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Old 07-07-08, 02:58 PM   #1
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Newb Questions (Tires / Brakes / etc.)

My wife and I are attempting to get into regular cycling. We both have some older, cheap MTBs that are probably > 10 yrs old. Mine is a Trek 930 Singletrack while hers is a Diamond Back "something or other". I think both are 1996 models BTW. They have been used really very little and, with a little cleanup, are in pretty good shape believe it or not. Our use together will consist mostly of recreational rides with the kids (trailer and tag-along) on the neighborhood streets, paved trails where available and a wide dirt trail by the river nearby.

However, I am interested in riding mine for "training" purposes on the road. I can't afford (read: can't convince my wife to allow me to purchase) a decent road bike (yet). I don't necessarily disagree with her reasoning. I am not interested in racing (for the time being), I just want to get some good exercise and want to be as comfortable as possible on the road. It could turn into something more, but I have to achieve a certain level first. I am looking to get away from running (knees aren't going to hold up long-term I'm afraid) so the bike is the next best option.

In light of all this, I have a few questions that I'd like to get some opinions on if you will:

1) Tires for my wife: For both of us, I'd really like to get a new set of tires (to ditch the knobbies). I seriously doubt she will EVER ride anything more than a hard pack / dirt trail. Her riding would be 100%
recreational/casual with maybe a 75/25 split between paved roads/trails and dirt (lt. trail). I have been looking Internet posts on the Maxxis Holy Rollers and have also been looking at some of the semi-slicks/hybrids from Conti (T&C, Travel Contact) among others. Am I headed in the right direction? To me, if I get her new tires, it's an easier decision than the one for my bike. Looking mainly for comfort for her. BTW, she's not complaining, I am just thinking about what might be best.

2) Tires for me: I suppose I could absolutely go with the same model as my wife although I would guess I would want to err a little on the slick side if my riding will work out as I hope to. If I were to actually go on a real trail ride (probably a rare occasion), I could stick the knobbies back on. Basically, I need a good, versatile tire that will be smooth on the pavement for training and as much speed as I can get yet still allow for a leisurely ride down at the river (hard pack/ dirt) with the kids.

3) If you didn't assume it already, we both have cheap, stock canti brakes. On my wife's bike, the spring tension adjustment collars (plastic) snapped in half on both front and rear. Her brakes (Shimano Altus) should be replaced. I can either a) order her some new cantis (easiest), b) order her some new V-brakes/levers (hardest #1) or c) order me some new V-brakes/levers and put my cantis on her bike (hardest #2). I've read some threads all over the place about making the conversion. I am tempted to stick with cantis all-around on these bikes. Any advice? The shifters do not appear to be integrated with the brake levers FWIW.

4) Down the road: Any other mods I can make to my bike to make my training rides better or more comfortable?

5) Other advice is absolutely welcome.

I appreciate any advice you can provide. I realize that my bike in particular is a heavy load to lug around for what I want out of it, but I am looking more for a good combination of budget/speed/comfort rather than all-out speed, i.e. a road bike.

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Old 07-07-08, 03:15 PM   #2
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1) Get 1.5" slicks.
2) Get 1.5" slicks. You don't need knobbies unless you are going on soft earth/mud.
3) I hate hate hate installing cantis. I'd rather get new levers + v-brakes than install a canti.
4) Bar ends.
5) You can get fit on any kind of bike. You'll just be slower on a MTB than a road bike.
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Old 07-07-08, 03:35 PM   #3
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Those friends of mine just starting out on old mountain bikes have been very happy and comfortable on Michelin Country Rock 26x1.75 tires.

I'd hesitate to upgrade to V-brakes. You might need a little help from the LBS getting cantis properly adjusted but spending any money on upgrades that aren't easy to swap over to a new bike if and when you're allowed to buy it isn't worth it IMHO.

In addition to bar ends for multiple hand positions, spend some time searching for your perfect saddle (easy to swap) or consider upgrading to clipless pedals and shoes (also easy to swap).

Don't forget clothing. Good gloves, good shorts, and having the perfect set of layers in less than ideal conditions makes a big difference.
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Old 07-08-08, 11:11 PM   #4
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If you get slicks stay away from glass,because slicks roll over everything and pick up everything.
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Old 07-08-08, 11:19 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by mark9950 View Post
If you get slicks stay away from glass,because slicks roll over everything and pick up everything.
You should stay away from glass no matter the tire.

That being said, some tires offer better flat protection than others, usually at the expenses of weight. Tires with better flat resistance will usually be marketed as such. Schwalbe makes some wonderful ones, but they aren't cheap.
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Old 07-09-08, 02:03 AM   #6
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3) FWIW, the plastic collars on my Atlus brakes broke off years ago on my MTB. Yea, I was concerned, but it hasn't proven to be a problem.
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Old 07-09-08, 08:24 PM   #7
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Two older guys at my worksite recommend Kevlar tires for protection against flats.
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