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  1. #1
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    Dual Sport Hybrid vs 29er with 700c tires

    I've been taking my time looking and trying out some bikes (my budget is 1k so I want to make the right decision) and I'm pretty sure that I want to go the "Dual Sport - front suspension" route since I plan on taking my bike into some light trails (30%) and the rest paved streets and paths.

    Problem is I can't get myself around what exactly is the difference between adding 700c tires to a 29er mountain bike vs a (say) Specialized Crosstrail??

    Is the geometry and gearing that different to tell them apart? The other thing is that I'm not a tiny guy 6"3 and 230lbs so would the typical 50mm to 75mm forks be enough for me or would the traditional 100mm travel of a 29er be better?

    Any insights would be appreciated!

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by simonsez View Post
    I've been taking my time looking and trying out some bikes (my budget is 1k so I want to make the right decision) and I'm pretty sure that I want to go the "Dual Sport - front suspension" route since I plan on taking my bike into some light trails (30%) and the rest paved streets and paths.

    Problem is I can't get myself around what exactly is the difference between adding 700c tires to a 29er mountain bike vs a (say) Specialized Crosstrail??

    Is the geometry and gearing that different to tell them apart? The other thing is that I'm not a tiny guy 6"3 and 230lbs so would the typical 50mm to 75mm forks be enough for me or would the traditional 100mm travel of a 29er be better?

    Any insights would be appreciated!
    hi, the main difference is frame geometry and how the rider sits on the bike.

    in terms of geometry, the crosstrail has a longer chainstay than a mountainbike. a mountainbike will have a lower bottom bracket and a longer top tube. all these changes places the rider with more weight distribution on his arms than the hybrid. the shorter chainstays make the bike more responsive in climbs. of course you can raise the stem on a mtb or slam the stem on a hybrid, but im generalizing here

    regarding the wheels, a 29er will usually have much wider rims than an average hybrid. this means that narrow road tires will not fit. also assuming the same tire fits a 29er and a 700, on the 29er the tire will seem wider. really wide tires might be a problem for the 700c frame due to frame clearance

    the gearing will be lower on the mountain bike, but thats not a bad thing as i think most hybrids have too high gearing

    on the suspension topic, im a bit concerned. the issue is suspension is not that useful if you cannot tune it. the stock fork on the crosstrail is nice, but i would ask if a stiffer spring rate is available due to your size. in my experience, most of these entry level forks perform fine until a part needs servicing. they can be very hard to locate. maybe things have changed but i would inquire first about the spring rate before you buy a bike. as for the spares, its closely related to the first issue.

    my suggestion would be to analyze your riding. if youre going to be riding more on roads and very mild trails - i would go for a nice rigid steel fork. if i were to go more offroading or really wanted a suspension fork, i would make sure to get a tunable and servicable fork.

    or go for a rigid 29er. fat wheels are worth about 1.5" of suspension by themselves. you can add a suspension fork later

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by DorkDisk View Post
    hi, the main difference is frame geometry and how the rider sits on the bike.

    in terms of geometry, the crosstrail has a longer chainstay than a mountainbike. a mountainbike will have a lower bottom bracket and a longer top tube. all these changes places the rider with more weight distribution on his arms than the hybrid. the shorter chainstays make the bike more responsive in climbs. of course you can raise the stem on a mtb or slam the stem on a hybrid, but im generalizing here

    regarding the wheels, a 29er will usually have much wider rims than an average hybrid. this means that narrow road tires will not fit. also assuming the same tire fits a 29er and a 700, on the 29er the tire will seem wider. really wide tires might be a problem for the 700c frame due to frame clearance

    the gearing will be lower on the mountain bike, but thats not a bad thing as i think most hybrids have too high gearing

    on the suspension topic, im a bit concerned. the issue is suspension is not that useful if you cannot tune it. the stock fork on the crosstrail is nice, but i would ask if a stiffer spring rate is available due to your size. in my experience, most of these entry level forks perform fine until a part needs servicing. they can be very hard to locate. maybe things have changed but i would inquire first about the spring rate before you buy a bike. as for the spares, its closely related to the first issue.

    my suggestion would be to analyze your riding. if youre going to be riding more on roads and very mild trails - i would go for a nice rigid steel fork. if i were to go more offroading or really wanted a suspension fork, i would make sure to get a tunable and servicable fork.

    or go for a rigid 29er. fat wheels are worth about 1.5" of suspension by themselves. you can add a suspension fork later

    +1

    Very well stated!

