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  1. #1
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    How bad is a mountain bike on the road?

    I'm posting in this forum rather than the road biking or recreational forum because I figured you all would have the experience with the mountain bikes to answer my question. Hope that's ok.
    So, my wife and I are looking at some used bikes to start riding around the neighborhood on. We are in a very rural area, but most of the biking we do together will be on the road or paved trails. However, I am also interested in getting into riding some trails with some friends, which she has no interest in. I'm just wondering how a mountain bike will be for 10 - 25 mile rides on the road. I know it will be slower and probably less comfortable, but will it be a LOT slower and REALLY uncomfortable? We're trying not to spend a whole lot, so I've been looking at older bikes like Trek 800s that don't have any suspension and I also have my eye on a bianchi super ibex that has full suspension. Long first post, but I would really appreciate some of you expert advise! Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by siege44 View Post
    I'm posting in this forum rather than the road biking or recreational forum because I figured you all would have the experience with the mountain bikes to answer my question. Hope that's ok.
    So, my wife and I are looking at some used bikes to start riding around the neighborhood on. We are in a very rural area, but most of the biking we do together will be on the road or paved trails. However, I am also interested in getting into riding some trails with some friends, which she has no interest in. I'm just wondering how a mountain bike will be for 10 - 25 mile rides on the road. I know it will be slower and probably less comfortable, but will it be a LOT slower and REALLY uncomfortable? We're trying not to spend a whole lot, so I've been looking at older bikes like Trek 800s that don't have any suspension and I also have my eye on a bianchi super ibex that has full suspension. Long first post, but I would really appreciate some of you expert advise! Thanks!
    Get a pair of hybrid tires and it's every bit as nice to ride on the road as a road bike. While you probably won't be able to max a speed as high on an MTB as a roadie, you will climb easier.

    I ride my MTB for 15-20 miles and I don't have any issues; in fact, I find it to be quite pleasant. All it takes is a set of tires to totally change the entire demeanor of a MTB. My MTB handles nearly just as well as my roadie with hybrid tires on it, plus it feels very quick.

    IMO, if I'm going to own one bike, it would be a MTB. The reason being is because I can swap a pair of tires on an MTB and ride comfortably on a road, yet on a road bike, I'm limited to the road.
    - Dan \m/

  3. #3
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    Tires make a huge difference, but I personally find I can't deal with the straight bars for any length of time on the road. That's an individual thing though and I have some wrist issues that seem to exacerbated by straight bars.

  4. #4
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    Good call on not posting this in Road

    While my bike (avatar) is technically a hybrid, it has a bunch of MTB DNA in it, right down to the 24x32 granny gear. With the stock street tires, I was averaging 16 mph on a 9 mile leg of my old commute on a paved MUP. I've also been known to hit 21+ mph while riding in traffic.

    In other words, a 10-25 mile recreational ride with your roadie buddies shouldn't be too difficult- once you get your fitness level up, that is.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cyril View Post
    Ride what and in what manner pleases you. Those that mind don't matter, and those that matter don't mind. srsly.
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  5. #5
    Quirky Grifter LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    This was a MTB and will be again someday, I'm sure. It's GREAT on the road.


    Flickr_2013_06_04_09_31_51 by Wheel Deals Vancouver, WA, on Flickr
    1980ish Free Spirit Sunbird fixed * 1996 Mongoose IBOC Zero-G * 1997 KHS Comp * 1990-ish Scapin * Lemond Buenos Aires Triple

  6. #6
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    I use my mountain bike for commuting (15 miles each way) and for recreational rides with slower friends (up to 40 miles). Mountain bikes are NOT uncomfortable except on all day rides (6 hours and up) or high speeds (20mph and up for long periods). In fact, at slower speeds (under 15mph), a mountain bike can be more comfortable because of the more relaxed riding position and softer tires.

