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500 grams is diff between steel versatile MTB and racebike. Worth it?

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500 grams is diff between steel versatile MTB and racebike. Worth it?

Old 10-22-17, 02:12 PM
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v1nce
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500 grams is diff between steel versatile MTB and racebike. Worth it?

https://imgur.com/TobxfaV

https://imgur.com/A4Rnr8C


I stripped and weighed these frames (Specialized Rockhopper and Gazelle Champion Mondial) that are both mass produced, high end, high quality Chromo butted steel. And I came to few realizations.
While my comparison is not quite apples to apples due to frame size diff, 500 difference or even 700 grams is almost nothing but it does mean all of this:

1. The Rockhopper is a do it all frame. My friend has cycled it coast to coast in US with heavy load and with a Rohloff, I have taken a few girls on the back of mine as well as a ton of tools, and heavy loads of shopping, even a 15 kilo folder lying on a front basket. Some of those are impossible with the raceframe, unless you want to bend or possibly wreck it due to instability/shimmy.

2. The MTB is far less likely to be stolen, racebikes seem to be the first bikes to be stolen, by comparison few people and especially thieves care about quality steel MTBs these days.

3. You can fit any fender, wheel or tire on the MTB, super skinny, hardcore off-road, ultra light, crazy wide etc etc, on a racebike frame not so, lucky if you manage to fit slick 32s and many steel racebikes even only go to 28s.

4. Parts for (old) MTBs are often far cheaper than the equivalent racebike parts. Deore for instance is very legit but a lot cheaper than many race groupos. Also you certainly could mount almost any race part on an MTB frame like the Rockhopper, there is no reason why the finished bike can't be just as light other than the 500ish extra grams in the frame. The wheels, all things being equal (same rims, spokes, hubs) will be quite a bit lighter and a hell of a lot stronger. When I researched the influence of wheel size extensively quite some years ago the conclusion was that the speed difference -if there is any!- is truly tiny. Tire selection, tire pressure, rider positioning/frontal area etc make a hell of lot more difference in speed than if you ride 26 or 28s, acceleration should in theory be a bit faster on the 26, turning circle is smaller. Most HMV speed records are set with small wheels.

5. 500 ish grams will make (almost) 0 difference to speed for the average bike rider and ride. Sure, for someone who is doing say cat 1 races or Centuries it might make a few seconds (for the race) to some minutes (over a whole day ride) difference, but honestly how many people who buy racebikes actually do these types of riding on the regular.. ?

6. The MTB frame will be much stronger. In an accident or when overloading it I would trust the MTB frame much more to not break or bend/shear or to keep me safer in case of a head on collision.

Thoughts?

Last edited by v1nce; 10-22-17 at 07:26 PM.
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Old 10-22-17, 02:57 PM
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Weight shouldn't be a concern unless you're racing. And a race bike shouldn't be your primary transportation, particularly if most of your riding is not racing, but rather loaded touring, urban commuting, etc. The Rockhopper ought to be fine. If you don't intend to do a lot of off-road riding, you don't need to install gnarly off-road tires. Use something lighter and smoother and your riding should be easier than with gnarly tires.
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Old 10-22-17, 03:24 PM
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A pound is nothing, but I'm not sure what the purpose of this thread is. Are you asking if you should get a road racing bike or a MTB?
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Old 10-22-17, 03:43 PM
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v1nce
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Thanks for replies! I was trying to get divergent perspectives on my ideas in initial thread, I find it an odd dichotomy that MTBs from 80s or 90s are often so unloved while racebikes are not. For all the reasons above. I was also trying to figure out if my reasoning is flawed or if I overlooked some huge advantages of raceframes !in general! for the average rider?

Last edited by v1nce; 10-22-17 at 06:09 PM.
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Old 10-22-17, 04:00 PM
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MTB's from the 80's and 90's are actually pretty popular, but the road scene is bigger in general. And one bike has off road gearing and geometry and the other is for the road. There's more to a good road bike than the tires.
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Old 10-22-17, 04:26 PM
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I love the old 90's steel frames, and old MTB's from that era with good framesets really go under-appreciated. Not that I'm complaining about the ridiculously low prices you can get something like a double-butted cro moly Trek for.

A vintage Trek steel racing or touring bike goes for top dollar these days, but an equally-nice complete, working MTB from the same era, with a frame made out of the same materials, is often under $100. Part of it is the sheer numbers of MTB frames out there, because that's mostly what people bought during the 90's.

Weight-wise, I stripped down a 1995 Trek Singletrack 930 recently, and was shocked at how light the frame was, it's actually one of the lightest parts of the entire bike.