    Actually, for 70% paved roads and only the occasional dirt trail, I'd much prefer a sleek Performance hybrid to either a DS hybrid, or any kinda MTB.

    * I always thought that mtb BB heights were higher than DS hybrids...
    Last edited by Cfiber; 05-13-13 at 11:39 PM.

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    Wow, great detailed insight! Thank you!

    I did try a few "permance hybrids" and yes they were indeed fast but I found them very jarring, I felt almost every little bump on the road go through my body.

    The culprit may of been the tires, since those bikes all had 32c tires!

    Would it then be fair to say that a "permance/rigid fork hybrid" with a 37c/40c knobbier tire would be a better overall performing bike than a Dual Sport/front suspension with a skinny 32c/35c tire?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by simonsez View Post
    Wow, great detailed insight! Thank you!

    I did try a few "permance hybrids" and yes they were indeed fast but I found them very jarring, I felt almost every little bump on the road go through my body.

    The culprit may of been the tires, since those bikes all had 32c tires!

    Would it then be fair to say that a "permance/rigid fork hybrid" with a 37c/40c knobbier tire would be a better overall performing bike than a Dual Sport/front suspension with a skinny 32c/35c tire?

    I dunno, "better" is a very relative term. In general, what I've found to be true, is that what you gain in comfort, with respect to the use of both a suspended fork and wider tires, you usually lose with respect to both speed and efficiency.

    At this point, you evaluate your terrain and what features in a bicycle that you think will grant you greater personal enjoyment and give you a better ride. A smoothly paved road doesn't offer many opputunities to give to a rough or "bumpy" ride. Therefore, IMO, a suspended fork should be ruled out of the equation with a mostly paved terrain. Wider tires are very comforting on diverse surfaces. However, they're usually not needed on well-paved roads. I would say, that the more diverse your terrain, the more appreciated should be the wider tire.

    For most smoothly paved roads and hardpacked dirt trails, wider tires only become additional weight that will require more energy for both acceleration and stopping. Therefore, IMO, wider tires than 32mm, should be ruled out of the equation, altogether.

    With the Performance hybrid, a 32mm tire combined with a CF fork, should provide more than adequate buffer between you and the road, practically all of the time.

    * Under dry conditions, slicks should perform better than knobbies on hard surfaces.
    Last edited by Cfiber; 05-14-13 at 10:14 AM.

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    Maybe the best solution would be two bikes. Maybe spend $800 for a good hybrid mostly for pavement work (say 700C x 35mm range) and the last $200 plowed into Craigslist for a used MTB with a spongy OEM fork...Its fairly easy to pick up a nice Trek or Giant there for $100 or so and a bit more for a tuning for modest trail use.
    /K

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cfiber View Post
    +1

    Very well stated!

    Actually, for 70% paved roads and only the occasional dirt trail, I'd much prefer a sleek Performance hybrid to either a DS hybrid, or any kinda MTB.

    * I always thought that mtb BB heights were higher than DS hybrids...
    yes you are right, i was thining of drop.

    due to the tires the mtb will be higher. correct

  8. #8
    Trek DS 8.4 Rider! zerogravity's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by simonsez View Post
    I've been taking my time looking and trying out some bikes (my budget is 1k so I want to make the right decision) and I'm pretty sure that I want to go the "Dual Sport - front suspension" route since I plan on taking my bike into some light trails (30%) and the rest paved streets and paths.

    Problem is I can't get myself around what exactly is the difference between adding 700c tires to a 29er mountain bike vs a (say) Specialized Crosstrail??

    Is the geometry and gearing that different to tell them apart? The other thing is that I'm not a tiny guy 6"3 and 230lbs so would the typical 50mm to 75mm forks be enough for me or would the traditional 100mm travel of a 29er be better?

    Any insights would be appreciated!

    I have a Dualsport 2012 8.4. I comes with 700x35 tires. I frequently switch between my 700x32 Hardcase tires for road and 29x2.2 fronts and 29x2.0 rears for cross country mountain biking with the stock rims. I have since upgraded the front derailer to a Shimano SLX so accomodate wider 29er tires in the rear. I can now fit 29x2.2 Maxxis IKONS with no problems. I also have purchased another set of rims so i can have dedicated dirt and road rims.

