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Difference between "road bike" and "mountain bike"??

Old 08-07-14, 11:14 AM
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Difference between "road bike" and "mountain bike"??

While this may be kind of dumb, it is not meant to be as trivial as it may sound. I know how they differ in terms of features and appearance... what I am more asking about is....

Since I have not ridden in VERY many years and am wanting to ride just to build some level of health back... would I notice the weight difference between the two on an average ride?

The reason I ask is that I "THINK" I would rather have a road bike because it appears that they might be lighter than a similar mountain bike of the same brand/level of quality. But, if the difference isn't that great... would I feel the difference.

It seems as though, checking Craigslist, you can find a number of each.....but it always seems like the mountain bikes are cheaper than a comparable quality road bike. I am hoping some of you may have some comments that would help me understand whether or not a mountain bike would BE a good choice for me.... and what differences would I perceive.

Thanks,
Bob
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Old 08-07-14, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by BobRuth
While this may be kind of dumb, it is not meant to be as trivial as it may sound. I know how they differ in terms of features and appearance... what I am more asking about is....

Since I have not ridden in VERY many years and am wanting to ride just to build some level of health back... would I notice the weight difference between the two on an average ride?

The reason I ask is that I "THINK" I would rather have a road bike because it appears that they might be lighter than a similar mountain bike of the same brand/level of quality. But, if the difference isn't that great... would I feel the difference.

It seems as though, checking Craigslist, you can find a number of each.....but it always seems like the mountain bikes are cheaper than a comparable quality road bike. I am hoping some of you may have some comments that would help me understand whether or not a mountain bike would BE a good choice for me.... and what differences would I perceive.

Thanks,
Bob

Riding a mountain bike on pavement to me, is like pedaling a sofa down the road. Even with slicks. But, a mountain bike is more versatile. You can ride on gravel and dirt also. If you are riding pavement only, a road bike might be more appropriate.
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Old 08-07-14, 11:33 AM
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I am a true believer that you buy a bike to suit your needs... while there are road style or mountain style bikes, I find those hybrids are not really suited towards any type of riding...

I have road bikes, I have mountain bikes... I have several types of mountain bikes depending on the trail I am riding... road bikes tend to be lighter, faster and designed for steady, cadence pedalling. The geometry is more aero dynamic and agressive. Mountain bikes are intended for trail riding... wheels are stronger and tires much wider with knobby treads to get over rocks, through sand, roots and other obstacles. Mountain bikes also have suspension and disc brakes which makes the average mountain bike 30 lb+ while a road bike can be in the 20+ lb range. A Walmart mountain style bike can weigh more than 50 lbs!!!

You can buy a "mountain style" bike at Walmart - yes it is cheap... it's practically useless as well neither intended for road and not strong enough for trail. If your plan is to ride on paved streets go get a road bike or possible a flat bar road bike but stay away from mountain bikes. If you plan to ride trails then consider a true mountain bike, hard tail or full suspension and buy good quality components as cheap ones are doomed to fail...
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Old 08-07-14, 11:50 AM
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I think that my most immediate goal is one that will leave any established racing "records" safe for all time to come!!!

As I am doing this simply to get some exercise doing something that I ALWAYS loved doing when I was younger, I see sticking to pavement, attempting to set and maintain a nice smooth speed to gain the most aerobic benefit. I'm not going to be "about" going as fast as I can possibly push it, nor will I likely go off-road (not, intentionally anyway...). I would imagine that I will set my "bar" low initially and just go map out several courses on nearby low traffic streets.. and work my way up slowly. So, unless my big carcass is likely to hurt a road bike, I think I would rather go that way.

Thanks!
Bob
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Old 08-07-14, 12:47 PM
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Maybe there is a different option. I recently chose, and I'll use their marketing terms, an "adventure", "all road", "touring", "gravel" bike called a Salsa Vaya3. Less than 30 pounds with rack and fenders, disc brakes and drop bars. The wide 40mm tires work OK on pavement and stellar in the looser stuff.
There are so many styles of bikes out there it can be hard to chose.
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Old 08-07-14, 12:51 PM
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If you don't intend to go off-road, there's really no point in buying a mountain bike. All you get is suspension, and weight, that you don't need.

That still leaves a lot of options open. Road bike, cyclocross bike, tourer with drop bars, tourer or hybrid with flat bars... .