    Regarding speed, a mountain bike is going to be slower than a road bike because of the extra weight (going up hills), worse aerodynamics (at higher speeds), and the knobby tires (on paved roads). Figure a 10% to 20% speed penalty. You can reduce the penalty somewhat (maybe half) by switching to lightweight slick tires. I use 26x1.25" slick tires for commuting. Unless you're trying to keep up with someone who is fitter than you and is riding a road racing bike, the speed penalty is not a real big deal.

    Suspensions are complicated and good suspensions are expensive. If you're trying to save money and you're not riding on steep rocky trails, then skip the suspensions.

  7. #7
    BF Avatar Zombie Hunter Jseis's Avatar
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    I run big street slicks at 70 psi on my MTB. Rolls fabulous but it weighs 36 pounds all up with 28 oz water bottle and seat bag with a few tools & tube, pump. As was noted....slower up hills. On flats it rolls good @ 14-15 but above that...windage sucks. More gear choices.

    As long as mud, deep sand..and smooth cobbles aren't involved..works fine off road cruising with the same tires at 26 psi.
    Amerika, Land of the Very Brief.

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    Sweet, thanks guys, I'm sold!

  9. #9
    Pedals, Paddles and Poles Daspydyr's Avatar
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    Agreed with above. Wooden Tiger reflects my belief, if you own 1 bike, make it a Mountain Bike. Change out tires for the conditions you need. I have slicks, hybrids and some knobbies. I also now have a nice skinny tire bike. But for 5 years my hardtail was all I needed.
    I think its disgusting and terrible how people treat Lance Armstrong, especially after winning 7 Tour de France Titles while on drugs!

    I can't even find my bike when I'm on drugs. -Willie N.

  10. #10
    I am a caffine girl colleen c's Avatar
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    The MTB is very doable for what you are after, although I do notice a difference if I swap from a mtb to my roadie bike for commute. The biggest noticeable difference will be the tire rotation mass. I ran 1.5 inch armadillo Nimbus on my Hardrock HT and it less smoother rolling than my road bike which has 700 x 28. Now if I had 38 on my road bike that will be a more different story. So it's pretty much depends on what tires you will be using vs what tires you may want to use if you do get a road bike. Recently, I upgraded my Hardrock tired with 26x2.0 Specialized Crossroad armadillo. They're not to bad to use as a combo for road, gravel trail and hard pack fire trail. You can pump those up tp 80 psi while the minium is 35 psi which is a decent pressure for mountain biking.

    If the FS bike you have yours eyes on does not have lockout, then it might not be a good thing if your pavement condition have any long steep climb. I can feel the difference in my climbing ability between having the shocks lockout and floating on long climb on my Stumpjumper. So you might just want to stay with a HT bike.

    Another consideration would be the seat. I prefer small narrow seat for trails and single track, however that same seat is a PITA out on the road for long ride. It is amazing at how little time we spend sitting on a seat while riding dirt. That said you way want to look for a seat that is a compromise for both useage or just invest in an extra seat post which you can swap easily unless you planning to get a dropper post later on.

    With all that I just ramble, I should have said that a MTB will be just fine.

  11. #11
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    I have a 1995 Trek 830 MTB that I use for a lot of biking on the road. The main reason I purchased it in the first place is that in just six years I had trashed an aluminum frame road bike, and I thought a MTB might be able to hold up better.

    So, the knobbies it came with were slower on the road. I eventually wore those down and put some semi-slick tires on it. I have, over the years, added fenders, added a better seat (rocking a Brooks B135 right now - not for everyone, but works for me), added an adjustable stem just recently as a response to wrist issues I have been having, and changed the flat bars for some Origin8 Adventure Tour bars (sort of trekking bar-ish bars). Right now I am getting ready to take about a week-long tour on this very bike in August.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daspydyr View Post
    Agreed with above. Wooden Tiger reflects my belief, if you own 1 bike, make it a Mountain Bike. Change out tires for the conditions you need. I have slicks, hybrids and some knobbies. I also now have a nice skinny tire bike. But for 5 years my hardtail was all I needed.
    I decided to experiment with riding my roadie and my MTB down the same path, the same distance. Not only was I NOT as tired after the ride on my MTB, but I also averaged a faster speed. I'd even be so bold as to say it handled corners just as fast and just as well.

