was think of a Revolution Cyclocross, Surly Cross Check (maybe with a Nexus redline hub), Kona Jake, or a Mares Cross. Which covers quite a price range, but I'm still at the beginning of looking around. I'm planning on getting a drop handle because I expect it will handle a 10-15 mile commute better, especially on days with a headwind, and I don't feel I need a mountain bike's traffic view and emergency pavement hopping ability here in the sticks.
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Comments

  • Ma coli
    Ma coli Posts: 25
    Try a mtb frame with road wheels and gear on it, with aerobars, too. I am a both a lard- and a short-arse and this works for me (I would love to be only 220 pounds, but my greed stops me from doing so.)
  • pjm-84
    pjm-84 Posts: 819
    I'm 16stone and generate a few watts. I've broke most things so have a good idea what suits me. Here goes

    - 23c tires are fine but I prefer to run 25c. The clearance on some frames are too tight and you may be stuck with 23c.
    - Run good quality tires.
    - Run wheels with good rim tape - I prefer the cloth type
    - Invest in a good seatpost and stem. Avoid carbon ( 1 dead)
    - Strong set of alloy bars - Avoid carbon ( 1 dead)
    - Avoid l/weight alluminiun fancy ultra thin wall frames ( 1 dead)
    - Avoid carbon frames made in the far east (3 dead)
    - Look for life time warranty on frames rather then 3 years. ( 1 dead but hey lifetime warranty!)
    - A cross bike will be fine if dual purpose but mine has no bottle cages and the brakes are pants with Froglegs.
    - Carbon soled bike shoes are a God send. Beg, borrow, steal and buy a pair.
    - Look for strong wheel options. I have numerous and find my Mavic 16 / 20 spokes as stiff as handbuilt 32s.

    I'm a 46cm chest and run with 44cm c to c handlebars or 46cm if measured outside to outside. Depends on manufacturer.
    Paul
  • rrsodl
    rrsodl Posts: 486
    Interesting post.

    I have never thought about it but I ride my 17 years old Raleigh racer - 531 frame - 23 mm Pro 2 Race tyres and I'm afraid I'm about 40 lbs heavier than you :oops:

    If I were you, I would build a bike based on the 531 frame.
  • redddraggon
    redddraggon Posts: 10,862
    pjm-84 wrote:
    - 23c tires are fine but I prefer to run 25c. The clearance on some frames are too tight and you may be stuck with 23c.

    I'd actually recommend 25mm tyres even if you are a lot lighter, the difference is comfort is massive.
    I like bikes...

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  • mr_hippo
    mr_hippo Posts: 1,051
    meanwhile wrote:
    I'm planning on getting my first road bike (sort of: I'll probably go for a cyclocross bike, for the all-weather brakes and versatility). I'm worried about how skinny tyres and a road frame will cope with my 220lb weight?
    At 220lbs, you are a lightweight! I ran my road bike with 700x23s for years without a problem; I have changed to 700x25s because Bangkok's roads are bad. The frame is an American Nashbar 6000R steel, wheels Campag Omega and tyres inflated to about 100psi.
    DSCF1829-1.jpg
  • XTCRider
    XTCRider Posts: 113
    I am just under 18 stone and I have an SCR3 with carbon forks, shimano 105 wheels and bumpy roads and I use 25mm tyres about 110psi and I have no probs
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/xtcrider/sets/72057594126938720/

    I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike, I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride it where I like
  • meanwhile
    meanwhile Posts: 392
    pjm-84 wrote:
    I'm 16stone and generate a few watts. I've broke most things so have a good idea what suits me.

    That's the sort of learning process I was hoping to avoid - thank you!
    Here goes

    - 23c tires are fine but I prefer to run 25c. The clearance on some frames are too tight and you may be stuck with 23c.

    I did a google search and found -
    http://www.bikeforums.net/archive/index ... 10200.html
    - which backs your advice up nicely.
    - Run good quality tires.
    - Run wheels with good rim tape - I prefer the cloth type

    Wheels and tyres count for a lot. I was thinking of trying Specialized Armadillos.
    - Invest in a good seatpost and stem. Avoid carbon ( 1 dead)

    I won't be getting carbon *anything* - I don't see the point in paying big money to save a tiny % of total bike+rider mass on a commuter bike.
    - Strong set of alloy bars - Avoid carbon ( 1 dead)
    - Avoid l/weight alluminiun fancy ultra thin wall frames ( 1 dead)

    I'm hoping any cyclocross bike would be reasonably tough, but the steel Surly might be creeping up in my affections.

