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Old 01-19-05, 05:39 PM   #1
tg1896
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Mountain bike or road bike? What's your opinion?

I have an eight-mile commute in Atlanta. I make it on a twenty-year-old Trek road bike. I went to a compact double to give my old legs a break on the hills. I only have one section of about a mile that I really despise - three lanes uphill - everybody doing 60 in a 45 zone. I could extend my commute to about 9.5 by adding 1.5 on a bike path and rough trail and miss all that traffic. The question is should I buy an old mountain bike, add the rack and panniers and change my commute or just stick it out with the speed demons?
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Old 01-19-05, 06:14 PM   #2
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I think that adding a little variety, as well as distance, to the ride would be the prudent AND fun thing to do. Don't get me wrong. I ride in plenty of traffic myself. But given the choice I'd definately take the trail.

Depending on how big a tire you can run on that old road bike, a mountain bike might not be absolutely necessary. If you can mount 32 or 35's you'd be surprised where a 'road' bike can go.

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Old 01-19-05, 07:05 PM   #3
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I thought about doing that, but I can't mount a tire that large AND I doubt that my 50/34 front with an 11/28 rear could handle the hills. Besides, it would give me a good excuse to buy a fixer-upper and tinker with it a bit. What about doing the 18 round trip on a 19-inch frame with 26x1 tires. Will that be a hassle? (I've never owned a mtn. bike)
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Old 01-19-05, 07:30 PM   #4
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I wouldn't want to ride a mountain bike that far. They suck over long distances and I am sure that you will regret it. I suggest a cyclocross bike if you want to ride over the mixed terrain that you are describing. They can take a thicker or treaded tire, are fast, and have the geometry to handle rougher conditions.
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Old 01-19-05, 07:40 PM   #5
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Like most things in life, it will all come down to a compromise based on the dirt/trail/street ratio of your commute.

For instance: I live on horse property and commute 30 miles to work on my cyclocross bike. The first half mile is dirt road, but the last 29.5 is on the road. So as you can imagine, I run narrow, high pressure road tires. This slows me to a crawl (compared to a MTB) on the dirt, but allows much greater speed once I'm out on the road. For a while was running bigger, 38 centimeter commuter tires which were great fun on the dirt roads around the neighborhood - not to mention giving a cadillac ride over rough pavement - but they were definately slower compared to what I'm running now. Ultimately I would rather tip toe through the dirt so I can fly down the road.

There are A LOT of tires available for 26" wheels. I have run a MTB with 1" slicks and ridden my 30 mile commute. The ride is nowhere as smooth as a bigger, 700c wheels with proper road tires, but is certainly faster than a set of 2" wide nobbies. There are plenty of commuter tires from 1.25 to 2" wide with multi-surface tread. These would be ideal for a 18 mile, round trip commute. Do a search and check out the many threads about commuter tires here on the forum. Take it from me; you can go broke experimenting.

Take it easy. DanO
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Old 01-19-05, 08:00 PM   #6
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I regularly road an 8.5 mile commute on a mountain bike with slick tires. It was not a pain at all. I also road the same bike on some pretty rugged dirt roads on the mountain with only a little trouble on the steepest parts.

My vote is to do the mountain bike and avoid that hill with all that bothersome traffic. Also, test your road bike to be sure it really can't do the trail. Maybe it can.
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Old 01-19-05, 10:01 PM   #7
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Same here. I do 11.25 miles each way on a Gary Fisher Tassajara with front suspension fork and it rides like a dream. Yah, it's no where near as efficient as my road bike, but even on the road my roadie would be trashed after a couple weeks of commuting. The MTB lets me not worry about every little crack in the road or jumping onto sidewalks or trails or whatever. Just change out the knobby tires to 1.5" street tires pumped to 80psi or more and you'll be set even on a hard packed trail. Which to answer your question is the way I would choose. Much safer and you get to extend your ride slightly. On the street I get my 42lb tank to move at a steady 16-18mph comfortably.
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Old 01-19-05, 10:08 PM   #8
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If you'd like to take up a vairiety of challenges then you got to buy a mountain bike. On the other hand if you want to cover more ground and enjoy the distance work, Road bikes the one for you. Personally if you want a really good work out, go the mountain bike.
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Old 01-19-05, 10:12 PM   #9
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another thing, I have the new Fluid 3.0 Norco. It came equiped with with rather wide tyres, I'd like to know whether anyone has had experiance with the fluid 3.0 and if its worth thining up a fraction???? what thinks you?
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Old 01-20-05, 06:09 AM   #10
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I love this bike forum. I get more information and varied points of view in one day than I can by visiting 5 or 6 LBSs. After reading all this, I think I'll take a shot at giving my old Trek its third or fourth incarnation - this time as a cyclocross. Failing that, I'll take the plunge for the MTB. Thanks, folks.
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Old 01-20-05, 06:33 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tg1896
After reading all this, I think I'll take a shot at giving my old Trek its third or fourth incarnation - this time as a cyclocross.
Hi tg1896. I ride from Decatur to Va-Highland area (8.5 miles one way).
When I started the job I rode my old Raleigh road bike with 700x25 tires, a seatpost rack, and panniers.





After a few months of hitting every pothole and crappy street repair on my route I decided there must be a more comfortable bike to ride to work and carry all my stuff. I did some research and picked up my new commuter in early December. Its a 2005 Jamis Nova cyclocross bike. The ride is so much better. More relax geometry and slightly fatter tires (700x32 but they look smaller than other 700x32 tires), steel frame (the Raleigh is aluminum), and carbon fork.



