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Trying to expand my biking horizons but prety darned confused.

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Trying to expand my biking horizons but prety darned confused.

Old 07-28-09, 06:21 PM
  #1  
mr,grumpy 
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Trying to expand my biking horizons but prety darned confused.

I have an old MTB that I have been riding on and off for years. THIS year I have been riding it 95% ON the road as a fitness tool. I am still a fairly sucky rider but I am getting to the point where I want a dedicated road bike. I have a few things on the table but the more I research bikes, the more confused I get about what makes one different from the other. I have a few specific questions about this.

First: what is the diference between gearing on a road/touring/hybrid/MTB? I was under the impression the road bikes all came with 50+ tooth big chain rings but I have found this is not the case. I have found road bikes with 48t and MTBs with 48t What gives? How do I adjust or modify the gearing of a bicycle? Can I add a third chainring to a two ring set up? How about a big difference between sizes (sam MTB small innrer ing and road bike large outer? Can casettes be swapped out? Can individual gears in the cassetes be changed?

Secondly: what are the dementional differnces between the different types of bikes? Where and how do they overlap? How and why do people run drop bars on bikes that they use off road and flat bars for on road riding? Can drop bars be put onto MTB stems? Vice-versa?

This is what I want. I want a general purpose, drop-barred road bike that takes parts in standard sizes and I'm not affraid to use. I want it to be comfortable to ride for long periods of time and be sturdy enough to ride under various conditions with 200-230 pounds of ME on it and to carry racks/bags to make it usefull for running errands and perhaps commuting to work. I want it to go fast enough to keep my heart rate up and feel like point "B" is more than just an concept dwelling in my imagination. I want my fat, out of shape ass to be able to haul me and all my crap up the many hills that we New Englanders have. I want my MTB (as sucky as it is) to be nothing more than a MTB.

What I DON'T want is to tour across the country or even the state. Some day I would LOVE for my skill level and PTO account to support such a thing, but honestly, that's more likely to occur on a motor bike than a pedal bike. I'm not going to be racing. I don't want to spend any where close to $1500 for a bike. I don't have a garage full of spares and take-ofs.

This is what I have:

What I am hoping to do is get the old Schwinn set up as a road bike but I can't find much (any) information about it. If all I ahve to do is change a few things that's one thing but if I have to rebuilt the whole thing that's something else. What I am thinking is fitting a 50ish ring to the crank, sliding the derailure up on the seat tube, fitting bars, clamp-on shifters on the frame, swapping out the tires and calling it a day. I have been told that I can't do that. If I DID do that would I the bike fit my needs? If not, what new or used bikes would you suggest? I DO hope to buy a new bike when I hit a certain weigh-loss goal any way.

Well, there you have it. Please let me know what you think.
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Old 07-28-09, 06:37 PM
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kay, i stopped reading halfway through. too many questions.

if you plan on riding the roads, get a road bike. touring bikes are geared so that you can go up a hill with a heavy load... therefore are geared lower. road bikes are the fastest of the group. touring bikes weigh more and have more relaxed geometry. i don't bother with hybrids. mountain bikes will be heavier and slower.

if you're looking for speed, get a road bike. if you're looking for hauling stuff around on roads, get a touring bike. if you're looking to hit the trails, get a mountain bike.

any of these bikes will keep you fit on the road. a mountain bike will take more effort to bring to 30km/h than a touring bike. a touring bike more than a road bike.

it's up to you.
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Old 07-28-09, 06:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Zan View Post
kay, i stopped reading halfway through. too many questions.

if you plan on riding the roads, get a road bike. touring bikes are geared so that you can go up a hill with a heavy load... therefore are geared lower. road bikes are the fastest of the group. touring bikes weigh more and have more relaxed geometry. i don't bother with hybrids. mountain bikes will be heavier and slower.

if you're looking for speed, get a road bike. if you're looking for hauling stuff around on roads, get a touring bike. if you're looking to hit the trails, get a mountain bike.