    [/quote]
    - Avoid carbon frames made in the far east (3 dead)
    - Look for life time warranty on frames rather then 3 years. ( 1 dead but hey lifetime warranty!)
    [/quote]

    The way UK law works gives an effective seven year guarantee, claimable against the shop. If you're willing to threaten with Small Claims court and what have you. I'd definitely use a longer warranty as a tie breaker on two bikes I liked equally well.
    - A cross bike will be fine if dual purpose but mine has no bottle cages and the brakes are pants with Froglegs.

    I think all the bikes I'm looking at have bottle cages braze ons, but for a commute this doesn't really matter to me. The boldy bit - I think you mean that the extra top levers on your bike/all cyclo's don't work that well???
    - Carbon soled bike shoes are a God send. Beg, borrow, steal and buy a pair.

    I'm just hoping I can find something wide enough to fit me.
    - Look for strong wheel options. I have numerous and find my Mavic 16 / 20 spokes as stiff as handbuilt 32s.

    Mavic were always my preferred MTB rim.
    I'm a 46cm chest and run with 44cm c to c handlebars or 46cm if measured outside to outside. Depends on manufacturer.

    Thanks - very useful!

    The other conclusions I'm drawing from this really bloody brilliant set of responses is that I have nothing much to worry about, but that I should definitely make an effort to look at some steel bikes.

    Regarding Ma Coli's suggestion of an MTB with aerobars, I considered going for an MTB with drops and high pressure slicks, but I'd like to try a faster set of frame angles than a sane MTB would have. The Surly especially seems to be built as strong as a good MTB.
  • pjm-84
    pjm-84 Posts: 819
    Sorry forgot to mention I broke a cross bike........ lightweight alloy tubing!
    Paul
  • SteveR_100Milers
    SteveR_100Milers Posts: 5,987
    If it helps, I'm 15.5 stone, was heavier 2 years ago, been riding a carbon frame, carbon seatpost, light alloys wheels and nothing has broken (only a cheapo set of rims on a Trek 1000). I use the same bike to race and train on the very pothole ridden roads of the south wales valleys, worst that happens is the flimsier wheels I own need truing regularly.
  • pjm-84
    pjm-84 Posts: 819
  • Cantilever brakes are rubbish compared to normal sidepulls (this based on use of planet-X, Frog legs and Avid Shortys). I wouldn't buy a cyclocross frame again for this reason.
  • pinarellodude
    pinarellodude Posts: 102
    Was 18st 10lbs this time last year did a lot off weight training for 10 years and decided to get back into my first love i.e biking. The only thing I used to damage was wheels with traditional spokes they would break at the bend.

    I'm 6 foot and weigh 13st 10lb at the moment and Christ biking a shed load easier and quicker :D
  • Cheshley
    Cheshley Posts: 1,448
    I'm over 17 stone and have just bought a Flat Bar Scott S30 to go with my Marin Hardtail and Specialized Full Suspension to get some road miles and hopefully build some stamina whilst losing at least a couple of stones in weight this year. In addition to the weight problem, I'm 6ft 5ins tall so I've had to buy a longer seatpost to get proper leg extension (thompson Elite MTB post) and anything to do with clothing, which I find is designed and manufactured for the 'traditional' cycling physique is a real problem. Anyway, long hours on the internet and many emails to clothing stockists asking about sizing and I have managed to get myself sorted with anything except a decent sized jersey for summer riding, but I have some enquiries outstanding and hopefully I will fully equipped and properly attired before too long. Not as if there is a rush for this, I had surgery on a long-standing knee injury last week so I'm sat in front of the tv for a while dreaming of rolling hills and fresh air :(
    1998 Marin Hawk Hill
    2008 Specialized FSR XC Comp
    2008 Scott Speedster S30 FB

    SLOW RIDES FOR UNFIT PEOPLE - Find us on Facebook or in the MTB Rides section of this forum.
  • meanwhile
    meanwhile Posts: 392
    edited May 2008
    Cantilever brakes are rubbish compared to normal sidepulls (this based on use of planet-X, Frog legs and Avid Shortys). I wouldn't buy a cyclocross frame again for this reason.

