Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Carlsbad, CA
Bikes: '09 Felt F55, '84 Masi Cran Criterium, (2)'86 Schwinn Pelotons, '86 Look Equippe Hinault, '09 Globe Live 3 (dogtaxi), '94 Greg Lemond, '99 GT Pulse Kinesis
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In addition to the skinnier tires, another reason road bikes are faster is they put your body into a more aerodynamic (and oftentimes less comfortable) shape.
If you want to make your Plateau faster, I would recommend upgrades in the following order:
~Slick tires. Tire manufacturers make knobby-less tires for mountain bikes which are much faster than knobbies. Just be sure to check the numbers on the sidewall of your tires and getting the appropriate slick tires from your local bike shop.
~Clipless pedals and shoes*. When you can apply power to all 360 degrees of your pedal-stroke in a fluid motion, you will go faster MUCH easier than simply mashing down on standard platform pedals.
~Lower your handlebars. This one is the easiest and cheapest, but it also does less to raise your speed while reducing your effort.
But none of these will make your plateau as fast as a standard road bike with skinny tires & clipless pedals & shoes--it will feel like going from a Cessna to a Learjet. Have fun & be safe!
*Clipless pedals and shoes lock your feet to the pedals, much like a ski binding. (But they do make normal-looking mountain-bike shoes that don't look like these Flash-Gordon silver jobbies.