Originally Posted by agarose2000
Hi all - I'm sure this topic has been posted to DEATH somewhere out here, but with the search function down, it's all little hard to get the latest and greatest on everyone's experiences.
For a non-trivial commuter (>5 miles each way) on generally good quality roads, I was wondering what people's EXPERIENCE was with mountain versus road bikes.
I would love to hear specifically from people who have actually USED or OWNED BOTH mtn & road for COMMUTING; I know at least a million "theoretical" reasons that would be a legit argument, but I'd like to hear about the real deal from anyone who has made the switch and why.
To start off, would love to hear about:
1) Speed - how much faster and on what terrain?
3) Comfort & carrying capacity
4) Flexibility - is it worth the whole new road bike if you just use it for commuting, or is a mtn/hybrid the best bang for your buck?
If you can, say a little about your rig and your route so we can all get an idea of where you're coming from.
Thanks all, great forums here!
PS - I'm on a Gary Fisher Mamba with knobbies, doing a 5-7mile commute in the LA area each way, and am an occasional (but increasingly frequent) mountain biker on the weekend. Installed a rear rack and Jandd economy panniers (I highly recommend panniers!) but don't have fenders. Also use a rear red blinker. I ride fast (for me) and on well-maintained roads, but do duck out onto sidewalks (and go slow) in heavier high-speed traffic, especially on one-lane roads. Change at work, and do the full shirt & tie thing - no wrinkle problems yet with a decent folding job in the packing. (Did I say panniers help?)
No question a road bike is faster, given the lighter weight. I usually don't like to quote average speed. I just measure time of commute. On my Sequoia, I cover 3.8 miles in 19-21 minutes going to work. It's up a 1.2 mile, fairly steep hill with the rest steeply rolling. Very little flat running. Coming home doesn't count. On my '88 Trek 830, (pictured below) it's 23-25 minutes.
The sky's the limit. For what it's worth, I blow by some very pricey bikes on that hill on a regular basis. One guy always seems to want to chase me. Well, maybe he's already put out 30 miles, I don't know. I paid $500 for that 830 back then. You might find it for $100 now. Great bike. The Sequoia's just a rec-roadie I got on sale for $950. Fun bike.
3) Comfort and Carrying capacity:
Goes solidly to the all rigid, old school 830. It's as comfy as my 520 and has more
hardpoints for racks and panniers! Just try and find that on a modern mtb. No question about carrying capacity: road bikes have little or none. I used a backpack with the Sequoia and ended up going back to the 830 after four days.
I use the 830 for everything including centuries. I don't have a single purpose bike. The Best Bang For The Buck? Very subjective here, but I favor recycling a good old bike. Few bikes get much use and good ones abound. Unless you find a good sale, you will be over charged at any LBS for a new one. I got my '98 Trek 520 (near mint) for $550, fully dressed with racks, fenders, Brooks and Nitto stuff. I can't believe what they go for new and naked. Same with my new Sequoia Elite. If it wasn't marked down to the degree it was, I'd have passed. Buy a decent used rigid mtb. They are the toughest bikes ever built, with the possible exception of Euro 3-speeds.
You didn't mention tour machines. They are also excellent all-rounders. However, due to the hills, my commuting is done on the 830 because it has OvalTech chainrings.
This pic shows a very large old school mtb. I bought it that way because I knew I would never be an off-road rider except for maybe the occasional greenbelt shortcut. Plus, in 1988, if you wanted a truly comfortable bike, you had to buy an mtb. It was that or a roadie, and there was nothing around like a Sequoia at the time either, with it's relaxed geo. It is one poor man's attempt at a good solid Expedition/Atlantis type. It now has North Road bars, Brooks B67, clipless peds, Freddies, and 1.5" Armadillos. Original mid-range Deore DR's and shifters which work as smooth and quiet as my other 105 $tuff. Sakae Ovaltech chainrings and cranks (forged). I recently changed the freewheel to a low of 28t. I've lost some climbing power but gained some road speed. I don't know - I might go back to the 32t.