    If you mean that cans don't stop a bike as fast as calipers... then you got a very badly set-up bike. If you mean that they're not as good at subtle speed adjustments then, yes, that's the trade-off.
  • meanwhile
    meanwhile Posts: 392
    Ok... I'm now also looking at the Cotic Roadrat, which may also interest other members of the Heavy Mob. It's like the Surly Crosscheck but even more so - strong, versatile, steel. It has bosses for v brakes for 700s, but it can also use discs, in which mode it can also use 26'' wheels. Short (drop handle) or long wheel base (flat bars) versions, and the maker is very cooperative about the Bike To Work scheme and the associated huge refunds. Got a good review on Bikeradar.
  • blorg
    blorg Posts: 1,169
    Cantilever brakes are rubbish compared to normal sidepulls (this based on use of planet-X, Frog legs and Avid Shortys). I wouldn't buy a cyclocross frame again for this reason.
    This is completely true, they are absolutely dreadful. I've had close calls on my road bike that were saved by the calipers; I would imagine serious crash on the cantis (only I wouldn't be risking going so fast on them.) I'm going to try mini-Vs but bear this in mind if you need to stop quickly.

    Any cyclocross frame will take big big tyres. Most road frames will stretch to 25c, some will even do 28c but it would be tight.

    Armadillos are spectacularly good at puncture protection (I got around 20,000 km out of a pair) but can be a bit slippy in the wet. I have come off, twice. So if you like to corner fast (or even slow in the rain!) consider Continental Gatorskins as an alternative. I have these now and they handle a hell of a lot nicer. Only 1,000 km or so in but no punctures yet.

    Regarding shoes, Specialized are known to be quite wide. I have both Sonomas (casual type of shoe) and the Expert MTB shoes which have a carbon sole and provide a very stiff platform for pedalling.

    The seven year guarantee thing is somewhat misunderstood; the onus is on you to prove that the defect existed _at the point of sale_ and was not due to normal wear or tear or your own use. In practical terms this will be very difficult with a several-years old bike. Generally with a "warranty" the presumption will go the other way by default, that is the key difference.
  • meanwhile
    meanwhile Posts: 392
    blorg wrote:
    Cantilever brakes are rubbish compared to normal sidepulls (this based on use of planet-X, Frog legs and Avid Shortys). I wouldn't buy a cyclocross frame again for this reason.
    This is completely true, they are absolutely dreadful. I've had close calls on my road bike that were saved by the calipers; I would imagine serious crash on the cantis (only I wouldn't be risking going so fast on them.) I'm going to try mini-Vs but bear this in mind if you need to stop quickly.

    I'm still not getting this - what's the perceived problem with cantilevers? Even the close to the bottom of the range model on my first courier bike 20 years ago provided enough braking power to risk locking the wheels after a long fast descent (this was in San Francisco)
  • blorg
    blorg Posts: 1,169
    I am using cheap low-profile Shimano Altus cantis with 105 STI levers on two seperate bikes; I have a couple of years and over 10,000km on them. Possibly wide-profile cantis would work better but I am not sure of their compatibility with STI.

    My experience is that they just don't stop as well as either calipers or V-brakes with MTB levers. I can certainly lock the rear wheel with them, but front braking is slow. Even if I jam on the front brake as quickly and as hard as I can the bike just comes to a gradual stop. If I did that on my road bike I would be over the bars in an instant.

    Can you raise your rear wheel off the groud using your front brake? Trivial with calipers, impossible with cantis. At a rough estimate I can stop the caliper bike in half the distance of the canti one.

    Then there is all the related stuff (squealing, juddering, fiddly to adjust, difficult to centre) but that honestly doesn't bother me as much as the not stopping.

    There really are only two reasons you might want cantis rather than calipers. One, if you need clearance for really big tyres - note though that long reach calipers allow at least up to 32c. Or secondly, if you are riding in conditions where you would be concerned about mud clogging your brakes (e.g. cyclocross.)

    This is my own experience, and with one specific model of canti, but if you look around the forums/other sites you'll certainly see that I'm not the only one who doesn't like the things!
  • meanwhile
    meanwhile Posts: 392
    edited May 2008
    blorg wrote:
    I am using cheap low-profile Shimano Altus cantis with 105 STI levers on two seperate bikes; I have a couple of years and over 10,000km on them. Possibly wide-profile cantis would work better but I am not sure of their compatibility with STI.

    My experience is that they just don't stop as well as either calipers or V-brakes with MTB levers. I can certainly lock the rear wheel with them, but front braking is slow. Even if I jam on the front brake as quickly and as hard as I can the bike just comes to a gradual stop. If I did that on my road bike I would be over the bars in an instant.

    If a brake will lock a wheel and you still have braking problems, then the problem is the bike or the tyre. All a brake does is apply force to a rim. Locking a rear wheel is trivial of course (and relatively safe.)

