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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 04-06-14, 09:08 AM   #1
Archery_Queen
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Commuting on a mountain bike??

I know I've posted a lot the last few days but I've only been commuting for a week now by bike. I am a college student so I had to dig my old mountain bike out of my gorage because I can't afford a road or a hybrid right now. My bike is a roadmaster granite peak 26" woman's. I'm not sure how much it weighs exactly but it's quite heavy. I live in a very hilly area and struggle to her up hill in this bike. However other bikers fly by me every time. I feel a little embarrassed (lol) is it my bike keeping me from going fast up hill or just my rider skill? Dose anyone else commute on a mountain bike mostly on roads?
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Old 04-06-14, 09:44 AM   #2
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Be patient. Keep riding and eventually you will get stronger and faster. You just started riding, so don't worry about other cyclist passing you. Commuting is not a race. The best upgrade that you can do to make your mountain bike faster is to change the tires. If you have some money and if you can afford it then get rid of those big wide knobby tires and buy some narrower slick tires....tires make a big difference. Another thing you can do is to make sure your seat is high enough, when your seat is very low it's hard pedal.
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Old 04-06-14, 09:52 AM   #3
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Be patient. Keep riding and eventually you will get stronger and faster. You just started riding, so don't worry about other cyclist passing you. Commuting is not a race. The best upgrade that you can do to make your mountain bike faster is to change the tires. If you have some money and if you can afford it then get rid of those big wide knobby tires and buy some narrower slick tires....tires make a big difference. Another thing you can do is to make sure your seat is high enough, when your seat is very low it's hard pedal.
Wow thanks. That's great advice. I've heard I need to get slicks but one one has ever told me to check my seat. How high should I be ?
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Old 04-06-14, 09:59 AM   #4
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The primary component of speed is the rider. Swapping to some smoother tires will help, getting another bike that is lighter overall will as well, but ultimately it comes down to how much effort you put forth into turning the cranks.
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Old 04-06-14, 10:05 AM   #5
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I am a college student so I had to dig my old... roadmaster granite peak 26" woman's.
actually a good combination .. College campuses are where bikes are stolen , often, and having a less desirable bike is actually an advantage.
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Old 04-06-14, 10:24 AM   #6
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You are in a bit of a quandary-
Your bike is quite low end/heavy etc.
How much money do you want to invest?
A couple $20 tires & $5 tubes and you've doubled the value of the bike.

I've been very pleased with these in 26x1.25" and use them on my "grocery getter".
Some may recommend a "fatter" tire, but much of your goal is to reduce weight for your hills.

Geax Street Runner Tire at BikeTiresDirect
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Old 04-06-14, 10:24 AM   #7
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The simplest thing you can do is a basic tune-up. Since you pulled the old bike of the garage, I'm guessing that the chain could use oil, brakes adjusting, etc. Having working gears and brakes can make riding hills more pleasant.
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Old 04-06-14, 11:00 AM   #8
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I'll actually go in the other direction than what others have said, and suggest looking for a nice, used bike on Craigslist. Find one that is your size, and within your budget. You can surely find one that's less of a tank than your old department store bike. You'd be surprised at the deals to be found on Craigslist.
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Old 04-06-14, 11:06 AM   #9
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Just ride at your own pace. There's always someone faster. When you know more about what you want and know you like bike commuting, think about getting something better. For now, slicks would be a big improvement.
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Old 04-06-14, 11:12 AM   #10
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I know I've posted a lot the last few days but I've only been commuting for a week now by bike. I am a college student so I had to dig my old mountain bike out of my gorage because I can't afford a road or a hybrid right now. My bike is a roadmaster granite peak 26" woman's. I'm not sure how much it weighs exactly but it's quite heavy. I live in a very hilly area and struggle to her up hill in this bike. However other bikers fly by me every time. I feel a little embarrassed (lol) is it my bike keeping me from going fast up hill or just my rider skill? Dose anyone else commute on a mountain bike mostly on roads?
I started out on an old Walmart mountain bike. I was extremely sluggish and it was very tiring. It's probably mostly your bike but a little bit of rider skill. You'll get better as time goes on and before you know it, the hills will just be another simple part of your daily routine.

