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Slicks/road tires on a mountain bike?

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Slicks/road tires on a mountain bike?

Old 10-10-14, 04:13 PM
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SpotOn
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Slicks/road tires on a mountain bike?

I have a 2010 Specialized Hardrock (hardtail) 26" (not disk), and I mainly use it on pavement. Do a lot of people change out their mountain bike tires and put slicks (or other tires meant for road usage) on their mountain bikes? How much of a change can I expect if I decide to to this?

Does anyone here have experience with "slicks" or road tires on MTB's?
What is the thinnest/fattest tire I can put on the stock wheelset? On Amazon I've looked at these two as examples:
Amazon.com : Kenda K838 Slick Wire Bead Bicycle Tire, Blackwall, 26-Inch x 1.95-Inch : Bike Tires : Sports & Outdoors
Amazon.com : Avenir Streetster Tires (Black, 26 - Inches x 1.5 - Inches) : Bike Tires : Sports & Outdoors

...where one is 1.5" and the other is 1.95".

Any tires that you can recommend?

Thank you,
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Old 10-10-14, 04:25 PM
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Originally Posted by SpotOn View Post
Do a lot of people change out their mountain bike tires and put slicks (or other tires meant for road usage) on their mountain bikes?
Yes,this is very common. I advise everyone who comes into my clinic to swap their knobbies for proper street tires.

Originally Posted by SpotOn View Post
How much of a change can I expect if I decide to to this?
Depends on the tire,but you should see less rolling resistance and better handling at speed.

What's your budget? Schwalbe Marathon Supremes are my fav,but they're $45+ea. I also like Vittoria Randonneurs and Schwalbe Big Apples. For budget tires I'd suggest Kenda Kwests or Serfas Drifters.
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Old 10-10-14, 04:44 PM
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For pavement riding, street tires are a HUGE improvement over knobbies. No other change you can make will even come close.

I've had excellent luck with my Schwalbe (original) Marathons, with only three punctures in over 20,000 miles on a single pair (that are still road worthy).

If you'll be commuting, it's a good idea to buy high quality, flat resistant tires. High quality tires, while more expensive initially, offer much better bang for the buck than most cheaper tires.

Near the bottom of this article, Sheldon Brown provides a chart that can help you find a tire width suitable for your rims. I would personally recommend the widest compatible tire in which the tire model you want is available.

Don't worry about rolling resistance or speed in your commuter tire. Virtually any good street tire will roll much faster than knobbies.

Last edited by Jaywalk3r; 10-10-14 at 09:46 PM.
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Old 10-10-14, 04:54 PM
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+1 to all the above. It's easy and effective. I think if I was doing it over, I'd buy bigger and more treaded and (whisper it in the Commuting forum) thinner ones than the armored 1.5" city bike slicks that I got, to preserve some of the offroad capability for the weekends. Have fun!
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Old 10-10-14, 05:18 PM
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Do up-some Specialized Fatboys and fortify them with the tire-liner-of-choice. You could also go thick tube. Depends on your particular "debris" ration how you may go.

Fatboy's are bald slick, round, and roll well--the urban consideration in this instance. I'm sure you'd approve. I don't ride them currently, but have the 26", and they've now a 700c, so perhaps a front next summer (I've two fresh tires to kill first this Winter.)

I feel these 1.5"/35mm tires under oneself in active traffic can withstand a good deal. Milder conditions/speeds ever more so.

If you're seeking a do-all tire for dirt&street, I've not ever found the balance (I've come to tolerate particular gearing/cassette ratios--two purpose-built rides over the long-term I've found easier). You could swap tires for your dirt rides, go with a swap-in wheelset, or two bikes.

Slicks for pavement I think is my premise.

Last edited by fredstrong; 10-10-14 at 05:37 PM.
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Old 10-10-14, 06:21 PM
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My recumbent bikes have MTB rims (Velocity Aeroheat). The best value street tires I've found are Forte Metro K 26x1.25" from Performance. Sometimes for as little as $15. Also have a Nashbar Streetwise/kevlar 26x1.25 on one of the bikes.
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Old 10-10-14, 06:36 PM
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Here's a flock of them.

Everyone has an opinion. There's enough without mine.
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Old 10-10-14, 09:01 PM
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I noticed a huge difference in speed and handling. I don't miss the knobbies except in snow and occasional mud/dirt.
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Old 10-10-14, 09:22 PM
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Originally Posted by dynaryder View Post
What's your budget? Schwalbe Marathon Supremes are my fav,but they're $45+ea. I also like Vittoria Randonneurs and Schwalbe Big Apples. For budget tires I'd suggest Kenda Kwests or Serfas Drifters.
I use Drifter "S" (stands for "Survivor") Serfas tires in 2.0. The "S" is added puncture protection. They are a little heavy but not total pigs like Schwalbe Marathons Plus or Marathon Tour. Yes, they are all costly but not nearly as costly as flatting in some of the hoods I traverse to and from work after dark.

