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  1. #1
    Senior Member Lexi01's Avatar
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    Have you taken your hybrid on MTB trails?

    I've got a hybrid and a road bike and lately I've been getting and urge to go the local mtb trail park to see what the fuss is about mountain bike riding.

    Well...I can see what the fuss is about now...the constant concentration, the winding trails, jumps, dips, tree branches, bridges, etc... Its just awesome.

    What I wanted to know is if any of you hybrid riders have taken your bikes to a mountain bike trail park and how the bike handled it.

    My experience was that my 35mm tyres were fine, the front suspension was good enough...but I have a sneaky suspicion that if I do it too frequently I'll damage the bike...

    I was doing a few small jumps towards the end and in the back of my mind I'm thinking "this bike wasn't designed for this..."

    Your thoughts?

    By the way I've got a Scott Sportster 20 and the trails were flatter trails...not full-on DH runs.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member choclabman's Avatar
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    I have a Trek 8.4DS and I've taken it on the beginner mtb trails (no jumps, relatively flat) without any problems. Trek's website promotes this bike as doing light mountain biking so this is all I plan on attempting with it. Have plans to go this morning as it is a lot of fun and I get more of a workout doing this than I do road biking.

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    I have a trek 7.2 fx, I take her out to trails all the time.

    There are limits, of course. I try not to jump her too much, and rock gardens should be ridden around/in between not over, but generally there isn't much problem. Groomed / raised parks, heavy mud, floodwater, log-hops, twisty turny's, wooden bridges/obsticles courses, that sort of thing is fine.

    I wouldn't do serious downhill-mountian bike trails, but seemingly mtb specific trails can surprisingly often be done on a hybrid.

    Eventually, you will probably have to worry about your hub and you might be out of true from time to time...but with shocks, i'm not even sure that would be much of a concern.

    There is something to be said for trail riding with a fixed steel fork. Its different than on my mountain bike - plus I'm often the only person who actually rides their bike out to the trails & back, too.

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    Rule of thumb: if a cyclocross bike can do it, you absolutely can do it. If not sure, the worst that can happen is you lift your bike over your shoulder and backtrack a little bit.

  5. #5
    Senior Member javal's Avatar
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    I did when it had proper tires. Not too difficult routes though. And it reminded me why I never liked being too far from the asphalt...
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    I rode and raced mountain bikes back in the late twentieth century and I even purchased a few season passes for a chairlift that served mountain bike trails, but I've never done jumps. Although there were some tricky sections (steep, rocky), I don't think there were any prepared jumps at the places I've ridden, including the chairlift served terrain. Jumping sounds more BMX that MTB to me but that's probably because I'm old and out of the loop.

    So, no I haven't ridden the kind of terrain park that you are describing on a hybrid or any other sort of bike.

    While I no longer have easy access to mountain bike trails, I much prefer XC style riding (technical but not extreme) over road riding. That's why I've added a mountain bike instead of a road bike to the two hybrids I owned, but for all the mountain biking I've done with it (none) I probably woulda been better off with a third hybrid.

    My flat bar road bike in the woods
    Last edited by qmsdc15; 09-20-11 at 04:32 PM.

  7. #7
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    I have a Specialized Crosstrail. They state that it's a single track capable hybrid. Now, I've never done a park with jumps and all like you are stating. But I've taken it on some mountain bike trails around my place that I would never ride a comfort style bike on. And it did just fine. The frame has mtb geometry. The difference is the 700c x 45 wheels/tires on the thing. And that's still smaller than a 29'er. So I feel totally comfortable taking this thing on a mtb trail. With more aggressive tires, no problem at all, and no need for a mtb specific bike.

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    That is a great pic, qmsdc15 ... exactly the kind of thing I put my Sirrus through around here when I can ... sounds like for the same reasons. I too prefer trail (though in my case, non-technical given age and limited skills) riding to 'road', but we just don't have proper 'mtb' trails where I live (at least not without extensive driving to a trailhead, which I've never been comfortable with doing).

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    It depends alot on the trail being ridden. I'm a mountain noob, so hardpack with not too many rocks suited me quite fine. Slow rooty climbs also worked quite well. But higher speeds and steep descents didn't work at all. Here, you miss the first requirement of a mountain bike - fat knobby tires.

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    I take my Giant Roam 1 on local MTB trails often. They're not super technical trails, but they have their share of log piles, bridges, switchbacks, rough terrain, and hills and the bike handles it fine. That's one of the reasons I selected the Roam - it's skewed a bit more towards the MTB side than most hybrids but it still handles paved trails/roads just fine. Great balance for my needs.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Lexi01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cranky velocist View Post
    Rule of thumb: if a cyclocross bike can do it, you absolutely can do it. If not sure, the worst that can happen is you lift your bike over your shoulder and backtrack a little bit.
    I was thinking the worst that could happen was that I'd be flying down a section and my fork would crack or my headtube would bust and I'd be faceplanting into the dirt...

