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Switching from MTB to Road: advice

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Switching from MTB to Road: advice

Old 11-04-21, 08:21 PM
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RiderofRohan
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Switching from MTB to Road: advice

Hi all, new member here. Iím a super Clydesdale (Percheron to be exact ) near 350 currently ride a rockhopper 29er, but have developed arthritis and my bumpy trail rides are over. I am riding on pavement and hard packed trails now.

not sure where to start, my first thoughts were to swap out the tires on my current bike to some lower profile or semi slick tires like the specialized armadillo.

while at my LBS got to talking to them they asked what my goal was, I talked to them about the arthritis and riding more on roads now. He said that an endurance bike would have a better geometry and be more efficient for me.

I told him that wasnít ready to spend that kind of money and asked if getting a used bike was a smart idea, he said absolutely just to make sure to have it checked out before I buy it.

Any suggestions on what type of bike to look for?

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Old 11-04-21, 10:37 PM
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Originally Posted by RiderofRohan View Post
Hi all, new member here. Iím a super Clydesdale (Percheron to be exact ) near 350 currently ride a rockhopper 29er, but have developed arthritis and my bumpy trail rides are over. I am riding on pavement and hard packed trails now.

not sure where to start, my first thoughts were to swap out the tires on my current bike to some lower profile or semi slick tires like the specialized armadillo.

while at my LBS got to talking to them they asked what my goal was, I talked to them about the arthritis and riding more on roads now. He said that an endurance bike would have a better geometry and be more efficient for me.

I told him that wasnít ready to spend that kind of money and asked if getting a used bike was a smart idea, he said absolutely just to make sure to have it checked out before I buy it.

Any suggestions on what type of bike to look for?

All of the slicing and dicing of bicycle categories start to get hard to follow (and has not a little serious overlap). One category of bike to look at is old school touring bikes. Long wheelbase, stable ride, made to handle loads, relaxed geometry, capable of handling wider tires, etc. Bikes to look for are Surly Long Haul Trucker, Trek 520, Cannondale T series, as well as others. The Surley and Trek are steel while the Cannondale is aluminum. Donít think you have to have steelÖthe Cannondaleís are excellent bikes and tough as any steel bike. Anyone of these is capable of carrying a lot of load. Me and my touring load are approaching your weight and the bike carries it with aplomb. I actually have two Cannondale touring bikes (and a frame in reserve)

This is a 2010 T1 that has almost 4000 miles of mostly loaded touring on it. Itís a robust machine that is a great ride.


This is a 2003 (ish) T800 that has been repainted. I only have about 1000 miles on this one but Iím looking forward to years of service.



Another option is a cyclocross bike. A little shorter, a little less relaxed, and a little sportier. This one is retired (but I still have the frame and fork) right now but it has around 22,000 miles on it in all kinds of weather. It was my commuter bike from 2006 to 2020 and got ridden more than any other bike Iíve owned. The fork is the OEM fork and I have no issues with riding it even if it is almost 15 years old and has that many miles on it.



And, finally, this is my first Cannondale touring bikeÖa 2003 T800 (not the repainted one)Öthat had almost 10,000 miles on it before I put it into semiretirement (itís my reserve frame). There was nothing wrong with it, I just wanted a different color.

