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  1. #1
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    road vs mountain bike for training and weight loss

    Hi,

    I'm planning to buy a bike for training and weight-loss.

    could I ask which would be a better bike for this purpose, i.e. road or mountain bike?

    thanks.

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    Work hard, Play hard forum*rider's Avatar
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    I think i read somewhere on this forum that road bikes are better for training and that they give you a better work out. Maybe something to do with the road bikes higher gearing? Im not too sure.

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    Maglia Ciclamino gcasillo's Avatar
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    Apples and oranges. I don't have a mountain bike, so I'm limited to advice on road bikes. I think most people will tell you which ever bike you'll ride the most is the best one for you. I chose road bikes because I knew I was too lazy to drive to the trails. I wanted something I could just get out on and go. I commute on a road bike. I also train on a road bike.

    However, if you don't feel confident riding in light or heavy traffic, or you prefer getting away to mountain biking venues, then by all means go that route. Just make a plan and stick to it.

  4. #4
    Tom (ex)Builder twahl's Avatar
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    I've ridden mountain bikes off and on for years, a hybrid for a while, and am a recent convert to road bike. I personally feel that the road bike is the way to go, because I feel like I am able to do more for a longer period of time. I'll give you that a mountain bike tends to be heavier and have more rolling resistance, but it's easier to go faster on a road bike, which translates into being able to get in more miles in a given period of time. I'm more comfortable for longer periods of time, which encourages me to ride more, and I've found myself having less tendancy to coast on the road bike.

    For the record, weight loss and general conditioning are primary goals for me.
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    Stegosaurus Crunkologist's Avatar
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    Where do you want to ride? If on the road... the road bike. If on the mountain/trail... the mountain bike.

    There's nothing like a good road bike on a good road, though...

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    Choose whichever you think you will ride the most.

    Bascically, there is no majic pill, it will take time, time on a bike, time running, or time doing some type of cardio exercise.

    If you could ride 3-5 days a week you will see vast improvement very quickly. One option is to by a MTB and and extra set of wheels with road type tires on it. Then you could ride both at anytime.
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  7. #7
    I couldn't car less. jeff williams's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by msparks
    Choose whichever you think you will ride the most.

    Bascically, there is no majic pill, it will take time, time on a bike, time running, or time doing some type of cardio exercise.

    If you could ride 3-5 days a week you will see vast improvement very quickly. One option is to by a MTB and and extra set of wheels with road type tires on it. Then you could ride both at anytime.
    Smart, good advice. MTB you can get to where cars are not. If you live in urban setting, the road bike would probably more 'suitable'.
    Also incline frame mtb are easy to get on\off, built for weight and weigh, so would be better for reduction IMO.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by moyke
    Hi,

    I'm planning to buy a bike for training and weight-loss.

    could I ask which would be a better bike for this purpose, i.e. road or mountain bike?

    thanks.

    It really does not matter. Try some appropriately sized bikes (at a competent bike shop) and see which ones you like.

    Depending on how much weight loss you need to do, you might need to have a more upright position until you can comfortably lean forward. For that, a mountain bike with good reach on the handle bars would be easier than most road bikes. You definately don't need suspension, if you are not going to attempt nasty terrain (some of us attempt nasty terrain on road bikes anyway).

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    The way I look at it getting MTB makes most sense.

    Unless you become a dedicated roadie, with the tights, shirts and all. You can do everything on the MTB but you can only ride the roadie on the road.

    If you start getting more into cycling, then start riding with a group. You will then want to start looking for a roadie, cuase it's "sometimes" hard to keep up with road bikes when riding a MTB.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member madhouse's Avatar
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    All that matters is the intensity and number of times your legs to roundy, roundy!

    A gentleman came into the bike shop wanting a MTB for weight loss. I was doing my job as a salesman and trying to get him to upgrade, telling him about the efficiency gains of the next level. He stopped me by saying, “I’m looking for a workout, why would I want it to be efficient. I just need SAFE and durable!” The only thing I would add would be “comfort”. Find a bike that you are comfortable on.

    It is always more fun to ride with someone than alone. Talk to the LBS and see if they know of someone or a group that would match your caliber of riding, and buy an appropriate style of bike for that group ride.

    Good luck and have fun!

