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29er MTB with slicks Vs. Road Bike

Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

29er MTB with slicks Vs. Road Bike

Old 04-28-09, 02:15 PM
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MountainKing
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29er MTB with slicks Vs. Road Bike

Thought I'd ask this question on this forum since many of you guys may of been dropped by MTBers on the road or have both an MTB and road bike and can make some speed comparisons. I have chosen an MTB for trails, gravel roads, and general pavement rides. I only have room for one bike, I have too much stuff in the garage already.

I will be going with a 29er. I like the bigger wheels. The 26ers are a bit too small for me and I think they look kind of like kids bikes.

I may decide to do some roadie group rides when I get the 29er. Guys in the MTB forums said go with an HT. Any ways, will my 29er HT MTB with high psi slicks be able to hang with roadies provided they have the same fitness level I am? Handling wise will a 29er HT MTB with high psi slicks be able to handle long technical descents well? What about climbs? Provided I buy a nice lightweight MTB I shouldn't struggle to keep up with a roadie with the same fitness level I gather correct?
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Old 04-28-09, 02:26 PM
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You likely will have a hard time keeping up with riders on road bikes for several reasons:

1. The gearing on a mountain bike is likely to be much shorter than that of a road bike.
2. Mountain bikes generally have a much more upright riding position, which will lead to greater aerodynamic drag.
3. An MTB fork will waste some energy in its shock travel.

Bottom line is that while you'll certainly be able to ride over pavement, it's unlikely you'll be as fast as a purpose built road bike. This is why road bikes exist, incidentally.

Edit: This is all assuming that the other riders are of comparable fitness to you and that they're riding at fast pace.

Last edited by RazorWind; 04-28-09 at 02:29 PM.
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Old 04-28-09, 02:32 PM
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So perhaps a 29er with no front suspension to reduce shock travel, and maybe a different set of bars so I can get a bit of a more aero dynamic position...or perhaps just make adjustments to the seat so that I could have more of an aggressive stance.
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Old 04-28-09, 02:38 PM
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I don't think there would be much you can do about the seat adjustment because a 29er geometry is so much different from a road bike geometry.

29er and road bikes don't really compare in my opinion and I have both. Even when I put slicks (32s) on my bike it still feels heavy and sluggish. Not nearly as fast in turns or accelerations. Top speed is lower because I'm being hit by so much wind.
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Old 04-28-09, 02:48 PM
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if the roadies are exactly the same fitness level as you they would be faster. if you are very strong you may be ok
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Old 04-28-09, 02:54 PM
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Yeah, road bikes are made for a reason, and mountain bikes are made for a reason.

You'd probably have better luck with a Cyclo-cross bike.
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Old 04-28-09, 03:20 PM
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casual road rides w/ a hard tail and step gearing? You'll be ok, and get quick on the mtb fast. You may have some trouble with the hammerfests.
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Old 04-28-09, 03:27 PM
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Get a cyclocross bike...just sayin... good for "trails, gravel roads and pavement."
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Old 04-28-09, 03:34 PM
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Yep, a guy that rides with me pretty regularly has a Scott CX bike. It's really not that different than a road bike, barring a few geometry specs.
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Old 04-28-09, 03:45 PM
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I have a HT 29er that's as light weight as my cross bike (20lbs) and with the same size tires, I notice a sizable difference in speed between the two. One distinct difference is top end. My cross bike has much higher gearing than the MTB. Other is rider orientation. MTB I'm sitting upright. Cross I'm more aero, but not as much as my road bike. I only notice a small difference in speed between my cross bike and road bike.
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Old 04-28-09, 03:46 PM
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Yeah, but I'd have a hard time trying to get down some of the decents on a CX bike that I regularly take my 29er down.

IMO, you can't have a single bike that will excel at everything or even two things. Get the 29er for the mountain and get a roadie for the roads. That's what I have. I even have a spare set of 32 slicks for the 29er and it's collecting dust. Even with the slicks, it doesn't compare to the road bike.

Now, I'm not saying you can't go on those group rides with the roadies. In fact, you should. Then get on a road bike and try the same ride.
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Old 04-28-09, 03:49 PM
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To me ...

Road Bike = Endurance Training
MTB (regular and 29ers) with Road Slicks = Resistance Training

Either way, you win by cycling.
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Old 04-28-09, 03:50 PM
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You won't be as fast as someone with the same fitness on a road bike. But on climbs where the speed and thus the aero penalty is less, you'll be closer. On the flat you will have to work harder or stay in the draft, or both.

