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Old 10-15-08, 12:35 PM   #1
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make a roady-hybrid more off-roady?

I'm currently on the road to Rome, but afterwards I want to keep touring, only it will be too cold to keep touring in europe. My bike is a regular hybrid and more towards the road bike end of hybridness (thin tires, insanely stiff frame), so anything other than tarmac is a struggle.
If I want to go anywhere more exotic like SE asia, I'll get shaken to bits-the cobblestones in switzerland were bad enough :-(

So, the question is, how much can you change to a bike to make it smoother on tough terrain without spending a fortune?

-I already have a suspension seatpost and brooks saddle, which helps a lot
-can you put front suspension forks on any bike?
-bigger, knobbly tires and tougher wheels with more spokes should help
-I can't afford carbon fibre for the headset etc. to absorb vibrations is there a cheaper way to do the same?
-I'll probably buy a trailer so my rack stops getting bashed about so much

can anyone suggest anything else?
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Old 10-15-08, 01:26 PM   #2
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Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires.

I've got a set of 32mm on my commuter/tourer. Not only are the flat resistant, but they seem very sure footed on cobble stone downtown alleys, and even work decent on tamer forest service roads.

My wheels are velocity deep V rims, laced with 32 DT swiss butted spokes each. I'm a bigger guy (210lbs) and ride the snot out of this rig every day. The frame is pretty stiff, no suspension fork or posts. As I mentioned I've taken this on dirt roads without issue, but actual trails with obstacles are more appropriate for an actual mountain bike.

Assuming your bike has clearance for bigger tires, that'd expand the terrain you can handle quite a lot. I didn't want to go bigger than 32mm, as I also ride alongside traffic and want to be able to still ride 16-18mph comfortably.
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Old 10-15-08, 03:25 PM   #3
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How thin are your tires and how much space is there in the forks and seat stays for fatter tires? If you currently have 25 or 28 mm tires, moving up to 35 or 38 will be a lot more effective than switching to a suspension fork. It will also be easier to convert back to a fast rolling bike when you meet smooth roads again.
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Old 10-15-08, 04:58 PM   #4
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the tires are key

my main off-road rigs are both fully rigid, but with fat, knobby tires, typically run towards the lower end of the recommended PSI range. A CF headset would be a bad idea. and, FWIW, suspension forks are tougher to run full coverage fenders and front racks on. plus, touring in serious "ATB" conditions with racks and bags often leads to difficulty with bumps in the trail, hence the popularity of one-wheeled trailers with off-road tourists.

If you want to make that hybrid as trail-worthy as possible, buy the fattest, knobbiest, ugliest tires that will fit between the stays and brakes. Keep in mind that onroad performance will suffer, so keep the slicks handy for rides with more road aspects.

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Old 10-18-08, 04:18 AM   #5
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I have a similar question for this thread. I recently acquired an Orbea Aneto, a city speed type hybrid, that came with Shimano R500 wheels (20 front / 24 rear) running 32mm wide tires. I have felt that when I go over cobblestones or quick runs on dirt paths, it seems a little rigid and harsh. I was thinking of increasing my tire width to 35 or 38, but don't think my rims will accomodate.

What rims would you reccomend for someone in my situation? I weigh around 175 and at some point would like to upgrade to some 32 spoke wheels maybe 17mm or 19mm based on Sheldon Brown's web site.

Many thanks.
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Old 10-19-08, 03:48 PM   #6
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My son rode on dirtroads today on a hybrid. At present he is on 622-37 tyres, but could go wider.

I do not agree on the knobby tyres, you do not need them on roads. Go for something not totally slick, but not knobby- that can take quite high preassure (just make sure also the rims can take the preassure). That way you can just increase the tyre preassure when on good roads and reduce on bad roads.
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