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  1. #1
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    Are my tires ruining my ride or what?

    Hey there. I'm new to cycling and these forums, and just bought my first bike since I was a kiddo. Before buying, I had done plenty of research online- Frustratingly, I felt that a cyclocross bike would be my best fit, but there just weren't any that would fit in my budget. My goal is to eventually be able to do my 4-mile daily commute on my bike, but also be able to do some VERY LIGHT trail rides on occasion (There aren't any of what I consider to be "real" MTB trails around here, sadly) - I was pretty sure a road bike wouldn't be able to handle the dirt/gravel/stones/grass/whatever I encountered on the places I planned to go, but I felt like a mountain bike would be overkill and harder to commute with, as I'm not trying to beat the bike up or tackle anything technical/etc, and so I was left rather confused and unsure of myself. After driving 4 hours (as there is no closer bike store that I could find) I felt like I couldn't go home empty-handed, too. The store owner was also trying his best to persuade me that "The best bike to own is a mountain bike"... So I ended up taking home a Trek Wahoo (Which probably doesn't fit me properly) and a few accessories (new seat!) for about $600 after a short test ride.

    Anyway, finally getting to the point here. I feel like it's IMPOSSIBLE to move this bike uphill, even when there's only a 5-10 degree incline and I drop down to first gear, it kills me. It's gotten SLIGHTLY easier as I've been riding at least every other day for the 3 weeks that I've owned the bike, but right now it seems like my 4-mile commute is not realistic at all, which is pretty embarrassing... Conversely, it feels like I'm riding a motorcycle going back the other way; the bike flies downhill, so I guess that means the tires roll well... Which is why I'm not getting how going "up" is so tough.

    While I haven't exactly been active up until owning the bike, (*cough*, I'm a bit out of shape) I'm not overweight and I've really been trying to push myself when I ride, not stopping until I'm out of breath and totally exhausted... I've fallen over once while trying to walk down the sidewalk to my house after parking and locking up my bike because my legs were so shaky.

    So my question is... Will switching out my rather-knobby stock tires be the cure for all of my problems riding on road? If so what tires should I look into (keeping in mind that I want to take to the light dirt/gravel/grass trails once in a while), will I need wheels, and most importantly, will I be able to switch everything by myself? (hopefully with the help of some youtube videos, of course)

    I believe these are what's on my bike: http://www.singlespeed.nl/catalog/images/bon292.jpg Bontrager 29-1, 29x2.1"

    Thanks for reading... The answer might be that I'm just too out of shape. I'm not trying to make excuses, so please tell me if you think that's the case. I just wish I knew how long it'd take me to get into shape for my sissy 4-mile commute as I'm a bit sick of carpooling and borrowing cars and think cycling would be great fun if it wasn't so frustrating for me right now.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    It's a combination of the tires and your conditioning. Swap out the tires for some wide, semi-slick ones and you should see some improvement on road and notice very little (if any) negative performance off road. These are the ones that came stock on my bike and I have no issues doing the same type of riding that you describe- http://www.amazon.com/Tioga-City-Sli...a+city+slicker.

    You should have little difficulty in swapping out the tires yourself. If you don't know how, search out how to vids because removing the tire from the wheel is a key element in fixing a flat.
    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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  3. #3
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    Why did you buy a bike which didn't fit, especially when buying from a store? can you not take it back and get them to get the fit right?

    For the tires, would agree with no1mad, in the fitness, ride more, and it will get easier, although doing a quick Google search indicates that the stock tires aren't great.

  4. #4
    Senior Member BruceHankins's Avatar
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    +1 on skinnier slicks.

    Also like jimc101 said cant you take it back if it doesn't fit properly? I would assume a bike shop you get you on something appropriately sized though. A lot of road bike you can get a 35mm or in some cases even a 40mm rear tire on, but I wouldn't recommend knobbys for a commute.

  5. #5
    Keep on climbing
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    As others have said, the tires aren't helping. Knobby tires don't do anything for you on the road, and in fact they hurt performance due to the extra rolling resistance they create.

    Fitness is a far bigger issue though. It does get easier as you ride more.