I'd suggest you find a decent bike shop, go in and talk to them and test ride a few different types. Your weight isn't an issue unless you want really light (and expensive) racing wheels.
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Old 08-07-14, 01:37 PM
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Originally Posted by BobRuth
It seems as though, checking Craigslist, you can find a number of each.....but it always seems like the mountain bikes are cheaper than a comparable quality road bike. I am hoping some of you may have some comments that would help me understand whether or not a mountain bike would BE a good choice for me.... and what differences would I perceive.

Thanks,
Bob
First off, the bike industry is consumed by trends and fads. In 1990, everything had to be a mountain bike. Now, everything has to be a road bike. You'll notice that many of the bikes for sale on Craigslist are labelled as road bikes, despite that they have 26" wheels, flat handlebars and suspension forks. This is an attempt to gloam onto the recent trend, and make an unsaleable old mountain bike marketable. You don't convert a bike to a road bike by just swapping out the knobby tires.

For general light fitness riding that you describe, I think you need a flat-bar road bike. This will be fast on pavement, and allow you to ride over smooth gravel. 700c wheels with 28mm to 32mm tires. The flat bars give an upright position, and are less intimidating to newish riders.

If you are riding more than 5 miles at a stretch, then you'll want drop (curvy road) handlebars. More comfortable on longer rides as they feature more hand positions. Then your preferred option should be a touring or cyclocross bike. If you intend to ride fast over long distances on (only) pavement, then you want a full-on road bike.

No suspension fork - this just adds a couple pounds of useless weight, energy-sapping suspension bob, and loose steering. Disk brakes are great on mountain bikes when you're descending 40 percent grades in mud, but are overkill for road riding. Like suspension, they add unnecessary weight, cost and complexity.

And no knobby tires. Knobby tires are heavy, offer sketchy traction on pavement and howl away and drive you insane at speed. The only reason why manufacturers offer any kind of tread on road/hybrid bikes: because new bike consumers mistakenly think they need a tread. Listen up: bike tires cannot hydroplane. Car tires can.

Weight: a lightweight bike is a major benefit. If you've ridden on a sub-20 pound bike, it will be a revelation. And it will make you want to ride more. Once you have ridden on a thoroughbred, a 30-pound bike is misery.

On any bike, you want light, cheap and strong. You can only have two.

And buy a floor pump.
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Old 08-07-14, 01:40 PM
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of course the only answer is to buy 2 bikes, right? :-)
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Old 08-07-14, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by BobRuth
I think that my most immediate goal is one that will leave any established racing "records" safe for all time to come!!!

As I am doing this simply to get some exercise doing something that I ALWAYS loved doing when I was younger, I see sticking to pavement, attempting to set and maintain a nice smooth speed to gain the most aerobic benefit. I'm not going to be "about" going as fast as I can possibly push it, nor will I likely go off-road (not, intentionally anyway...). I would imagine that I will set my "bar" low initially and just go map out several courses on nearby low traffic streets.. and work my way up slowly. So, unless my big carcass is likely to hurt a road bike, I think I would rather go that way.

Thanks!
Bob
Welcome,
If you loved it when you were younger, likely you'll love it now.

With this attitude, you'll go farther, faster and have more fun than you'd believe now.

OBTW, that vaya looks marvelous! I find the wider tires far, far better when there's crud on the road.
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Old 08-07-14, 02:06 PM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6
of course the only answer is to buy 2 bikes, right? :-)
Or more than 2... why stop at 6...
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Old 08-07-14, 02:18 PM
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Originally Posted by browngw
^ That's beautiful!
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Old 08-07-14, 02:38 PM
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Sounds like you want an entry level road bike or a flat bar road bike. Something like a Jamis Coda or Jamis Quest. Jamis makes several good choices of both. What is your budget?

Jamis Quest




Jamis Coda



There are several Jamis shops near you. Find the closest shop here.
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Old 08-07-14, 02:41 PM
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Yes, you'll notice the weight difference--if you want to notice the difference. If you don't want to notice the difference, you might just enjoy the ride anyway. I don't mind a heavier bike (within reason) as long as it fits me and has larger, but light-ish and smooth rolling tires. You experience could vary. My old mountain bike no longer gets the miles now that I'm using another bike for winter and have few opportunities for off-read riding. But it still feels nice on shorter rides. If you find a good quality non-suspension mountain bike that fits you and fits your budget, some lower weight and lower tread tires will let you enjoy riding again.

