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  1. #1
    suburban rasta mon biggsmoothe's Avatar
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    beginner wants to make mtb more road-worthy

    just did my first sprint tri last year and i really enjoyed myself. i accomplished my goal - which was to finish, and i've also really enjoyed my slimmer physique! anyway, i did the bike section using my mtb with no alterations (knobby tires, platform pedals, stock handlebars and crankset) partly b/c i didn't know if i'd do another one, and partly b/c of limited $. so this year, i'd like focus on bettering my times, and i'm wondering what alterations i should do to my mtb that would give the most bang for the buck (it will probably be another year b/f i can buy a road bike). i figure road tires would be first. then what? i've also thought about clipless pedals, lighter components, maybe some areo-bars. would these things make any difference on a 10-20 mile ride? should i save the money i would spend on my mtb and put it towards a road bike? thanks for your suggestions.

  2. #2
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    1) slick tires. $40 here will buy a lot of speed. 2) clipon aerobars. $75 will allow a more aero position and probably worth 1mph or more. 3) clipless pedals and shoes. This will make you more efficient and comfortable, but particularly when you consider the slight increase in transition time, it won't make a siginficant difference in a sprint. Do this if you have the budget (and they can alway be used on a future road bike).
    4) lighter componets, don't bother. Save this money toward a road bike down the line.

  3. #3
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    After tires I would save the money. Very little will be gained by changing components, especially since they will only be a temporary fix.

    Aerobars will not help much , since the geometry is too far off to be comfortable & aerodynamic. Some people don't bother putting them on road bikes for the same reason. new Cranks- a waste of time & money. Nothing to be gained here.

    Do the work on improving the engine, & look forward to a new bike down the road.

    You might buy some good road pedals (clipless) & shoes that you can transition to your new bike later.

  4. #4
    suburban rasta mon biggsmoothe's Avatar
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    any suggestions on tires? the higher psi the better?

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    Road slicks REALLY help. I did 2 metric centuries with my dad last year on my MTB. If you want a more aero handlebar I actually have a cool old scott handlebar in my basement I could sell real cheap. It is like a flat bar that curves around into an aero shape in front. It worked great on my old bike. I wanted to put it on my current MTB, but I just couldn't get it installed.

    -D

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    Assuming 700c wheels, I would go with 700x 23 tires, I would get some with some light all-weather tread. Specialized perhaps. They will be about 90-110 PSI tires. I'd probably go to the bike shop & find some $20 tires. No need to spend more than that on a MTB.

  7. #7
    I couldn't car less. jeff williams's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LBonney
    Assuming 700c wheels, I would go with 700x 23 tires, I would get some with some light all-weather tread. Specialized perhaps. They will be about 90-110 PSI tires. I'd probably go to the bike shop & find some $20 tires. No need to spend more than that on a MTB.
    I'd assume 26 inch tires.
    Some ideas : once you swap out the tires, go after the gears.
    Fast :get a cluster that has an 11T cog, possibly add more teeth to the middle ring.
    34-36 or 36-38.
    The weight issue can be worked out if you have some money.
    Lightweight cheap parts are likely to break, go high end used.
    If you run a suspension fork -lose it for a rigid.
    Try clipless pedals, get more from your revs, not much use for platforms unless you do extreme offroad.
    I find that my efficiency riding road is my position on the cycle, very similar to road posture.
    A good rigid mtb hardtail should be sub 25 lbs.
    @ 20 lbs the bikes fly, I can run hills as fast as most road bikes, only get dropped on the flats.

    Post more info on the bike and components maybe.

  8. #8
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=jeff williams]Some ideas : once you swap out the tires, go after the gears.
    Fast :get a cluster that has an 11T cog, possibly add more teeth to the middle ring.
    34-36 or 36-38.
    [QUOTE]
    IMHO, this is bad advice. I seriously doubt you are spinning out in your highest gear you currently have on your Mtb. The bike leg of triathlon is about a sustained steady effort. The only time a mere mortal might need an 11 tooth gog is for sprinting, which doesn't apply to a triathlon If you find yourself going along in your biggest gear spinning 90rpm and saying to yourself this is too easy, I need a bigger gear to really get myself tired, then 1) buy a 11 tooth gog, and 2 consider doing this for a living because you are genetically gifted.

    Gears do not make people fast. Its the engine on the bike. learn to spin a good cadence in the 90-100rpm range and you won't be looking for the biggest cog. Buying new gears is money that could be save toward a nice new road bike.

    Also I think its a waist of money to change the mddlie front ring. If its not big enough shift to the outer one. In my experience in tt's and tri's , your not shifting gears much. Its more of a matter of finding the right gear that allows you to maintain the right cadence and effort and then spinning that gear.

  9. #9
    cycle-dog spot DinoShepherd's Avatar
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    Similar advice to Merlin's.

    Punch up Performance or whatever shop you want and get yourself some 100psi slicks. This will make the biggest difference.

    Next get yourself some clipless pedals. You should be able to get a combo for around $100 on sale. This will be a huge increase in power transfer. And be viable for whatever bike you go with in the future.

    Next is the hard part. Check your fit and body position. Make sure your leg extension is correct, etc...

