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Thread: Road vs MTB

  1. #1
    Small Member maddmaxx's Avatar
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    Road vs MTB

    I know this is an old argument, but I'm going to start it again. After running back to back comparisons this weekend and today, there is no way to equate the performance of a Road Bike with a mountain bike.

    The road bike is at least 30% more effecient than the MTB on the same paved terrain, possibly even more than that.

    Your going to have a hard time telling me that 6 lbs difference in bike weight for a 220lb rider explains any of that.

    On steep hills, once the legs get tired the two types of bikes begin to equal out but on lesser hills there is a tendency to fly to the top without loosing speed. On flats, the road bike wheels just coast and coast without much loss of energy.

    I guess it would be interesting to try a set of 23mm tires on 700c wheels on an MTB frame to get a feel for how much of the road advantage is contained in the wheel tire combo.

  2. #2
    Banned. The Weak Link's Avatar
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    1 MTB mile = 5 roadie miles.

    Stapfam might disagree with this, but I can only believe that he rides wuss trails. I feel like puking on all the hills, and that's just going down them. Throw in log piles, creek crossings, rocks eager to tear into tender newbie flesh, and circling vultures, and it just is flat out harder than road biking. I felt better after 36 miles of road biking than I do after 6 miles of mountain biking.

  3. #3
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Yesterday I did a ride on the road bike with 3 MTB's. On a downward 3% slope we were going at 15mph. The MTB's were pedalling to keep that speed- I freewheeled the whole way. Up a 20% section of a hill I was at cadence of 90 in 30/28 gear- They were at cadence of 70ish in 22/32 gear- so which was faster. On the flat I was at 18mph and losing the MTB's and I was not even working.
    Road bikes work on the road.

    Offroad- I would not like to take any road bike- including cyclocross any distance on our tracks- They would not take the punishment. Last year I did a couple of smooth hardpack trails with the road bike and it stayed with the MTB's- except downhill. I could not chance the Wheels at speed on the roughness of a smooth trail.

    Before I got the Road bike- I used to fit Slicks on the 19lbs rigid MTB and the slicks were thin ones at high pressure. There was no way that this setup was as good as the road bikes. I could stay with them but it was hard work.

    It is not only the weight of a road bike- there is something about the geometry and rider position that does not give an MTB the efficiency of a road bike- Heavier wheels will also add to that inefficiency so after many years of using an MTB as a do-it-all vehicle, There is only one conclusion to come to. You get the right bike for the use you want to give it.

    Now compare Hybrids- or the top end ones that are road bikes with straight bars and we are into a different ball game.

    Now as to TWL's anomoly of 1 mile road - 5 miles offroad. I would say that on pure XC- 1 road mile = 2/3 miles offroad. When you start talking technical with drop off's- Logs-tree roots and the severe 20% climbs- I would say he is about right. Only thing is that I can do 60 miles XC with only a little bit of pain. 20 miles of pure technical and I am starting to get tired but then I do not have 20 miles of pure technical in my area. Now this is where I have to admire some of our local riders- Downhill on full downhill tracks and 20 minutes of it and I am falling apart. Those downhillers have more guts than I have and more strength. Now if only they could pedal their bikes back up the Downhill course, as we sometimes do for a work out, Then they would get my full admiration. But even I do not fancy riding a 45lb bike anywhere- let alone up hill.
    Last edited by stapfam; 05-21-07 at 03:07 PM.
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    Streetfire HopedaleHills's Avatar
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    I agree. My GF Wahoo is a dog on the road. Way too much work to keep it at speed. OTOH, about one 2ft drop on the road bike would probably blow both tires and flatten the rims. They are what they are, and it's impossible to make them anything else.
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    Senior Member SaiKaiTai's Avatar
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    OTOH, I took my Kaitai out on the road for 22 miles on Saturday. I have no idea what my speed or cadence were as I had stupidly left my computer at home but I can say I was breezing along with no real sense of effort or strain. I passed my share of roadies... for sure they were rentals being ridden by weekend warriors and out-of-towners who had no clue how to ride them but I was passing them.

