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  1. #1
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    Road Vs Mountain Bikes on the Road

    Yesterday I went for a ride in a park for about 8 miles. Where I ride is paved but I use a mountain bike because there are other folks on the pavement and sometimes I ride onto the grass to avoid them. Yesterday, for the first time, I locked out the front shock for most of the ride. I found that my pace went up about 2-3 mph and when up on the pedals, my top speeds increased dramtically. My questions is would I be much better off with a road bike? Would there be more of a significant difference in the performance as well. I always know a MB slowed me down a bit but I was shocked (no pun intended) at the difference with the lock-out engaged.
    “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the former."
    ― Albert Einstein

  2. #2
    ♋ ☮♂ ☭ ☯ -=(8)=-'s Avatar
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    Im not a fan of MTB's for commuting at all.
    It's like that dream you always have where you are trying to run away from the scary monster or your 4th grade teacher, and your limbs are moving in super-slow motion as the undesirable entity gains on you . . .
    A Road bike with good 28-32c chubby all-purpose tires is what works best for me.
    -ADVOCACY-☜ Radical VC = Car people on bikes. Just say "NO"

  3. #3
    Senior Member Wildwood's Avatar
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    Each has it's intended purpose. Road bikes are much more efficient for use on pavement.
    '81 Austro Daimler Olympian, '86 Eddy Merckx Corsa Extra, '87 DeRosa Professional, '99 Calfee TetraPro, '03(?) Macalu Cirrus, '04 Tallerico, '97 Co-Motion Tandem

  4. #4
    Third World Layabout crtreedude's Avatar
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    I have had both road bikes and mountain bikes, I prefer a mountain bike usually. If I knew it would always been pavement, I might be tempted on a road bike. Honestly, speed isn't a big thing to me as long as I am getting a good workout. I have a Cannodale mountain bike and when I have gone on tours, etc I tend to be a bit faster than most people anyway, so the additional control and options of a MTB I like. It is a hardtail, which is much lighter though.

    I used to commute with a MTB too, but the road wasn't very good, so I needed the ability to ride over anything.

  5. #5
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    With decent tires either one is fine.

  6. #6
    Senior Member OldsCOOL's Avatar
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    MTB's are a slug when compared to a decent roadbike. While on vacation I rode my friend's full suspension downhiller. Plenty of fun on trails but totally frustrating to me for road riding.
    Having a flat tire as part of the total cycling experience is highly overrated. Knowing how to fix one quickly is not.

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  7. #7
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mvcrash View Post
    My questions is would I be much better off with a road bike?
    Objectively, I doubt it.

    If a road bike would allow you to average 20 MPH, your 8 mile ride would take you 24 minutes. If you only average 15 MPH on a mountain bike, the same ride would take you 32 minutes. So the question becomes what are you going to accomplish in the 8 minutes that you saved that will make you better off.
    My greatest fear is all of my kids standing around my coffin and talking about "how sensible" dad was.

  8. #8
    Senior Member kehomer's Avatar
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    Of course! The mt bike suspension soaks up YOUR energy! Instead of a direct transfer of your muscle energy to the rear wheel, a big portion of that energy disappears in the shocks. The rigid mt bike, without the weight and energy absorption of the shock, is is sometimes more versatile than the road bike. With cushier tires, it is usually more stable and more comfortable on rough surfaces.
    Last edited by kehomer; 05-03-14 at 04:11 PM.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Velocivixen's Avatar
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    I like a decent steel rigid mountain bike with smooth & slightly narrower tires for pavement.

  10. #10
    Senior Member rydabent's Avatar
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    Since some people may only be able to afford one bike, a mountain bike fills the need to ride anywhere. Depending on the tires and the weight, might they be slower---yes. However remember not everyone is a slave to riding the fastest time possible. Some like to sit up and see the scenery instead of staring at their front wheels and cutting .0067 seconds off their record route time.

  11. #11
    A might bewildered... Dudelsack's Avatar
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    Get a gravel grinder. Great all purpose bikes.

  12. #12
    Senior Member GravelMN's Avatar
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    I started with a rigid MTB with 1.5" fairly slick hybrid tires and a touring crankset (48-tooth big ring) and I averaged about 15 mph on most rides. When I got my road bike (steel with carbon fork and 28mm tires) my average speed went up to about 17 mph. The only place it made a big difference was on hills. There are other advantages to the road bike, but honestly, I had a great time on the hybridized MTB too. The MTB shone best when the roads got bad or when I got into loose or soft surfaces.

    If I had to go with just one bike for all purposes, I'd probably go with a 700c touring or hybrid, maybe cyclocross though I've never ridden a true cyclocross bike, with 32-38mm tires.

  13. #13
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    I hate the way suspension, particularly in the rear, feels for road riding. I currently have four bikes in working order, and each has its own purpose.
    1) Bianchi road bike -- climbs fast, accelerates fast, but twitchy in a crosswind -- my fair weather friend
    2) Peugeot and Capo road bikes (traditional road touring geometries and fatter tires) -- great for general transportation, stable, comfortable on long rides
    3) Schwinn non-suspension mountain bike -- noticeably slower than the road bikes, but I do have 2" knobbies on it. Great for shopping, carrying loads, general purpose riding if speed is not an issue. My foul weather friend. About a 10% speed penalty versus the Bianchi.
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
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  14. #14
    Senior Member JonathanGennick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dudelsack View Post
    Get a gravel grinder. Great all purpose bikes.
    +1. Something like a Salsa Vaya maybe, or their Warbird model.