On the downside, the geometry of these bikes can be a bit weird. I like to get out of the saddle and sprint sometimes, but on my 930 Singletrack, it just never feels right for some reason. I think the weight distribution is just different on MTB's, that's my theory anyway. Some of it is probably from the suspension correction, but I have never ridden an MTB that felt good in a sprint.
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Old 10-22-17, 05:51 PM
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Weird thread. Are you trying to decide which to buy? If so, they would be appropriate for different uses. The mtb for mtbing, short commutes, errands, etc. The road bike for longer rides, group rides, etc.
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Old 10-22-17, 06:12 PM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
Weird thread. Are you trying to decide which to buy? If so, they would be appropriate for different uses. The mtb for mtbing, short commutes, errands, etc. The road bike for longer rides, group rides, etc.
No, I already own both. I might just sell the Gazelle. I was trying to ascertain whether my type of cycling does or does not suggest that the MTB is a far superior choice not only for myself but for any cyclist like me: someone who doesn't race, doesn't do rides over 3 hours or very rare and then while loaded touring and does not do group rides either. That description and usage would likely fit a rather large % of cyclists, none the less many of them opt for racebikes/frames all the same.
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Old 10-22-17, 06:13 PM
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If you are wanting to run fat tires and carry heavy loads, this seems like a pretty easy choice. What input are you looking for?
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Old 10-22-17, 06:16 PM
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Originally Posted by v1nce View Post
No, I already own both. I might just sell the Gazelle. I was trying to ascertain whether my type of cycling does or does not suggest that the MTB is a far superior choice not only for myself but for any cyclist like me: someone who doesn't race, doesn't do rides over 3 hours or very rare and then while loaded touring and does not do group rides either. That description and usage would likely fit a rather large % of cyclists, none the less many of them opt for racebikes/frames all the same.
There are a lot of frames that fall between a road racing frame and an MTB frame.
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Old 10-22-17, 06:18 PM
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Sounds like you want to keep the mtb. I think you may be wrong to assume any significant number of cyclists ride a type of bike that is different from what they want. Why would they?
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Old 10-22-17, 06:33 PM
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v1nce
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Originally Posted by Kapusta View Post
There are a lot of frames that fall between a road racing frame and an MTB frame.
Very true but it seems to me that for most those frames to be of a similar quality and weight as the frames I linked would mean spending 400 to 800 dollars for a new frame and second hand I couldn't think of any options that would be seem like better alternatives? If we are talking any 28 inch frame almost all my issues in my 6 points would still remain to at least a degree. Some would actually be aggravated like the theft issue, for example if someone were to buy a Surly frame. One point I forgot to initially mention is that 26 inch is useful all over the world, which is why most expedition/world tourers ride this size, 28 tires are hard to get in many parts of the world.
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Old 10-22-17, 06:38 PM
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v1nce
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
Sounds like you want to keep the mtb. I think you may be wrong to assume any significant number of cyclists ride a type of bike that is different from what they want. Why would they?
Possible reasons:

Availability: you can go to any store right now a buy a racebike, possibly even a steel one or two since they have made a comeback. Ask for a quality chromo butted steel mtb frame/bike that is light, new especially, and odds are you will never find one. But even second hand and 90%+ of bikeshops I have ever visited would laugh me out the store. "We don't have that." If one has never had the opportunity to ride a high quality steel mtb, how would one know you want one or would like it? This would go for a lot of young ish people.

The Industry/Pros: When you see cycling on TV or online it tends to be overwhelmingly people on racebikes. It is also in the interest of the industry to sell various types of bikes to consumers, ideally from a material that will not hold up forever rather than a bike that will do it all and might last a lifetime +... The racebike looks! like it would much! faster and hence maybe more fun, I think for the average rider as I have defined above that is not really true.