  11. #11
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    I totally disagree that it doesn't matter!

    Admittedly, it is other factors than "the bike" that cause road and mtn. biking to be so different, but they really are very different.

    Since you listed weight-loss as a specific goal, I'll HIGHLY recommend the road bike. Here are some reasons based on my personal experience.

    1. You will be able to keep your heart-rate more stable (in the right zone) easier on a road bike. (Study heart-rate based training, it will be well worth your while!)

    2. You will be more likely to spend more time on the bike because water/food stops are more likely found on roads. (For weight loss you should go for long low-intensity rides... You'll need t refill your 3 liter Camelbak a few times.

    3. Road cyclists tend to ride in packs and are able to work together toward a common goal (drafting). This will help you to have the confidence to take on a 6 hour ride.

    4. You'll spend much more time riding than fixing broken gear, pulling yourself out of the brier-patch, and walking home.

    5. You may someday decide you'd like to ride your bike across your state (or even the county). You could do it on a mtn. bike, but you'll be using roads.

    My thoughts on the mtn. bike:

    I find that my mtn. bike workouts closely resemble interval training. This is good for someone who already has a strong aerobic base, but won't do much for you otherwise. Intervals won't do a thing (relatively) to help you loose weight.

    If you hate the idea of riding on the road: you'd be better off with a mtn. bike that you ride, than with a road bike you don't.

  12. #12
    I couldn't car less. jeff williams's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by turtlendog
    I totally disagree that it doesn't matter!

    Admittedly, it is other factors than "the bike" that cause road and mtn. biking to be so different, but they really are very different.

    Since you listed weight-loss as a specific goal, I'll HIGHLY recommend the road bike. Here are some reasons based on my personal experience.

    1. You will be able to keep your heart-rate more stable (in the right zone) easier on a road bike. (Study heart-rate based training, it will be well worth your while!)

    2. You will be more likely to spend more time on the bike because water/food stops are more likely found on roads. (For weight loss you should go for long low-intensity rides... You'll need t refill your 3 liter Camelbak a few times.

    3. Road cyclists tend to ride in packs and are able to work together toward a common goal (drafting). This will help you to have the confidence to take on a 6 hour ride.

    4. You'll spend much more time riding than fixing broken gear, pulling yourself out of the brier-patch, and walking home.

    5. You may someday decide you'd like to ride your bike across your state (or even the county). You could do it on a mtn. bike, but you'll be using roads.

    My thoughts on the mtn. bike:

    I find that my mtn. bike workouts closely resemble interval training. This is good for someone who already has a strong aerobic base, but won't do much for you otherwise. Intervals won't do a thing (relatively) to help you loose weight.

    If you hate the idea of riding on the road: you'd be better off with a mtn. bike that you ride, than with a road bike you don't.
    Darn, I can't really disagree..all good points. Except posture?..but a comfort bike will correct...I hate skinny tires, I ride mtb's.
    You win.

    Lousy roadie logic.

  13. #13
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    Um, why hasn't anyone mentioned a hybrid yet? My dad is looking at getting a bike to lose some weight and while I was originally trying to persuade him to buy a road bike like mine (which has helped me lose my 25 excess lbs.) I've now completely switched over to trying to find the right hybrid. You really can't beat them for versatility. Pardon my stereotyping, but when I think of someone who's overweight, I don't picture them on crazy mountain bike trails. At most, I could see them on a hilly gravel trail. This is easily conquered on a solid fork bike, whether it be a mountain bike or a hybrid. But, with the hybrid, you can actually go out on the road and not feel like you are dragging a body behind you. And you have _real_ gears (48T big ring) so that you can pedal downhill, unlike with those tiny rings they put on mountain bikes.

    In summary , with the hybrid, you keep the upright, comfortable riding position, get a strong enough frame for mild off-roading and heavy set folk, get gearing that won't send you into a spinning frenzy above 25 mph, and you won't look completely out of place on the road or trail.

    Just my opinion of course.

  14. #14
    I couldn't car less. jeff williams's Avatar
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    Joejack951- 'And you have _real_ gears (48T big ring) so that you can pedal downhill, unlike with those tiny rings they put on mountain bikes."