    The cheapest mountain bike in the San Francisco courier fleet of 20 years ago had more than adequate braking power for those nightmare hills. In fact, the roadracers I knew generally rode MTBs for work. You've either got a bike with poor geometry for fast braking, badly set up brakes, or you're not taking account of the effect of tyres in comparing brakes - a lot of offroad or dual purpose tyres have lousy braking and/or cornering properties.
    Can you raise your rear wheel off the groud using your front brake? Trivial with calipers, impossible with cantis. At a rough estimate I can stop the caliper bike in half the distance of the canti one

    Most bikes with cantis make braking stability a much higher priority than typical "other" bikes, but all the same, yes - with trivial ease with low-mid Shimano stuff of 20 years ago and a heavy bike, even with yucky dual purpose tyres. Something is very wrong with your bike! You mention that setting up cantis is hard - I never found it so, but it's a ymmv thing. I think what you're really finding is that "My bike with properly maintained brakes out-brakes the one with badly set-up maintained brakes."
  • meanwhile
    meanwhile Posts: 392
    blorg wrote:
    Armadillos are spectacularly good at puncture protection (I got around 20,000 km out of a pair) but can be a bit slippy in the wet. I have come off, twice. So if you like to corner fast (or even slow in the rain!) consider Continental Gatorskins as an alternative. I have these now and they handle a hell of a lot nicer. Only 1,000 km or so in but no punctures yet.

    Regarding shoes, Specialized are known to be quite wide. I have both Sonomas (casual type of shoe) and the Expert MTB shoes which have a carbon sole and provide a very stiff platform for pedalling.

    Extremely useful - thank you!
    The seven year guarantee thing is somewhat misunderstood; the onus is on you to prove that the defect existed _at the point of sale_ and was not due to normal wear or tear or your own use. In practical terms this will be very difficult with a several-years old bike. Generally with a "warranty" the presumption will go the other way by default, that is the key difference.

    No, I have to strongly disagree here. The usual case used as an example is a dishwasher - or perhaps it was a washing machine. The machine lasted less than five years purely due to wear and tear of expected use: the judge ruled this was inadequate by definition. Point of sale defects are another matter. There's a good summary of the law at

    http://business.scotsman.com/warrantyro ... 2394718.jp

    - although I should have said five years, not seven.

    ..And here's that case:
    http://www.monikie.org.uk/yourrights.htm

    If a store refuses to take responsibility for a faulty product, currently the only way to seek redress is through legal action, which involves proving the goods are faulty. And this is exactly what Which? reader Brenda Robertshaw did when electrical giant Currys refused to fix her £400 washing machine free of charge, when it broke down after only 18 months and ruined some clothes (see 'Currys taken to the cleaners', Which?, October 1999, p4). Brenda won the cost of repairs, compensation and expenses, totalling £190. The judge ruled that it was reasonable to expect a £400 washing machine to last longer than 18 months.

    I think most judges would agree that it is reasonable to expect a frame on any bicycle to last 5 years of commuting, let alone costing most of a grand.
  • blorg
    blorg Posts: 1,169
    This is just my experience of these particular Altus cantis, on more than one bike too. Other cantis may be better, although from my research I suspect not. Note also I am specifically talking of cantis with STI levers here, they may well work better with other (MTB?) levers.

    One of the bikes with the cantis (and crap braking) is a frame swap from a bike with calipers. _All_ the components are the same excluding the frame and the brakes. Tyres (Bontrager Race Lites) have excellent grip.

    I've never had the same problems with (properly adjusted) calipers or V-brakes. Look through a few cyclocross forums and you will find plenty of people with problems with cantis. Look at the reviews of a few cross or touring bikes with cantis here on Bike Radar. There are several bikes with stellar reviews but almost all mention that braking is sub-par.

    It's all relative of course, the braking is arguably sufficient, just not as good as my road bike! I have done long tours including hairy high-speed mountain descents fine on the cantis. It's just that braking is worse than I get on the road bike. Are you comparing cantis to another braking system or just happy with them in isolation?
  • meanwhile
    meanwhile Posts: 392
    blorg wrote:
    This is just my experience of these particular Altus cantis, on more than one bike too. Other cantis may be better, although from my research I suspect not. Note also I am specifically talking of cantis with STI levers here, they may well work better with other (MTB?) levers.