    For the record, my MTB is a 29er (Cannondale Flash Alloy 2), has a triple chain ring, and I ran Continental TourRIDEs. The tires are not all that much wider than the tires on a typical road bike.

    My old MTB (GT Avalanche 1.0) was a 26er and I ran Continental Town & Country tires on that one. Those tires were wider than what the tires on my 29er are but they still made for a significant improvement in the performance on the road. That one didn't feel nearly as fast as my 29er. It was a solid but comfortable ride and felt very much like a BMX bike while riding on the street.

    I hardly ride my roadie anymore. Simply put, roading bores the hell outta me and I'm considering whether I wanna sell my roadie. Quite honestly, I think the only reason I still own it is because of the sentimental value. It's a great bike and I really like it, but I just can't seem to "get into" roading; I guess I'm just a BMX/dirt guy...
    - Dan \m/

  13. #13
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    Awesome on the road. It also has more options built in. If the road turns into a track (happens in isolated places around here) you have a bike that you can still ride.

    IMG432.jpg

    Slicks and well configured bars make this my favorite bike to ride. A bit upright at speeds past 45kmh but I don't often need or want to ride that fast anyway.

  14. #14
    Pedals, Paddles and Poles Daspydyr's Avatar
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    There are small rocks and glass that flats my Conti 4000s. My fat tires eat em up. And cornering, especially when things get moist is more secure with knobbies.

    and weird as it sounds, like Wooden Tiger, there are stretches of pavement where my MTB is faster than my Rdbk.
    I think its disgusting and terrible how people treat Lance Armstrong, especially after winning 7 Tour de France Titles while on drugs!

    I can't even find my bike when I'm on drugs. -Willie N.

  15. #15
    Pint-Sized Gnar Shredder Zephyr11's Avatar
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    I've found my mountain bike to be significantly slower on the road than my road bike. Doubly so when climbing. It's not less comfortable, but it is a lot slower, and if your wife has a road bike, well, put her in front and draft off her so she's doing more work. That said, I've done 50+ mile road rides on a mountain bike, and I'd much rather ride a mountain bike on the road than a road bike on singletrack. I wouldn't try to do group road rides on a mountain bike though, if that's a concern. The other possibility is if your friends' trails aren't very technical, you may be able to find a used cyclocross bike, which will be almost as fast as a road bike on the road, but versatile enough to take on easy trails. Don't get an old full suspension bike for riding on the road though. Dated suspension designs have more pedal bob than modern suspension, which will make you less efficient, plus they'll likely be heavy.

  16. #16
    Pedals, Paddles and Poles Daspydyr's Avatar
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    Yeah, climbing on the pavement on fat tires stinks. I remember seeing some guys riding FS Ellsworths on a Century in Vegas. I felt pity.
    Last edited by Daspydyr; 06-11-13 at 02:20 PM.
    I think its disgusting and terrible how people treat Lance Armstrong, especially after winning 7 Tour de France Titles while on drugs!

    I can't even find my bike when I'm on drugs. -Willie N.

  17. #17
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    While I wouldn't necessarily disagree with what is said for and against mt bikes, I prefer a fattire anywhere, if it means getting on a trail. Its better to have knobby tires to be able to go anywhere you want (within reason) and not be limited to roads or paved trails.
    2-Wheelers! Seize the Day. Put tread to the dirt and ride into the fray.
    The greatest weapon of a trail-warrior is his mind.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Mountain Mitch's Avatar
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    A lot depends on the bike and the tires. If you are talking about a F/S bike like the bianchi you mention then I don't think it will ever be a reasonable roader for more than short distances. On the other hand, as people as said here, with the right tires your non-suspended mtn bike can be a reasonable roader with the right tires. A front suspension bike is in between especially if you can cut out the suspension. I think that may be your better option to use on and off road.