I finally bought a used Trek mountain bike and it made a world of difference. I commute pretty often on a mountain bike. I live in an area that's known for the hills.

But yes, my hybrid and the road bikes have been way faster.
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Old 04-06-14, 11:24 AM   #11
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+1 on slicks, checking your saddle height, and keeping at it to build strength.

I put in 3000 commuter miles on a MTB when I first got back into riding (one which weighed ~40 lbs before I ditched the Wal-mart full suspension frame I had in my garage for an aluminum hardtail), and switched to slicks after the first 100 or so just because I got tired of buzzing along and losing speed drastically every time I stopped pedaling. Luckily, I was able to find some Kenda Kwick Trax for $10 apiece at a local shop. Some people may hate on Kenda, but at that price they were great. And hey, they lasted 3000 miles with nary a problem, and actually still have a little tread left along the centerline.

As for saddle height, there's a general rule of thumb: your saddle should be at the point where at the bottom of the pedal stroke, your knee is slightly bent. You can tell your saddle is too high if your hips rock left to right excessively when pedaling.

Oh, and you will absolutely get stronger if you keep on riding; weight is certainly a factor, but not necessarily the be all end all in how fast one can go up a hill. At 230 lbs, I regularly beat my 140 lb riding partner up hills because I'm physically stronger and have more energy reserves to keep up a particular level of effort all the way up. Ride what you have and build that strength and stamina until you can afford something better, and you will fly once you make the upgrade.
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Old 04-06-14, 11:49 AM   #12
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Definitely check your saddle height. I've been riding for almost 2 years now and just last month finally got a professional fitting. They raised my saddle a full 2 inches. Your leg should stretch all the way straight when the pedal is down and the heel of your foot is on the pedal. That way when you pedal with the ball of your foot on the pedal, your knee will be slightly bent and you'll get your maximum efficiency. You should not be locking your knees on the down stroke and your hips should not rock side to side.
Also, as others said, get some smooth tires. Performance bike has them for 10 bucks. I would keep the old bike for theft reasons. Weight is not something to be afraid of for the bike, you will get faster. But focus on your own comfort, there will always be someone passing you on a bike.
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Old 04-06-14, 11:56 AM   #13
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Your bike is a low end Xmart bike. If you buy new tires and pay for a tune up, you could very well wind up paying more than what the total bike is worth. That said, your riding it can only make you stronger and faster...

Therefore, I say save up your cash and get a used chromoly steel framed bike from the 80's or 90's eras from either a bicycle co-op or Craigslist. If you buy off of Craigslist, take someone with you who knows about bikes

Meanwhile, ride that Granite Peak into the ground!
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Old 04-06-14, 12:30 PM   #14
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However other bikers fly by me every time. I feel a little embarrassed
Never let another rider make you feel embarrassed. They don't know how far you have gone, or how far you are going.
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Old 04-06-14, 12:52 PM   #15
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How high should I be ?
Your seat should be high enough that on a downstroke your leg will be almost straight with only a slight bend in it. Your seat height is very important, if the seat is very low it's bad for your knees. Also remember to keep your tires pumped up hard. Low pressure soft tries are very sluggish. And like I said before just keep riding and you will get stronger and your speed will improve.
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Old 04-06-14, 12:52 PM   #16
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However other bikers fly by me every time. I feel a little embarrassed (lol)
When you go shopping in the supermarket do you feel embarrassed when someone with another cart passes you? Unless you are in some sort of race, forget the other cyclists.
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Old 04-06-14, 03:01 PM   #17
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Wow thanks. That's great advice. I've heard I need to get slicks but one one has ever told me to check my seat. How high should I be ?
one way is to set the seat so you can sit while extending your leg straight "flat footed" on the pedal. this should allow your leg to have enough bend while you pedal using the ball of your foot.
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Old 04-06-14, 03:59 PM   #18
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Whenever I'm commuting I'm racing anyone and everyone, haven't lost yet. Lmfao.

