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Commuting with a mountain bike.

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Commuting with a mountain bike.

Old 02-06-08, 11:38 AM
  #1  
rainlax
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Commuting with a mountain bike.

I started bike commuting last year after probably 15 years of not riding a bike. I bought a new ($100 Canadian Tire) mountain bike for my 2.5 km ride to work. It did the trick - I didn't need anything more expensive/fancier for that short of a ride, especially when I was just starting out and trying it for the first time.

After becoming thoroughly addicted to my bike (both for commuting and recreation), I moved across the country to a large city. I'm starting a new job and have a car but prefer to bike commute here as well. I need to buy a new bike as I didn't bring mine with me. I would just go out and buy the exact same bike, except that my commute is now about 8.5 km (give or take) and I don't know if a mountain bike will do the trick.

Should I spend the extra money (I don't have a lot to spend) and get a road or hybrid bike? Will it be worth it? On my mountain bike it took me about 30-40 minutes to bike just under 8km. Will it speed up significantly with a road or hybrid? I will be riding on main roads through traffic.

Any advice would be appreciated, keeping in mind that this will be a Canadian Tire purchase since I can't afford an expensive bike right now. Thanks!
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Old 02-06-08, 11:41 AM
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[snip] Your legs will make you faster (and not riding with the brakes on ).

Good luck with the new job and post some pictures of the bike please.

Doh! I meant to say narrower tyres will be faster on the road but it still comes down to fitness mostly.

Edit: because I didn't read the OP's post properly
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Old 02-06-08, 11:51 AM
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Mountain bikes make for good commuting bikes. They're not as fast, but can haul stuff with more grace. I commute and tour on a 20-year old mountain bike and love it. (The brakes could be better, but that's another issue.)

I wish I had a road bike to do my whole 58km RT commute, but for my usual 5km commute-to-the-carpool ride, the MTB works well. Pop on over to the touring forum if you want some serious discussions about racks and panniers.
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Old 02-06-08, 11:52 AM
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I commute using my MTB. The streets and in Chicago can have some big chunks missing and I'm sure it'll be the same case in your city...plus curbs, dips, rocks and road debris don't seem to be as big of an issue.

If I lived outside of the city and/or had a longer commute (6k) I'd give another bike a thought.
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Old 02-06-08, 11:58 AM
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I used a MTB with street tires for my commuter for a long time. If you don't have a lot to spend, and you know this bike works well for you, then ~5 miles isn't a very long distance to worry about. Pretty much any bike you're comfortable on should do you well.
An MTB is nice because it fits wider tires, which soak up road vibration and allow you to roll over rougher terrain.
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Old 02-06-08, 12:07 PM
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I ride a nonsuspended hybrid about the same distance you'll be going; I think you could do this on a mountain bike. MTB riders on this forum recommend changing your tires from "knobbies" to "slicks" for riding on warm (not snowy) pavement as soon as you can; you may not find the appropriate size slick tire at Canadian Tire(!) (which is a Wal-Mart sort of place, right?) and may need to go to a real bike shop or shop online.

Maybe here?

https://www.bikecanada.com/list.php?p...category=other

Knobbies are appropriate for soft surfaces (rough dirt, maybe snow) and slicks are best for dry pavement.
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Old 02-06-08, 12:19 PM
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I ride both an old touring bike and a mountain bike on my commute, mostly touring bike during the summer and mountain bike during the winter. There isn't much difference between them over the distance that I commute (45km + round trip). You will be fine whatever you decide to get.

Doesn't make it any easier to choose though does it?
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Old 02-06-08, 12:35 PM
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i'll take my hybrid over my mtb anyday,i thought i would do more commuting on the mtb during bad weather months,but after yesterdays commute in 40 degree rain and 25 mph headwind at a avg speed of 9.2, within the second mile of my five mile commute home ,i said the heck with this! the 700x32's compared to the 26x2.25" will get me there alot faster! the hybrid will just have to tuff the bad weather out!
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Old 02-06-08, 12:54 PM
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Will a rigid fork make a huge difference when commuting by MTB?
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Old 02-06-08, 01:04 PM
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I ride a mountain bike for all my needs... I can't really afford better! I have upgraded to 1.5 slick tires, cage pedals and drop bars. These are upgrades I've made over a few years though. Sometimes the front suspension can be handy on poor road conditions, but it does get in the way sometimes on longer trips. For a commute your length, it probably wouldn't be that bad.
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Old 02-06-08, 01:09 PM
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Originally Posted by polaritybear View Post
Will a rigid fork make a huge difference when commuting by MTB?
Basically suspension weighs more and absorbs some movement. This does include cheap forks absorbing some of your pedaling motion to a certain extent, but at the same time it takes some of the road vibration away from your hands and makes pot-holes a lot less brutal. I have a hardtail mountain bike for my 12km daily commute during winter but I switch to a road bike for my longer commutes in the nice weather.