    Also, which are you calling "first" gear? The easiest gear to pedal uphill is when the chain is on the smallest gear on the front and the largest gear in the back.
    "There is more to life than increasing its speed" -- Mahatma Gandhi

  6. #6
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    As has been said replace the knobbies with a road type tire...narrower as well if your riding is predominantly on the road and/or hard pack dirt...I ride my road bike on hard pack dirt roads with 23mm tires and no problems at all.
    While you may have done a lot of research it can't and doesn't beat the skill, knowledge and experience of a "good" bike shop person regarding proper fit.
    Being a bit overweight does not necessarily mean not fit. I've raced/ridden with people, me included, who could stand to lose some fat but are very strong riders...all things being equal it is the uphills that make the weight added baggage a *****...skinny people are just as unfit...fitness is exactly that...ride more, push yourself when riding to increase lung capacity, cardio strength and muscular strengt.

    I'd not have recommended an ATB for mainly road riding unless the person's needs demanded it. A cross bike is a great bike for all purpose riding...not stating your budget makes it hard to understand your purchase but cross bikes, while perhaps a bit more costly than others are well worth the cost and if you had to wait to save some more you'd have been better off in the long run.

    If you are not happy with the bike and it is a new purchase talk to the shop about returning it.
    I'm curious, where did you do your research and what were you looking for? Did you start a thread here before buying?

  7. #7
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    How is your seat height? Your leg should be almost fully extended at the bottom of the stroke. If your seat is too low and your legs don't extend properly it will be much harder to pedal the bike.

    You can search you tube for videos on proper seat height and how to adjust seat height for tips.

  8. #8
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    Thanks for all the replies. I suppose I'm just going to have to try to stick with it until I get into shape and buy some tires when I can afford them. I'll call the store and see if they will accept a return, but I'm doubting that they will and not looking forward to explaining it to my parents or taking another day out to ride to the store.

    There were several problems with my budget... At the time of buying the bike I was unemployed- My parents were buying the bike for me so that I wouldn't have to borrow the family car all the time (and so that I could get a job... Right now I'm having trouble keeping their love as they expected me to be able to ride it to town and get a job immediately). Unfortunately, they had the mindset that "Any bike will do" and "We thought bikes were supposed to be $100-$200..." Furthermore, the store only carried Trek bikes... So $1000 was the starting point for a cross bike; As much as I wanted it, it wasn't happening. It's worth mentioning that I looked at the Trek 8.3 DS hybrid, but the store owner persuaded both me and my parents away from it and to the MTB which I ended up buying.

    As far as the bike fit goes, I'm unsure about it because the shop wasn't very helpful. They basically left it up to me to choose based on how I felt sitting on other bikes (which had pretty different geometries) and I wasn't sure whether to go with the 15.5" or 17.5" model... I also only had one shot as they were only willing to put one bike together for me and as I stated, I really didn't want to leave without a bike. I ended up going with the 17.5" and I still don't know if it was the right choice or not. It does seem like the seat height is good though, it's basically the same height as the handlebars and my leg is almost extended at the bottom of my stroke, just not to the point where my knee is locked.

    Anyway, thanks for hearing out my misfortune. I hope that I can get over these frustrations and come to enjoy cycling soon.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ruya View Post
    they were only willing to put one bike together for me
    Sounds like a pretty useless shop, they are going to have to build the bikes they have one day, so why not for a potential customer.

  10. #10
    Senior Member MRT2's Avatar
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    Sounds like a pretty bad bike shop. You were looking for a city bike/commuter, and the shop sold you a mountain bike. None of us were there, so hard to say who is in the right and who is in the wrong. (did you emphasize you primarily needed this as a commuter?) Take it back and at least see if they will swap out more appropriate tires, maybe adjust the fit. Or take it to another bike shop and pay them to do what you already paid the first bike shop to do.

  11. #11
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    The problem is that I just kinda live in the middle of nowhere, so all the bike shops are around 4 hours away, in different directions. Only one shop had a review so that was the one I went to. They didn't seem like bad people, I'm putting all of the blame on myself for having the "must leave with a bike" mentality, as I wouldn't be making this thread if I had just walked away/tried another shop. They had plenty of bikes on the floor but the majority were MTBs and/or over $1k (Out of budget) Or too big, and due to their short hours they only had time to put one together after we arrived. I definitely would want the next shop I go to to at least take the time to get the fit perfect for me. I DID suggest to my parents that we call the shop before we go there and make sure they would be able to sort everything out for us, but they deemed it unnecessary...

