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Thread: MTB Road Bike

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    MTB Road Bike

    So what is so bad about a mountain bike for an all purpose bike? I never knew it to be bad until I got to this forum, than I quickly learned many reasons.
    Pros of a real road bike: Lower weight, lighter skinnier tires with less resistance, and sitting parallel to the ground for wind resistance.
    Pros of a MTB for a cylde: stronger rims for riding up a curb, through a cracked up street, hitting smaller potholes, with road tires available. Sitting upright for me is important, my doctor said to ride a bike upright due to my hiatal hernia. They have some fork shocks to take some of the load at the expense of weight.

    If you have to sit upright, what would be the ideal bike? I would hat to invest 100 dollars on a comfortable seat, and 50 or more on a new tire set if the bike isn't right for what I need to do.

    You might be asking why I don't ask this in the MTB forum? Because they think a MTB is for trails only, people get blasted when it comes to talking about slicks.

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    Senior Member st0ut's Avatar
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    Crack set and gears are for a lower speed as well.
    On a properly fitted road bike riding on the tops or on the hoods one is nearly upright anyway.
    Cars make you weak.

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    A mountain bike makes a great all-purpose bike! So does a cyclocross road bike.

    The big problem with MTBs is weight. I have a rigid MTB that I use for commuting and the occasional gravel trail or fire road. And I have a road bike that I use for longer-distance road rides. I'd swear that the mountain bike is made out of lead and the road bike is made out of air. The road bike accelerates quicker and climbs hills easier than the MTB. I have both bikes setup to be pretty comfortable, but the MTB definitely has the edge on imperfect terrain due to the wider tires.

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    Downtown Spanky Brown bautieri's Avatar
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    I guess what the perfect bike is is really up to the type of riding you do. Do you find yourself mainly on the roads? If so the Trek FX series is great, you get the comfortable upright position of a mountain bike paired with a lightweight frame, skinny road tires, and the road crank set. While these bikes are awesome they are not quite a road bike, but darn close especially if you have a medical reason to sit upright and stay out of the drops.

    Further consideration: there really is no one perfect bike. The perfect bike is two bikes.

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    A rock works as a hammer but a hammer works better...thats the difference.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bautieri View Post
    I guess what the perfect bike is is really up to the type of riding you do. Do you find yourself mainly on the roads? If so the Trek FX series is great, you get the comfortable upright position of a mountain bike paired with a lightweight frame, skinny road tires, and the road crank set. While these bikes are awesome they are not quite a road bike, but darn close especially if you have a medical reason to sit upright and stay out of the drops.

    Further consideration: there really is no one perfect bike. The perfect bike is two bikes.

    The FX looked like it could have been nice for me, too bad I bought a bike before joining this forum. Maybe I will try the road tires anyway since the seat should be good on any bike.

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    the rims of a a mtb might not be that much stonger. A lot of the hits a mtb can take is due to the suspension and the wide low pressure tires.

    also beware of racey XC hardtails. the geometry on many of those is more streched out than you think.

    also don't worry about the cranks and stuff. if you are new, heck even if you have been around for a while, i doubt anyone spins out the top gear of a mtb. 44/11 isn't very far off of my 50/12. unless you are planning on going for long rides averageing over 20+ mph the low end of the mtb cranks will help you more than the high end of the road will.

    a hardtail works great as long as you don't plan on going very fast. they also tend to be more cost effective imho

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    Quote Originally Posted by st0ut View Post
    Crack set and gears are for a lower speed as well.
    On a properly fitted road bike riding on the tops or on the hoods one is nearly upright anyway.

    So right now the highest gear is tough to keep up with on my MTB for a long time, but if I swapped out the tires I would be disappointed with the gears because I would peak and need a higher gear?

    What does the second part mean tops or on the hoods? I thought these guys leaned all the way forward.

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    replacing the "shock" forks for some cheap solid ones is the second best thing you can do to make your MTB road worthy. The first of course is thinner slick tires, and dont worry about the gearing. Chances are you won't be averaging 24mph right off the bat.

    Actually almost no one uses the higher gearings on the largest chainrings when commuting. Even with MTB gearing with a fast cadence you can go pretty damn fast.