    Any comments on the strength of forks/headtubes on hybrids vs. mtb?

    By the way I've been thinking of getting some thicker tyres now that I'm on the MTB mindset. But I can't find any thicker than 45s... Would a 29er fit on my 700c wheels? I've been reading that 29er and 700 are the same size...just marketed differently.
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  12. #12
    Ha ha ha ha ha giantcfr1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lexi01 View Post
    ...I've been reading that 29er and 700 are the same size...just marketed differently.
    I believe the circumference is the same but the width is different between 29 rims and 700s. Do a search on sheldon's page to see the chart which has his recommendations in relation to rim width vs tyre size. I don't think you can do it with such wide tyres.

    edit.... here you go. http://sheldonbrown.com/tire-sizing.html
    Last edited by giantcfr1; 09-20-11 at 10:37 PM.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Lexi01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by giantcfr1 View Post
    I believe the circumference is the same but the width is different between 29 rims and 700s. Do a search on sheldon's page to see the chart which has his recommendations in relation to rim width vs tyre size. I don't think you can do it with such wide tyres.

    edit.... here you go. http://sheldonbrown.com/tire-sizing.html
    Thanks, I've seen a page similar on the Schwalbe website. So basically I can put a "29er" tyre on my 700c wheel as long as its not too wide? I.e. the circumference is the same?

    I've checked the Schwalbe site and it looks like I can use anything up to 50mm on my 18mm (inside width) rims...

    So a set of 29 x 2 should be okay?
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    The tire has to be able to clear your fork, tubes, and brakes too.

    29er MTB also tends to have some different geometry like longer top tube, shorter stem, steeper head tube, etc. I have a 605mm top tube on my 19" 29er hybrid, Marin Muirwoods, but for 19" 700c hybrids that I tried, the top tubes were around 560-570mm.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lexi01 View Post
    Thanks, I've seen a page similar on the Schwalbe website. So basically I can put a "29er" tyre on my 700c wheel as long as its not too wide? I.e. the circumference is the same?

    I've checked the Schwalbe site and it looks like I can use anything up to 50mm on my 18mm (inside width) rims...

    So a set of 29 x 2 should be okay?
    A "29er" rim is a "700c" rim; ERTRO designation 622 (diameter, measured to bead-seat). Any "700c" or "29er" tire will fit as far as diameter is concerned; the real questions are, as others have said, 1) is your rim wide (or narrow!) enough for any given tire and b) does your fork/frame have clearance for wider tires.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Lexi01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by badger1 View Post
    A "29er" rim is a "700c" rim; ERTRO designation 622 (diameter, measured to bead-seat). Any "700c" or "29er" tire will fit as far as diameter is concerned; the real questions are, as others have said, 1) is your rim wide (or narrow!) enough for any given tire and b) does your fork/frame have clearance for wider tires.
    Sounds like I should jump onto Wiggle and get some of the 2" 29er Conti Race Kings!

    Thanks everyone.
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  17. #17
    Senior Member JonathanGennick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lexi01 View Post
    My experience was that my 35mm tyres were fine, the front suspension was good enough...but I have a sneaky suspicion that if I do it too frequently I'll damage the bike...
    My rule is that if the bike survives, then I'm good. Most bikes can handle more than people give them credit for. And it is too easy for some to dismiss a hybrid as being "wrong", but that's just not always true. Just because a trail is dirt does not mean one always needs knobs and two-inch wide tires. I've an around-town bike with 32mm slicks, and I'm not above taking it on a smooth dirt trail should the opportunity present itself while I'm out and about. I'll even hit some roots (carefully though) with that bike.

    I was doing a few small jumps towards the end and in the back of my mind I'm thinking "this bike wasn't designed for this..."
    You might be pushing things with the jumps.

    It's really tough to generalize, btw. The term "hybrid" encompasses so much, and there is such a wide variety of trail out there. You just have to look at the trail and at your bike and make the best judgment that you can. If a bike is handling well and you feel in control enough to enjoy the ride, then probably you're good.

  18. #18
    Senior Member AdelaaR's Avatar
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    I have definately taken my hybrid on all sort of terrain like bare fields, forests, rocky paths, etc...
    Cyclocross tires with sideknobs go a long way
    I do not, however, like to ride through actual mud at all.

  19. #19
    Two-Wheeled Aficionado ColinL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lexi01 View Post
    Sounds like I should jump onto Wiggle and get some of the 2" 29er Conti Race Kings!
    Be careful that it clears your frame. Many hybrid forks can clear a 29x2 with ease, but where the chainstay meets the bottom bracket shell can be much tighter. The seatstay / seat tube junction can be tight as well.


    I ride my Quick CX on XC trails like qmsdc15 posted as well as technical singletrack. This place is 15 minutes from my house and free to ride:http://vimeo.com/18488340
    It's on private land that is publicly shared as long as you adhere to their guidelines-- stay on the trails, don't ride if it's muddy, and ride the direction that is indicated by the sign at the entrance. (Clockwise some days, counterclockwise the rest.) It is quite fun even though I'm not that good.