    Given this technology worked with low-mid end bikes 20 years ago in the worst possible circumstances (offroad, tropical rainstorms, 50 mph descents on SF hill so steep that by law cars could only be parked at right angles to the road) something is very wrong. And a cantilever is such a simple system I don't think one really can be mis-designed - mis-installed by a bike shop, yes.
    Look at the reviews of a few cross or touring bikes with cantis here on Bike Radar. There are several bikes with stellar reviews but almost all mention that braking is sub-par.

    I've just read lots of reviews of canti bikes here and elsewhere, and to be honest I didn't notice this anywhere. Oh - except one otherwise happy user who criticized the cable path used for the rear break on the Surly Crosscheck.

    You might want to look at http://members.aol.com/napavelo/brakes.htm - there's a lot about different braking systems here and in particular the problems people have when trying to a cantilever with a brake lever that wasn't designed for the job. In particular, you should expect to have to teak the straddle length with the STIs that I think you're using. But there's no doubt that most people who want to can make it work without any of the problems you've reported - it just takes some tweaking.

    One of the advantages of conventional cantis is that unlike calipers (and I think unlike the new v cantis) you can change the mechanical advantage with how you set up the cable. The downside of this is if you get it wrong, you'll get poor braking (or a show dragging on the rim, going the other way). Given the absolute level of performance you're getting, your brakes aren't set up right. Which shouldn't surprise you too much, as you said you have problems adjusting them.

    Possibly I'm cynical about bike stores, but if getting cantis to work properly with drop handle levers does require any degree of intelligence above the minimal and there's a way of doing the job wrong that doesn't make its wrongness obvious, then I can see a *lot* of sucky bikes leaving stores.

    Otoh, the new Vs sound very interesting - canti advantages without any setup tweaking to be done. Otoh, if you look at the first link I gave, they have much stricter lever requirements than even normal cantis.
    Are you comparing cantis to another braking system or just happy with them in isolation?

    I'm not comparing them to anything - that's a matter of taste. I'm just puzzled by the absolute level of performance you report: it's far below a cheap bike of 20 years ago if you can't *easily* lock that front wheel by braking too hard - and not at in line with the performance levels people who really need these bikes to work get from the same components. Everything says that your bike simply isn't set up right.

    http://sheldonbrown.com/cantilever-geometry.html might help you as well. And http://sheldonbrown.com/canti-trad.html - be especially aware that if you're not used to cantis then weak brakes will fell "right":
    "If you have too little mechanical advantage, when you squeeze your brake handles, you will feel a nice firm response. In fact, if you just squeeze the brakes of a bike that is not moving, your first impression may be that the brakes are in great shape, because they feel so solid and firm...the problem is, that they don't stop the bike, unless you squeeze very hard on the levers! A brake system with too little mechanical advantage will push the shoes against the rim quickly, but won't push them hard enough. The levers will feel firm because the shoes are not being pressed hard enough to cause them to flex."

    Otoh, same source, the biggest real problem with cantis is that they are TOO powerful:
    People with brake problems often think that they need more "power," when they actually need less! In particular, when modern low-profile cantilever brakes are used with drop-bar type brake levers, the combination produces excessive mechanical advantage. This problem also arises when using direct-pull cantilevers (such as Shimano's "V-Brakes") with levers made for conventional center-pull cantilevers...

    If you have too much mechanical advantage the lever will be all-too-easy to pull, but it will run out of travel and bump up against the handlebar before the brake is fully applied. Once the lever hits the handlebar, it doesn't matter how much harder you squeeze! If you try to correct this by tightening up the cable, you will wind up with the brake shoes too close to the rim when at rest, which will cause them to rub, especially if the wheel isn't perfectly true

    So my guess is that you're over-correcting for that easily hit too-powerful result, going for what feels right, missing the sweet spot and ending up in Wimp Brake Land. You might need a special yoke if there's a real problem (a tiny piece of metal, so it should be cheap - see the last link).
  • pjm-84
    pjm-84 Posts: 819
    My frog legs brakes are still poor in comparsion to my road bikes.......
    Paul
  • meanwhile
    meanwhile Posts: 392
    pjm-84 wrote:
    My frog legs brakes are still poor in comparsion to my road bikes.......

    Well, yes - there's a reason why one of the world's most famous writers on bike mechanics (Sheldon Brown, who I linked to above) wrote pages and pages on how to adjust cantilevers, and nothing at all on calipers.