    As a clyde who is getting heavier I will be switching to a MTB soon once I reach 235lbs. I am tired of breaking stuff on my road bikes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by heckler View Post
    the rims of a a mtb might not be that much stonger. A lot of the hits a mtb can take is due to the suspension and the wide low pressure tires.

    also beware of racey XC hardtails. the geometry on many of those is more streched out than you think.

    also don't worry about the cranks and stuff. if you are new, heck even if you have been around for a while, i doubt anyone spins out the top gear of a mtb. 44/11 isn't very far off of my 50/12. unless you are planning on going for long rides averageing over 20+ mph the low end of the mtb cranks will help you more than the high end of the road will.

    a hardtail works great as long as you don't plan on going very fast. they also tend to be more cost effective imho
    When I ride lately I try to keep it to one hour. I don't know how long I can stay that way, but I doubt I will often be out for two hours at a time. Do you have any recommendations on a road tire for a mountain bike? Not a brand recommendation, but a tread style? Fully slick? Semi Slick? Comfort?(i believe these are slick with knobbies on the sidewall edge)

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    Quote Originally Posted by EatMyA** View Post
    replacing the "shock" forks for some cheap solid ones is the second best thing you can do to make your MTB road worthy. The first of course is thinner slick tires, and dont worry about the gearing. Chances are you won't be averaging 24mph right off the bat.

    Actually almost no one uses the higher gearings on the largest chainrings when commuting. Even with MTB gearing with a fast cadence you can go pretty damn fast.

    As a clyde who is getting heavier I will be switching to a MTB soon once I reach 235lbs. I am tired of breaking stuff on my road bikes.
    I can get into the highest gear, but for a limited time. And if I stand up I can get into that gear quickly. What breaks on your road bike?

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    Yes, road bikes fly, but if you saw the poor chap that took a nasty spill on the Montalk ride when his 700C's tucked right in the groove between road and shoulder, you'd be riding an MTB always for distances under 40-50 mi

    That said, there's a couple of options to either make the bike light or roll fast. Light Ti hardtail frames can be as light as 3 lbs. 29" wheels are hard to stop once they get going, and if they're light, you're a good deal faster. Check out this thread.

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    Fastest bike is probably an S-Works Tarmac SL. A mere $5,500 and it's yours.

    Last edited by Richard_Rides; 06-24-08 at 06:26 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thurnau View Post
    So what is so bad about a mountain bike for an all purpose bike? I never knew it to be bad until I got to this forum, than I quickly learned many reasons.
    Pros of a real road bike: Lower weight, lighter skinnier tires with less resistance, and sitting parallel to the ground for wind resistance.
    Pros of a MTB for a cylde: stronger rims for riding up a curb, through a cracked up street, hitting smaller potholes, with road tires available. Sitting upright for me is important, my doctor said to ride a bike upright due to my hiatal hernia. They have some fork shocks to take some of the load at the expense of weight.

    If you have to sit upright, what would be the ideal bike? I would hat to invest 100 dollars on a comfortable seat, and 50 or more on a new tire set if the bike isn't right for what I need to do.

    You might be asking why I don't ask this in the MTB forum? Because they think a MTB is for trails only, people get blasted when it comes to talking about slicks.
    There are a couple of issues, and they are not at all obvious, except to someone who has ridden a distance on an MTB.

    1) Straight bars, keep your hands in an unnatural position for an extended period of time, this tends to result in hand/wrist pain and numbness. Road bars have more positions, tops. hoods, curve, drops, so you can move your hands around into different positions, to prevent problems.

    2) Weight, most MTB's are over 30lbs, most modern road bikes run in the 20-25lb range, while 5-10lbs doesn't seem like much, it's more then you really want the bike to weigh.

    3) Most of the MTBs have disc brakes, the mounting positions for the brake callipers, puts them in the way of attaching racks and fenders, unless you buy a very expensive set of racks. Full Fenders may be out.

    4) Gearing is quite low, and is weighted toward the lower end. On my MTB I rarely use the middle ring, and haven't used the granny ring in years. I typically run in the big ring, 4th or 5th gear, I have 8, I have run out of gears, and expect as I get stronger, to run out more often.