The contact patch on my Drifter "S" 2.0 is less than one cm when pumped up to 40+ psi. Tires will take 65 psi but the cheap rims on my commuter would blow up so I run 50 in the rear and 40 up front for some comfort as I have a rigid front fork. You have nice wheels and a shock, go with 65 psi and you will be FLYING. You may need a different cassette even. I switched to a road cassette as I soon found out my highest gear was not enough to keep up with the tires. The fat rubber can take any pothole or debris at speed.
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Old 10-10-14, 10:35 PM
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My frequent recommendation is Nashbar Slicky City tires, 26"x1.5". Super bald, they look funny on a MTB at first, but you get used to it. They are very well reviewed, cheap (especially on sale), grippy, and they roll fast.

Putting these on a MTB are literally what reminded me after 20+ years of what I loved about biking, and turned me back into a cyclist.
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Old 10-11-14, 05:11 AM
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I started commuting on a mountain bike (75-100 miles per week) two months ago. Technically I'm urban but even so there's some stretches where I'm running on roadside dirt, such as when going against traffic on an access road. That and the fact that once in a while I'll go out on weekends to find actual dirt I have to "neuter" my mountain bike completely. So some sort of cross tire is desired.

Conty Town and Countries flatted too often, same thing with Serfas Drifters in the trash-littered road edges I ride.


Currently I'm sold on 26"x2.0 Schwalbe Marathon Plus Tours , a simply phenomenal tire. Not really a "balloon" tire lie the previous two, and of very heavy construction (1,000 g per ), almost like a motorcycle tire. But on the bike at 70psi they roll exceedingly smooth and quiet, and are quick about like a street tire. The aggressive tread however works well in the dirt, especially at the modest speeds I tend to ride. Thus far they have proven to be the most flat-resistant tires I've seen.

I like 'em so much I'm planning to switch out the Gatorskins on my touring bike for a set of these Plus Tours in their 700 x 35 85psi incarnations.

http://www.ebikestop.com/schwalbe_ma...FUMLMgodcXcAeg

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Old 10-11-14, 05:18 AM
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Lot of wisdom in this thread. Changing knobby tires to slicks is pretty much the best upgrade you can make, on terms of cost/benefit.

Older rigid (no suspension) mountain bikes with slick tires are very solid, functional choices for commuting/utility/everyday fun bicycling.
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Old 10-11-14, 07:38 AM
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I tell this story many times. My wife's only bike was a Trek 820 from the mid 90's. It has a suspension fork and rigid rear. I switched the knobby tires to slicks and asked her to try it, saying she might or might not feel the difference. She stopped rolling after about forty feet and yelled, "I feel the difference!" Needless to say, she'll never go back. She has no interest in riding off road.

Knobby tires on hard pavement are a real downer. I tried them, too, on a mountain bike I got at a police auction. I kept looking behind me to see the truck I heard coming. The truck was actually the sound of the knobs on the pavement.
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Old 10-11-14, 08:20 AM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
My frequent recommendation is Nashbar Slicky City tires, 26"x1.5". Super bald, they look funny on a MTB at first, but you get used to it. They are very well reviewed, cheap (especially on sale), grippy, and they roll fast.

Putting these on a MTB are literally what reminded me after 20+ years of what I loved about biking, and turned me back into a cyclist.
I'll second that, I replaced the knobbies on my wife's MTB with these and her average speed immediately went up 3 MPH. I have a set on one of my hybrids and I really like them, we mostly ride on chip and oil streets and some gravel. Not sure how they'd be on a commuter over the long run but for the price they'd be worth a try.
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Old 10-11-14, 08:57 AM
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I turned my MTB frame into a commuter...I use 1.5 Panaracer Ribmo T-Servs and have been generally pleased. They are quite flat resistant and they handle bad surfaces well. They are not a fast rolling or performance tire, quite dead feeling. You will see a HUGE difference from knobbies - that awful noise goes away, better traction and longer tire life.

I just recently tossed some marathon plus tires in 35c on our tandem...I'm amazed at how nicely they roll and absorb bumps. I'll probably toss a pair of these on the commuter as my next tires.
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Old 10-11-14, 12:06 PM
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I'd go with balloon tires. Big Ben is a sensible commuter slick. Fat for cushion and slick thread to roll fast on the road.