I echo some of the comments here about going more to the touring or "adventure" style road bikes. Bikes that can take a wider tire smooth out the ride, and you may want to less slammed set of bars as you start out. Many of these bikes are setup that way.
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Old 08-07-14, 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Dave Mayer
First off, the bike industry is consumed by trends and fads. In 1990, everything had to be a mountain bike. Now, everything has to be a road bike. You'll notice that many of the bikes for sale on Craigslist are labelled as road bikes, despite that they have 26" wheels, flat handlebars and suspension forks. This is an attempt to gloam onto the recent trend, and make an unsaleable old mountain bike marketable. You don't convert a bike to a road bike by just swapping out the knobby tires.

For general light fitness riding that you describe, I think you need a flat-bar road bike. This will be fast on pavement, and allow you to ride over smooth gravel. 700c wheels with 28mm to 32mm tires. The flat bars give an upright position, and are less intimidating to newish riders.

If you are riding more than 5 miles at a stretch, then you'll want drop (curvy road) handlebars. More comfortable on longer rides as they feature more hand positions. Then your preferred option should be a touring or cyclocross bike. If you intend to ride fast over long distances on (only) pavement, then you want a full-on road bike.

No suspension fork - this just adds a couple pounds of useless weight, energy-sapping suspension bob, and loose steering. Disk brakes are great on mountain bikes when you're descending 40 percent grades in mud, but are overkill for road riding. Like suspension, they add unnecessary weight, cost and complexity.

And no knobby tires. Knobby tires are heavy, offer sketchy traction on pavement and howl away and drive you insane at speed. The only reason why manufacturers offer any kind of tread on road/hybrid bikes: because new bike consumers mistakenly think they need a tread. Listen up: bike tires cannot hydroplane. Car tires can.

Weight: a lightweight bike is a major benefit. If you've ridden on a sub-20 pound bike, it will be a revelation. And it will make you want to ride more. Once you have ridden on a thoroughbred, a 30-pound bike is misery.

On any bike, you want light, cheap and strong. You can only have two.

And buy a floor pump.
Excellent advice; except that I think flatbars are fine for longer rides. Ergon grips help and biking gloves help. My hands get really painful with dropbars but I can ride for hours with the flatbar. I recommend a good hybrid with 700x28 tires under 30 pounds.

Last edited by practical; 08-07-14 at 03:27 PM. Reason: more info
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Old 08-07-14, 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted by FrankHudson
Yes, you'll notice the weight difference--if you want to notice the difference. If you don't want to notice the difference, you might just enjoy the ride anyway. I don't mind a heavier bike (within reason) as long as it fits me and has larger, but light-ish and smooth rolling tires. You experience could vary. My old mountain bike no longer gets the miles now that I'm using another bike for winter and have few opportunities for off-read riding. But it still feels nice on shorter rides. If you find a good quality non-suspension mountain bike that fits you and fits your budget, some lower weight and lower tread tires will let you enjoy riding again.

I echo some of the comments here about going more to the touring or "adventure" style road bikes. Bikes that can take a wider tire smooth out the ride, and you may want to less slammed set of bars as you start out. Many of these bikes are setup that way.
Agreed. And I like the Salsa.
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Old 08-07-14, 05:03 PM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6
of course the only answer is to buy 2 bikes, right? :-)
At least until you decide to get a third, and fourth...
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Old 08-07-14, 05:14 PM
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So many choices.

It's easy to say "road bike" or "mountain bike" but today's reality is an ever expanding number of choices in between. Not only that but we have time trial and tri-athalon bikes that I would put to the left of road bikes and the fat tire offerings that I'd put to the right of mountain bikes.

Fortunately, you don't have to make the philosophical decision. All you have to do is to find one bike that makes you happy. Pick one out and see how it feels to you when you ride it. If you like it, buy it. If it feels heavy or twitchy to you, take a pass.
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Old 08-08-14, 04:03 AM
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Mountain bikes are cheap because they make a lot of them, and people are fickled. New bikes depreciate rapidly. Hybrids seem to depreciated faster than road or mountain bikes, and NEW EXPENSIVE BIKES lose their value faster then midrange bikes.

You should be able to get a good used road bike that fits you in good condition for between $300-$400. It will be between 5 years and 20 years old (new price would have been between $600-$2000). Recently, I paid $100 for my 97 Trek 1400 (needed wheels and handlebars replaced), and $200 for a Trek 2300 composite cf bike (wheels were missing) in excellent condition, and $30 for a 88 Trek 1000 project bike (needed tires, inner tubes, brake cables, seat, handlebar wrap, and a brake lever) for my son.

On the other hand, a 3-5 year old or older hybrid (that sold for up to $1000 when new) with few miles on it will be less than $200. About two months ago, I turned down a Trek 7900 hybrid aluminum frame bike for $75.