    While it is possible to swap out parts to make an MTB more like a road bike, it's not cheap (you need to swap the bars, brake levers, shifters, FD, crank, cassette, fork) and the bike is still not going to handle well ( the geometry is wrong) on the road. Better idea, is to see if you can pick up an experienced road bike on CL, leave your MTB for the trails....

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    Junior Member SJgunguy24's Avatar
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    I love my MTB and I commute on it as well. I have had a ton of people tell me to get a roadie. I ride around 12-15 mi. a day and try to get in a 30-40 on the weekend. I understand a R.B. is more efficent but I NEED THE WORK OUT. I'm 3bills and usally have a 25-30lb. pack. I DESTROIED a diamondback response comp. First the rear wheel,then another R.W.,Then a F.W. etc and after a year and a half the frame went. NO MORE ALUMNINUMN FRAMES. I'm pretty sure I can make any R.B. explode if I even think about it. I know that for me I have to go with a full Dirt Jump set up to make any thing last.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SJgunguy24 View Post
    I love my MTB and I commute on it as well. I have had a ton of people tell me to get a roadie. I ride around 12-15 mi. a day and try to get in a 30-40 on the weekend. I understand a R.B. is more efficent but I NEED THE WORK OUT. I'm 3bills and usally have a 25-30lb. pack. I DESTROIED a diamondback response comp. First the rear wheel,then another R.W.,Then a F.W. etc and after a year and a half the frame went. NO MORE ALUMNINUMN FRAMES. I'm pretty sure I can make any R.B. explode if I even think about it. I know that for me I have to go with a full Dirt Jump set up to make any thing last.
    What type of tires do you use?

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    I have ridden a Giant MTB for almost five years now. If you roadie-fry it, it almost becomes a road bike. Rigid forks, bigger crankset, smaller cassette, skinnier tires (although I just went back to my 2" road-knobbies because they are so much more durable when I go off-road). I've found that the biggest difference for me as far as "is this a boat anchor or a bicycle" is the tires. The minute you go from knobby or even a heavier/wider road wheel to a 1.5" slick, it's a new machine.

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    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thurnau View Post
    So right now the highest gear is tough to keep up with on my MTB for a long time, but if I swapped out the tires I would be disappointed with the gears because I would peak and need a higher gear?
    If you go from a 26x2.0" to a 26x1.50" tire, you are talking about a 4% change in gear inches. That's equivalent to 1/2 tooth on a 12T cog.
    Of course, you'll be faster, so you may still run out of gear. Time to learn to spin faster!
    Shorter cranks also allow you to spin faster.

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    Downtown Spanky Brown bautieri's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard_Rides View Post
    Fastest bike is probably an S-Works Tarmac SL. A mere $5,500 and it's yours.
    Only 5,500? Why didn't you pick an expensive one

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thurnau View Post
    So what is so bad about a mountain bike for an all purpose bike? I never knew it to be bad until I got to this forum, than I quickly learned many reasons.
    Most of them will be bs, as I suspect you've realized. Couriers have used slicked up mountain bikes for years, and they regularly win Alleycat races against drop handle racers.

    Pros of a real road bike: Lower weight, lighter skinnier tires with less resistance, and sitting parallel to the ground for wind resistance.
    Ahh. The song of the bicycle engineering experts who can't change tyres.

    The weight difference that counts is that of the rider plus the bike; save 5lbs on the bike and you've still lost only, say, 5% of real weight. This might make you accelerate 5% slower or climb a hill 5% slower (unless the hill is a steep one, in which case the MTB gear might give better performance). But really, you won't notice.

    As for wheel size, most of the people who prate about the subject have no understanding of the basic physics or practical physics. There are pluses and minuses of 26 and 700 size, the most noticeable being that a slicked 26 is easier to turn at typical traffic jamming speeds - 20s are much better again. Tyre resistance is highly complex; the bottom line is that 26s used to lack really good road tyres but they don't any more. Conti Sports Contacts are excellent. Oh - and 20 and 17 inch Moultons are banned from road racing by the UCI as unfair competition.


    Pros of a MTB for a cylde: stronger rims for riding up a curb, through a cracked up street, hitting smaller potholes, with road tires available.
    A 26 rim isn't necessarily stronger - look at the recent 29er MTBs! The above really rely on having a greater distance of air between your rim and the street. For a given contact patch size (a major factor in rolling resistance) a smaller wheel will always be able to more depth of air (because the larger wheel has a longer contact patch, and has to compensate by having narrower and hence shallower tyres.)


