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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 04-18-14, 07:10 PM   #1
N0WBIE
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Converting a Mountain bike to a Road/commuter bike.

So what do I need to change? I do ride in the winter.

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Old 04-18-14, 07:14 PM   #2
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Slicks, rigid fork, rack and fenders. Maybe clipless pedals.
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Old 04-18-14, 07:19 PM   #3
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Slicks are good. So are fenders and a rack. I like platform pedals for commuting esp. in the winter when boots are needed. Also a lighting system.
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Old 04-18-14, 07:20 PM   #4
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Slicks, rigid fork, rack and fenders. Maybe clipless pedals.
How would fenders and rigid forks help?
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Old 04-18-14, 07:34 PM   #5
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I second the fenders, rack, and slicks/smooth tread tires. Fenders to keep the water/mud/winter slop off of you - and keep your drivetrain cleaner too. But you don't have to go all in on this. If you're just starting out bike commuting, start by just switching out those tires to something with a smoother tread. The lower rolling resistance will make the road riding much less tiring. Worry about the fenders or rack next, depending on how much stuff you need to carry and how much you're willing to ride when it's raining or wet.
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Old 04-18-14, 07:35 PM   #6
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All I have to say is good luck, been there tried it, failed miserably, saving up for a new bike :-/
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Old 04-18-14, 07:57 PM   #7
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How would fenders and rigid forks help?
Rigid forks are more efficient and faster for riding on the road, it all has to do with power transfer. Rigid forks are also lighter. Cheap suspension forks ride like ****. Expensive suspension forks may require maintenance, especially when riding in winter...Fenders are one of the best things you can have on your bike. They protect your clothing from dirty road spray.
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Old 04-18-14, 08:01 PM   #8
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Slicks and a good lighting set up are the most important.

After that fenders are nice and then the rack with panniers if you have to carry stuff (makes the bike good for utility use as well).

Keep the front suspension fork on for now. It is a little extra weight, but not much and if your roads are bad, the suspension is nice to have. I even went to full suspension when Honolulu roads were rougher to ride than technical single track.
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Old 04-18-14, 08:47 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by N0WBIE View Post
So what do I need to change? I do ride in the winter.
Hi Nowbie,

It depends on where you live, what the roads are like where you live, the distance you plan on commuting, etc. etc. Also, there's matters of personal taste. Your bike in its current condition and setup would be fine where I live (El Paso) because a lot of the roads are raggedy (the suspension forks are handy), there's little rain (no fenders necessary), and I like to use a backpack (no rack). I'd probably add lights, but you get my drift. For better advice, let us know some details . . . .
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Old 04-18-14, 10:37 PM   #10
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How would fenders and rigid forks help?
Rigid fork: transmission of energy. Shocks absorb not only energy input from the ground, but also from the rider as the handlebars are leaned upon, especially while standing.

Fenders: google "fenders."

Also, make sure to be visible to others. Reflective gear is cheaper than lighting, and depending on the circumstance you may be able to get away with just that.

People will tell you to change your tires to slicks; however I've had a MTBer on knobbies have little trouble keeping up with me (on 700c slicks) on a paved downhill bomb in the snowy mountain range near Laramie, WY. MTB tires have less rolling resistance than you'd think. Besides, knobbies will help prevent slippage on wet, smooth concrete...it's not fun eating it on a tight, wet sidewalk corner in view of a crowded intersection.

Last edited by jfowler85; 04-18-14 at 10:44 PM.
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Old 04-18-14, 11:04 PM   #11
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Start with street tires. If you decide not to, the pavement will turn your knobbies into slicks for you. Just look at mountain bikes that others are commuting on, chances are you'll see the tires slick down the middle with knobs on the sides. So save those knobbies for your off road adventures. After that, you'll discover what other mods you want to make, if any. Fenders are nice for foul weather, or even the day after foul weather when the streets are wet and have puddles, but your bike still gets filthy and your brakes muck up the rims, so I would say you should decide if you are a fair weather commuter before making that investment.
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Old 04-18-14, 11:54 PM   #12
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Would knobbies work for winter riding?
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Old 04-19-14, 01:14 AM   #13
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Would knobbies work for winter riding?
Unless you have a lot of snow on the ground, no. Slick or nearly slick tires make a HUGE difference in converting an MTB into an around town/commuting type bike.

Lights have gotten pretty inexpensive too. My main front light (a Cree T6 flashlight) cost $16 delivered from Ebay, and came with a charger and two rechargeable batteries. IMO, it's actually too bright in flashing mode, but is bright enough to be seen when on solid even during the day and provides enough illumination for moderate speed riding at night. With a 3 dollar flashlight holder attaching it to my handlebars, not only are most of my (front) lighting needs covered with this, but I can very quickly detach it and take it with me to keep it from being stolen, or to use it as a flashlight if needed.

I agree with fenders (unless you live in a desert) and replacing the fork with a rigid (unless your roads are truly horrible). You can probably wait to shell out for a new fork (should be a little over $100 IIRC) until you are sure that you are going to stick with riding and this bike though.

I agree about platform pedals. It's nice to be able to wear regular shoes, and in-city, a lot of riding is just for a couple of blocks until the next light or stop sign forces you to put a foot down anyway.

