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  1. #1
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    MTB vs Road Bike

    After a few weeks of snow and wind storms, pretty much everywhere I ride (including the route to work) is littered with mounds of plowed ice/snow, and assorted tree branches and debris that has been blown around and ultimately made its way to the edges of the roads.

    So, giving up on riding the road bike again any time soon, I returned to commuting today via the mountain bike until road conditions improve. I was absolutely stunned by the performance difference. I knew the off-road, meaty and squishy tires would provide higher rolling resistance, and I knew the gears were much lower, but I was not prepared for what my Garmin was going to show me when I got home.

    My average speed, including all the assorted stops I can't seem to avoid, was almost 6mph lower (19mph down to 13mph) on the mountain bike. Just absolutely nuts. On the bright side though, I had to have burned more calories on the ride than normal so it isn't all bad, so maybe my gut will be just a little bit smaller by spring than it was already destined to be.

  2. #2
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    Yeah, if the additional time is not going to be a deal breaker, then the mt bike will actually have a big benefit due to the extra work required to get you from point A to point B.

  3. #3
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Unless you're doing some major downhill, the gears are holding you back. On our trail rides, I'm doing 21 ph on my 39 ring. I know plenty of riders that can't keep up in a 53. I've been on my mtb ,knobbies and all and kept up with 3 roadies at 24 mph till a couple of them fell back.

    Depends on your pedal technique. I was out on a solo ride once when I encountered a guy that couldn't keep up. I wasn't racing, he just wasn't as fast but he tried. When I stopped to refill my bottles, he said, "if I had bigger gears, I'd keep up with you".

    I asked what made him think that. He said he only had a 50 on his compact and that I had a 53. Then I asked him if he had noticed that I was in my 39 the entire time!

    I spin and hardly ever touch the big ring on my roadies unless it'a a 30 mph downhill. I think it's more the wide cushy tires that slow you down,not the gears.

  4. #4
    me ride bike good
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    I roll 1.5" tires on my MTB and can average 15+ without much effort, and I am not fast. I spin, don't use the top ring much. these tires are not bad for the sand and such you might find on the road, however they are a flat tread, and knobs might be called for when there is any snow. I shot my crank out last year, and had to have it replaced, and the only one my LBS had that would fit my older MTB was a triple that had more teeth than my old (the ratio escapes me). What a difference!

  5. #5
    DRF aka Thrifty Bill wrk101's Avatar
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    +1 Heavy cushy tires are more of an impediment than the gearing. I certainly notice the difference on my MTB with 26-1.25 slicks versus the 26-1.95 trail tires.

    My mountain bike, even though it is a fairly good one (Trek 950) is also several pounds heavier than my Lotus road bike.

  6. #6
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    Mountain bikes are more work. I started commuting on my mtb. I didn't have a computer when I started, but my commute went from 50 or 55 minutes to just over 40 when I bought my touring bike. And that is running 700x32's. I'm sure if I got a roadie that is half again as light with 23's, I would make it five minutes shorter at least.

  7. #7
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    I still love my mountain bike though!

  8. #8
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wrk101 View Post
    My mountain bike, even though it is a fairly good one (Trek 950) is also several pounds heavier than my Lotus road bike.

    MY Trek is an 8000. What's strange is that I know it's heavier than my roadies but I cranked it up to 24 mph on a gravel trail. I was rolling pretty well when the front end felt as it if it wanted to float away!....Sure felt light that day!.......Ever get that feeling? (mine is a Rokshok Duke fork)

    Last edited by Mr. Beanz; 01-14-09 at 05:09 PM.

  9. #9
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    Mine isn't a Trek, but it is a hard tail like what you have pictured and a nice front suspension fork. Arguably my mountain bike is a better bike for what it was designed to do than my road bike is. I have a Gary Fischer Hoo Koo E Koo, but my road bike is an old Trek 1200 (1999). In this era of full suspension mountain bikes, that type of model doesn't seem to be so popular, but I have ridden full suspension and it just doesn't feel right to have the bike flexing so much. Each to their own, that is why they make different kinds!

    I know my cadence is not anywhere near as well developed as your's. I don't have a cadence sensor mounted on the MTB, but on the road bike my stats show me averaging 80 RPM. For me, and my fat belly, I consider that pretty good, but I know that for a serious rider that is way on the lower end of an acceptable pace. I tell myself when I can pedal and not feel my knees smacking my belly around like a speed bag that I will work on getting faster.

  10. #10
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Gary Fischer is TREK!..I had achoice of F/S when I bougth my MTB. I had ridden with others and noticed the lack of climbing prowess. I had buds with $1500 rigs and I was outclmbing them on my $250 rigid Trek 800!...Took a look around and racers were riding hardtails, not F/S. Downhill racers yes but not the climbers!

  11. #11
    Senior Member deraltekluge's Avatar
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    Use a gear calculator like Sheldon Brown's and compare your road bike with your MTB. The road bike will probably have about 2 gear ratios beyond the highest ratio of the MTB, so unless you're using the top two gears of the road bike, and spinning out on the MTB, it's not the gearing that makes the difference in speed. The MTB will be higher drag because of its lower pressure, knobby tires, and the aerodynamic drag will be higher due to the more upright riding position. You'll also lose more on uphills due to the MTB's greater weight than you'll gain on the downhills.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Wogster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dlester View Post
    After a few weeks of snow and wind storms, pretty much everywhere I ride (including the route to work) is littered with mounds of plowed ice/snow, and assorted tree branches and debris that has been blown around and ultimately made its way to the edges of the roads.

    So, giving up on riding the road bike again any time soon, I returned to commuting today via the mountain bike until road conditions improve. I was absolutely stunned by the performance difference. I knew the off-road, meaty and squishy tires would provide higher rolling resistance, and I knew the gears were much lower, but I was not prepared for what my Garmin was going to show me when I got home.

    My average speed, including all the assorted stops I can't seem to avoid, was almost 6mph lower (19mph down to 13mph) on the mountain bike. Just absolutely nuts. On the bright side though, I had to have burned more calories on the ride than normal so it isn't all bad, so maybe my gut will be just a little bit smaller by spring than it was already destined to be.
    That's just the way it has to be, if you want to ride in the snow, you need those big squishy tires, and they suck up a lot of your pedalling effort. The big advantage comes in the spring when the snow is gone and you switch back to the road bike, it will feel like you switched from driving a 4xz4 Chevy to a Corvette.....

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