  12. #12
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    The bike store you used sucks. No questions about it. I looked up the specs on the Wahoo. Trek doesn't list bike weights but an independent review listed the weight as 36 pounds. To me, that's heavy. Not as bad as a mass merchandiser bike (Target WalMart) but heavier that I would prefer in my own mountain bike. You can buy a spare pair of road tires with a smoother tread but when I took a glance at what was available for 29" (770) tires at http://www.niagaracycle.com/categori...riceasc&page=1 most tires seemed to be for mountain bikes, not road bikes. Road bikes are likely to have 700C tires. Part of your difficulty may be being out of shape but the bike weight certainly does contribute to making it hard to go up a hill and faster downhill.

    B]Are you sure that the bike was properly assembled, particularly the wheels?[/B] I've bought a lot of used bikes to fix up over the past few years and found many of them with very few miles on them where the cones on the axles were pressing too tightly on the bearings. It makes the bike harder to pedal. Flip the bike upside down. Spin the wheels. They should spin freely for a while and eventually come to a stop with the heaviest part of the wheel (usually where the valve is located) at the bottom.

  13. #13
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    I put these on my old 26" wheel MTB and they made a good difference. They were fairly inexpensive too (got 'em on sale for $19.99). A quick look shows them on Amazon for $29.29...

    Sorry to hear about your bad experience.

  14. #14
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    Hey again! We took a ride down to the the only other feasibly-nearby bike store today (50 miles). I called beforehand and asked them if they would let me trade in my Wahoo (emphasis that I stated the model and everything...) They said they'd have to look at the bike, and of course when I got there they just slapped me in the face by saying that they don't want or stock Wahoo's because of the fork and something or other having problems. It was for the better, though, since I don't think getting another bike right this moment is the best choice. If and when I do sell this bike, I want to be 100% sure of what I get next.

    It wasn't a waste of a long, humid day in the car, though! We had them swap out my tires for thinner ones, with a nice slick center and just a bit of treading on the sides. I've now just landed from my longest ride BY FAR, and also my most enjoyable ride... Funnily enough, it's also the first time I HAVEN'T limped back down to the house from the garage feeling like I'd be worn for days. At first the ride didn't seem all that different, I actually started to get a little disheartened because it was less smooth due to the higher pressure in the tires, but before I knew it I had passed the farthest point I've ridden to and I hadn't even stopped to rest, or felt the need to yet. I ended up going about twice that distance (About 2.5 miles I'm guessing) and then looping back home. I even managed to conquer one of the two really steep hills somehow. Speaking of hills, I laugh at the fact that I used to think the bike was fast on the downhills before.

    The back tire did spin a bit when I tried starting uphill in some loose gravel as a little experiment, but it felt fine in every situation I'll actually be encountering. Even when the tire DID spin, I had no trouble staying on the bike and going.

    I may yet try and put an ad up to sell the bike and see if I can get a decent price for it- I realized after some digging around in the attic and garage that I have some other "assets" lying around that could be liquidated for the purpose of funding a nicer bike.

    I'm concluding that the tires definitely were ruining my newbie cyclist experience more than anything else. There are still a few other things about the bike to pick at (IE- it's a MTB and I should have a road bike or hybrid/cross bike ), but I think I'm happy to set my foot in the door to cycling on this bike now- I don't feel like the bike is weighing me down.

  15. #15
    Senior Member MRT2's Avatar
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    Sounds like an expensive lesson. Just wondering, you say you had to drive 4 hours to the bike shop that sold you the bike, but the other bike shop was 50 miles away. Why didn't you go there first? Second, your parents were way wrong about just dropping by. If buying a bike was a priority, you should have given the bike shop some advanced notice so they could have more than one bike in your size ready to ride.

  16. #16
    Nigel nfmisso's Avatar
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    I am 50+, heavy, out of shape, and currently commute 18 miles round trip every day on a mid 1990s GT mountain bike (butted cr-mo frame - so probably lighter than your Wahoo). The front tire is a 47-559 Vitorria (Bell Branded) with a smooth center, and so bit on the sides. The rear tire is a 40-559 Kenda 100 psi road tire. On a good day, with no wind, I cruise around 12 mph (not that fast); with a good tail wind, I go much faster A MTB with no suspension and smooth tires is as fast as a hybrid or any other bike of similar weight - it is all in the engine (the rider).
    Nigel
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