A Sasquatch mountain biker is a rider over 200lbs who’s always breaking something. Their lighter friends float on their bikes and rarely have issues.
Are you one of these riders? Does it seem like bikes are made for 160lb featherweights?
Do your wheels dent and break easily–are your brakes weak–is your suspension unpredictable—-is your bike always creaking?
You are not alone!
I have experienced these issues, and many others, over the years. A Sasquatch mountain biker puts greater stress on their bikes. They have issues lighter riders don’t even know exist.
I created this section on Hardtail Canada to help others find effective solutions to problems I’ve spent too much time on. My hope is this saves you time and hassle, and starts a conversation with other Sasquatch mountain bikers!
I’m 6’3 and 220 lbs. I have broken more freehubs than I can count. Dented lower quality stock wheels after minor bumps. Experienced increased brake wear and brake fade. Pushed many suspensions to their upper limits and felt them wallow under stress.
Performance under load on the trails is far different than on a bike stand in a shop. Mechanics are unable to fix certain Sasquatch mountain biker issues as they are difficult to reproduce on the stand.
I’ve burned through many bike parts. I’ve had to take matters into my own hands and do my own repairs or go broke. I now spec out my own equipment, applying what I’ve learned over the years.
Unless you are spending in excess of $7000, stock bikes are simply not designed for the rider over 200lbs. The weakest part of many stock builds, the wheels, are the first to suffer catastrophic failures from the heavy force of a Sasquatch mountain biker.
Low quality brakes will struggle to stop you, and they wear out faster.
Weaker suspensions lead to unpredictable steering and poor control.
This is an introduction to what a Sasquatch Mountain Biker is and basic issues to look out for.
Table of Contents
Weak Stock Wheels
You get what you pay for.
Wheels may not seem like an obvious issue, but for many bike companies, cheap wheels are where they save money. Stunned that a bike with XT or a beefy Fox suspension is priced so cheap? It’s because the wheels are terrible.
Weak wheels and freehubs are the mortal enemy of every Sasquatch mountain biker. Weak freehubs will fail catastrophically more often than any other bike part, especially on Fatbikes. Often times, stock wheels are proprietary and it is difficult to find parts.
I will not go into detail about freehubs in this article, but they are the part where the cassette attaches to the wheel. The freehub allows the wheel to spin freely when you’re not pedalling, and engages the wheel when you do pedal.
I’ve had more than one trip ruined by a blown freehub. Local shops struggle to find the proper replacement parts because companies do a poor job of publishing the information.
Lower quality hubs use cheaper parts that can’t handle a Sasquatch mountain biker.
You could buy a bike with quality stock wheels, but they are usually over $7000 and outside the scope of Hardtail Canada.
Here’s my advice.
You can buy your own wheels with reputable brand name hubs like DT Swiss, RaceFace, Hope, Industry Nine, etc. Consider these an investment; you can transfer them to your future bikes. However, the cost of these wheelsets can be steep, even if you find a decent used pair on Pinkbike’s used gear forum.
Another option is to work with your bike shop and order a spare set of freehub parts. I recommend keeping these in your pack, or vehicle, so you can easily fix your freehub when it fails.
Another option is to buy your own rear hub and lace it into your existing rim. This requires buying new spokes (roughly $50) and paying someone to build it ($50-100), in addition to the cost of your hub.
Wheel-building is an art form, so do your research and hire the right person to do the work.
Taking any one of these steps will save you time, money, and wheel-related headaches over the long run.
Greater Braking Demands
Sasquatch’s brakes are working overtime.
It takes a lot more braking force to slow down a heavy Sasquatch mountain biker.
Weak brakes require more squeezing to keep them engaged. This causes problems.
Brakes that work too hard heat up quickly, increasing brake fade. Brake fade is the loss of braking power due to hydraulic oil, brake pads, and rotors becoming too hot. More heat means less braking force and decreased brake strength, until they cool down. And no Sasquatch mountain biker wants to slow down or stop in the middle of a fun downhill!
