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  1. #1
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    The Versatility of MTN Bikes

    I was reading a post within this forum that suggested the possibility, that mountain bikes, just might not be the most versatile bicycle present amongst today's world cyclists. I just wanted to remind everyone that MTN bikes are by far the most versatile bicycle ever to be manufactured, bar none!

    MTN bikes are used for commuting. They're used for quick errands. They're used for touring. They're used for trail-blazing, free-riding tricks, and jumps. They are used for urban assault riding activities. They are used for the casual recreational ride in the park. They are used for utilitarian purposes. They are used for cross country events. They are used in racing. They traverse all terrains, without any difficulty. There are places that the MTB can go that neither the hybrid nor the cyclocross bike, would dare enter. This for example:

    Gravel1.jpg

    Only a MTB would venture onto this terrain. It's truly not made for any hybrid or cyclocross bike.

    Besides, when you can commute on the pothole-ridden, debris-strewn, and slippery streets of major cities, as well as, blaze the rock-extruded and stump-weary forest trails, you're just a winner!

    What could be more versatile than MTN Bikes? ...Check this out commuters:

    http://youtu.be/0zLuqKNKOqs

    You're All Welcome!

    - Slim

    PS.

    BTW - Did I say that they could jump?
    Last edited by SlimRider; 11-06-11 at 11:23 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member yep202's Avatar
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    Agree. I use a giant for my ride to work and home and anything else I feel like doing. I've also taken it off a few jumps. So far I have 2600 miles on my giant. I ride almost 14 miles a day round trip unless I take it other places then the miles almost double or triple.
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  3. #3
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    Most of the naysayers are skinny-tire fanatics who feel you're not "cycling" unless you're doing 20 in traffic. Or, weight weenies......

  4. #4
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    Yeah, you're right SlimR. About the only type of cycling I wouldn't use an mtb for is long-range rural/semi-rural commuting. 15+ miles. Too slow w/26" wheels. They're perfect for urban commuting, utility, off-road, loaded touring, etc. though. Rode one for years when I lived urban. Still have it. Just not used, anymore. It's taken out for a spin once in a while just to let it know I appreciate all those years of dedicated service.

  5. #5
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    While I agree that mountain bikes can be versatile, one must keep in mind that the same mountain bike that can easily handle extremely rough terrain would absolutely suck as a commuter. A fully rigid mountain bike, which would make a decent commuter, isn't particularly well suited for very rough terrain. Some mountain bikes are useful in a variety of environments, but are not well suited to do anything extreme. Others, such as a downhill bike, aren't very useful off the trail.

    I'm a year-round commuter, and my only bike is a fully rigid mountain bike. But, I would be na´ve to believe that the platform is not without it's limitations. Pretty much anywhere off-road that my bike will go (such as a rock garden like the one pictured in the OP), I could just as easily ride a hybrid. A cyclocross bike would be just as good in most cases, almost as good in a few cases, and better in a few cases. For long distance rides, a road bike, touring bike, or even a cross bike would be much better.
    Last edited by Jaywalk3r; 11-05-11 at 02:13 PM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member DVC45's Avatar
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    ' have to agree with the OP.

    This one will be my year round commuter.

    "Cycling is for pleasure not penance"

  7. #7
    Dept. store bike bandit
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    I suppose the only real reason I tend to pass on mountain bikes these days is the lack of drop bars. I find the extra hand positions really help me on longer rides and they seem to help me make more power on climbs.

    I tend to use my bikes for group rides as well, and a MTB wouldn't be well suited for that. On our rides, the few times someone brings a MTB they end up falling way back.

    I think a good MTB would be perfect for doing heavy hauling with a trailer to a local destination though, because of their tendency to have better gearing for that sort of thing. I don't think I'd want to tow anything particularly heavy with either of my road bikes.
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  8. #8
    Real Men Ride Ordinaries fuzz2050's Avatar
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    Quite honestly, I don't need my commuting bike to take a four foot jump, or navigate a skree slope, or handle any of the free riding in that video. I don't know about you, but I commute in a city, the streets are paved, and while they might be rougher than I like, the potholes don't justify 8 inches of suspension.

    A mountain bike is purpose built just like a road bike; you can you it outside of its purpose, but it will be sub optimal.

  9. #9
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    I use a Mtb as my bad weather, bad road condition (debris strewn) commuter. Just feel safer riding it under these conditions. I ride my hybrid when conditions are nicer.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by nashcommguy View Post
    Yeah, you're right SlimR. About the only type of cycling I wouldn't use an mtb for is long-range rural/semi-rural commuting. 15+ miles. Too slow w/26" wheels. They're perfect for urban commuting, utility, off-road, loaded touring, etc. though. Rode one for years when I lived urban. Still have it. Just not used, anymore. It's taken out for a spin once in a while just to let it know I appreciate all those years of dedicated service.
    There's nothing slow about 26 inch wheels. I'm just as fast on my Bridgestone XO-2 as on my Gunnar Sport. I know people who commute on Bike Fridays, and those have 20 inch wheels. Those guys fly.

