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Why are mountain bikes so popular?

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Why are mountain bikes so popular?

Old 01-14-17, 09:54 AM
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Why are mountain bikes so popular?

I think the mountain bike definitely has its purpose and shines in technical terrain. There are some very skilled mountain bikers that really can do amazing things on the bikes.

But for the average Joe who just noodles around on smooth gravel roads, a mountain bike is a waste. Its kind of like how people buy these lifted 4x4 trucks to commute in and they never take it on the beaten path...

My neighbor commutes a considerable distance on pavement using a cheapo Walmart mountain bike. I told him about road bikes and he just looked at me funny, like he didnt even know they existed! He assumed road bikes and mountain bikes were basically the same thing.

I just think mountain bikes are a little over rated in the eyes of the general public and way too popular for no good reason. Whenever I tell my non--cyclist friends and family I ride road, their eyes become unfocused and they simply dont process the information.

The only thing the MTB is good for is the particularly rough stuff. They suck at everything else!
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Old 01-14-17, 10:03 AM
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I use an aluminium mountain bike as my daily commuter. The big reason is the tires. Last year, no flats. The year before, one flat. I hate being late for work.
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Old 01-14-17, 10:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Eyedrop
I think the mountain bike definitely has its purpose and shines in technical terrain. There are some very skilled mountain bikers that really can do amazing things on the bikes.

But for the average Joe who just noodles around on smooth gravel roads, a mountain bike is a waste. Its kind of like how people buy these lifted 4x4 trucks to commute in and they never take it on the beaten path...

My neighbor commutes a considerable distance on pavement using a cheapo Walmart mountain bike. I told him about road bikes and he just looked at me funny, like he didnt even know they existed! He assumed road bikes and mountain bikes were basically the same thing.

I just think mountain bikes are a little over rated in the eyes of the general public and way too popular for no good reason. Whenever I tell my non--cyclist friends and family I ride road, their eyes become unfocused and they simply dont process the information.

The only thing the MTB is good for is the rough stuff. They suck at everything else.
I worked in bike stores before and during the arrival of mountain bikes. Nobody working in shops at the time was pushing mountain bikes for casual riders---we all took for granted that everyone should be on a road bike and that the only riders who needed a mountain bike were the few people doing hard-core off-road riding.

But casual riders who tried mountain bikes took to them immediately. They liked the upright riding position, the stable handling, the comfortable saddle, and the ease and security of shifting gears without moving their hands away from the handlebars.

Result: road bikes went from being 90% of the adult bike market to 5%, which tracks nicely with the proportions of the numbers of racers versus casual riders. The main difference is that hybrids have taken over much of the market slices formerly taken by mountain bikes and road bikes. But the mountain bike is still a perfectly reasonable choice for the casual rider.
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Old 01-14-17, 10:14 AM
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I would say it's because they're more durable than road bikes. Granted, your "Average Joe who noodles around" on his bike isn't "shredding it up" on the trail. But he's also not going out of his way to take the smoothest route like a road cyclist would (well, at least I do). Average Joe might be careless with his bike...hits potholes, rides over curbs, etc. I'm sure you'll agree that a 25mm (or narrower) road wheel doesn't stand up to that abuse like a 2" to 2.5" mountain bike wheel would. Plus they're more comfortable than road bikes. The bigger tire provides better control, better stopping. Remembering back to when you began on your road bike -- because of the position you ride in on a road bike you likely had some soreness in your wrists, elbows, neck, and back. But obviously we know that that position is optimal for racing. Average Joe doesn't race and so why should he put up with the discomfort of aclimating to a road bike? And I think the geometry of mountain bikes, and how they're set up make them generally easier to control. Anverage Joe may not be on his bike as often as a dedicated cyclist and so he needs something that he can control easier. Just my opinions.

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Old 01-14-17, 10:20 AM
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Here There are lots of open spaces , Hunters get Mid drive electric conversions for hunting ..

I have 2 26" wheel bikes 1 has studded tires The other a tourer-trekking bike has Pannier racks ,

I use the bags for Grocery runs year round..