    Sitting upright for me is important, my doctor said to ride a bike upright due to my hiatal hernia. They have some fork shocks to take some of the load at the expense of weight.

    If you have to sit upright, what would be the ideal bike?
    Ok...

    1. Try bikes until you find one that lets you sit in the position you like! Don't worry if it is a 26 MTB or 700c hybrid.

    2. This bit is very important - make sure that the bike can run wide tyres! Tyres are still the most effective suspension system for bikes. Don't be cheap either. In your case I'd compromise a little speed for comfort and choose something like Schwalbe Kojaks or Marathon Supremes at least, and real balloons like Big Apples would be better again. Don't make the mistake of thinking fast tyres have to be narrow - VERY fast tyres do; but wide tyres can get all but the last edge of speed if they are made from a low rolling resistance material.

    3. Almost all 26 bikes can take wide tyres, but a lot of 700c bikes are limited for fashion reasons. (Don't ask; people are stupid and bike companies pander to them.) Check that the bike you buy can take, oh, at least a Schwalbe 38. Make the store fit Kojaks (or whatever you choose) when you buy. But a 26 would probably be better here - you could run a high performance balloon tyre like the Big Apple.

    4. Consider a suspension seat post, especially if you decide to go for a 700c bike. Big tyres work better though.

    5. Buying a full suspension MTB might seem tempting, but it's probably not a good idea for road riding - the suspension is designed for taking hard impacts at speed, and eats pedaling energy.

    6. Seats aren't so much good or bad as personal - different seats work for different people.

    7. If a bike makes you stretch out too much, you can always have it fitted with a shorter stem.

    ..So the most likely bike would be a hardtail MTB fitted with Big Apple tyres. Ignore anyone who says you need a more expensive steel or carbon fibre bike; frame design rather than material is the real determiner of frame rigidity, and you won't notice the difference between a hard or soft frame on Big Apples. Decent suspension forks cost money and poor ones are a nuisance. Balloon tyres will work better anyway - they absorb both road noise and big bumps. And the Apples are actually pretty fast tyres despite being wide and bouncy (what makes a tyre fast or slow is actually quite complex - width is NOT the only factor, despite what most of the everyone-knows brigade thinks.)

    Oh - and if you want to use fenders or a rack, check that the bike will take them with those Big Apples fitted - really check, as in have the store fit them!

    Subject to checking for rack and fender clearance etc, a good bike might be something like a Marin Muirwoods. Although a less famous brand name would probably be cheaper.
    Last edited by meanwhile; 06-24-08 at 07:28 AM.

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    Senior Member meanwhile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wogsterca View Post
    There are a couple of issues, and they are not at all obvious, except to someone who has ridden a distance on an MTB.

    1) Straight bars, keep your hands in an unnatural position for an extended period of time, this tends to result in hand/wrist pain and numbness. Road bars have more positions, tops. hoods, curve, drops, so you can move your hands around into different positions, to prevent problems.
    This mistakes personal taste for a universal rule - probably more people hate drops than hate flats. And the few people who think that straights are inherently uncomfortable generally those who haven't found a flat bar that fits them. Usually the bar is too wide, and they haven't realized they can can cut it down with a few minutes work with a hacksaw or pipe cutter...

    Another point to consider re drops is that you usually ride on the hoods on drops. This is a lousy position for hard braking. Most roadies never realize this because they never learn to brake hard.

    2) Weight, most MTB's are over 30lbs, most modern road bikes run in the 20-25lb range, while 5-10lbs doesn't seem like much, it's more then you really want the bike to weigh.
    Again: you're talking about 230lb total weight compared to 225lb total weight. Doesn't sound much of a difference now, does it? It hardly matters in a climb, and not at all on the flat.

    3) Most of the MTBs have disc brakes, the mounting positions for the brake callipers, puts them in the way of attaching racks and fenders, unless you buy a very expensive set of racks. Full Fenders may be out.
    So don't buy an MTB with this problem. Otoh, a lot of road racing bikes not only can't take fenders unless fitted with 23mm knife blade tyres, they also have frames so short that the front wheel can eat the riders foot if he pedals and turns hard at the same time.