    A suspension fork is not a huge handicap. You are going to be sitting and spinning anyway, which won't induce fork movement.

    I ride my MTB with the road dogs in the winter time. the only change I make is to go with Conti Town and Country tire. Not the fastest, but they ride nice. The biggest problem keeping up is the gearing on the downhills.

    Good Luck!

    -Z

  10. #10
    Roadie/Duathlete
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    As everyone says, get the slicks and consider clipless pedals. Except for that, do nothing but save your money for a roadbike... Eventually you probably want to buy one anyway as it's not that comfortable, or fast for that matter, to ride the MTB for all the future tri's... Once hooked, one has a tendency to keep going with it...
    "Suddenly the thought struck me. My floor is someone elses ceiling"-Nils Ferlin

  11. #11
    I couldn't car less. jeff williams's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=merlinextraligh][QUOTE=jeff williams]Some ideas : once you swap out the tires, go after the gears.
    Fast :get a cluster that has an 11T cog, possibly add more teeth to the middle ring.
    34-36 or 36-38.
    IMHO, this is bad advice. I seriously doubt you are spinning out in your highest gear you currently have on your Mtb. The bike leg of triathlon is about a sustained steady effort. The only time a mere mortal might need an 11 tooth gog is for sprinting, which doesn't apply to a triathlon If you find yourself going along in your biggest gear spinning 90rpm and saying to yourself this is too easy, I need a bigger gear to really get myself tired, then 1) buy a 11 tooth gog, and 2 consider doing this for a living because you are genetically gifted.

    Gears do not make people fast. Its the engine on the bike. learn to spin a good cadence in the 90-100rpm range and you won't be looking for the biggest cog. Buying new gears is money that could be save toward a nice new road bike.

    Also I think its a waist of money to change the mddlie front ring. If its not big enough shift to the outer one. In my experience in tt's and tri's , your not shifting gears much. Its more of a matter of finding the right gear that allows you to maintain the right cadence and effort and then spinning that gear.
    Do you ride a mtb? I agree with buying a road bike, and "Its more of a matter of finding the right gear that allows you to maintain the right cadence and effort and then spinning that gear" =Why I adjusted my gearing.
    I would listen\advise the poster to your advice over mine, but I might be 'gifted' or weird as to how I adjust my gearing.
    25mph flatland offroad is my goal.
    Is Tri on road always? ...don't worry, I only dig offroad cycling really.
    Last edited by jeff williams; 01-18-06 at 03:20 AM.

  12. #12
    cycle-dog spot DinoShepherd's Avatar
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    Actually, the gearing thing is a not a bad idea. A road cassette, like an 11-21 or 12-23 or whatever, will help the rider stay at optimal cadence. This will tighten the gaps compared to an MTB type cassette.

    -Z

  13. #13
    suburban rasta mon biggsmoothe's Avatar
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    excellent! thanks for the replies. i've got some slicks on order from performance, and i'm looking into a decent clipless pedal/shoe combo. i think that's all i'll change (except for constant work on the "motor" ), at least for the first race which is in April. then i'll start squirreling money for a new road bike purchase maybe by the end of the year. i'm thinking a Trek 1500 may be a good entry into road biking.

  14. #14
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    [QUOTE=merlinextraligh][QUOTE=jeff williams]Some ideas : once you swap out the tires, go after the gears.
    Fast :get a cluster that has an 11T cog, possibly add more teeth to the middle ring.
    34-36 or 36-38.
    IMHO, this is bad advice. I seriously doubt you are spinning out in your highest gear you currently have on your Mtb. The bike leg of triathlon is about a sustained steady effort. The only time a mere mortal might need an 11 tooth gog is for sprinting, which doesn't apply to a triathlon If you find yourself going along in your biggest gear spinning 90rpm and saying to yourself this is too easy, I need a bigger gear to really get myself tired, then 1) buy a 11 tooth gog, and 2 consider doing this for a living because you are genetically gifted.

    Gears do not make people fast. Its the engine on the bike. learn to spin a good cadence in the 90-100rpm range and you won't be looking for the biggest cog. Buying new gears is money that could be save toward a nice new road bike.

    Also I think its a waist of money to change the mddlie front ring. If its not big enough shift to the outer one. In my experience in tt's and tri's , your not shifting gears much. Its more of a matter of finding the right gear that allows you to maintain the right cadence and effort and then spinning that gear.
    1.

    Keep change to a minimum. You can always change your mind later.

  15. #15
    pan y agua merlinextraligh's Avatar
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    Jeff, even on a 26" mtb wheel, a 50x12 gear at 90rpm is 27.7 mph. If the OP is timetrialing above 28mph on a mtb, then perhaps he should invest in a TT bike and take this seriously. I very much doubt the absence of an 11 tooth gog on the back is slowing him down. And to answer you question I have and a mountain bike and have won mountain bike races.

  16. #16
    Just riding andygates's Avatar
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    Depends on local terrain. My daily ride is a slicked-up MTB in undulating country and I regularly run out of gears: if I were racing on that course, I'd want to be pedalling where currently I freewheel.

    After tyres and shoes, though, I'd go with just stripping off any excess junk. If you have suspension, swap for unsuspended gear or lock it out. And get a good floor-standing pump to get those high PSIs on every ride!

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