I don't know what part of town you ride through but I vote for the cyclocross.
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Old 01-20-05, 09:04 AM   #12
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I ride a Fuji Royale, itís a laid back flat bar road bike with MTB components that will accommodate 35c tires. Iím really not sure what differentiates it from a cyclocross bike. I think it gives me the best of both worlds... I can run 25c slicks during the non-icy months and my Nokians during the winter. Itís perfect for my 13 mile commute.
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Old 01-20-05, 09:13 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tg1896
After reading all this, I think I'll take a shot at giving my old Trek its third or fourth incarnation - this time as a cyclocross. Failing that, I'll take the plunge for the MTB. Thanks, folks.
I've done city streets+dirt bike path on both mountain bike and cyclocross, and the cyclocross
wins: Better body position for long, flat stretches; easier to load on gear; (seemed like) easier to
pedal. Especially because you have mostly city streets, I think your cyclocross choice is a good
one.
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Old 01-20-05, 09:36 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanO220
Like most things in life, it will all come down to a compromise based on the dirt/trail/street ratio of your commute.

For instance: I live on horse property and commute 30 miles to work on my cyclocross bike. The first half mile is dirt road, but the last 29.5 is on the road. So as you can imagine, I run narrow, high pressure road tires. This slows me to a crawl (compared to a MTB) on the dirt, but allows much greater speed once I'm out on the road. For a while was running bigger, 38 centimeter commuter tires which were great fun on the dirt roads around the neighborhood - not to mention giving a cadillac ride over rough pavement - but they were definately slower compared to what I'm running now. Ultimately I would rather tip toe through the dirt so I can fly down the road.

There are A LOT of tires available for 26" wheels. I have run a MTB with 1" slicks and ridden my 30 mile commute. The ride is nowhere as smooth as a bigger, 700c wheels with proper road tires, but is certainly faster than a set of 2" wide nobbies. There are plenty of commuter tires from 1.25 to 2" wide with multi-surface tread. These would be ideal for a 18 mile, round trip commute. Do a search and check out the many threads about commuter tires here on the forum. Take it from me; you can go broke experimenting.

Take it easy. DanO
The answer is in this post. I too think a cyclocross bike would work well - you can put any size tire from 23c to 40c and up on it depending on what end up working for you. I find that 28's slicks are a good compromize work OK for hard packed dirt roads as well with minimal impact to speed and don't slow you down too much on pavement either.
ps- I hope Dan was using 38mm width tires, not 38cm

Al
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Old 01-20-05, 02:50 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noisebeam
ps- I hope Dan was using 38mm width tires, not 38cm

Al
DOWWW! I always get that wrong. DanO
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Old 01-20-05, 05:13 PM   #16
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Two factors for my love of road bikes:

1) Ride out the front door.
I'm lazy. I hate driving around town (all street traffic in Lexington, KY). I know well that I won't ride as often if I have to load up, drive somewhere, and unload. With a road bike, I roll down the driveway and I'm on my way. Very important for me.

2) One basic design.
Not a huge issue, but when I look at a road bike, I get it. Mountain bikes come in so many different designs, I don't know what's what. With road bikes, the differences are limited to geometry and materials.
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Old 01-20-05, 07:58 PM   #17
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Nice looking setup. I think I'll check on the size of tire I can run on my Trek - which looks pretty darn similar to your Raleigh! At the same time, I'll test out a few cyclocross bikes (where did you get the Jamis?). I live down by the river and ride to Alpharetta each day.
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Old 01-21-05, 05:58 AM   #18
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You might consider one of the 29 inch mountain bikes, maybe even a rigid if the trail isn't too rough. They should accept any tire you like, are great off-road and might be nicer on road than a regular mountain bike.
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Old 01-21-05, 06:15 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tg1896
Nice looking setup. I think I'll check on the size of tire I can run on my Trek - which looks pretty darn similar to your Raleigh! At the same time, I'll test out a few cyclocross bikes (where did you get the Jamis?). I live down by the river and ride to Alpharetta each day.
I got it at Intown Bikes (midtown area - two blocks from where I work).
According to the Jamis website (www.jamisbikes.com), Free Flite Bicycles in Marietta, CycleWorks in Marietta and Roswell, and the Silver Comet Depot are some of the Jamis dealers on the north side of town.
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Old 01-21-05, 06:22 AM   #20
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I ride both a Proprad cross and Trek 4900 MTB (With slicks) for my commuting. It is nice to have the option to do both, but if I had to choose one bike it would be a cross.

As mentiones before, a 29'er could well be a nice option. Though they seem hard to find at the LBS's around here.
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Old 01-21-05, 07:28 PM   #21
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Put 35mm tires and a flat bar with bar ends on your bike and go anywhere you want.
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Old 01-21-05, 07:58 PM   #22
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I like flat bars but drops can go anywhere that trek will ever go.
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Old 01-21-05, 09:20 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gcasillo
2) One basic design.
Not a huge issue, but when I look at a road bike, I get it. Mountain bikes come in so many different designs, I don't know what's what. With road bikes, the differences are limited to geometry and materials.
If you think mountain bikes have too many designs, you'd really hate recumbents! Short wheel base, long wheel base, compact long wheel base, under seat steering, over seat steering, high racer, low racer, trike...
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Old 01-21-05, 09:53 PM   #24
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Jamis Nova all the way. I ride it in the nastiest of winters in Boston. I've done trails on it (admittedly mild ones) and hit many a nasty pothole and no problem.
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Old 01-22-05, 09:13 AM   #25
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Not to derail the thread, but how's the riding in Atlanta?

I flew there last month (I was rerouted there) on the way to New England to see the inlaws. As we were landing there It looked like urban sprawl and new construction as far as the eye could see. But the weather was nice!
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