    Could I -would I- have gone faster/farther/easier on my LeMond? No doubt about it. None. But my Fisher -and I- were more than up to the task and I arrived back to my car -and home- fresh and ready for more. It ain't no dog. It just ain't a Ferrari
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  6. #6
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Road bike design has evolved for how ever many decades with the purpose of being fast and efficient at rolling on pavement. Mountain bikes have a shorter history, but they too have evolved for different purposes, to travel efficiently over the obstacles found offroad. Mountain bikes have enough in common with road bikes that they can, especially if modified for road use, do a fairly good job of riding on roads. But it should be no surprise that the machine designed for the job does a better job.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  7. #7
    Senior Member SaiKaiTai's Avatar
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    Hm... yeah, actually, I guess my Kaitai is technically NOT a MTB.
    It is a true hybrid, further hybridized by the replacement of its knobbies with much smoother rolling Crossroaders. I hereby retract my post above as irrelevant to this discussion. But it IS a pretty easy rolling machine. Just a bit slower, is all
    '13 Felt Z3 - '08 Jamis Aurora Elite - ('07 Giant OCR C2)

  8. #8
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SaiKaiTai
    Hm... yeah, actually, I guess my Kaitai is technically NOT a MTB.
    It is a true hybrid, further hybridized by the replacement of its knobbies with much smoother rolling Crossroaders. I hereby retract my post above as irrelevant to this discussion. But it IS a pretty easy rolling machine. Just a bit slower, is all
    I didn't mean to contradict your post. I didn't see it before I made mine. I don't think your post was irrelevant at all.
    Although your bike is marketed as a hybrid, I would see it as MTB variant, a 29er modified to be more proficient at road use. And it seems to be very well designed for the type of riding you did - slightly slower road riding with a little light offroad capability to make it more versatile. As you noted, your LeMond is better focused for faster, easier road riding. But the hybrid is well suited for a different set of tasks.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  9. #9
    Senior Member SaiKaiTai's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BluesDawg
    I didn't mean to contradict your post. I didn't see it before I made mine. I don't think your post was irrelevant at all.
    Although your bike is marketed as a hybrid, I would see it as MTB variant, a 29er modified to be more proficient at road use. And it seems to be very well designed for the type of riding you did - slightly slower road riding with a little light offroad capability to make it more versatile. As you noted, your LeMond is better focused for faster, easier road riding. But the hybrid is well suited for a different set of tasks.
    Sorry, man, my "irrelevant" comment was strictly tongue-in-cheek... seriously. Can something be seriously tongue-in-cheek? Is that an oxymoron?

    But, I thought your observations were well warranted and I realized I might have been arguing my case from a weak stance. In reading this all over again, no I guess not. It is a full-on 29er frame so, other than the tires, I'm not really sure what makes the Kaitai a hybrid anyway... the gearing? How does the gearing compare?
    '13 Felt Z3 - '08 Jamis Aurora Elite - ('07 Giant OCR C2)

  10. #10
    Banned. The Weak Link's Avatar
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    As is the custom when folks start comparing apples to oranges and dirt to pavement:
    "It's all good".

  11. #11
    Flatlander
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    So, I guess the upshot is...you need both kinds of bikes just to break even?

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    If you're running conventional mountain bike knobbies, I guarantee the tires are 95-plus percent of the difference. I got back into cycling in my 40s on a mountain bike, then put road tires on it and rode several metric centuries before I realized I was really a roadie. Now I have an Atlantis and Rambouillet, but the old Bstone MB is still around as a mud bike/beater/commuter. When I put 26x1.25 Paselas on it (I have 700x32 Paselas on the Rambo and 35s on the Atlantis), my times on my 24-mile RT commute are virtually identical to the times I can do on either of the road bikes. This is averaged over hundreds of rides--I've lived and worked in the same places since 1979, and owned the bikes for 12, four and two years, respectively.