Rigid forks will seem more directly connected to the road, and will take a pound or two (or more) off the weight of the bike. The only time you notice the weight is carrying it up a flight of stairs, though.
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Old 02-06-08, 01:34 PM
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My commuter is a rigid mountain bike and serves me well. Narrower slicks make a big difference in summer, 1.5" or less. In winter you have a better selection of studded tires in 26" tires than any other size, so if you will be riding in snow that's a plus for a mountain bike.
Whatever you get, make sure you have braze ons for racks and fenders. A good set of fenders will make all the difference in the rain, turning a potentially disgusting ride into something that's no big deal. Get full length fenders that have mudflaps, something like the Cascadia or Hardcore from this page https://ecom1.planetbike.com/fenders.html.
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Old 02-06-08, 02:05 PM
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You didn't say if your 8.5km is one way or RT.
A lot depends on the tires. Some MB tires are very agressive and have a lot of rolling resistance, while others are more sedate.
Something like this in the 26x1.75" should make rolling much easier-
https://www.biketiresdirect.com/produ...ction=ci_IKSCT

I've also seen BELL "Bike path" tires (Cheng Shin) on occasion that aren't too bad. They are a hard packed dirt/pavement type tire with a continuous rib down the center. These are typically around $8-10 at your xmart type stores and come in a 26x1.75. Even changing just ONE tire will help.
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Old 02-06-08, 02:11 PM
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Thanks for all the replies so far. To clarify, this is ~8.5 km one way (~17 km round trip). Also, Canadian Tire is closer to Home Depot than Wal-Mart!

So it sounds like if I stick to that MTB and just buy some new tires I should be fine, right? I'm riding on fairly even asphalt (no potholes or anything) but will the "bike path" tires still work?
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Old 02-06-08, 02:18 PM
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I lightly modified my Diamondback X-Link FS/XC rig for commuting, with the addition of a set of Michelin Transworld X's with reflector sidewalls, an Easton Monkeylite CF riser bar, Hayes HMX-1 discs and a new set of disc wheels. Parts on the way include an OldManMountain Sherpa rear rack, a Nightrider light set-up and some reflective tape added to the fork legs and rear suspension linkage bars. After I install my rack, I'll add some fenders.

It's heavy at 29 pounds, but it's tough as nails and geared so low that I can almost climb walls with it. It rolls over the roughest roads with nary a hiccup, and if I have to go off onto the grass because of no shoulder on the road, it's all good. I lose a little bit of pedal effort to the rear shock on big hills, but I plan to replace the el-cheapo coil-over shock with a quality lock-out air shock from Fox, Rockshox or Cane Creek (Ain't decided yet), which will reduce weight and give me the capability to lock it out on big climbs.

Two added bonuses from the weight: It's more of a workout to ride, and it bombs the downsides of hills at amazing speeds.

My goal is to eventually get this rig set up so that I can ride safely in the dark, which will enable me to start making my commute a round trip every day. I am currently riding three days a week from work to home, a one-way trip of exactly 18 miles from my office door to my apartment. Once I get used to riding again, I will commute five days a week there and back, and save a pile of cash on gas every week. Right now I'm spending anywhere from $40.00 to $80.00 a week getting back and forth to work, and that's money that can go into my bike!
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Old 02-06-08, 02:31 PM
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You'll be fine with just new tires for summer. The slick tires in 1.25-1.75 widths will be fine for the city. I deduce from you shopping at Canadian tire that you are indeed up in Canada What are conditions like now, don't you have snow? If you have snow now you might be well served by the tires that come with the bike, although they usually don't come with quality tires. If you have ice you might want to look into studded tires. I run Nokian W160 (160 studs) that are fine for my commute, but they are not really cheap. Other people run more aggressive studded tires. But, if you have snow without much ice, the course, knobby tires that mountain bikes usually come with should be fine for winter.
Once you buy the bike you'll have to plan what to wear. Do a search in the commuter section and you should find everything you need.
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Old 02-06-08, 02:49 PM
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MTB's are a fine choice. Speed is lost, but its not much if you're using the proper tires. Its worth it to have a tough, simple bike thats good for carrying things. The thick-slick city tires on an MTB handle gravel/grates better than the thin slicks on a road setup.

Personally, i've got a nice road bike, but it ends up sitting around because i'd rather be able to load up junk into the Xtracycle, roll over potholes, ride the bike without worrying about what the bike is riding over. In other words, i'm just not a road bike fan.
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Old 02-06-08, 02:54 PM
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I run my MTB all winter, 6km each way, you'll have no difficulties. Slicks will improve your speed considerably. I was thinking of going with a rigid fork for mine as well this summer. Once you start topping out the gearing, you might want to look at a different bike, or new gearing.
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Old 02-06-08, 03:18 PM
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8.4km isn't very long, so even though i'm a roadie lovin fool i'm going to say stick with the MTB. I would caution you against the "road" bike they have at canadian tire. I bought it myself when i got into commuting It's a MTB with drop bars!
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Old 02-06-08, 04:11 PM
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"So it sounds like if I stick to that MTB and just buy some new tires I should be fine, right? I'm riding on fairly even asphalt (no potholes or anything) but will the "bike path" tires still work?"