    Now, if you're talking about flat bar MTB vs drop bar 26 inch wheeled bike, you may have a point. Aerodynamics and all that jazz.
    "When I'm on a bike, it's like I'm 14 again, racing off to the arcade with a pocket full of quarters."

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jaywalk3r View Post
    While I agree that mountain bikes can be versatile, one must keep in mind that the same mountain bike that can easily handle extremely rough terrain would absolutely suck as a commuter. A fully rigid mountain bike, which would make a decent commuter, isn't particularly well suited for very rough terrain. Some mountain bikes are useful in a variety of environments, but are not well suited to do anything extreme. Others, such as a downhill bike, aren't very useful off the trail.

    I'm a year-round commuter, and my only bike is a fully rigid mountain bike. But, I would be na´ve to believe that the platform is not without it's limitations. Pretty much anywhere off-road that my bike will go (such as a rock garden like the one pictured in the OP), I could just as easily ride a hybrid. A cyclocross bike would be just as good in most cases, almost as good in a few cases, and better in a few cases. For long distance rides, a road bike, touring bike, or even a cross bike would be much better.
    Hey there Jay!

    All I'm saying here, is that while a MTB might not be perfect in all situations, it can successfully traverse the terrain without fail. Perhaps on tour, it will lag behind. Perhaps as a commuter, it will required more energy and arrive a couple minutes later. However, it will arrive at its destination, without fail, regardless as to the given terrain presented.

    BTW- That rock is virtually impassable to most cyclocrossers and hybriders!

    ........Are you seeing what I'm looking at?...That's MTB territory, there!

    - Slim
    Last edited by SlimRider; 11-05-11 at 05:00 PM.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by fuzz2050 View Post
    Quite honestly, I don't need my commuting bike to take a four foot jump, or navigate a skree slope, or handle any of the free riding in that video. I don't know about you, but I commute in a city, the streets are paved, and while they might be rougher than I like, the potholes don't justify 8 inches of suspension.

    A mountain bike is purpose built just like a road bike; you can you it outside of its purpose, but it will be sub optimal.
    You're absolutely correct, Fuzz!

    However, my point is that the MTB can successfully meet the challenge of commuting on any surface, including paved roads, too. Sure, it might not arrive when the rest of the city's roadies get there, but it will get there! That's what makes it more versatile. The fact remains that the MTB will arrive at any city destination, but road bikes and hybrids, can't always arrive at mountainous destinations, because they're not as versatile.

    - Slim

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by SlimRider View Post
    BTW- That rock is virtually impassable to most cyclocrossers and hybriders!

    ........Are you seeing what I'm looking at?...THat MTB territory, there!
    It's the indian, not the arrow. Those rocks could be traversed with a comfort bike, given the right tires and a decently skilled rider. That doesn't mean a comfort bike is the best bike for the task, only that it would be versatile enough to be used, in much the same way that many mountain bikes are versatile enough to be used off the trail, even though they are usually not the optimal choice for the street.

  14. #14
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    As for versatility---absolutely. A rigid MTB can do everything. People tour on them. People have ridden technical offroad on them. But a double boinging long travel bike will make a lousy touring bike.
    "When I'm on a bike, it's like I'm 14 again, racing off to the arcade with a pocket full of quarters."

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jaywalk3r View Post
    It's the indian, not the arrow. Those rocks could be traversed with a comfort bike, given the right tires and a decently skilled rider. That doesn't mean a comfort bike is the best bike for the task, only that it would be versatile enough to be used, in much the same way that many mountain bikes are versatile enough to be used off the trail, even though they are usually not the optimal choice for the street.
    Hey there Jay!

    Jay, I think that you're either a lawyer, a world series umpire, or a boxing judge, 'cause I just cain't see it!

    No comfort bike is making it through that obstacle course of a rock garden, I'm sorry...

    - Slim

  16. #16
    Dept. store bike bandit
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    Let me present a different perspective...



    Jacked up Blazers are used for commuting. They're used for quick errands. They're used for trips. They're used for trail-blazing, and jumps. They are used for the casual recreational Sunday drive. They are used for utilitarian purposes. They are used for cross country events. They are used in racing. They traverse all terrains, without any difficulty. There are places that a jacked up truck can go that neither the family sedan or luxury car, would dare enter.

    Doesn't make much sense, right? How often are many of us driving or riding over rocks that would really require a jacked up truck or a MTB?

    I'm not discounting those of you who use MTBs for commuting. But, really, in their stock forms they aren't best suited for the task. I'm betting that most people who seriously intend to commute via MTB remove the knobby tires in favor of slicks or near-slicks, which takes away a lot of the offroad capability and versatility they initially have.