  13. #13
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lauraspark
    So, I guess the upshot is...you need both kinds of bikes just to break even?
    Well, yes, for a start. But if you get really creative and good at splitting hairs, you can come up with any number of kinds of bikes you need.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  14. #14
    The Grampster tlc20010's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BluesDawg
    Well, yes, for a start. But if you get really creative and good at splitting hairs, you can come up with any number of kinds of bikes you need.
    Remember the actual number you need is n+1
    The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
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  15. #15
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SaiKaiTai
    It is a full-on 29er frame so, other than the tires, I'm not really sure what makes the Kaitai a hybrid anyway... the gearing? How does the gearing compare?
    Tires - thinner, lighter, more road-oriented tread pattern
    Gearing, front crank is 48/38/28 as compared to Fisher 29er bikes of 42/32/22.
    Suspension fork is lighter weight, has less travel & would soak up a bit less energy
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    Senior Member Terrierman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velo Dog
    If you're running conventional mountain bike knobbies, I guarantee the tires are 95-plus percent of the difference. I got back into cycling in my 40s on a mountain bike, then put road tires on it and rode several metric centuries before I realized I was really a roadie. Now I have an Atlantis and Rambouillet, but the old Bstone MB is still around as a mud bike/beater/commuter. When I put 26x1.25 Paselas on it (I have 700x32 Paselas on the Rambo and 35s on the Atlantis), my times on my 24-mile RT commute are virtually identical to the times I can do on either of the road bikes. This is averaged over hundreds of rides--I've lived and worked in the same places since 1979, and owned the bikes for 12, four and two years, respectively.
    Makes sense to me. Tires and aero are about it for the big differences no? Assuming similar gearing. Though MTB riders tend to ride on smaller frames, which would also effect the equation, along with the heavier weight and loss of some efficiency coming from that front suspension fork.
    It's all downhill from here. Except the parts that are uphill.

  17. #17
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terrierman
    Makes sense to me. Tires and aero are about it for the big differences no? Assuming similar gearing. Though MTB riders tend to ride on smaller frames, which would also effect the equation, along with the heavier weight and loss of some efficiency coming from that front suspension fork.
    I think you are underestimating the importance of the geometry differences in a road frame vs. a MTB frame (not just size).
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  18. #18
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    Yep. Even if the weights are the same and you've made adjustments for tires, the riding position and gearing are hugely in the road bike's favor for speed on the road.

    Likewise the most aero recumbents are faster yet on flats and downhill.

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    Senior Member Terrierman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BluesDawg
    I think you are underestimating the importance of the geometry differences in a road frame vs. a MTB frame (not just size).
    Sorry for not being clear, by referencing aero, I was meaning to include the road bike geometry that results in the more aero riding position. But not being a roadie, I'm likely missing even more subtleties.
    It's all downhill from here. Except the parts that are uphill.

  20. #20
    Flatlander
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    Well, geeze...I thought the difference was all in the legs.

  21. #21
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terrierman
    Sorry for not being clear, by referencing aero, I was meaning to include the road bike geometry that results in the more aero riding position. But not being a roadie, I'm likely missing even more subtleties.
    Yes, I mean more than just the aero position. More to do with how the body position on the bike is optimized for transmitting power to the rear wheel. I'm not an engineer (I have a hard time staying awake while talking to one), so I can't really articulate what is involved.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  22. #22
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lauraspark
    Well, geeze...I thought the difference was all in the legs.
    I can't speak for others, but I use my legs on road bikes and on mountain bikes.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  23. #23
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terrierman
    But not being a roadie ...
    Give it a year and we'll see Terrierman flying down the roads on his carbon fiber road bike, decked out in the finest spandex and topped off by a $200 racing helmet.

  24. #24
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    Legs you say!

    Perhaps I should get them involved!

  25. #25
    Bike Junkie roccobike's Avatar
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    I have the good fortune to have plenty of space to house several bikes, so that as my interest in cycling grew, I simply added bikes and made comparisons. When I returned to cycling in 05, I had one bike, a 89 Nishiki Ariel MTB. I rode it on the road, paths and mountain trails. While it was no competition to a road bike, it was fairly comfortable on the road. When I purchased my first up to date MTB, an 05 Rockhopper, I made the mistake of trying it out on the road. What a dog! Slow, uncomfortable, almost clumsy and no match for the much older designed Nishiki. But after taking that same Rockhopper on a mountain trail, I noticed a huge improvement over the Nishiki. So I think the earlier comment about the MTB evolving is right on the money. IMHO, the better quality MTBs are designed for off road use. My older MTB is closer to today's hybrid.
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