Another related issue is that weaker brakes require more brute force. This drastically increases the chance of a lock up.
If you lock up you rear wheel it’ll lead to skidding and loss of control.
If you lock up your front wheel, especially on a steeper descent, there’s a good chance you’ll be thrown over the handlebars.
Strong brakes slow you down with a lighter touch. This means more control–you can fine-tune your speed instead of jamming the breaks on and off.
Avoid Shimano’s resin/ organic pads. They can’t handle sustained heat and a Sasquatch mountain biker will burn through them quickly.
SRAM Level brakes will struggle at faster speeds and steeper descents. They’re an XC brake, but low and mid spec trail bikes often come with them. SRAM is known for having better modulation and less raw power than Shimano, but for the Sasquatch mountain biker the Levels may not be enough.
As a side-note, I have experience with Level brakes on both XC bikes and Fatbikes. Neither of these bikes went fast or did anything technical, so the Levels in these specific cases were OK.
Consider swapping out your rotors for ones with a greater diameter. Larger rotors mean more surface area–better heat loss and more braking power.
For a Sasquatch mountain biker I recommend no less than a 180mm rotor in the front and a 160mm in the rear. If this is larger than what came with your bike, work with your local bike shop to find the right adapters for your calipers. Double check that larger rotors will work with your frame.
I run a 203mm with a 4 piston Shimano XT caliper in the front and a 180mm with a 2 piston XT caliper in the rear. For my hardtail, where control is more important than massive braking force, this setup is perfect.
And I prefer the hard bite of Shimano brakes to SRAM’s softer power delivery
At the end of the day, you can work with whatever your bike comes with. Just be aware you’ll have to modify your riding style if you have weaker brakes, and that’s not fun!
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Decent drop into a steep narrow landing–a bad choice if you have a weak suspension.
A Sasquatch mountain biker is a suspension’s worst enemy. The increased weight leads to more wear, more flex, and a greater chance of unpredictable steering.
Avoid forks with less than 34mm stanchions. Keep an eye on a shock’s maximum pressure.
I had an enduro bike with a horribly mismatched 32mm fork. The lack of stiffness and predictability was painfully obvious anytime I went down a significant ledge or landed from a small jump.
The fork felt like a wet noodle, floundering as it rebounded and recovered. It was not confidence inspiring.
I advocate for a 36mm fork if you are a Sasquatch mountain biker. A 34mm is OK, but will get beat up and work harder to support your weight, especially on technical descents or jumps.
My latest bike came with a 34mm fork and I was hoping to limp it along until winter, when I planned to upgrade it to a 36mm. Instead, after a month of aggressive riding, it is already showing signs of wear and grinding through its travel.
For rear shocks, my only advice is to check the maximum pressure. Most shocks do have reasonably high limits, unless you are pushing 300lbs.
I had an older generation Fox Float that topped out at 240psi. I had to run it around 230psi–closer to maximum pressure than I would’ve preferred.
So, keep an eye on your suspension! If you are riding relatively flat terrain it shouldn’t be an an issue. But if you are on technical/ steeper trails, the extra investment in a supportive suspension will save you wear and be more fun.
Additional Considerations for a Sasquatch Mountain Biker
Sasquatch can focus on the trail when he’s on a bike he can trust.
Although we’ve covered the main problems for a Sasquatch mountain biker, be aware of the following.
Stiffness is your friend.
Stiffness can sound like another industry buzzword. But for a Sasquatch mountain biker, components which aren’t stiff will bend and move under your weight and lead to premature wear and affect a bike’s handling under stress.
Unfortunately, stiffer means more expensive. But for a heavier rider it will make a difference.
Anytime you take your bike to the shop, have a once over when you get it back. Make sure everything is tight. Try riding the bike under load before you take it out on the trails.