    I have done many trails with the stock fork, some are more ALL MOUNTAIN trails and although the fork was pushed to it's limit, it handled the business. If the trails are more cross country type with minimal drops/jumps, the stock fork is fine. Geometry really is a personal preference thing. When i first started riding the trails, i hadn't ridden any other bikes and my Dualsport was fine. Up until i demoed a Pivot 429, i realized what a real mountain bike felt with the geo and what it can do in the dirt. If you are just going to ride, the geo should be fine. There are tires that are great for both trail and street use like the Kenda SMall Block 8. Tires like those are very versatile..you could get away with just using those for all your riding needs. ALl up to you in the end. Good Luck!
    ''Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.''-- Thomas Alva Edison

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cfiber View Post
    I dunno, "better" is a very relative term. In general, what I've found to be true, is that what you gain in comfort, with respect to the use of both a suspended fork and wider tires, you usually lose with respect to both speed and efficiency.

    At this point, you evaluate your terrain and what features in a bicycle that you think will grant you greater personal enjoyment and give you a better ride. A smoothly paved road doesn't offer many opputunities to give to a rough or "bumpy" ride. Therefore, IMO, a suspended fork should be ruled out of the equation with a mostly paved terrain. Wider tires are very comforting on diverse surfaces. However, they're usually not needed on well-paved roads. I would say, that the more diverse your terrain, the more appreciated should be the wider tire.

    For most smoothly paved roads and hardpacked dirt trails, wider tires only become additional weight that will require more energy for both acceleration and stopping. Therefore, IMO, wider tires than 32mm, should be ruled out of the equation, altogether.

    With the Performance hybrid, a 32mm tire combined with a CF fork, should provide more than adequate buffer between you and the road, practically all of the time.

    * Under dry conditions, slicks should perform better than knobbies on hard surfaces.
    Kinda surprised you're not recommending something along the lines of your Muirwoods 29er. I have the 2009 model and that thing is a beast on the street even if it's not the fastest thing out there. However, you could put 35mm tires on there for street and then 50mm for off-road. I think someone here put 55mm Big Apples on theirs, but 55mm tires with knobs probably wouldn't work.

    As far as bumpy roads go, pavement in urban areas can be pretty beat up and may have all kinds of utility covers everywhere along with many cut and cover crap. This is the reason I chose my Muirwoods 29er. Those 42mm tires at 45 PSI dampen so much of that.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by jsdavis View Post
    Kinda surprised you're not recommending something along the lines of your Muirwoods 29er. I have the 2009 model and that thing is a beast on the street even if it's not the fastest thing out there. However, you could put 35mm tires on there for street and then 50mm for off-road. I think someone here put 55mm Big Apples on theirs, but 55mm tires with knobs probably wouldn't work.

    As far as bumpy roads go, pavement in urban areas can be pretty beat up and may have all kinds of utility covers everywhere along with many cut and cover crap. This is the reason I chose my Muirwoods 29er. Those 42mm tires at 45 PSI dampen so much of that.
    True. I actually had a brief moment where I thought about recommending the Muirwoods 29er. However, a cold splash of reality hit me, and reminded me of how much I enjoy speed, and abhor the feeling of being dropped by practically every other cyclist on the street. As you must already know by now, while the Muirwoods 29er is an absolute tank when it comes to road challenges, it's actually a very slow two wheeled vehicle.

  11. #11
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    Guess my own take on this might be a little different. Regardless of what any manufacturer might say about their hybrid - its primarily a city bike. Very few have decent suspension systems. Some have lock-outs but a true mtb suspension has adjustable preload, damping and a longer travel as well as a lockout.

    What does that translate into? A shock that can be set up for any rider's weight rather than something that'll be too stiff for a light rider and will bottom out continuously for a heavier rider. A longer travel means it'll also be suitable for small drops and jumps and not just sidewalk cracks.

    Then there's tire clearance and weight distribution. A hybrid will be lucky to take a 700x43c rear tire. A 29er will handle a 2.5" tire (60c). A mtb bike puts the weight further back than a hybrid, making it much easier to lift the front wheel over obstacles. You'd have to install a setback seatpost on a hybrid to approach the same balance, and even then - most rider choose a smaller frame size for off road use than they would for on-road use. So where you're planning on spending most of your time might influence things.

    My recommendations for someone over 6 feet tall that weighs 230 lbs would be to go for a hard tail 29er provided its a good quality build. It'll be stronger, more versatile and will still take any tire size you're likely to be interested in. Wider tires float better on loose gravel and sand, and performance on aphalt is more related to tire construction and build quality than width. And I say that as a fairly light guy that prefers to run 2" and 2.3" slicks in 26" and 700c sizes and doesn't get passed lots using those on asphalt. You might want to look up Schwalbe Marathon Supremes and Geax Tattoo Lites.
    Last edited by Burton; 05-16-13 at 10:09 PM.

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