Just like any other vehicle like cars and skateboards and boats, bikes also naturally have a weight limit. And mountain bikes, you’ll be glad to know, have particularly high weight limits. On average, an adult mountain bicycle’s weight limit in kg is 136 kg, and in-lbs, it is 300 lbs.
Here, we dissect the nuances of mountain bike weight limits and discuss the factors that lead to the weight threshold of different types of mountain bikes.
Is it Important to Know a Bike’s Weight Limit?
It can be very dangerous if you are unaware of your bicycle’s weight limit. Remember that it’s not like two people can ride a bike (unless on a tandem bike) like they can ride a motorcycle together. You also should not be carrying lots of baggage with you on a ride without knowing that your bike can safely withstand the weight.
Ideally, it will be written in the product description what the weight limit is for the bike. And if you are buying at a shop face-to-face, definitely ask the salesperson about the weight limit. But what if you don’t have that luxury, and what if the product description also doesn’t mention this crucial detail? Well, in that case, it pays to have a general idea of how much weight your bike can withstand.
Factors that Impact Mountain Bike Weight Limit
There are many factors that determine how much weight your bike can safely carry. Whether you are aware of your bike’s weight limit or not, you should know what these factors are.
The type of bike you own will determine the capacity of weight it can bear.
Road bikes typically have a weight limit of around 220 lbs, whereas a mountain bike has a typical weight limit of 300 lbs. Hybrid bikes, a mix between a road and a mountain bike, similarly have a weight limit between that of a road and a mountain bike — say, 250 to 275 lbs.
Ebikes are lighter and can carry up to around 250 lbs. As for a bicycle weight limit of 400 lbs or more, you need special custom bikes. For example, Size bikes have a maximum weight limit of up to 550 lbs! And, finally, tandem bikes are, as the name reveals, meant to have more than one rider, and so can support weights of up to 550 lbs.
Talking specifically about mountain bikes, they have generally high weight limits. Why? It’s primarily because they are heavier themselves. A typical mountain bike weighs around 30 lbs, about two times heavier than a road bike.
Why are mountain bikes heavier? It’s because they are designed for … riding in the mountains! Which obviously means that the terrain is rocky and uneven. Going downhill on a heavier bike is safer than on a lightweight bike.
Rough terrain causes more stress on the bike. If the weight limit is, say, 300 lbs, then the weight limit can fall around 20-50 lbs depending on how rough your ride is. In other words, you should consider the upper mountain bike weight limit to be around 250 lbs when riding on particularly rough terrain.
Yes, we know. We know. You’ve bought a mountain bike because you want to, or have to, ride off the road. Indeed, mountain bikes are meant to be ridden in the mountains.
But it does pay to know that terrain does impact your threshold. Therefore, yes, use your mountain bike for riding in hilly areas, but keep in mind that your bike doesn’t like it, no matter how tough it was built, no matter if it was built to do just that. Of course, it will fare much, much better than a road bike on such rough terrain. That goes without saying.
Normally, we always say carbon frames are the best. We urge you to buy components like brake pads and frames made of carbon if you have the money.
However, carbon and titanium, while being lightweight and so giving a boost to speed, are also less durable than steel and aluminum. Steel is the most durable yet heavy frame material. Aluminum is a happy medium and strikes a good balance between sturdiness and speed. If you don’t plan on competitive racing and are worried about the maximum weight limit of your bike, we recommend you choose a mountain bike with an aluminum or a steel frame.
Naturally, the larger the wheels, the higher the weight threshold. Two 29 inch wheels can withstand up to 165 pounds of weight with fully taut tires. 26-inch mountain bikes have lower weight limits. And the average 24-inch bike weight limit would be around, say, 250 lbs.
Also, make sure there are as many spokes in the wheels as possible. Opt for wheels with over 32 stainless steel spokes for a good weight threshold.
Speaking of wheel size also requires talking of kids’ bikes. Kids’ bike wheel sizes range from 12 inches to 24 or 26 inches. Obviously, the frame is smaller for a 12 and a 16-inch kids’ bike than for a 29-inch adult bike.
But assuming you are talking about adult mountain bikes, the weight limit is generally higher for a 29er than a 27.5er and a 26er. There are exceptions, of course. For instance, Mongoose Dolomite is a 26er with a bicycle weight limit of 350 lbs.