    I would like to note however that one big exception would be for winter cycling in some areas, when we're talking about serious obstructions. During that time those knobby tires will help, and many people in those states often switch over to a 4WD/AWD vehicle as well. If I had to commute in places where the snow got thick, I'd want a MTB with seriously knobby tires and gears to get through anything. No questions asked.

    Fortunately I live in an area that gets very little snow, and what we do get never sticks to the road. So I don't really need such a bike, much like I don't need a 4WD or AWD vehicle.

    I've come from MTBs previously and found them to require more effort in general. Getting on a road bike for the first time was a 'whoa' moment. It almost pedaled itself.
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  17. #17
    Senior Member The Chemist's Avatar
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    I've commuted on a mountain bike before, and I'd never go back to one. My road-oriented hybrid is FAR better and easier to ride on pavement than a mountain bike.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by borobike View Post
    Let me present a different perspective...



    Jacked up Blazers are used for commuting. They're used for quick errands. They're used for trips. They're used for trail-blazing, and jumps. They are used for the casual recreational Sunday drive. They are used for utilitarian purposes. They are used for cross country events. They are used in racing. They traverse all terrains, without any difficulty. There are places that a jacked up truck can go that neither the family sedan or luxury car, would dare enter.

    Doesn't make much sense, right? How often are many of us driving or riding over rocks that would really require a jacked up truck or a MTB?

    I'm not discounting those of you who use MTBs for commuting. But, really, in their stock forms they aren't best suited for the task. I'm betting that most people who seriously intend to commute via MTB remove the knobby tires in favor of slicks or near-slicks, which takes away a lot of the offroad capability and versatility they initially have.

    I would like to note however that one big exception would be for winter cycling in some areas, when we're talking about serious obstructions. During that time those knobby tires will help, and many people in those states often switch over to a 4WD/AWD vehicle as well. If I had to commute in places where the snow got thick, I'd want a MTB with seriously knobby tires and gears to get through anything. No questions asked.

    Fortunately I live in an area that gets very little snow, and what we do get never sticks to the road. So I don't really need such a bike, much like I don't need a 4WD or AWD vehicle.

    I've come from MTBs previously and found them to require more effort in general. Getting on a road bike for the first time was a 'whoa' moment. It almost pedaled itself.
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    Alright!...Alright!...Alright!...I get your point! Enough with the demonstrations already! Enough! Enough!

    - Slim

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    No Mas!

  19. #19
    Wookie Jesus inspires me. Puget Pounder's Avatar
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    I agree that mountain bikes are the most versatile. The advent of mountain bikes popularized biking for the masses.

    However, I love my sport-touring road bike and find that it is the best commyuter. 28Cs, fenders, drop bars = perfect commuter to me.

  20. #20
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    [QUOTE=SlimRider;13457367]Hey there Jay!

    Jay, I think that you're either a lawyer, a world series umpire, or a boxing judge, 'cause I just cain't see it!

    No comfort bike is making it through that obstacle course of a rock garden, I'm sorry.../QUOTE]

    That rock garden isn't much of an obstacle course. A reasonably capable rider could ride any one of a number of different types of bikes through it. That kind of off road riding is about technique, not about how much of a pounding the bike can handle.

    The problem is that you're using two standards. You're considering mountain bikes to be capable of tasks for which they can be used despite more suitable bikes being available, but not giving credit to other types of bikes that can be used on off-road terrain because they aren't the optimal choice. You can't have it both ways. Either a full suspension mountain bike, for example, is not suitable for street use because much better options are available, or a hybrid, cruiser, etc. is versatile enough to be used on rough terrain such as your rock garden simply because they can be used successfully, even if better options exist.

    Are you familiar with the roots of the modern mountain bike?

    There were several groups of riders in different areas of the U.S.A. who can make valid claims to playing a part in the birth of [mountain biking]. Riders in Crested Butte, Colorado and Cupertino, California tinkered with bikes and adapted them to the rigors of off-road riding. Modified heavy cruiser bicycles, old 1930s and '40s Schwinn bicycles retrofitted with better brakes and fat tires, were used for freewheeling down mountain trails in Marin County, California in the mid-to-late 1970s. At the time, there were no mountain bikes. The earliest ancestors of modern mountain bikes were based around frames from cruiser bicycles such as those made by Schwinn. The Schwinn Excelsior was the frame of choice due to its geometry. Riders used balloon-tired cruisers and modified them with gears and motocross or BMX-style handlebars, creating "klunkers". The term would also be used as a verb since the term "mountain biking" was not yet in use. Riders would race down mountain fireroads, causing the hub brake to burn the grease inside, requiring the riders to repack the bearings. These were called "Repack Races" and triggered the first innovations in mountain bike technology as well as the initial interest of the public. The sport originated in California on Marin County's Mount Tamalpais.
    Source

    "Mountain biking" predates the contemporary mountain bike. It follows that "mountain biking" can be accomplished with other types of bikes.