It keeps me going, if I see some ahead I pedal hard to catch them and pass them, then stay ahead. Lol. I sometimes wish there were more commuters for me to "race" so I take advantage of every opportunity
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Old 04-06-14, 04:25 PM   #19
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Replace the knobbies with 1.25 or 1.5" slicks. Get a new pair of inner tubes as well for narrower tires. This simple change alone will drop up to a pound and a half from your bike in rotating weight and decrease your rolling resistance drastically.

PS: I commuted by mtn bike in college also and absolutely loved it. It was far, far faster than walking I can tell you that much. I also bought the bike in a size that fit me perfectly so that made a huge difference also. It was assembled with great attention to detail as well so I didn't have to worry about mechanical problems.

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I know I've posted a lot the last few days but I've only been commuting for a week now by bike. I am a college student so I had to dig my old mountain bike out of my gorage because I can't afford a road or a hybrid right now. My bike is a roadmaster granite peak 26" woman's. I'm not sure how much it weighs exactly but it's quite heavy. I live in a very hilly area and struggle to her up hill in this bike. However other bikers fly by me every time. I feel a little embarrassed (lol) is it my bike keeping me from going fast up hill or just my rider skill? Dose anyone else commute on a mountain bike mostly on roads?

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Old 04-06-14, 04:29 PM   #20
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My first commuter was a 60 dollar mtb off Craigslist. It was heavy, and I rode with knobbies. And I still tried to race everyone. Lol
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Old 04-06-14, 04:38 PM   #21
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My first commuter was a 60 dollar mtb off Craigslist. It was heavy, and I rode with knobbies. And I still tried to race everyone. Lol
Right on man, I loved riding fast on my mtb in college! I was in good shape, faster than just about everybody, knobby tires and all. :0
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Old 04-06-14, 05:02 PM   #22
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Never let another rider make you feel embarrassed. They don't know how far you have gone, or how far you are going.
Or if it's a recovery day, if they wandered by during the slow period for intervals, etc.
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Old 04-06-14, 05:04 PM   #23
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that's how I started and I got fed up getting smoked. riding a road, use a road bike. buy used.
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Old 04-06-14, 05:24 PM   #24
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Get a book about bike repair from the library and do a tune up. Check out how to 'fit a bike' on line or in that book and see how close you can get your bike, without spending any money on it, to fit you.

Start watching your local craigslist for a good deal on an older good quality rigid mountain bike (you will have a better chance of landing a nice older rigid mountain bike for cheap - road bikes are popular right now and so-so examples seem to command fairly high prices) to replace the current bike.

That bike is $79.97 brand new, is heavy and has very low end parts. The picture from the Walmart ad seems to show a tire that is not really a 'knobby' so should be ok for now.

You will get stronger pushing that boat anchor up the hills and when you move on to the better bike you should be able to move along at a lively pace.
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Old 04-06-14, 05:53 PM   #25
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At the risk of sounding like an elitist, an 80 dollar Xmart bike is not worth a set of tires. There are 80 dollar tires that will outlast that bike. I would hate to even put a new tube in it for fear of wasting money. Only spend money on things that are easily transferable to your future bike like your rack, pedals, etc. If you did buy tires, you could swap them over, but if you want a hybrid, the wheels won't be the same size. 50 bucks for tubes and tires can be put to better use saving for a good used bike.

That said, rock it as long as possible and just put aside any money you might think of spending on it and save up for a good used CL bike as others have suggested. I would personally recommend looking out for the Trek 7 series hybrids, or similar. They will have mounts for your rack and new ones start at roughly 500, so you could potentially find a decent one for 200 or even less.

Another key thing that I don't think anyone has mentioned is gear selection. It seems like 90+ percent of folks new to cycling (myself included when I was new) tend to push a really big gear at a slow cadence. This is called mashing. everyone's style will be different, but generally speaking, you want to "spin" at 70-90 rpm. If you mash, you will wear yourself out faster and it will seem like more of an effort. Spinning in the right gear will be much less tiring and you will travel just as fast with less effort.
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