They'll work fine, but a smaller, lighter slick type will work even "finer"

One caveat however. SOME MB's don't have a real high gear. IF you are spinning out with a knobby, you'll be spinning out even more with a smaller, lighter tire.
I went to 26x1.5" Serfas Drifters ($20 ea at my LBS) from 26x1.95" tires. That means my former 26" dia. tire was now 25". That's about 4%. 1 tooth on a 12T cog is about 8%, so it was like adding 1/2T to my high gear. That still worked fine for me, but if your smallest cog is a 14T, you may not want lower gearing.
In that case, you may want to stick to a larger size "street tire" for the rear.
IF you plan on purchasing the "identical bike", you should have a pretty good idea how your gearing is though. Keep in mind, spinning is better than mashing for distance rides.
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Old 02-06-08, 04:12 PM
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Oh and yes, I am in Canada but I'm in Vancouver so no snow for me! It's a balmy 6*C today. I could easily ride all year with slight modifications to my bike/riding clothes...
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Old 02-06-08, 04:34 PM
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I commute with a mountain bike ( rocky mountain vertex 30 ), I have a personal preference for mountain bikes with wide knobby tires .Extra weight and extra rolling resistence doesn't bother me. For me a commute is not a race but I do it for pleasure so going a little slower is ok with me. My bike is outfitted with high clearence plastic fenders, a rear rack, two lights in the front and three lights in the rear. I also use this bike for winter trail riding on ice with studded tires. My other bike a full suspension is only for trail use and fun .
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Old 02-06-08, 05:13 PM
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Would a tire like this work? Do I need one for both the front and back? And do I need any extra tire-liners or tubes, or is whatever comes with the bike okay? https://www.mec.ca/Products/product_d...=1202339373921

And by the way, this is the bike:
https://www.canadiantire.ca/browse/pr...romSearch=true

Thanks again! Everyone's been really helpful.
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Old 02-06-08, 06:58 PM
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I have Tioga city slickers. Awesome tire. Lasts and last and lasts. I have the same set I bought over 10 years ago. I put them on in spring and fall when I avoid wet trails during rainy season. Knobbies in winter and high summer. In a Vancouver winter lightly knobbed tires should see you through what snow you get.

I've contemplated a Crappy Tire bike before. Considering how much I spend on brake pads, chains, up grades and repairs I might as well buy a cheap bike every year and donate it at years end.

A quality bike from a bike shop will last longer, ride and shift nicer. Don't forget locks. Even a Canadian Tire bike is likely to get stolen by some opportunistic idiot too drunk to walk home.
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Old 02-07-08, 02:38 AM
  #25  
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I was in your position about 12 months ago. I had a commute which regularly took me between 30-40 minutes on my circa 1985 non-suspension MTB. The commute is mostly all on decent roads with moderate traffic but LOTS of hills (mean ones!). I had been doing this on and off for a few years, but got more serious about two years ago.




After a year of being serious (ie every day rain hail or shine) , I bought myself a flatbar roadie. I now go the long way to work (about 45-55 minutes) on the roadie because after a month or so I had the old route down to about 20-25 minutes (I actually got home in 14 minutes one afternoon but the return trip was always faster).



Road Good Points : Way, way faster and so much lighter I often feel like Im flying because I hardly notice the weight after the old MTB I feel more confident in traffic on the roadie because I feel as though I keep up with the traffic better. I feel the roadie is a more stable mount (the MTB was always twitchy which is fun on a single track but not so good doing 50k down a steep hill). More gears (27) and a big ring for pedalling fast downhill.

Roadie Bad points : You cant drop off gutters on 23mm tires and not expect to get a flat. I had a lot of trouble with flats until I decided to switch to Kevlar lined tires and check the tire pressure EVERY day (I run them at 115). You cant just throw the roadie around like my old MTB you know jump off stuff, cut through dirt tracks or really rough paths etc.

Anyway, I now ride my old MTB most weekends just for fun or when Im with the kids. The roadie is more like transport while the MTB is more like joyriding.

As an aside .. I am much fitter now with the roadie (I ride further and more often) so that would add a lot to my speed improvements. Also, I bought clipless pedals and shoes for the roadie which make a world of difference so much so I bought a set for the MTB and now feel positively unsafe on normal pedals. Also, I have the handle bars low and the bar-ends pointed forward (not up) so I can get pretty aero when I want to and get way over the front tire when out of the saddle and smashing up those hills.
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