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Old 01-14-17, 10:20 AM
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1. I suspect that you're right. The popularity of mountain bikes is more related to style than function.
2. Why does other people's sense of style bother you?
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Old 01-14-17, 10:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Phloom
I use an aluminium mountain bike as my daily commuter. The big reason is the tires. Last year, no flats. The year before, one flat. I hate being late for work.
Have you tried using a tough tire like Conti Gatorskin with tire liners and sealant in the tube as a preventative measure? Or maybe go full on tubeless? You could probably save time by using the road bike on commutes, and a proper setup should have you avoiding flats pretty well...
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Old 01-14-17, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Retro Grouch
1. I suspect that you're right. The popularity of mountain bikes is more related to style than function.
2. Why does other people's sense of style bother you?
Its not really their sense of style that bothers me. The main thing that bothers me is the lack of a good road cycling community where I live. Im sure its different in bigger cities. But around here, you walk into any of the LBS and its nothing but mountain bikes... And its a shame because the road riding is pretty good around here! But you hardly see people riding a road bike. Its just kind of sad.
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Old 01-14-17, 10:30 AM
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What is your location?
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Old 01-14-17, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Eyedrop
I think the mountain bike definitely has its purpose and shines in technical terrain. There are some very skilled mountain bikers that really can do amazing things on the bikes.

But for the average Joe who just noodles around on smooth gravel roads, a mountain bike is a waste. Its kind of like how people buy these lifted 4x4 trucks to commute in and they never take it on the beaten path...

My neighbor commutes a considerable distance on pavement using a cheapo Walmart mountain bike. I told him about road bikes and he just looked at me funny, like he didnt even know they existed! He assumed road bikes and mountain bikes were basically the same thing.

I just think mountain bikes are a little over rated in the eyes of the general public and way too popular for no good reason. Whenever I tell my non--cyclist friends and family I ride road, their eyes become unfocused and they simply dont process the information.

The only thing the MTB is good for is the particularly rough stuff. They suck at everything else!
If you were making this argument 10 or 20 years ago, you might have a point. However for 2012, mountain bike sales made up only 25% of the market which is close to the fraction of the market they have held for the previous 8 years. However road bikes and hybrids have steadily increased as part of the market share over the last 10 years to 20% and 24%, respectively. Comfort bike...arguably a "hybrid" bike...make up another 13%. Hybrid bikes made the largest increase...10%...over that time period of any bike.

People are buying more hybrids for the reason they bought mountain bikes earlier. Trakhak nails it right on the head.
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Old 01-14-17, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Eyedrop
Its not really their sense of style that bothers me. The main thing that bothers me is the lack of a good road cycling community where I live. Im sure its different in bigger cities. But around here, you walk into any of the LBS and its nothing but mountain bikes... And its a shame because the road riding is pretty good around here! But you hardly see people riding a road bike. Its just kind of sad.
So start your own road cycling community.

It's not all that different in bigger cities. There are fewer road bikes in every bike shop I've been in throughout the US than mountain bikes. It's just what it is. You can't sell something to people if they don't want it.
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Old 01-14-17, 10:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Eyedrop
Have you tried using a tough tire like Conti Gatorskin with tire liners and sealant in the tube as a preventative measure? Or maybe go full on tubeless? You could probably save time by using the road bike on commutes, and a proper setup should have you avoiding flats pretty well...
I use Continental Hardshell Gatorskins on my road bikes. My commute passes by many construction sites. I have to worry about glass, screws and staples. The other benefit of using a mountain bike, I get a more intense work out. I only have a 20 minute commute.
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Old 01-14-17, 10:43 AM
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Last several years manufactures have developed a bike for about every purpose. Mountain bikes have become increasing specific for certain terrain. Hybrids enter the market to cover the gap between the increasing popularity of mountain specific bikes and the road. That not being enough there are now several different classes of hybrids to cover the gap including gravel bikes. To the average casual rider that is a ton of information to process. My guess would be give me a bike I can ride on path, the road and maybe toy with mountain biking but will not break the bank. Answer, entry level hard tail mountain bike, jack of all trades master of none.
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Old 01-14-17, 10:46 AM
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Originally Posted by 10 Wheels
What is your location?
Prescott AZ. Its basically a retirement community. We actually do have a road cycling club, but it isnt really geared towards the younger crowd like myself. Its mostly just a group for active seniors who like to stay fit...