any of these bikes will keep you fit on the road. a mountain bike will take more effort to bring to 30km/h than a touring bike. a touring bike more than a road bike.

it's up to you.
That's what I thought too! However, what I have researched does not bear out those generalizations! There seems to be quite an overlap in things like weights and gear ratios! I suppose I if I would just follow the Mantra I would be OK, but damn it, I don't like kool-aid.
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Old 07-28-09, 07:50 PM
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It will cost more than your old Schwinn is worth to convert it. You said you didn't want spend $1500, but you didn't give what you consider a realistic budget. How about this one?

http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/windsor/tourist.htm

At the $1000 price point a Surly Long Haul Trucker or Cross Check would work great also.
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Old 07-28-09, 08:09 PM
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Originally Posted by c_m_shooter View Post
It will cost more than your old Schwinn is worth to convert it. You said you didn't want spend $1500, but you didn't give what you consider a realistic budget. How about this one?

http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/windsor/tourist.htm

At the $1000 price point a Surly Long Haul Trucker or Cross Check would work great also.
I don't know what I think about those bikes at all. I never heard of them tiull just now. It sure looks the part and the words on the webpage are right. Does any one have one of these?

Also, I am bummed that those two Surly bikes came up so early in the conversation. Both of those bikes have 48 tooth big sprockets and are examples of where the stats overlap. I also realy like both of them.
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"I'm built like a marine mammal. I love the cold! "-Cosmoline
"MTBing is cheap compared to any motorsport I've done. It's very expensive compared to jogging."-ColinL
Rides:

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2006 Trek 820 (Captain Amazing)
2010 Specialized Tricross (Back in Black)
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Old 07-28-09, 08:26 PM
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Some people bash bikes direct on here, but I have met a few people with bikes from there, and I have a track bike that I bought online that probably rolled out of the same factory. The general consesnsus is that if you are handy with a wrench and can do your own setup and adjustment (including truing and tensioning the wheels) that they are good bikes. There is a thread in the Cyclocross forum right now talking about one of the Motobecane Cyclocross bikes.

I am slightly biased towards the Cross Check because I have one. I have raced Cyclocross, rode singletrack mountain bike trails, done club rides and organized centuries on it and used it for camping and loaded touring. It is a good solid all around bike.
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Old 07-28-09, 08:34 PM
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I have also done a drop bar conversion to my mountain bike and can tell you it is a pain in the ass. There are only two brake levers available for drop bars that will pull enough cable for V brakes. The geometry of the frame is different, so getting a stem that will put the bars in the correct postion is difficult. Then you need to decide what to do about shifters,(if you need them) bar ends are the easiest option, but not very durable if you crash a lot. Down tube shifters will be tricky on technical singletrack. Also, bar tape does not hold up for long when riding off road.
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Old 07-29-09, 09:15 AM
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Whoa, slow down! There are a whole lotta questions there. I suggest that you spend some time nosing around on the late, great Sheldon Brown's bicycle website, in particular the page on updating older bikes, and then come back once you've digested things.

To answer one question, though: road bikes used to have larger chainrings back in the days when the smallest available cog had 13 or 14 teeth. Now that 11-tooth cogs are the norm, you don't need as large a chainring to get the same gear ratio, so so-called "compact gearing" has come into fashion. These days a good way to tell whether a manufacturer intends a drivetrain to be used on a road bike or on a mountain/touring bike is to look at the spread between the largest and smallest cogs on the cassette. My Surly Long Haul Trucker, for instance, comes with an 11-34 cassette, to give a low gear while pedaling a load uphill; that makes the difference between gears relatively large but that's not a problem for touring. The Surly Cross Check, on the other hand, comes with a 12-25 cassette, giving a smaller gear range but closer steps between gears. Some road bike cassettes have a very narrow range (12-21, for instance), which allows racers to fine-tune their shifting to the most efficient gear.