Its the best of both worlds.
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Old 10-11-14, 01:10 PM
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I have the Specialized Fatboy (a sarcastic name, IMHO) on the Stumpjumper. They have no tread and are 26x1.25. That is my road bike, LOL.

Specialized Bicycle Components
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Old 10-11-14, 01:20 PM
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A good all around tire came on my Koga.. Continental Travel Contact ..broad slick center band, with a row on the edges of knobs

that start making contact when the road surface is softer , like, the pavement ends. 559-47


Schwalbe's Marathon Plus is what I use Now. same size..

( the other one gave the illusion I wore down a Knobby tire to slick in the middle)

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Old 10-11-14, 02:29 PM
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My cyclocross bike came with 700x28c (28"x1.1") tires (Continental GP 4-season) on it's Mavic Crossone 29er wheels even though Mavic recommends minimum 1.5". The rim inner width is 19mm (3/4").
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Old 10-11-14, 03:02 PM
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Do 26 x 1.5 width tires require a different type of inner tube, or can I still use the Bell inner tubes I buy from Walmart in these tires?
This Nashbar tire for instance: Nashbar Streetwise City Tire



Essentially I am trying to get a good decent tire for the money; best back for the buck.

Another thing; will a 26 x 1.5 tire fit the rim on my bike?

Thank you all for contributing in my thread!

Last edited by SpotOn; 10-11-14 at 03:34 PM.
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Old 10-11-14, 03:18 PM
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Originally Posted by JoeyBike View Post
I use Drifter "S" (stands for "Survivor") Serfas tires in 2.0. The "S" is added puncture protection. They are a little heavy but not total pigs like Schwalbe Marathons Plus or Marathon Tour. Yes, they are all costly but not nearly as costly as flatting in some of the hoods I traverse to and from work after dark.

The contact patch on my Drifter "S" 2.0 is less than one cm when pumped up to 40+ psi. Tires will take 65 psi but the cheap rims on my commuter would blow up so I run 50 in the rear and 40 up front for some comfort as I have a rigid front fork. You have nice wheels and a shock, go with 65 psi and you will be FLYING. You may need a different cassette even. I switched to a road cassette as I soon found out my highest gear was not enough to keep up with the tires. The fat rubber can take any pothole or debris at speed.
SpotOn, Never cheap out on good tires, I personally would never run a cheap nashbar tire or any discount tire.
It is not worth it unless you like a crappy ride and enjoy changing flats.

I love my Serfas 2.0 Drifters "S", they give me a nice soft balloon ride and soak up any pot holes etc like butter, and I highly recommend them.
I run them on my winter bike during the off season (I use nokian w106 studded in the winter).
I will miss them when I put my studs on for the upcoming winter.

On my rain bike I run the Marathon + 26 X 2.0 excellent tire and they actually roll well and better than knobbies or studded tires.
I guess any tire rolls well compared to studded tires...lol

Last edited by xuwol7; 10-11-14 at 03:22 PM.
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Old 10-11-14, 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by SpotOn View Post
Do 26 x 1.5 width tires require a different type of inner tube, or can I still use the Bell inner tubes I buy from Walmart in these tires?
It depends on what size tires the tubes are designed for. Using tubes in tires that are narrower than what the tubes are designed for can make installation more difficult, increasing the chances the tube will be damaged during reassembly or inflation. There are lots of options for inexpensive tubes, including (sometimes) your local bike shop.
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Old 10-11-14, 03:25 PM
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Originally Posted by xuwol7 View Post
SpotOn, Never cheap out on good tires, I personally would never run a cheap nashbar tire or any discount tire.
It is not worth it unless you like a crappy ride and enjoy changing flats.
Agreed. I have over 20,000 miles (and still going) on a pair of original Schwalbe Marathons, with only three punctures. New, I paid $50 for the pair. Now they would probably cost $70-$80 per pair, but they'll still provide excellent bang for the buck.
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Old 10-11-14, 03:46 PM
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My Continental Traffics 26 X 2.1's were replaced with WTB Slicks 37 X 559 and I cruise at two gears higher than before. The bike even coasts further than it did with those blasted knobbies. I'll never look back to returning to knobbies on my late '80s Rockhopper.
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Old 10-11-14, 04:07 PM
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Originally Posted by SpotOn View Post
Another thing; will a 26 x 1.5 tire fit the rim on my bike?
Check your rims for a sticker that says "559 x NN". NN will be your rim width. Compare that to this chart to see what will fit:
Tire Dimensions | Schwalbe North America
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