    Regarding durability and jumping, my uncle rides singletrack and raced BMX a lot as a teen. He was pretty good and still likes to jump anything with two wheels. His 2010 Trek/GF Kaitai, unfortunately, has started weeping oil from the fork. I think his wheels are fairly round and he hasn't busted any spokes yet. He weighs around 180 pounds-- if he weighed a lot less the fork might be fine, and if he weighed 250+ I'm sure he would've taco'ed a rim by now.

    Every hybrid can ride qmsdc15's trail just fine as long as you don't have 25mm road slicks mounted up. I have never seen a cyclocross road bike at Miller's Meadow (video above), but I'm sure it could be done.

    Hybrids that have a suspension fork, especially higher-end ones, do have big advantages once you get into bumpy, root-filled trails. Wider tires have more air volume and thus you can run less air pressure, which gives you better traction and soaks up the terrain better. A tubeless 29x2 could ride that trail
    at 20-27 psi depending on rider weight. A 700x32 would need more like 50-55psi to avoid feeling the rim or pinch flatting.
    Last edited by ColinL; 09-22-11 at 08:11 AM.

  20. #20
    Calamari to go cc_rider's Avatar
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    I take the Trek 750 out on mtb trails fairly often. Tires are too slick for hard climbing, but it works well on the gentler trails.
    Northern Virginia has a nice selection of trails of all difficulty levels.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lexi01 View Post
    I was thinking the worst that could happen was that I'd be flying down a section and my fork would crack or my headtube would bust and I'd be faceplanting into the dirt...

    Any comments on the strength of forks/headtubes on hybrids vs. mtb?

    By the way I've been thinking of getting some thicker tyres now that I'm on the MTB mindset. But I can't find any thicker than 45s... Would a 29er fit on my 700c wheels? I've been reading that 29er and 700 are the same size...just marketed differently.
    Think about it this way: if bicycle parts broke before idiot riders, bicycle companies would be sued. When that sort of thing happens, usually with carbon forks, they issue a recall. I've never heard of a recall for telescoping shocks.

    I wasn't even aware that headtubes are weak links, but most hybrid parts ARE mountain bike parts.

    A road bike, or my 7.2, will in all likelyhood take equal shocks going over a pavement bump/gap/whatever @ 25mph as my equally priced mountain bike doing 15mph. The main difference just that the mtb wont throw you over the handlebars as often.

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    Are 29er's [I]Really[I] the same as 700cc's?

    A programmer friend of mine looked it up one day, broke down the math and somewhat obscure cc measurement, and claimed that a 700cc wheel wasn't 29 inches.

    The 28" conti's I put on 700 cc wheels seem to agree with him.

  23. #23
    Two-Wheeled Aficionado ColinL's Avatar
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    A 700c wheel is actually a hair under 27". Vintage bikes exist with 27" wheels and you can use a 700c tube or tire liner no problem, but drama will result if you try to mix tires and wheels.

    I do not know how MTB tire sizes are measured-- I'm sure there is a wiki page that addresses-- but I am very, very sure that a 29er rim is a slightly-wider-than-normal 700c rim. And a 26" MTB rim is considerably smaller.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by cranky velocist View Post
    Are 29er's [I]Really[I] the same as 700cc's?

    A programmer friend of mine looked it up one day, broke down the math and somewhat obscure cc measurement, and claimed that a 700cc wheel wasn't 29 inches.

    The 28" conti's I put on 700 cc wheels seem to agree with him.
    Not sure what unit of measurement "c" is. Perhaps it is the same as mm? A 700c tire maybe roughly 700mm (~27.5") in diameter and a 29" tire maybe roughly 29" (~736mm) in diameter. They both fit on a 622mm (~24.5") rim as badger1 pointed out.

    29in tires are fatter than 700c tires, and they share the same bead size (inner diameter), so the outer diameter of a 29" tire will be bigger than that of a 700c.

    26" rims are 559mm in diameter which is about 22". Add a couple inches of rubber to get to the nominal 26" diameter tire size.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by qmsdc15 View Post
    Not sure what unit of measurement "c" is. Perhaps it is the same as mm? A 700c tire maybe roughly 700mm (~27.5") in diameter and a 29" tire maybe roughly 29" (~736mm) in diameter. They both fit on a 622mm (~24.5") rim as badger1 pointed out.

    29in tires are fatter than 700c tires, and they share the same bead size (inner diameter), so the outer diameter of a 29" tire will be bigger than that of a 700c.

    26" rims are 559mm in diameter which is about 22". Add a couple inches of rubber to get to the nominal 26" diameter tire size.
    Apologies, I shouldn't have missed that post of Badger's - the two of you seem to have cleared this up quite nicely. Thanks.

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