On the other end of the spectrum, the MTB community is huge here. Many great trails to ride on, big group rides several times a week, etc... They also have the big race here called the "Whiskey off road". Draws quite the crowd!
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Old 01-14-17, 10:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Eyedrop
On the other end of the spectrum, the MTB community is huge here. Many great trails to ride on, big group rides several times a week, etc... They also have the big race here called the "Whiskey off road". Draws quite the crowd!
And you wonder why they're popular?
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Old 01-14-17, 10:58 AM
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Location is everything when it comes to bikes. You don't see many mountain bikes in big cities usually other than the occasional old one converted to a commuter. It is mostly single speed, road, fixed, hybrid, commuter and even folding. Head out to where you live, and yeah, it is going to be more geared towards mountain since there are lots of trails and mountains there.
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Old 01-14-17, 11:44 AM
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In addition to the bikes themselves, I think the parts / accessory market plays a role. For instance, high quality tires that are fairly wide and puncture resistant, but are designed for pavement use, were unknown to me when I bought my first decent bike in 1983, as were studded winter tires. Back then, I simply assumed "skinny tires are faster." Today, I wouldn't consider a bike whose frame can't accommodate wide tires, even for relatively long distances on pavement.

I think "road versus mountain" will seem quaint, in 10 years, when electric bikes take over.
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Old 01-14-17, 12:02 PM
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Why is surfing more popular at the beach than on a river?

When Gary Fisher and I rented a garage to build bikes in, and chose the grandiose name of "MountainBikes" as our company name, we were already using our off-road bikes for everything except 50-mile rides.

I have a very nice road bike. I haven't ridden it in a couple of years. My range of 10-12 miles on my 1994 Ritchey P-21 mountain bike covers most of my casual riding, and when I want to take a real ride, I head up into the hills on my full suspension enduro bike. That's because I live in a great place to be a mountain biker. I don't road ride any more because it's crazy on the roads and it isn't relaxing to dodge motor vehicles.

The guys who invented surfing lived at the beach. If you don't live at a beach, you might not become a surfer.
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Old 01-14-17, 12:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Trakhak
I worked in bike stores before and during the arrival of mountain bikes. Nobody working in shops at the time was pushing mountain bikes for casual riders---we all took for granted that everyone should be on a road bike and that the only riders who needed a mountain bike were the few people doing hard-core off-road riding.

But casual riders who tried mountain bikes took to them immediately. They liked the upright riding position, the stable handling, the comfortable saddle, and the ease and security of shifting gears without moving their hands away from the handlebars.

Result: road bikes went from being 90% of the adult bike market to 5%, which tracks nicely with the proportions of the numbers of racers versus casual riders. The main difference is that hybrids have taken over much of the market slices formerly taken by mountain bikes and road bikes. But the mountain bike is still a perfectly reasonable choice for the casual rider.
This memory jibes with mine when I bought a 26" mountain bike about as soon as they went into general nationwide distribution. Stores didn't necessarily know much about them, and they certainly weren't pushing them at first. I've ridden off-road a little on my now more than 30 year old mountain bike. I've ridden gravel and firetrail "roads" too. It was my winter bike for years, including several years of year round MN everyday commuting. When I needed a bike to pull my toddler trailer in, it did that too. It's now my rainy ride and slow trips with my 12 year old non-athletic child on his bike. I've owned other bikes, but this one has the miles. I don't think any other bike I could have bought in the mid 80s could have served me as well over those years. Touring/Adventure/Cyclocross bikes may have existed, but I'd never seen one in a bike shop back then. Neither was the now common hybrid a thing back then.

What that mountain bike replaced was my Raleigh 3 spd. I suspect a lot were sold in the early years to replace similar "North Road" style upright bar Schwinn's and the like. My 70's gas crisis 10 speed probably equaled or exceeded its miles some years, but was given away some years back. My "regular" ride now is a touring bike. I like fenders, racks, carrying capacity, fatter tires.

Here's something that I see rarely mentioned when folks talk about the fears/predilections of casual cyclists: many folks are scared to ride drop bar/skinny tire bikes because they don't think they can stop fast enough. I'm sure here many know that they are "wrong"--if only they "simply" knew to shift weight, position, hands and then correct application of the brakes for maximum stopping with control. We've forgotten why those turkey levers (however misbegotten) were a thing years ago. I suspect a lot of mountain bikes were sold to folks who never got over being scared riding those gas crisis 10 speeds, and so never rode much.