    No way a road bike runs 48T as a big ring. My mtb came with a 46T ring.
    My Triathelon has a 52T ring...that's road big.

  15. #15
    Cycling is Self-Therapy pdxcyclist's Avatar
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    There's no way I could keep my heart rate in a target zone for hours on my mtb like I do on my road bike. There's something about the more upright riding position of the mtb that makes me want to plod along instead of push it.

    OTOH, if you're riding in a city with lots of stop and go issues, then keeping up a good heart rate is going to be hard regardless of the bike...

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    I don't have a road bike, i've got an old hard tail MTB with slicks and long bar-ends for multiple hand positions.

    When people mention they are going to get a bike for weight loss, I would think road biking would be best no matter what kind of bike you're riding on that road. Riding on the road you can keep your cadence up for longer periods of time. You can ride a mountain bike on the road, it'll work just fine. Some people like the versatility of a mountain bike since you can ride on road or off.

    Only other thing about road vs. MTB would be strength of parts. I don't own a road bike so I can't comment, but if you're heavy wouldn't you want heavy duty wheels like on a mountain bike? Are the mountain bike wheels really any weaker than mountain bike wheels?

    I want to get a road bike, since I ride more miles on the road than on the dirt. Actually, i'm thinking of a cyclocross or touring bike, since it'll be my commuter.

  17. #17
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    Darn, I can't really disagree..all good points. Except posture?..but a comfort bike will correct...I hate skinny tires, I ride mtb's.
    True, a race bike is probably not the appropriate machine. I'd be thinking Specialized Roubaix or Trek Pilot, though neither is at an entry level price point. Probably a touring bike like a Trek 520 would be more in line.


    There's no way I could keep my heart rate in a target zone for hours on my mtb like I do on my road bike. There's something about the more upright riding position of the mtb that makes me want to plod along instead of push it.
    I find the opposite. My HR goes too high on the mtn. bike. It doesn't have anything to do with posture though, it's because I'm riding the trails and having too much fun to slow down, or because I'm trying to keep up with my wife on her road bike.

  18. #18
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    OTOH, if you're riding in a city with lots of stop and go issues, then keeping up a good heart rate is going to be hard regardless of the bike...
    Good point. I submit that a road bike will get you out of town to the good roads faster.

  19. #19
    Name's Ash ...housewares Doctor Morbius's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by msparks
    Choose whichever you think you will ride the most.

    Bascically, there is no magic pill, it will take time, time on a bike, time running, or time doing some type of cardio exercise.

    If you could ride 3-5 days a week you will see vast improvement very quickly. One option is to by a MTB and and extra set of wheels with road type tires on it. Then you could ride both at anytime.
    Absolutely!

    If I were given a $1000 shopping spree at my LBS and was told I could only buy one kind of bike it would be a hardtail MTB (with a second set of wheels with skinny tires) due to its versatility. Also, you tend to get a better bang for the buck with an MTB. For example, a Tiagra equipped road bike will cost around $750. For the same money you can get a Deore LX equipped mountain bike.

    Moyke, be sure you have enough money left over for accessories, especially a heart rate monitor, gloves and a helmet. Keep this in mind ... riding a bike for 3 hours at 75% of your max heart rate will accomplish the same thing regardless of whether it is done on a road bike, a mountain bike or a freakin' beach cruiser. Anybody that says otherwise is basing their recommendation on their emotions rather than exercise science. It's not the mileage that will make the difference but rather duration and intensity.

  20. #20
    I couldn't car less. jeff williams's Avatar
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    A fighter in the mtb camp...hmmmm..

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeff williams
    Joejack951- 'And you have _real_ gears (48T big ring) so that you can pedal downhill, unlike with those tiny rings they put on mountain bikes."

    No way a road bike runs 48T as a big ring. My mtb came with a 46T ring.
    My Triathelon has a 52T ring...that's road big.
    I know a 48T isn't real road bike gearing but it's closer than a mountain bike's gearing. Most mountain bikes I've seen have a 44T big ring. My road bike has a 52T that I only use for downhill runs. My guess is someone just getting into biking doesn't have much use for a 52T.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not anti-mountain bike (I do own one) but if someone can't decide between road and mountain, why not get a hybrid and be to do both. Then once you figure out what you like more, get a better bike in that category.