My bike 12 by Stuart Black, on Flickr

On thing to notice is that none of these have disc nor do I feel the need for them. Even with loads and seriously stupid speed, the cantilevers have served me well. Good bikes for consideration.
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Old 11-04-21, 11:45 PM
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Thank you! this is very helpful. Have seen a few Cannondale on marketplace but didn't know what to look for.
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Old 11-06-21, 01:38 PM
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The most important thing to do, no matter what Bike you get, is to get a professional bike fit. It may seem expensive, but the results will be amazing. I have a mountain bike I rode for years, then got a road bike (Felt Z series, relaxed geometry) and it came with a fit. Took the measurements off of the road bike and changed the mountain bike to the same. First time ever that the mountain bike felt comfortable. Don’t skimp on the shorts and shoes either. There’s a reason they cost so much!
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Old 11-07-21, 01:46 AM
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Originally Posted by HIPCHIP View Post
The most important thing to do, no matter what Bike you get, is to get a professional bike fit. It may seem expensive, but the results will be amazing. I have a mountain bike I rode for years, then got a road bike (Felt Z series, relaxed geometry) and it came with a fit. Took the measurements off of the road bike and changed the mountain bike to the same. First time ever that the mountain bike felt comfortable. Don’t skimp on the shorts and shoes either. There’s a reason they cost so much!
With all due respect, I disagree completely with your POV. As far as I am concerned a professional bike fit is the least most important thing for a non-professional cyclist to do. I don't personally think a pair of Pearl Izumi shorts or a pair of Giro Rumble cycling shoes are that expensive, but if you do ... why oh why are you suggesting spending the equivalent of three pairs of shorts and two pairs of shoes (on sale) on a bike fit that in all likelihood will not return commensurate satisfaction in proportion to the cash outlay?

Seatposts adjust up and down, saddles adjust fore and aft. Use them. Stems should adjust also, but rarely do. Still, they are cheap enough to allow experimentation. The Competitive Cyclist website has enough fit information offered free to allow most anyone to get an adequate fit without going into debt. FWIW. I'll make it even easier. What follows is a $300 value so read twice o.p.

Leisesturm's Personal Fit Guidlines from 50 Years on Two Wheels (YMMV): 1. Saddle Fore/Aft Adjustment - Center the saddle so there is as much saddle rail ahead of the clamp as behind. Tighten. Done.
2. Saddle Height - Straddle the top tube. The nose of the saddle should hit you right about the top of your crack. You can test this by taking a quick launch from the straddle position. Use your usual take-off foot and pay attention to what is happening as you settle into the saddle. You should not feel any need to skootch up or down to find your seating. The saddle should be right there after your first power stroke.
3. Stem Length - Put your elbow at the nose of the saddle. Point your fingers towards the bars. If you have drop bars, your longest finger should just about reach the bars. If you have flat bars you can exceed this (bars further away) by a bar thickness or two. 4. Handlebar height - Drop and flatbar - dead even with a dead level saddle. Saddles should almost always be at least level, perhaps with a bit of nose up. Almost never any nose down. Because saddle nose may be 1/2" higher than saddle tail, Drop bars may be 1/2" to 1" below nose of saddle height. Flatbars at saddle height regardless of saddle tilt should work fine.

Have I missed anything? These are STARTING POINT suggestions for that work for most non-competitive individuals taking up cycling as sport or recreation or transportation. Feel free to raise (or lower) your saddle height 1/4" at. time even if things feel ok. Who knows, they may feel even better. Here in Portland I see GROSS deviations from these suggestions every day of the week. It's all good.You just saved at least $200. Maybe even $300. Your donations cheerfully accepted. Cheers.

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Old 11-07-21, 02:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
Seatposts adjust up and down, saddles adjust fore and aft. Use them.
This, 11000%.


With regards to the original topic, RiderOfRohan, I am right in your weight class. Not sure on your height, but I am 6' if I don't slouch which means I am 5'11". And so I tend to agree with cyccomute about looking at touring bikes if you're wanting to go with a road style. My '21 Kona Sutra has been a good fit for me. No bike is perfect, though, and on both of my bikes I found the rear wheel unfit for duty and thus upgraded them.

Now, that being said, I built up an old steel mountain frame on 26x2 tires and a 1x drivetrain, and it is just FINE for paved riding.

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Old 11-07-21, 06:24 PM
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For road touring, I stay with flat handlebars, but I have gone with something called a Soma Dream Riser - I found a lot of so called alternative hand position handlebars were too much of a change to get comfortable with a lot of bike setup change, but these bars were just suttle enough to get used to.
I also fitted some BBB BHG-27 foam grips that take a lot of small vibrations out of the road, and help with hand fatigue.