    4) Gearing is quite low, and is weighted toward the lower end.
    Which doesn't suit road racing, but can be ideal for commuting. And anyway, the shop can change it for you in a few minutes.

    While it is possible to swap out parts to make an MTB more like a road bike, it's not cheap (you need to swap the bars, brake levers, shifters, FD, crank, cassette, fork)
    This would make an MTB have more parts in common with a road racer, but it wouldn't do anything to address the OP's needs - which are an upright bike with cushioning. (Your scheme also wouldn't be an effective way of speeding up the MTB; slicks, a longer stem set lower, and different chain rings would do better there.)

    and the bike is still not going to handle well ( the geometry is wrong) on the road.
    This is bigger nonsense. A drop handled racer actually handles really poorly at real commute speeds and tasks - emergency stops, good rider vision, turning at 15mph. Which isn't surprising because racing bikes aren't designed to do any of these things. Rigid trail bikes are.

    And I can't even guess how any of what you wrote relates to the needs of a rider who needs lots of cushioning and an upright position - talking him into riding a bike with a stretched out flat position and thin tyres because that's the sort fo bike you like is bizarre. If you want him on a drop handle you could have at least explained how to find one that can run wide tyres, and how to size one so that the drops can go higher than usual to get the riding position he needs.
    Last edited by meanwhile; 06-24-08 at 07:32 AM.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thurnau View Post
    So what is so bad about a mountain bike for an all purpose bike?
    Nothing. Who has been filling your head with such negativity? It's great. Just ride your bike and enjoy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by stevesurf View Post
    Yes, road bikes fly, but if you saw the poor chap that took a nasty spill on the Montalk ride when his 700C's tucked right in the groove between road and shoulder, you'd be riding an MTB always for distances under 40-50 mi
    You would; I wouldn't. My momma didn't raise a fool who doesn't know about where not to put your wheel.

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    Quote Originally Posted by meanwhile View Post
    The weight difference that counts is that of the rider plus the bike; save 5lbs on the bike and you've still lost only, say, 5% of real weight. This might make you accelerate 5% slower or climb a hill 5% slower (unless the hill is a steep one, in which case the MTB gear might give better performance). But really, you won't notice.

    As for wheel size, most of the people who prate about the subject have no understanding of the basic physics or practical physics. There are pluses and minuses of 26 and 700 size, the most noticeable being that a slicked 26 is easier to turn at typical traffic jamming speeds - 20s are much better again. Tyre resistance is highly complex; the bottom line is that 26s used to lack really good road tyres but they don't any more. Conti Sports Contacts are excellent. Oh - and 20 and 17 inch Moultons are banned from road racing by the UCI as unfair competition.
    Say what you will, but I can easily ride my road bike 30% farther than my slick-tired mountain bike at an average speed that's about 20% higher. Bicycle maneuverability, in my experience, has very little to do with tire size. Rake, trail, and the amount of leverage you're able to exert through the handlebars seem to have more influence than wheel size or weight. In any event, both my road bike and my slick-tired MTB turn quickly enough to avoid almost any obstacle. Then again, so does my 400lb motorcycle at 60mph...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thurnau View Post
    Do you have any recommendations on a road tire for a mountain bike? Not a brand recommendation, but a tread style? Fully slick? Semi Slick? Comfort?(i believe these are slick with knobbies on the sidewall edge)
    If you believe Sheldon Brown you should go with a full slick. I, personally, have crashed while riding slick tires across wet pavement so I tend to buy tires with siping. I'm currently running the Forte City ST 26"x1.5 tire from Performance Bike. The ride is a bit harsh, so I'll probably look for a wider tire when it's time to replace them. Maybe a Schwalbe Big Apple, Michelin City Pilot, etc.

    BTW, don't mistake a semi-knobby tire for a semi-slick tire! Big difference in terms of the amount of pedaling effort. I have a set of WTB All Terrainasaurus tires that I use on gravel paths and hard-packed dirt roads. WTB will tell you that they have low rolling resistance, but my legs would argue they're much harder to push around on the road than the Forte City ST...
    Last edited by sstorkel; 06-24-08 at 03:52 PM.

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