I recently paid $30 for a 94 Trek 930 SHX mountain bike that cost around 700 when it was new. This bike is identical to one I've been riding for the past 15 years, but in better condition.

I'd recommend looking for a steel or aluminum framed road bike. Stay away from used carbon fiber bikes. Around here, there are some used carbon fiber bikes for sale for less than $200, but without knowing what to look for on a used carbon fiber bike, you are playing with fire.

Mountain bike are fine for riding on the street over short distances, and on packed dirt, but pedaling a mountain bike on the street over long distances gets old because of the aerodynamics and the low gearing. I took to riding a mountain bike when riding with my children on the street when they were young because I found it easier to ride at low speeds with the kids than when I was riding one of my road bikes.

Road bikes are the best for riding on the street, but totally impractical for riding in the dirt. You can put wider tires on a road bike to make it more comfortable. And, as a general rule, older road bikes accept wider tires than newer road bikes.

Last edited by RoadGuy; 08-08-14 at 04:18 AM.
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Old 08-08-14, 05:33 AM
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Head over to Walmart and lift a mountain bike. Then stop at a real bike shop and lift a road bike. There's your difference.
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Old 08-08-14, 06:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Pamestique
I am a true believer that you buy a bike to suit your needs... while there are road style or mountain style bikes, I find those hybrids are not really suited towards any type of riding.....
I could not disagree more on the hybrid point. Hybrids as a category span the gap between mountain and road bikes and are an excellent choice for a great many riders who neither want to go crashing down the side of a mountain nor want to ride all stretched out with their ass in the air and their teeth on the bars. They are suited to just about every type of riding between those two extremes. My hybrid rolls exceptionally well on road - particularly since I swapped out the stock 35 rubber for 28s. And since my off roading consists of gravel paths and groomed woodland trails, I don't need front much less full suspension - the bike handles those just as well. The more upright riding position is comfortable - a major plus for a new rider - and affords a more heads-up view of traffic for suburban riders and commuters.

I have a road bike and love it much. But if I were recommending a great all-rounder for a newer rider looking to get off the couch and get fit, it would be hard to beat a hybrid. Frankly, if I had started out with a road bike - as so many here seem to recommend - I probably would not have got into cycling in the first place, as those quick 20km early morning rides that transition from road to gravel to woodland trails and back again are what hooked me.

A go (just about) anywhere do anything bike is the right choice for a lot of people.




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Old 08-08-14, 12:32 PM
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Hybrids are true all arounders and a great choice for a first bike. You can use smaller, higher pressure tires to optimize faster cruising on mostly paved roads or fatter, lower pressure tires for riding everywhere else as well as for extra comfort on pavement. Cycling can be a great low impact and enjoyable form of aerobic exercise.
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Old 08-08-14, 12:59 PM
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Okay, so what exactly IS a hybrid? Obviously a crossover thing....but how do you know if you are looking at one versus a mountain bike?
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Old 08-08-14, 01:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Jaeger99
I could not disagree more on the hybrid point. Hybrids as a category span the gap between mountain and road bikes and are an excellent choice for a great many riders ........
A go (just about) anywhere do anything bike is the right choice for a lot of people.


Amen.
Hybrids are the answer for most people. In these days of labels for everything, a hybrid is what we used to call "a bike". In 2009 , when mrsbrowngw and I purchased new Giant Cypress's they renewed our love for cycling. We donated our old mountain bikes to some grandchildren and proceeded to use our hybrids as much as possible. Now we each have a folder, she has a modern 4130 "Dutchie", I have the Salsa Vaya touring but the hybrids are still our "goto" bikes. They are currently being readied for next weeks adventure on Pelee Island. We will camp on the mainland and take the ferry to the island. @Jaeger99, what part of Ontario do you hail from?
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Old 08-08-14, 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by BobRuth
Okay, so what exactly IS a hybrid? Obviously a crossover thing....but how do you know if you are looking at one versus a mountain bike?
What's a "sports car" or a "SUV" or "truck"? It's a label, and there are wide differences on the bikes that are called that. If you draw a continuum line of bikes and put the heavy duty fat bike to the far left, the conventional mountain bike somewhere farther left and the ultra light time trial road bike over on the far right end of the line, hybrids fall somewhere in the middle part. Some are very similar to many bikes that would be called "road bikes" that would be nearer to the right hand side of the line, but these road bikes have flat bars and slightly more upright riding posture. Other are somewhat similar to a mountain bikes but have narrower tires and perhaps eschew suspension parts made for rough ground.
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Old 08-08-14, 01:36 PM
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