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Old 06-14-11, 06:37 PM   #1
MLKATO
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Mountain bikes for touring,knobbies and all. Anyone done this?

I only have one bike,a older Raliegh USA M-50 mountain bike. I feel comfortable with it and I've been mapping out some sites for touring. But I don't feel comfortable using slicks and perfer my knobbies. I'm not a speed demon by any means,so going faster and more resisitance doesn't mean anything to me.I would also be traveling realitivity light also.Has anyone done this?
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Old 06-14-11, 06:56 PM   #2
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Yes, and if speed and total miles per day are not that important to you, there's no reason you shouldn't go for it. My first long tour was on a old 18 speed mountain bike. I went approx. 1400 miles. Because I was time limited, I did upgrade my gearing and swap my tires to slightly narrower off-road versions, which didn't cost me very much, and I still ended with a 85 mi. a day average while carrying an extra 50 pounds gear. (I was in great shape then) If you are in average shape, 50-70 mi. a day is quite achievable, especially if you are comfortable with your bike. You definitely don't need a fancy touring bike, just make sure your bike is in good mechanical shape.
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Old 06-14-11, 07:00 PM   #3
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MLKATO, My first toe dip into touring was on my mountain bike equipped with Continental Double Fighters, a hard pack off road tire with a fairly non aggresive center tread pattern. Some knobbed tires have the center row of knobs attached, those may not be too bad, but a day in the saddle with an aggresive set of off road tires will definately take their toll on you. I do suggest bar ends if you don't already have them.

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Old 06-14-11, 07:20 PM   #4
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Slicks handle much better on the road. Much more predictable and stable.
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Old 06-14-11, 07:25 PM   #5
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I use Michelin City 700x47.
They are tough as nails, outlast knobbies.
I re-visit knobbies every now and then and the Citys go right back on.
Knobs suck the energy out of me.
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Old 06-15-11, 05:54 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by MLKATO View Post
But I don't feel comfortable using slicks and perfer my knobbies.
Why? If the reason is traction in wet conditions read http://www.sheldonbrown.com/tires.html#hydroplaning
While you are at it also read http://www.sheldonbrown.com/tires.html#squirm

There are reasons why it makes more sense to use slicks or tires with minimal tread. They roll better, they offer better traction wet or dry, they are more predictable when cornering, they are quieter, and they are more comfortable.

The only two reasons I can think of for using knobbies on a road tour are that you don't want to bother to change them, or you plan to go off pavement in wet or loose conditions.

That said there is no reason that you can't tour on knobbies.

Last edited by staehpj1; 06-15-11 at 05:59 AM.
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Old 06-15-11, 07:31 AM   #7
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Big difference between a 1.25" "slick" and a 2.1" "slick", between a knobby tire with close blocks for road and wide blocks for loose dirt. There's lot's of reasons to not ride bumpy knobbies besides less efficiency/speed. If you like your "knobbies" because they're big tires and they're truly dirt tires or heavy dual use mtn tires you'll be pleasantly surprised riding some of the fatter street tires for rolling ease and control on the road going fast DOWN HILL. Check out 1.75" Panaracer T-serv or Schwalbe Big Apples.
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Old 06-15-11, 08:57 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by MLKATO View Post
I only have one bike,a older Raliegh USA M-50 mountain bike. I feel comfortable with it and I've been mapping out some sites for touring. But I don't feel comfortable using slicks and perfer my knobbies. I'm not a speed demon by any means,so going faster and more resisitance doesn't mean anything to me.I would also be traveling realitivity light also.Has anyone done this?
Yes, I've toured on knobbies but I pick routes where touring on knobbies is a requirement. Look for dirt roads, jeep trails and other places where a road bike wouldn't be the best choice. Mountain bikes open up a whole new world... and a world less populated by cars at that.