    Most cantilevers on bikes not ridden by offroad racers or couriers may well be out of adjustment. And to quote one page I saw on canti adjustment, the braking effect of a poorly adjusted canti is mostly "psychological". But as Brown says, they are more powerful if set up right - which doesn't matter on most road racers, because their geometry means that they'd flip from having even calipers squeezed hard.
  • blorg
    blorg Posts: 1,169
    meanwhile wrote:
    Well, yes - there's a reason why one of the world's most famous writers on bike mechanics (Sheldon Brown, who I linked to above) wrote pages and pages on how to adjust cantilevers, and nothing at all on calipers.
    Because they're an absolute bitch to adjust compared to calipers? :twisted:
  • meanwhile
    meanwhile Posts: 392
    And adding another bike I've found that looks good for heavies: the Soma Double Cross. Another fairly conventional cyclocross frame. Not much more moola than the Surly Crosscheck, but made out Tange Prestige steel. I'm not sure about the rear brake path and whether it has the (possible) problems of the Crosscheck - which might just reflect one rider over-relying on his rear brake anyway.
  • I've used four different makes of Cantis on three different bikes. The shimano cantis with flat bar levers on an old MTB were adequate (but not nearly as good as the Vs that replaced them). The Avids, Planet-X and Froglegs used with drop bars (STI and non-STI levers) on 2 different bikes were all incapable of locking the front wheel. I have fiddled plenty with the length of the saddle wire on the planet-X and Froglegs (not on the Avids - it isn't adjustable) and tried a variety of pads. I can just about maintain a level of braking on my commuting bike (planet-X cantis on the front, avids on the back, coolstop mixed compound pads) that is safe in London traffic, but it's marginal.

    But what do I know. I'm sure the man who used cantis 20 years ago in San Franciso knows best.

    U.
  • blorg
    blorg Posts: 1,169
    meanwhile- sorry, looked back there and saw that you were the thread starter and that this is your first road bike. I sort of lost that with your responses to the "cantis are awful" advice, I thought you were trying to advise the OP! OK, so I am taking it you have never used calipers.

    Well the bottom line is that calipers work. Really well, they will stop the bike dead. So I would not choose a cyclocross frame specifically so you can keep running cantis on the view that calipers are in some way inadequate, they are not. They also lack all the associated problems cantis have.

    There are legitimate reasons to get a bike that takes cantis but I don't think you need them if you are going with "skinny tyres." You need them if you want to run (very) big tyres with mudguards.

    This is my view from having used calipers, traditional cantis and V-brakes. I sincerely doubt you will find anyone who has used both and will say that they use cantis because they brake better, it will always be about the tyre clearance, mud clearance, etc.

    I bought a new frame that takes cantis myself because I wanted to be able to run big tyres in case of off-road sections on tour (I have 700x23s on it right now but I have done tours with an off-road component before and want the option.) I did not choose it for the braking performance, (as I was familiar with them on my previous touring bike!) indeed that was the trade-off in order to run the big tyres.

    As you say Sheldon wrote little about calipers but he did actually mention them in the context of tandems:
    Few tandems come equipped with caliper brakes these days, because it is widely believed that caliper brakes don't have sufficient stopping power for tandem service. This belief is incorrect. Tandems set up for racing can get perfectly adequate braking from good quality caliper brakes.

    The limitation of caliper brakes is not stopping power, but tire clearance. Since a caliper brake has arms coming down from above the tire, the use of a large tire, especially if you want clearance for fenders, would require a caliper with long arms. The longer the arms, however, the lower the mechanical advantage of the brake, so modern high-performance caliper brakes are only available with short arms, an typically provide clearance for, at best, 28 mm tires.

    So bottom line is don't make your decision based on a misperception that cantis are the only thing with sufficient stopping power for a heavy guy, they are not. It is all about whether you need the tyre clearance.
  • blorg
    blorg Posts: 1,169
    Further down on that article about tandem braking he goes into some detail in fact as to some of the problems you get using traditional cantis with moden "Aero" (e.g. STI) levers (for which they were not designed.)

    Braking is a system involving both the levers and the brakes; brakes which work great with one type of lever may not work so good with another. I and others here have only been speaking with regard to the inadaquacy of traditional cantis paired with STI levers, which is what you will be getting on most cross bikes.
  • sscycles
    sscycles Posts: 1
    Hey, guys. It sounds like some of you are worried about whether or not your bike will support you, and looks like some of you have already had trouble. If you're a heavy rider looking for a bike for a bigger person, you could check out www.supersizedcycles.com. The founder of it, Joan Denizot, put it together when she had a hard time finding bikes that supported more than 225 pounds.

    Her site has bikes and gear for sale, and there is information for new, plus-sized riders. Hope you all find what you're looking for.