Last edited by v1nce; 10-22-17 at 07:28 PM.
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Old 10-22-17, 06:54 PM
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I guess we just are part of different demographics. The vast majority of cyclists I know are best served by a road bike (what you are calling a racebike.) Come out and ride 60 miles with 4000 feet of climbing and you will soon regret flat bars and fat, knobby tires. We do agree on the merits of steel, though ti is more popular among my riding friends.
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Old 10-22-17, 07:23 PM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
I guess we just are part of different demographics. The vast majority of cyclists I know are best served by a road bike (what you are calling a racebike.) Come out and ride 60 miles with 4000 feet of climbing and you will soon regret flat bars and fat, knobby tires. We do agree on the merits of steel, though ti is more popular among my riding friends.
Yeh European here, we call them racebikes over here hehe. I wish I could have made my title longer, I did mean to say/talk about frames and possibilities they allow, not MTBs with the typical parts, and I am of course suggesting that people ride high pressure not too wide tires and any bar that works for them, I do on my Specialized and Stevens MTB framed bikes. My friend does centuries + regularly on his Rockhopper and also climbs when he tours around EU. We both own race/roadbikes but to be honest use them little. I wish there were more bike available new a bit like the Bridgestone MB-1 of old, just add slick/modern tires: https://www.retrobike.co.uk/forum/fil...1_mtbr_150.jpg
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Old 10-22-17, 07:25 PM
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Bottom line is that vintage MTBs are awesome bikes. They are versatile and relatively cheap.
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Old 10-22-17, 07:33 PM
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Great thread on drop bar conversions in C&V.
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Old 10-22-17, 07:41 PM
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Originally Posted by v1nce View Post
No, I already own both. I might just sell the Gazelle. I was trying to ascertain whether my type of cycling does or does not suggest that the MTB is a far superior choice not only for myself but for any cyclist like me: someone who doesn't race, doesn't do rides over 3 hours or very rare and then while loaded touring and does not do group rides either. That description and usage would likely fit a rather large % of cyclists, none the less many of them opt for racebikes/frames all the same.
It's not our job to tell you which bike to get rid of. Our job is to convince you to keep both bikes.
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Old 10-22-17, 07:43 PM
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Originally Posted by tyrion View Post
It's not our job to tell you which bike to get rid of. Our job is to convince you to keep both bikes.
Haha, but I already own 8 ish bikes,.. Brompton, 2 folders, road bike etc etc XD

Anyway, thanks for the replies and opinions everyone!
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Old 10-23-17, 06:40 AM
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In my opinion too, for my riding mostly in a city with a lot of stop and go a rigid early 90s steel 26inch bike is a lot more practical solution than a road bike.
I am keeping 2 ot these both with road tyres 28mm, treking hollowtech 2 triple 48/36/26 in front and 7 speed 12-28 cassete. One is with drop bar , the other with a short 50cm Nitto straight bar and Specialized bar endz mimicking the hood position. One is Tange cro mo, the other hi ten steel a whole kilo heavier with everything other the same. The hi ten compact frame is always faster! But there is a difference in the bike geometry - the hi ten has the bb height 2 cm lower with the same tire, the fork is 1cm narrower, the rear drop out is 130mm instead of the 135mm typical mtb, the steerer is 21.1 instead of the typical 22.2mm, a compact frame, horizontal dropout.

As long as there are decent rims and tyres from Conti, Schwalbe, Mavic and the likes I am perfectley happy with such bike.
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Old 10-23-17, 07:50 AM
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Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
bottom line is that vintage mtbs are awesome bikes. They are versatile and relatively cheap.
+1
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Old 10-23-17, 08:10 AM
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Originally Posted by v1nce View Post
Thanks for replies! I was trying to get divergent perspectives on my ideas in initial thread, I find it an odd dichotomy that MTBs from 80s or 90s are often so unloved while racebikes are not. For all the reasons above. I was also trying to figure out if my reasoning is flawed or if I overlooked some huge advantages of raceframes !in general! for the average rider?
Bicycles weren't on my radar in the 80's (or 90's) so I don't really understood the MTB boom of the mid-80's, which was apparently an American phenomenon. A new outdoor sport, counter-culture, I don't know but those 80's MTB's weren't very good by modern standards. I find it kind of odd when people suggest scouring Craig's List for an 80's MTB, or for a generic 90's MTB.
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Old 10-23-17, 08:18 AM
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
Bicycles weren't on my radar in the 80's (or 90's) so I don't really understood the MTB boom of the mid-80's, which was apparently an American phenomenon. A new outdoor sport, counter-culture, I don't know but those 80's MTB's weren't very good by modern standards. I find it kind of odd when people suggest scouring Craig's List for an 80's MTB, or for a generic 90's MTB.
They're fine as an inexpensive bike for knocking around town but they're a poor solution if you actually need an MTB.
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Old 10-23-17, 08:27 AM
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Originally Posted by gregf83 View Post
They're fine as an inexpensive bike for knocking around town but they're a poor solution if you actually need an MTB.
I'm sure that you're right, but it always makes me wonder why a mountain bike specifically, if the frames aren't that great by our standards, and I don't see why it was such a big fad in the 80's - unless it's basically all that's survived since then. It seems topical to the original post.
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Old 10-23-17, 08:32 AM
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Re-purposing older rigid MTBs into quality tourers and commuters is one of my specialties. Here are a couple of my recent builds:









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