Walmart/Target etc bikes tend to lag in following LBS bike market trends. Their typical bike in the early part of this century was a cheaply done full-suspension mountain bike. A lousy choice all the way around. Even now their hybrids seem to feel the need for a front suspension fork for no good reason I can figure out. I see a lot of those cheapo full suspension mountain bikes on the streets here, and I'm sure it's just what's available for less than $200 at the Target/Wallmart etc. Well that's just a market failure, but I suspect the markets will correct eventually. An upright bar, rigid, reasonably wide tire bike is what most city riders feel best on, and it would fit their needs well I'd think.
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Old 01-14-17, 12:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Eyedrop
I think the mountain bike definitely has its purpose and shines in technical terrain. There are some very skilled mountain bikers that really can do amazing things on the bikes.

But for the average Joe who just noodles around on smooth gravel roads, a mountain bike is a waste. Its kind of like how people buy these lifted 4x4 trucks to commute in and they never take it on the beaten path...

My neighbor commutes a considerable distance on pavement using a cheapo Walmart mountain bike. I told him about road bikes and he just looked at me funny, like he didnt even know they existed! He assumed road bikes and mountain bikes were basically the same thing.

I just think mountain bikes are a little over rated in the eyes of the general public and way too popular for no good reason. Whenever I tell my non--cyclist friends and family I ride road, their eyes become unfocused and they simply dont process the information.

The only thing the MTB is good for is the particularly rough stuff. They suck at everything else!
I agree with everything you said. I think they are over rated as well, at least the cheap ones. One of my neighbors thinks I'm a weirdo for riding a road bike.
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Old 01-14-17, 01:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Eyedrop
The only thing the MTB is good for is the particularly rough stuff. They suck at everything else!

MTBs are a lot more utilitarian then road bikes...A rigid forked MTB with fenders and street tires make the best commuters and if you put some racks on them they will make a great touring bike for both on and off road.
Most modern road bikes are useless for anything except training rides, they don't even have enough frame clearance to run bigger tires and fenders and no braze ons to install racks. I would say that road bikes suck and are no good for anything except racing and training rides.
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Old 01-14-17, 01:16 PM
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Meh. Swap out tires, and there isn't a whole heck of a lot of difference between a rigid or hardtail MTB and a hybrid. They're rugged, cheap, and effective. If I'm on a MUP trail, or on a crowded campus, the more upright position gives me much better sight of the people around me. The tires are more puncture resistant than skinny road tires, and wheels better suited for the impact of jumping up and down curbs.

Also, believe it or not, not everyone believes in n+1. Maybe they bought a MTB for mountain biking, and also use it in a city. Maybe they bought it with the best of intentions, and now it is what they have and use for other purposes. Maybe they simply don't like drop bars. I've ridden 30+ mile rides on my old MTB with slick tires. Am I faster on a road bike? Absolutely, but I was hardly uncomfortable or regretting my decision.

But yeah, I'm with everyone else saying the decisions others make really are none of my business. If they're happy on their MTB, it is not my place to "correct" them.
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Old 01-14-17, 04:37 PM
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Originally Posted by FrankHudson
Here's something that I see rarely mentioned when folks talk about the fears/predilections of casual cyclists: many folks are scared to ride drop bar/skinny tire bikes because they don't think they can stop fast enough. I'm sure here many know that they are "wrong"--if only they "simply" knew to shift weight, position, hands and then correct application of the brakes for maximum stopping with control. We've forgotten why those turkey levers (however misbegotten) were a thing years ago. I suspect a lot of mountain bikes were sold to folks who never got over being scared riding those gas crisis 10 speeds, and so never rode much.
For me, it was simply a matter of comfort, end of story. But I'm sure that I'm "wrong" about that too.
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Old 01-14-17, 04:51 PM
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Said Multinational Touring 559-50, 26x2 will be the tire you will find in odd places

because mountain bikes have made it into so many countries.
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Old 01-14-17, 05:11 PM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild
MTBs are a lot more utilitarian then road bikes...A rigid forked MTB with fenders and street tires make the best commuters and if you put some racks on them they will make a great touring bike for both on and off road.
Most modern road bikes are useless for anything except training rides, they don't even have enough frame clearance to run bigger tires and fenders and no braze ons to install racks. I would say that road bikes suck and are no good for anything except racing and training rides.
Yes, this!

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