Besides the wheel size, the tires are also important. Bikes of course make contact with the ground tire-first. Therefore, if the tires are thick and have good traction, the bike is more stable and so can withstand more weight more safely.
Fat tire bikes are capable of withstanding heavier weight. Also, take care to inflate the tires as much as possible. At maximum psi, they can withstand the maximum weight.
We have discussed that mountain bikes are built sturdier to handle unpaved and slopey routes. Another key component that helps keep mountain bikes grounded, literally, is their suspension.
Modern mountain bikes, even budget ones, use suspension technology which absorbs shocks when riding off the road. Bikes with one suspension fork or frame at the front are called hardtails. And bikes with two forks are called dual or full suspension bikes. Especially for downhill climbing, the rear suspension helps you get a smoother and safer riding experience.
However, in absorbing the shocks, you are wearing out the suspension forks. Just because your bike has suspension does not mean you should go around challenging its limits for fun. We recommend you avoid intentional rough rides if you care for the longevity of your bike.
That said, the maximum weight limit for a full-suspension bike is 300 lbs.
Besides your own weight, any extra things you carry will undoubtedly put a strain on your bike.
Be it a shopping bag you’ve hung around the handlebars, or some grocery bags you’ve put on the rear rack, or a heavy backpack on your own back, the weight doesn’t just disappear. It goes without saying that the bike’s weight threshold doesn’t need to be reached with your own body weight. It can be anything like those mentioned. Speaking of your body weight, of course, your own outfit (plus anything you carry in your pockets) will factor into the total weight limit.
Even separately attached components to your bikes, such as bike lights, bike racks, a phone holder, or other custom additions, will play a factor.
As a matter of fact, some bikes come with product descriptions that reveal two separate weight limits: one for the rider, and one for cargo.
For example, the maximum mountain bike weight limit for the rider can be set at 250 pounds or 113.4 kg, and the cargo weight limit can be 50 pounds or 22.7 kg.
In such a case, the rider may exceed his maximum weight limit — say, he is 265 lbs — and the cargo may be safely within 35 lbs. However, the opposite is not allowed. For example, if the rider is 220 lbs and the cargo is 70 lbs, then even though the total weight limit has not been reached, still there may be damage to the bike as the weight of the cargo is not evenly distributed like the rider.
What Happens if We Exceed the Bike Weight Limit?
The weight limit is obviously there to signify that it is not safe to exceed it. The weight limit is also not an estimated arbitrary number that is stacked onto a bike’s description label. Most probably, serious and intricate testing is done to determine an exact number.
For example, some mountain bike companies have their bikes listed to have a weight limit of 305 lbs (instead of a clean 300 lbs). Trek bike weight limit is around 275-300 lbs, with Trek mountain bikes having a weight limit of 300 lbs. The giant mountain bike weight limit is listed as 305 lbs. And a high-end Specialized bike weight limit is a little low due to carbon components. Specialized bikes are particularly worried about the weight, and thus it is only 250 lbs.
However, this does not mean that if you and other additional weights weigh 5 lbs higher, that the bike will break down immediately. But there is a likelihood of damage being done for exceeding the weight limit. The damage may not be visible at first, but if you keep exceeding the weight limit, you can see a wide range of damage.
For instance, the bike seat may become dislodged, the tires may be over-compressed, or the suspension may be absorbing more shock even on smooth terrain. The likelihood of damage is boosted if you encounter rough terrain or hit a pothole. Therefore, please err on the side of caution and not push the bike weight limit to the max.
A Final Word
The world of mountain biking has been getting bigger and heavier despite the previous paradigm of “lighter is better.” Lighter is definitely not better for heavyweight people, though. And one of the good ways of trimming down fat is to ride on a bicycle.
How can you ride a bicycle if you are too overweight, then? As we have discussed, the typical mountain bike weight limit is 300 lbs, and that of road bikes is even less. Considering extra baggage, this is not a too big weight limit for many people.
Therefore, we recommend using heavyweight bikes if you feel the need. Size bikes are specially made for heavyweight riders, and the weight threshold can go up to 550 lbs.
Steven is a professional cyclist and his passion is cycling. He has been cycling for the last 6 years and he loves using bikes while outing as well. Based on his experiences with the different types of bikes; he is sharing his opinions about various bikes so that a beginner can start right away. Find him on Twitter @thecyclistguy Happy Biking.