If you want a good, reliable go-fast bike for a heavy person that doesn't cost a mint, the Surly Cross Check would be hard to beat. You could get a lighter bike, but as a fellow Clyde I would recommend starting with something sturdy.
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Old 07-29-09, 11:24 AM
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I'd suggest getting a bike with a triple (3 chain rings). You might be able to get away with a "road triple" (one that has a 30 tooth small chain ring) rather than a "mountain triple" (with a 24/26 tooth small chain ring). Some touring bikes come with "road triples"; some come with "mountain triples". I'd suggest getting a 11/12->32/34 rear cassette.

People generally have more issues with not having low-enough gearing than having gearing that is not high-enough. Keep in mind that it's easy going down hills.

It's expensive to switch between dropped and upright handle bars. Upright bars are much better for rough terrain. Dropped bars are better for longer/faster riding.

Don't worry too much about changing the gearing. Just pick a bike with the gearing that you want.


You don't need to go fast to keep your heart rate up. You just need to be expending effort!


A touring bike (like the Surly LHT) or a xcross bike (like the Surly Cross Check) would probably be close to ideal for you. (The Jamis Aurora is another good choice.) You can spend about $1000 and get quite a nice bike.

The BD Windsor Tourist is decent but I think some people have had problems with the wheels.

One advantage of the touring or xcross bike is that you can use wider tires than most road bikes will allow. These won't be significantly slower than a road (ie, racing bike) but will be more versitile and more sturdy.

Check out the gear calculator on Sheldon Brown's website to see how the number of teeth on the cogs and chainrings effect the gearing and the speed.

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Old 07-29-09, 11:25 AM
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If you are looking for cheap.

Try new road tires. If that works having 2 sets of wheels might make conversion back and forth easier.

Adjustable handle bars might help.

Keep the mountain bike as is buy a folding bike for touring as it will be easier to transport and store.

As far as gearing goes,

Can casettes [FOR A FREEHUB] be swapped out? Yes but it is icky. Make sure you do not have a freewheel, which can be replaced but not swapped. Consider a Shimano mega range. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freehub
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Old 07-29-09, 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by brianogilvie View Post
Whoa, slow down! There are a whole lotta questions there. I suggest that you spend some time nosing around on the late, great Sheldon Brown's bicycle website, in particular the page on updating older bikes, .......
NOOOOOOoooooooo...... say it ain't so! I have read SO much of his content. He is a local hero to me. I had hoped to actually meet him some day. Oh well. Thank you for pointing me to that page though, looks to be a great read. Be back later!
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"MTBing is cheap compared to any motorsport I've done. It's very expensive compared to jogging."-ColinL
Rides:

1980ish Raleigh Marathon (Vintage Steel)
2006 Trek 820 (Captain Amazing)
2010 Specialized Tricross (Back in Black)
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Old 07-29-09, 11:59 AM
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A few general things:

1. a roadster will be geared higher overall than an MTB. It's generally easier to pedal on pavement than through mud, sand, and rocks.

2. The frame is built differently as the road rider does not (usually!) need to throw his body all over the place to keep the rubber side down.
The old standard for a V-frame road bike was to be able to stand comfortably while straddling the top tube. A lot of new roadsters have "compact" frames with sloping top tubes.

3. You will likely spend more for a similarly-equipped road bike than you would for an MTB. An MTB frame can be as stiff as possible; you have suspension and fat tires to soak up the bumps.
Not so with a roadster. Skinny, high-pressure tires and no suspension means the frame has to do the work.
Good frames that are comfortable to ride and also light are expensive. (carbon fiber, butted chrome-moly steel, titanium)
Cheaper road frames (aluminum) tend to be somewhat stiff...To the point of being uncomfortable.

If you check sales and such, I would say you could get a "nice" roadster in the 1000.00 dollar range.
My old Trek 2120 had an MSRP of 1500.00, and I got in at a clearance price of 1000.00.
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Old 07-29-09, 02:43 PM
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There is a lot of good advice here. If you simply take a look at the cost of Bifters and New brakes, MTB brakes will not work with Bifters. You could get bar end or downtube shifters but the geometry is different in the head tube and stem area. What is wrong with your Peugeot for your road needs?
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