A road tired MTB can go very fast on technical descents. Your talent will be the limiter, not the bike. But aerodynamics will noticeably limit your speed on faster descents.

If you don't have a fork lockout you will be hating life on the road. Every time you stand up on climbs you'll be bouncing and wasting energy.

The biggest problem with a MTB for road use is the limited hand position. Not being able to move your hands will make your arms and shoulders tire more quickly. That can be a big factor for comfort on longer rides. Bar ends are uncool but would give you a somewhat different positon.
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Old 04-28-09, 03:51 PM
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Yep, if you get a bike that's kind of good at two things it will excel at neither. This is very hard to get across to many customers in the shop.
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Old 04-28-09, 03:54 PM
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I ride a MTB with Almost slicks and have a good fitness level and I love the bike but it doesnt hang with the dedacated road bikes. I ride the streets with my kids and friends and love the ability to go through grass and play in the buisness park hopping curbs so for me I would go with the MTB but if the kids were not in the picture I would deffinatly go with the roadie. There is nothing like carving around on one and if you already have a set of friends that ride roadies it is a no brainer!!!
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Old 04-28-09, 03:57 PM
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I use a fully rigid MTB with slicks through the winter. It definitely keeps you fit! It's tough to give an average as the difference varies depending on the gradient / wind / etc. but I would say:

- on slight inclining gradients which last for, say, over a mile, your buddies on road bikes will be 5-6 mph faster than you if they are identical fitness;

- on the flat, maybe 4-7 mph;

- on steep inclines, anything - 3 mph or more;

- on descents, maybe only 2-4 mph quicker, but maybe as much as 8-10 mph.

YMMV but these are the sorts of performance increase I have found to exist this year so far (at least until I'm used to being back on the road bike for a month or so).
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Old 04-28-09, 03:58 PM
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I just remembered that I started riding on a crappy Giant Boulder SE with slicks on it. I used to ride a lot on that, and then I got a road bike.

Then I hauled ass. Now I'm slow again.
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Old 04-28-09, 04:18 PM
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If you can hang with a fast group ride on a MTB, more power to you. That would be rockin'.
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Old 04-28-09, 05:17 PM
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Old 04-28-09, 06:06 PM
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Mountain bike:
1. It's heavier
2. It's less aero dynamic
3. It has more rolling resistance
4. It doesn't transfer energy to the road as well.
Road bike:
Likes only pavement!

That said, get the tires, and get out there and ride!

(But don't get on a nice road bike. You don't wanna know....)
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Old 04-28-09, 06:17 PM
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Like some others here, I also have a road bike, a CX'er and a hardtail MTB (26")... For my two cents, I'd say it's impossible to have a bike that'll keep up on truly fast road rides and be able to handle technical trails with ease. When they make that bike, I'll buy one.

In the meantime, I'll use the three that I have depending on the goal of the day's ride.

The cyclocrosser comes the closest to what you're looking for - it just falls a bit short at each end of the road-trail spectrum.

Best of luck.
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Old 04-28-09, 07:20 PM
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I was in the same dilemma as you, but I am ordering my Gary Fisher Presidio tomorrow afternoon! I originally bought a Trek 6500 for myself and a 4500 for my wife after our wedding. I was a mtbr for almost 10 years so I never even considered road bikes till about a year ago when I got into road racing (as a spectator). I wanted both kinds of bikes but just can't afford it. I came across cyclocross on these forums and haven't looked back. I figure if I want to join a club and do rides, 23c slicks will work, and if I want to do some off roading I hit up some 32s or the biggest that will fit. I haven't been this excited in years about biking!
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Old 04-28-09, 08:02 PM
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A guy that rides in our group is always trying out new bikes, never know what he'll show up on came out with a 29er a few weeks ago, he hung with us on flats if we didn't push it but we ended up holding back on all the hills and when we starting going into a headwind. After ride he said we'll that was different, and never again! This guy is above average for our group and on a roadbike is very strong.
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Old 04-28-09, 08:14 PM
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As a roadie/mtbr who just went from a 26 to a 29er, I must agree with the last post from youcoming, unless you are that much stronger...or the rest of the roadies slack off to help you out...its going to be tough to stay with the group on a 29er. The do roll out really well though with slicks and they will make you a very strong rider if you train on one.

I was and still am very favorably impressed with the speed on my 29er, but it simply cannot hang with my road bike in terms of speed and range of distance to be covered.
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Old 04-29-09, 04:57 AM
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Sounds like it's unanimous, an mtb will not keep up with a roadie even with slicks. Oh well, guess I'll just find out if that's so after I get one.
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