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Old 06-26-10, 11:05 AM   #1
Arcadiu
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Turning a normal bike into a road bike

Hi,

I've just started to get out on my bike and I do around 50 miles a weekend. I have a 3 year old bike and I'm now starting to use my bike a lot more. My current bike has mountain bike tires and no front, rear or seat suspension. I was wondering if it is worth buying new tyres and getting new handle bars?

Sorry I don't know a lot of the bicycle terms and I'm only 13.

Thanks for all your help,

Arc Hi,

I've just started to get out on my bike and I do around 50 miles a weekend. I have a 3 year old bike and I'm now starting to use my bike a lot more. My current bike has mountain bike tires and no front, rear or seat suspension. I was wondering if it is worth buying new tyres and getting new handle bars?

Sorry I don't know a lot of the bicycle terms and I'm only 13.

If buying a new bike is the best option are their any decent bikes that are cheap (yes I know cheap and good is a bit of an oxymoron but you never know).

Thanks for all your help,

Arc
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Old 06-26-10, 11:16 AM   #2
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Arc,

It would be helpful if you could post a picture of your bike, or find a page that lists it somewhere on the Internet and provide the link here.

But I had a similar bike (with knobby tires) that my son used, and when he was about your age we simply changed the knobby tires for slick road tires. It made a really big different in the ride. We got some inexpensive tires at Performance Bicycles (you can also look online at Nashbar.com) and they did just fine.

Just so you know, lots of people use converted mountain bikes on the road -- they are very popular as commuting bikes. People just put on slick tires, racks and fenders for riding in the rain, and suddenly they have a great road bike.

Switching out the handlebars is more expensive, and a bit trickier. You might also have to change out the control levers, etc. Until you are doing a lot of miles, I'm not sure you would need to do it. If you are finding that on long distances your hands get tired, you can try a new pair of grips for the end of the handlebars that make your hands more comfortable (Ergon grips).

So, I'd advice switching up to slicks, putting some more miles on your current bike, and then saving up for a road bike if you want to make a more dramatic change.

good luck, sounds like you are making great progress,
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Old 06-26-10, 11:28 AM   #3
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Take it slow, and make changes one or two at a time. At some point you might decide that you're serious enough to justify a new road bike, which will out perform your current bike no matter what you do to it.

In the meantime, definitely switch the tires for some smooth road tires, which will vastly improve the ride. The handlebar change is more complicated because it'll probably require also changing brake and gear levers, and can add up to serious dough. In lieu of spending that much, you might be better off moving your current handlebar to a lower, more forward position, working with what you have if possible (FREE) or replacing the stem.
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Old 06-26-10, 12:15 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ptle View Post
You could convert your mountain bike to a road bike, but it's really not worth it. You'd wasting a lot of money you could put towards an actual real road bike.

However you can a few things to make your bike faster.
Get the smallest tires you can (Probably 26x1.25")
Get some bar ends and have them horizontal-ish so you can get lower.
Drop a some spacers on your fork steerer tube and flip the stem so that it doesn't point it.
Lockout your suspension or crank up the tension if it's adjustable.
...
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Old 06-26-10, 01:35 PM   #5
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Arc: +1 to the above about tires and bar ends. That should not be very expensive, and it will let you know if you seriously want to invest in a road bike. I also would recommend against changing the bars--too expensive for what it does. Better to use that money toward a road bike when/if you decide on one.
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Old 06-26-10, 01:35 PM   #6
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Two step process:

Step one: sell the MTB.

Step two: buy a good road bike.


There are intermediate steps you can take, but ultimately, you can't get there from a MTB. If you want a little better performance, then by all means install narrow slicks, and trekking handlebars. Installing racing style drop bars will trigger a lot of relatively expensive changes: new shifters, new brake levers, etc. At that point, N+1 (just add a racing/road bike to the fleet), or sell what you have and pick up what you want.

Many of us got back into riding on a MTB. I know I started back riding three years ago on a Trek 800 MTB. It has long since moved on to another home.

I now have a larger fleet, and I do still have a MTB set up for trail riding: its a Trek 950 with butterfly bars (similar to trekking bars, but a little different).

Here it is with 26 - 1.25 slicks.

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Old 06-26-10, 02:12 PM   #7
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+1 on the tyre change. Some of the urban medium pressure 80psi performance urban-hybrid tyres are very fast and have a degree of puncture resistance. You possibly have 26" rims. Have a look at the price of Conti Sport Contacts or Schwalbe City Jets or similar.

If they are too expensive there are some excellent cheaper tyres with a central ridge for road riding, and deeper tread for trails. Sorry about the UK link but you get the picture.

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Old 06-26-10, 02:29 PM   #8
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Wow! Thank you all very much for the comments. I will try and get some thin slicks. How much do you think they could cost?

Thanks for all your help,

Arc
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Old 06-26-10, 08:04 PM   #9
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I agree with the others about just switching tires and tune what you have rather than buy anything to try to convert it. Flipping the stem or removing any spacers can go a long way towards making this bike a more effective road bike. Even little things like a new and more narrow saddle and fine tuning the saddle position fore and aft will do a lot. You'd be surprised how fast and road friendly a "mountain bike" can be if you alter the fit of the parts to suit you for serious road riding. And best of all it's all free or low cost. For example you may want to get a new stem that is lower and a touch longer for this new role for your bike. But something that basic is where I'd suggest you draw the line. You can try to make it LOOK like a road bike but in the end the basic geometry and materials is just not going to let it happen. If you lust after a road bike then save for it and buy the right tool for the job instead of trying to turn a hammer into a scalpel.

There's a few tires you can get that I've tried and can heartily recomend.
  • Panaracer Pasela 26x1.25 TG. These are folding bead kevlar belted flat resistant tires. The width is 1.25 inch but they sit on the rims with an egg like shape that produces a tread width on the road that is more in keeping with a 1 inch wide tire. These things are ROCKETS! By far the fastest and best rolling MTB "road" tire I've tried.
  • Ritchey Tom Slick 26x1.5. A little wider so you don't lose the "fat tire" look of a MTB but these tires roll really nicely. If you still want to be able to jump off the occasional curb but want to roll easily and go fast these are super nice.
  • Tioga City Slicker- These come in a number of widths but stick with the 1.5 or 1.25 sizes. The other one is too fat and heavy to feel truly fast. These are nice tires but the tread has little "holes" in it that love to pick up small gravel and then go "tick.. tick.. tick.." until it drives me nuts. The roll as nicely as the Ritchey tires though.
Continental also makes a 26 x 1 inch tire. I have not tried this particular tire myself but I have always liked any Continental tire that I've had in the 700c sizes. So I can only assume that this option would be really nice as well.

Prices vary but none of these are more than $20 a tire other than the Continental option.

Last edited by BCRider; 06-26-10 at 08:08 PM.
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Old 06-26-10, 08:26 PM   #10
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I picked up my slicks at Nashbar on sale for $10 each.
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Old 06-26-10, 09:38 PM   #11
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Arc, First I want to commend your interest in bicycling, it'll stand you in good stead for years to come.

I once misinterpreted a club ride thinking it was an urban crawl, which a mountain bike is great for considering some city streets. It actually was a road training ride. My tires were hard pack style tread so not too bad for pavement. All in all I was amazed how well I did on the mountain bike and used it for personal training rides quite a bit after that day. Throw some Richey Tom Slicks on your bike, maintain your drivetrain and have a blast.

Brad
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