This is good advice in general, but especially important for a Sasquatch mountain biker. If there are issues with loose components or something is out of alignment, the frame shifting under your weight will make these problems more obvious than for lighter riders.
Check your chain regularly. You’ll wear them out faster, damaging your expensive drivetrain in the process. And a worn out chain has a greater chance of breaking.
Watch your headset. Make sure there isn’t any play which might lead to issues on descents. Clean it regularly. Check the bearings. The headset takes a lot of force from heavier bikers on steep descents.
As a Sasquatch mountain biker you have stricter gear demands than the average featherweight, and not paying attention to these differences will cost you time and frustration.
Take my word for it!
This article was an introduction to what a Sasquatch mountain biker is–Hardtail Canada will continue producing specific content for this category of rider.
Unlike the rest of Hardtail Canada’s content, this one is specifically targeted at men. If you’re a stronger/ heavier woman that has similar (or different) issues and wants others to know, get in touch and it will be reflected in Sasquatch content!
If you have any further questions or concerns, comment below!
Thanks for reading!
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I’m bigger rider over 250 and everything in this article is so true.especially rotor size 203 in the front 180 in the rear.qustoin who has the best fully suspension bike for bigger riders currently on a hardtail.
That’s a good question Darin! The only real advice I can offer, since I don’t have experience with riders over 250lbs, would be to aim for an All-Mountain/ Enduro bike, simply because it will come with beefier components. I would probably think about avoiding carbon as well. Carbon full suspension is a whole different level of finicky–for someone over 250lbs it may not be worth the effort. Feel free to get back in touch if you do find one! I’m sure there are other similar-sized riders facing the same question.
Seems weird to say this is targeted at men? No content in this article seems to not relate to women riders?
Hi RC, thanks for the feedback! You do confirm a concern I had about that mini PSA, so I’ll let you in on my reasoning for it.
You are absolutely right–there is nothing in the article that outright states it is for men only. However, in writing it, I used only mine, and other men’s, experiences/ mishaps, and all the pictures are of bigger men. In other articles I attempt to strike a balance between men and women’s experiences, even if it isn’t stated outright.
A big intention with Hardtail Canada is to be for every rider–to break the industry stereotype of “dudes sending it”.
I had debated including the PSA, because it does seem out of place, but I also wanted to make it clear to the person who might be reading their first Hardtail Canada article that the site (even though it’s new) is striving to have something for everyone.
It was also intended as an offer for input from women who might have bike failure issues I’m not aware of/ were missed in the article.
I hope that answers your question!
Thanks for reading and taking the time to reach out!
I am an over 200lb rider and did not realize their was a “nickname” for us larger mammals!! My beef with the industry, more prominent in Canada I think, is the lack of race event categories for over 200lbs… Especially in mountain biking it is disappointing and even discouraging to even bother entering events. I have heard that in the US they do regularity have these categories due to the larger number of entrants for events and that Canada simply do not have the numbers to support this additional category. Not sure if this is true or not?? Regardless, I am competitive but racing against a 150lb person pushing 5 watts per kilo is an exercise in futility unfortunately. I guess this is more of a comment than a question but I want my voice to be heard DAMNIT!!! LOL!! Thanks for the forum to vent Hardtail Canada!!
Thanks for the comment Paul! Myself, and I’m sure many other bigger Canadian bikers, feel the same frustrations!
One of Hardtail Canada’s goals is to bring more awareness to us bigger riders. Maybe if enough of us make these issues known it’ll grab the attention of industry/ race organizers!
Or maybe Hardtail Canada will one day have its own Sasquatch Race Series with a 200lb minimum weight standard!
Dare to dream!
Thanks for the support.
Hi wow just discover that i’am not alone with multiple bike wear problem. We can add also that the seat post that came with a bike are also to tinniii. after 4 seat post i have buy a new one. I double it with an other tube inside to make it tough or just ok for us. I use a 1/2″ dia. blak pipe. it will fit perfectly in 27.2 mm seat post tube….Have a nice ride everyone.