Knobby touring
Grand Canyon






Colorado

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New! Dinosaurs in Colorado A mountain bike guide to the Purgatory Canyon dinosaur trackway
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Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
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Old 06-15-11, 09:11 AM   #9
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Yep, no sweat, no reason not to do it. You can make pedalling easier by making sure you keep high pressure in the tyres, but in my experience well-inflated knobbly tyres are more prone to punctures than good semi-slick tyres, on road at any rate - they seem more vulnerable to those small cubes of glass that come from shattered car windows.
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Old 06-15-11, 09:11 AM   #10
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I'd have to think on it , a tire like the Continental Travel Contact was made for adventure touring,

on mixed surface / gravel roads.. they have a puncture barrier in the tread.

a row of knobby and a slick center band, reinforced sidewall for loads in panniers.

Not sure what off-road Mountain bike tires, if any, have a puncture barrier in the casing.
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Old 06-15-11, 09:36 AM   #11
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ccyco, re: last photo, did it eat the lawyer guy?

and yes, why not put on some semi treaded tires, there are loads of them. but hey, if you dont want to, sure. I rode my mtn bike with mtn tires on the road for ages until they wore down a bit and realized that I really didnt need them. And yes, you will go a bit faster, less noise, can corner better, faster etc.
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Old 06-15-11, 09:55 AM   #12
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I used to have an older mountain bike which I used for plenty of tours. It was great. The knobby tires allowed me to go on gravel and trails quite easily and I still managed to cover quite a bit of distance each day.

If I was to use a similar bike today, I'd go with narrower tires with a much less aggressive tread. This would allow for easier and more efficient riding on good pavement.
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Old 06-15-11, 10:04 AM   #13
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You can tour on pretty much anything. My first few short tours where on a boxy, aluminum, diamondback mountain bike with big fat kenda claw knobbies. It did the job. Was pretty happy to replace it, tho.
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Old 06-15-11, 01:00 PM   #14
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ccyco, re: last photo, did it eat the lawyer guy?
It was certainly after something. The trackway - 65 million years old - shows herding behavior by apatosaurs and hunting behavior (the above picture) by allosaurs. A very cool area!
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Old 06-15-11, 01:14 PM   #15
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OP: implicit in some of the replies above is ... you are not restricted to an either/or (full-on knobblies or true slicks). There are many 'touring' tires with tread available that will give you a nice middle ground. Some other examples would be Schwalbe Marathon Extreme (true mix of road/off-road) or Dureme (mostly road with some lightish off-road), or 1.75 Panaracer Pasela TGs (for the latter balance). Any of these three (there are many others) would be much less work and much better (and safer) handling on-road, and offer much better puncture resistance than most 'mtb' tires, while still offering the benefits of a 'wide', lower-pressure tire. Knobblies will certainly 'work', but unless you were planning to tour off-road only, I can't see why you wouldn't want to change to something more suited to mixed terrain.
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Old 06-15-11, 01:26 PM   #16
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It was certainly after something. The trackway - 65 million years old - shows herding behavior by apatosaurs and hunting behavior (the above picture) by allosaurs. A very cool area!
must have been indeed. And neat getting in their by mtn bike. Must have been fun.

badger-good points, and if the OP doesnt want to spend that much on tires, there are cheaper middle ground tires that will certainly work alright and save his knobbies for real mtn biking.
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Old 06-15-11, 08:39 PM   #17
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Did my first two tours on knobbies. The first tour included 22 miles of dirt road, but street tires would have been fine as it was very smooth and hard packed. Second one was Pacific Coast. No need for knobbies, I just didn't want to spring for new tires. On the last tour I had Schwalbe Marathons, and they've spoiled me. No more knobbies unless I need them for off road. Next tour (4 more days!) will be on Marathon Pluses.
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Old 06-28-11, 01:25 PM   #18
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I use Michelin City 700x47.
They are tough as nails, outlast knobbies.
I re-visit knobbies every now and then and the Citys go right back on.
Knobs suck the energy out of me.
Couldn't agree more on the Michelin City Tires. Have em on my Gary Fisher with no flats. just put 26 x 1.85's on my Hardrock hardtail in preparation for a 7 day tour next month.
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Old 06-29-11, 11:56 AM   #19
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I did my first tour first 300 km on Asian cheapo knobby tires. Replaced with some proper road tires and would never ever use the knobby's again. Ever.
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Old 06-29-11, 12:59 PM   #20
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While I've not toured on it, I've put thousands of road miles on a 1988 Trek 950 reshoed' with Conti Travel Contacts. Great tires!!!
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