    I love my mountain bike (although in its current configuration, it isn't well suited for riding off-road), but I'm well aware that it has limitations. There are some things it doesn't do well, and even some things it doesn't do. To me, it seems pretty versatile, because the things it does at least adequately match up pretty well with the things I need my bike to be able to do. For someone who's needs don't mach up so well with the bike's capabilities, it wouldn't seem very versatile at all.
    Last edited by Jaywalk3r; 11-05-11 at 06:43 PM.

  21. #21
    Senior Member canyoneagle's Avatar
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    Here's a pic of what I'd look like after trying to follow the guys on the OP video:





    After commuting on everything from racing road bikes, randonneur bikes, hybrids, comfort bikes and mountain bikes (26" XC, 26" full rigid, and 29") I have settled on a "monster cross" bike for my primary commuter. It is essentially a 29" mountain bike designed around a fully rigid setup (no compensation for a squishy fork) and a drop bar. Sort of in the same vein as the Salsa Fargo.

    Anyway, a few things I've noticed:

    - I can keep a similar pace on a mountain bike as on a road bike (for commuting), and my point-to-point time is a wash regardless of what I choose to ride (including singlespeed)
    - I have found that I enjoy the capacity of a mountain bike to accommodate a variety of tire sizes, from thin to fat.
    - My penchant for IGH gearing means that I prefer a frame that s designed to allow for chain tensioning. This is not exclusive to MTB's, but the SingleSpeed frame design is where I find my sweet spot for options.

    So my perfect commuter may not suit others, but I do think that MTB's offer great versatility (especially those designed around a fully rigid platform).

    Have fun out there!
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  22. #22
    Senior Member wolfchild's Avatar
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    I have to agree that a hardtail MTB with a rigid fork is a most versatile bike.. but may not always be the fastest.
    I have two mountain bikes which I run as SS or FG . What I like most about it is that I can run both 26 inch wheels or 700cc wheels on the same frame, most 26 inch frames have plenty of clearence to run 700cc wheels. Most of the time I run 700cc because they are faster and have less less rolling resistence. I also have a FG Road bike which is much faster then my MTB's..but if I only had to have one bike it would be a MTB. I love those old fashioned and simple ,steel framed MTB's.. I don't like all those modern MTB's with suspensions and fancy paintjobs. I can run skinny tires and drop bars on my MTB and ride a 100 miles, or I can put some fat 26 inch tires and ride singletrack trails.. very versatile indeed.

  23. #23
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
    I have to agree that a hardtail MTB with a rigid fork is a most versatile bike.. but may not always be the fastest.
    I have two mountain bikes which I run as SS or FG . What I like most about it is that I can run both 26 inch wheels or 700cc wheels on the same frame, most 26 inch frames have plenty of clearence to run 700cc wheels. Most of the time I run 700cc because they are faster and have less less rolling resistence. I also have a FG Road bike which is much faster then my MTB's..but if I only had to have one bike it would be a MTB. I love those old fashioned and simple ,steel framed MTB's.. I don't like all those modern MTB's with suspensions and fancy paintjobs. I can run skinny tires and drop bars on my MTB and ride a 100 miles, or I can put some fat 26 inch tires and ride singletrack trails.. very versatile indeed.
    What about the brake bosses? Do yours slide up and down the fork depending on which wheelset your running? I've inquired about converting my 26" to 700c, but was told I'd have to basically take a torch to the brake studs and then weld back into place...

    Edit: Just occurred to me that what I stated would be a problem with v-brakes. Discs, though, probably wouldn't pose the same problem...
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  24. #24
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    You have to think about the demographics of different cities, too. I used to live in Denver (1990 to 1995), a very bicycle-friendly city with an amazing web of usable bike paths and great streets and a monster bike culture. I commuted on a Trek 520 touring bike, drop bars, skinny high pressure tires, Reynolds steel frame, smooth, strong, quiet and fast. But now I live in El Paso, Texas, no bike culture, no bike paths, ill-kept streets, when a bicyclist is out there it is many times a battle. Sometimes the best and shortest routes are these insane rock-strewn dirt streets, parking lots and sidewalks, and even the good streets are in need of repair. When we first came here I started commuting on the 520 - no dice. I got a Trek 4300, a relatively low-end hardtail, dressed it up and <<bingo>>. So, my 520? Denver OK; El Paso, not OK. My mountain bike? OK in both cities, but not quite as fast in Denver. The OP is correct.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by SlimRider View Post
    This for example:



    Only a MTB would venture onto this terrain. It's truly not made for any hybrid or cyclocross bike.
    How about a carbon road bike?

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