There's a couple of threads around here that might provide some inspiration for you, I'll see if I can find them.

Here's one:
Show me your hybrid-ized vintage mountain bikes!

I thought there was one other thread that was more germane, but I'm not finding it right now.

This one isn't exactly the same (focus is on drop-bar conversion), but has a lot of great pictures of mountain bikes converted for road riding.
Show Your Vintage MTB Drop Bar Conversions

Last edited by Medic Zero; 04-19-14 at 01:24 AM.
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Old 04-19-14, 08:15 AM   #14
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All I have to say is good luck, been there tried it, failed miserably, saving up for a new bike :-/
I'm reminded of this quote I saved from a similar thread on another bike forum:

Quote:
Putting slicks on a mountain bike is like putting a dress on your best friend Bob. He still won’t look like a woman, and he won’t ride like one either.—Platypius
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Old 04-19-14, 11:29 AM   #15
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.

Meh. I don't like road bikes and don't like 700C wheels. Converted MTB's suit me (and lots of others) just fine.
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Old 04-19-14, 11:46 AM   #16
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Besides, knobbies will help prevent slippage on wet, smooth concrete...it's not fun eating it on a tight, wet sidewalk corner in view of a crowded intersection.
nope. treadless slicks are better on wet concrete.
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Old 04-19-14, 12:02 PM   #17
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If your streets are truly urban and civil, a rigid fork might be more efficient than a suspended one!
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Old 04-19-14, 12:06 PM   #18
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I say go for it. Start with slick tires and a rack.
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Old 04-19-14, 04:56 PM   #19
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If your streets are truly urban and civil, a rigid fork might be more efficient than a suspended one!
There are potholes sometimes but I like to jump curbs.
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Old 04-19-14, 05:33 PM   #20
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There are potholes sometimes but I like to jump curbs.
It's easy to jump curbs with a rigid fork. Your legs and arms are your suspension.

Last edited by wolfchild; 04-19-14 at 05:36 PM.
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Old 04-19-14, 06:44 PM   #21
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Besides, knobbies will help prevent slippage on wet, smooth concrete...it's not fun eating it on a tight, wet sidewalk corner in view of a crowded intersection.
Knobby tires work on dirt and gravel because they dig into the dirt of gravel as they roll. On flat solid surfaces like concrete or pavement, though, there's no ability to dig into anything. They actually work the opposite - there's less of the tire in contact with the ground, so braking and stability is worse, not better.

In addition (with cornering in particular), the knobs on the tire compress while you ride and will give you less stable and more squirrely handling vs a slick where that doesn't happen.

I recently went biking with a friend who I wasn't sure how good of shape they were in, so I gave them the road bike with slicks and I rode the mountain bike with knobbies. Turned out - they were actually in pretty good shape. They were kicking my ass - the road bike was going way, way faster than the mountain bike. So, we switched bikes. Immediately - I was kicking their ass and going faster.

Knobbies are much slower than slicks. And they give you worse traction, handling, and stability on pavement. There's only 1 reason to ride knobbies - if you're riding offroad, and by that I mean actual dirt like on mountain bike trails.

Speeding down a mountain, there's only 1 thing that matters - it's funny but it's true - who's fatter. Ok, who weighs more, lol. The effects of gravity on a mountain downhill far outweigh any other factors like tire choice, aerodynamics, etc. The factors only become an issue if both your riders are the same weight.
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Old 04-19-14, 06:50 PM   #22
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As other have mentioned, #1 is slicks.

#2 would be a rack if you end up carrying anything at all.

Replacing the front fork might help, but in my opinion it's not a big deal at all. Rear suspension is horrible for efficiency (unless you own fairly expensive rear suspension). Front suspension is not a huge deal. It might be faster, it might not, I would personally say that unless you have the skills to do it yourself it's likely more cost effective to start saving up to buy a used road bike rather than spending the money on replacing the front suspension.

For "winter" riding, you'd need to tell us where you live. I live in Minnesota, where I consider studded bike tires a requirement for winter riding. If you live in Georgia, though, the situation is different...


P.S. I see you have a metal ULock - that's good. You also need a front light and a rear blinky light.

For a tail light, I personally like the Planet Bike Rack Blinky.

For a front light, it depends on your needs. I personally prefer the Ixon Iq Premium, I created a thread about it here -
Ixon IQ Premium Bike Light may be the best Bike Light I've ever seen (Lumotec Cyo Pr)

But, there are certainly cheaper battery lights available.

Fenders are useful for keeping crap that's on the road from getting thrown up on to you and the bike. That being said, if one doesn't bike when it's raining or after it's been raining, you might not need them.

Last edited by PaulRivers; 04-19-14 at 07:09 PM.
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Old 04-19-14, 08:03 PM   #23
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For "winter" riding, you'd need to tell us where you live. I live in Minnesota, where I consider studded bike tires a requirement for winter riding. If you live in Georgia, though, the situation is different...

I live near Chicago Illinois.
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Old 04-19-14, 08:07 PM   #24
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I live near Chicago Illinois.
I would personally say you need studded tires for winter riding then...
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Old 04-20-14, 12:29 AM   #25
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It's easy to jump curbs with a rigid fork. Your legs and arms are your suspension.
+1 I've never had suspension and I hop off 2-4 curbs three times a week (my commute).
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