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    Stegosaurus Crunkologist's Avatar
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    I think the key to riding a bike to lose weight is to feel free, like you're flying... to have FUN. Thats what makes it so much better than running, treadmills, etc.

    And I can't see that happening off the road, on a hybrid or mountain bike, where the tires and ground will be working against you as you huff and puff and struggle to move your big ass forward. The road is most efficient. Thats why the road is most fun, for someone that is intertially challenged.

    Thats why I got a road bike. I'm glad I did. A hybrid would have been a big mistake. Woulda killed my back riding up like that.

  23. #23
    H23
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    Quote Originally Posted by turtlendog
    ...
    Since you listed weight-loss as a specific goal, I'll HIGHLY recommend the road bike. Here are some reasons based on my personal experience.
    ....

    All of those things can be done on _any_ type of bicycle (including single speed cruisers!).
    The bike does not care where you take it. I think you are trying to make a case for one type of riding versus another (road vs mountain).

    A mountain bike workout can be as regulated and focused as a road bike workout and vice versa. I haven't actually bought a new mountain bike since 1994-- it now seems that you can't get a regular fork these days. I guess now the thing to get is a "hybrid" (my way of saying a 700c mountain bike with no suspension).

    The thing about road bikes is that they are relatively expensive and demand a more aero posture. The original poster said he needed to loose weight. If it is a lot of weight, even a 45 degree angle could be hard to do.

    Either way, have fun, pick something that fits you, and keep up the exercise.

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    I recently went through the same dilema, wanted to get into biking to lose weight. At the time I had an older mountain bike with no suspension. My friends that had bikes all had mountain bikes with suspension. So I decided to get a mountain bike with full suspension, figuring it would be more fun to ride with it and naturally getting something new and as expensive a a full suspension mountain bike would get my butt off the couch and riding. Well after riding in the woods with my buddies for a few weeks and the thrill of having a new bike wore off, I wasn't riding in the woods as much. So I decided to get a second set of wheels with road slicks. This got me out riding more, but still not as much as I needed to be riding to shed some of the layers I've put on over the years. This all happened last fall. So then winter came, I bought a spinner, and some spinerval videos. Used it a handful of times over the winter. So spring comes, and got into a little kick where I rode my bike for a week or two here and there. So I decided about two and a half months ago to get a rode bike, since that is all I used my mountain bike for anyway. Best decision I could've made. I'm totally addicted to riding now. I've ridden my road bike more times and probably more miles in the past 2.5 months than I did all year on my mountain bike. Road riding, for me anyway, is much easier to gage your progress. You start out only being about to do a certain amount of miles, and struggle making it up some of the hills, and before you know it, you are cruising up the hills at a pretty good clip, and the short rides you started off with are to short. It is completely addicting, I think about riding all day now, since I got my road bike, can't wait to get home from work and ride it. I've even ridden my spinner more times already this year(due to bad weather) than I did all winter last year. So my advice to you is go for the road bike, this is only in my opinion. I think mountain biking is a lot of fun, I still plan on going sometimes, but the thing is, depending on where you live, you normally have to put the bike on the car and drive somewhere to ride. With a road bike you open up the garage door and you are off. Sorry for the long post, but I just wanted to throw in my two sense.....

  25. #25
    Tom (ex)Builder twahl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doctor Morbius[B
    riding a bike for 3 hours at 75% of your max heart rate will accomplish the same thing regardless of whether it is done on a road bike, a mountain bike or a freakin' beach cruiser. [/B] Anybody that says otherwise is basing their recommendation on their emotions rather than exercise science. It's not the mileage that will make the difference but rather duration and intensity.
    While this is exactly 100% correct, I still maintain that it's easier to control the workout on the road. Bike style really doesn't matter, but I find it easier to ride a road bike on the road.

    However...there is one point that I don't think anyone has mentioned at all. It's easier to exercise if you have someone to exercise with. So what's available to you as far as company goes might be the most important factor to base a decision on. I will ride by myself, but I'd much rather ride with my wife, or with wife and kids. I probably get a more intense workout by myself, but I'll ride longer with company. I haven't quite gained the confidence yet to get with some of the faster local riders to join in, but my wife is coming along nicely, and so are the kids actually.
    Tom

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