    A mountain bike will never be as fast as a road bike nor will you want to ride road bike distances so if you plan to ride with people who ride road bikes make sure they are very understanding - or in very bad shape. What about a hybrid for your wife and a front suspended mtn bike for you? You'll probably be faster so this way you might both be about the same speed.

  19. #19
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    I actually just found a Giant Sedona for my wife so right on, Mountain Mitch, I have my eye on a mid 90s specialized stumpjumper that the guy says has been hanging in his garage for 10 years. Does $200 sound fair for something like that?

  20. #20
    Pedals, Paddles and Poles Daspydyr's Avatar
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    I just sold a '94 Norco Nitro that had been actively ridden for $200. I would think a Stumpjumper that has been well maintained would be a good value.

    A rule around here is that now you need to post some picture of the wheels things you will be riding! Don't forget helmets!
    I think its disgusting and terrible how people treat Lance Armstrong, especially after winning 7 Tour de France Titles while on drugs!

    I can't even find my bike when I'm on drugs. -Willie N.

  21. #21
    Senior Member osco53's Avatar
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    My 29er HT does fine crossing the road, but I don't have street tires for it,,

    I use this:

    HPIM0870.jpg
    Scott Spark 760, Tour Easy LE, Sun EZ-3 sx, Walmart Thruster :P

  22. #22
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    I don't like riding my mountain bike on the road or paved trails... it's built for dirt however, I do a number of rides that combine dirt and road, over 40 miles (like a big loop through a wilderness park and back to parking), and its no problem. It is alittle more work as you can imagine. I have a "Frankenweenie" bike that is an old mountain bike that I added wide (32) slicks and I use that to commute. It moves surprisenly easy and fast.

    If you plan on doing both dirt and trail and this is your only bike, I would keep your knobbies on the wheels and just add in more air (up to 60 psi) for pavement and release air (30 - 40 psi) for dirt. You aren't going that far and it will be a good work out for you.
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daspydyr View Post
    Yeah, climbing on the pavement on fat tires stinks. I remember seeing some guys riding FS Ellsworths on a Century in Vegas. I felt pity.
    I definitely wouldn't wanna ride a FS on a century ride unless I could completely lock out the swing-arm shock; in that case, I wouldn't have an issue with it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mountain Mitch View Post
    A lot depends on the bike and the tires. If you are talking about a F/S bike like the bianchi you mention then I don't think it will ever be a reasonable roader for more than short distances. On the other hand, as people as said here, with the right tires your non-suspended mtn bike can be a reasonable roader with the right tires. A front suspension bike is in between especially if you can cut out the suspension. I think that may be your better option to use on and off road.

    A mountain bike will never be as fast as a road bike nor will you want to ride road bike distances so if you plan to ride with people who ride road bikes make sure they are very understanding - or in very bad shape. What about a hybrid for your wife and a front suspended mtn bike for you? You'll probably be faster so this way you might both be about the same speed.
    Well, in my case I already proved that theory to be incorrect. I had more better luck on group rides while on my MTB than on my roadie, and these people aren't in "very bad shape." I had no issues with keeping up while on my MTB but when I went out on the roadie, I was struggling hard, so...

    Whatever the case, I no longer participate in the group rides because I hate riding on public roads. Riding a bicycle along a public road isn't worth my life. In the end, the inattentive jackass who hits me isn't going to have a scratch, meanwhile I'll either be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life or being fed through a straw and crapping on myself.
    - Dan \m/

  24. #24
    one less horse cryptid01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wooden Tiger View Post
    meanwhile I'll either be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life or being fed through a straw and crapping on myself.
    i bet it won't stop you from posting

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by cryptid01 View Post
    i bet it won't stop you from posting
    - Dan \m/

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