  15. #15
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    Back in my upright-riding days, I had a mountain bike that I sometimes used for club rides. It had slicks, and no shocks. I knew it was a little bit slower, but I didn't mind. Then I got the brilliant idea of riding it on a tour. You know, just in case there was rough pavement. Worst mistake of my life! Yeah, I lost 3 mph average speed; but the biggie was, I was completely drained, with 4 more days' of riding to do! I called my wife and had her bring me my road bike.

  16. #16
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    Thanks for all the advice. I think I'll stick with the forks locked out when I can and get some hybrid tires. As a few mentioned, it is more about the exercise and view than the time but I still like to know my efforts are going where they should.
    “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the former."
    ― Albert Einstein

  17. #17
    Senior Member Moyene Corniche's Avatar
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    Question is really what is 90% of your riding... Recreational, able to go anywhere when the path dictates ??
    I raced and will race again starting next year... I used a Cannondale M900 for commuting to and from work, at the time it was a completely rigid setup... If your rear triangle is rigid and front forks are locked there should not be a big difference...

    (1st) what tires are on now ?? That will consume a lot of energy transfer. Unless you are off in the single track, you don't need X-country knobbies, you do need a tire that will allow you traction on dirt but also run at a low friction coefficient on pavement....
    Let me put it this way, I trained on my MTB in winter on ice and snow covered dirt trails where you are constantly drifting both wheels, same with this winter as I trained on the road on my road bike with 700 Michelin race tires, in the snow and in the slush...
    Tires are important but they are only 50% of the equation. bike handling is also a critical factor.

    (2) If you believe MTB's are slow, a friend showed up years ago at a group ride on a MTB, ( everyone else on their road steeds ). end of ride sprint and all the other sprints he won on a flat bar MTB... With smooth street tires but still.... He was also a grad of the former German National Team. ( Yes I have mentioned this elsewhere ) but the point is that focusing on riding is more important then the particular equipment.

    (3) Best Case Scenario would be to have Road and Offroad bikes but that may not be possible for everyone...
    Ah.... Voila les Cannon ... !!

  18. #18
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    I would much rather ride a road bike on dirt than ride a MTB on pavement. YMMV.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  19. #19
    Senior Member GFish's Avatar
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    Road vs MTB = N +1

    Rather then doing everything with one bike, get another bike to switch up the riding. Everyone needs at least 2 bikes anyway.

  20. #20
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    Visit a bike shop and take an extended ride on a Cyclocross or sports/touring bike. Select something with a 700x32 to 700x40 tire that is smooth or has smaller knobs for both pavement and gravel roads. A Specialized Tricross is typical of this style of bike. After some use, you can form an opinion.
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  21. #21
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    Got both. mtb on slicks with hydros makes a fine tourer/brevet bike. Its fast enough, useful when the gravel shows up, and can handle single track. But, on a fine day on a good road the toad bike can eadily average 7kmh faster wuth thecsame effort. Of course after 200km everything hurts.

    If I had to pick one it would be the mtb, but a cx bike would be ideal to me with only one bike. Sonetimes I want to play in the dirt, or tour 400km, or ride a brevet. mtb everytime. But if I want to ride fast for two hours....

  22. #22
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    I have a MTB, fixed rear and lockable front suspension too. I converted my wheels from standard MTB wheels to road wheels (the larger one that fits on my air chambers) I can honestly say I've gained 10-15% more efficiency on hill climbs.
    I have been toying with the idea of buying a road bike but until I road test one and see that it really is beneficial, I'm refraining my self from getting one.

  23. #23
    Member Phloom's Avatar
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    I am using a 15 year old Peugeot MB I picked up for $50 for commuting. Replaced the knobby tires with 1.5" slicks. I got it just before the winter started so I had a long time to go over everything. New bearings and grease everywhere except for the pedals. A steel frame with no suspension. I never thought a bicycle needs a suspension because that is what your legs are for. New cables and new indexed shifters. The old Peugeot feels like a new bike. I will replace the pedals with a set of clipless Shimano's when I am a bit more confident riding it through the traffic.

    I have a almost brand new condition 1978 Raleigh Competition GS which is a bit to dainty for the commute. The streets are full of gravel from the winter and the city hasn't started fixing all the pot holes. Perhaps later in the summer I will commute on the Raleigh. I can park my bicycle in my office. When winter comes back, I will see if I am tough enough to do it. This morning, it was -2 C and that wasn't a problem.

  24. #24
    Senior Member tpelle's Avatar
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    I agree that a cyclocross bike is the ultimate compromise, at the risk of using contradictory terms. It's basically just a road bike that is set up with wider rims and tires, and has pretty much mountain bike gearing. Put wide-but-smooth tires on it, and it would be plenty fast enough for recreational road riding, but could still handle an excursion onto grass.

    I know what you mean about detouring onto the grass to pas muppets. You can ring that little bell, but if they've got those earbuds cranking, they still don't know you're there.

    I have a Trek 820 mtb set up with trekking bars that I sometimes ride on the road after there's been heavy rains, as in my AO we have a lot of places where the pavement may get covered with mud or with gravel that washes out of people's driveways. A skinny-tired road bike is not happy on such surfaces. It has suspension front forks, and I get the boings during climbs (lifting the front end of the bike up takes a lot of pedal-energy) and there's no way to lock the suspension that I know of. I've thought about replacing the forks, as I don't do regular mountain biking.
    Steel Club = BF-STL-00064

  25. #25
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    My Fuji Touring works great as an all-arounder. I have a set of 700s with 700-25 for it, and also a set of 27" with 630x37 knobbies that I run at 60 psi. The only thing is I am thinking of fitting a cross-style aux brake lever on it which would help on downhills.

    scott s.
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