Touring bike test setup front

Touring bike test setup rear
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Old 11-08-21, 12:57 PM
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A touring or relaxed road bike would be ideal, but at your weight the fit is going to be challenge. (not to mention it will change over time) Put some Hookworms and bar ends on your rockhopper and start putting some miles in. Maybe get a new bike as a reward at 275 or 300 pounds.
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Old 11-08-21, 03:34 PM
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What I would change out the tyres first to something in the 28-32mm range. From there, just ride on the road and have a think about what you enjoy most. If you find yourself thinking about a bigger front chainring and wanting to go faster, an endurance framed road bike might be your jam. If you find yourself enjoying cruising more and smelling the roses, then something that can take fatter more comfortable tyres like a tourer or cyclocross bike might be better
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Old 11-08-21, 08:02 PM
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Firstly RiderofRohan I wish to commend you for not buying a new bicycle without first thinking about it. So many of us succumb to the "gotta haves" for the latest and greatest. You can try the cheap fixes first. Tires, handlebars, stem, gearing and seats are all usually cheaper than a new bike. Mountain bikes can be made to work on the street and you'll see lots of them on sites like this. I find that wisdom only comes from experience and finding our perfect bike is an experience thing. This means you are starting on a quest for a better bike to suit your present needs. This may take some time. I also have found satisfaction to be a moving target. I wish you luck in finding your "new" bicycle.
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Old 11-09-21, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by SquishyBiker View Post
For road touring, I stay with flat handlebars, but I have gone with something called a Soma Dream Riser - I found a lot of so called alternative hand position handlebars were too much of a change to get comfortable with a lot of bike setup change, but these bars were just suttle enough to get used to.
I also fitted some BBB BHG-27 foam grips that take a lot of small vibrations out of the road, and help with hand fatigue.

Touring bike test setup front

Touring bike test setup rear
Not wanting to hijack, but that's a sweet ride, Squishy. What model aerobar/mount do you have there?
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Old 11-09-21, 11:31 AM
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Originally Posted by exercion View Post
Not wanting to hijack, but that's a sweet ride, Squishy. What model aerobar/mount do you have there?
Aero bars: Profile Design Sonic series with 70mm riser for comfort
Aero bar tops: AliExpress motorbike bar ends (allows open hands without risk of slipping)
Aero mount: Siren Fred Bar (allows wider elbow placement)
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Old 12-03-21, 03:02 AM
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Thanks for all the great comments

Went with the easy tire swap for now. Went with the electrack 2.0 armadillos from my LBS. Building up my miles averaging 5 a day just to get started. I am thinking about getting a secondary wheelset for my knobs as I do enjoy hitting singletrack in my neighborhood that isnít too rough.
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Old 12-17-21, 10:32 PM
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Originally Posted by RiderofRohan View Post
Went with the easy tire swap for now. Went with the electrack 2.0 armadillos from my LBS. Building up my miles averaging 5 a day just to get started. I am thinking about getting a secondary wheelset for my knobs as I do enjoy hitting singletrack in my neighborhood that isnít too rough.
That's a good start, you got a lot of good advice on the other replies. Ride what you got and you will need to decide if drop bars are right for you.

I have road bikes but am looking at a gravel bike. I want wider tires and tubeless, so I will be more comfortable on the ride. When looking at road bikes see how much clearance there is for larger tires. Some of the older road bikes only have clearance for 23mm tires. Some of my road bikes have a maximum clearance for 25mm tires, I would like to use at least 28mm. The touring and endurance bikes should handle larger than 28mm tires. The importance of the tire clearance is that the wider the tire, the more comfortable the ride.
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Old 12-17-21, 10:54 PM
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Pick a better tire, there are plenty of gravel tires that have either no real center tread or a continuous center line of tread between 700x35 and 40c. Tossed on your mtb they'll move at a decent clip on pavement and still see you fine on entry level mtb trails. I ride cross and gravel tires on plenty of mtb trails with no troubles, sometimes it requires going slower and sometimes it means I can go faster. An endurance or gravel bike are probably your best options if you want to go road. Touring bikes can be good but in my experience they tend towards slow and plodding while a gravel bike can have just as relaxed a position but feel a little more spritely. They're also not as typically available as gravel or endurance and often will come with bar end shifters which somehow still continue to survive even though an integrated brake/shift lever is better. All City, Poseidon, and a couple of other brands make decent, affordable gravel bikes that will do you well.
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