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MTB for road cycling

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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

MTB for road cycling

Old 08-08-11, 09:21 PM
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MTB for road cycling

Hi,

Recently (beginning of June) I picked up biking for the first time in 14 years; I dug out the last bike I'd used (1997 Giant Boulder; never rode it beyond a parking lot when I first had it). Since the start of June, I've put 830 miles on it, all of it on city roads. It works okay for me, though I've not tried much to compare it to

I recently got to ride 15 miles or so on a nice road bike (Novara Divano, 2010 iirc). So much lighter and more fun on-road! Absolutely flew! ... but expensive. And I like my brakes better.

Are there any things I could do to make the old MTB more road-friendly? I've heard that I can replace the tires (knobbly 26x1.95 kenda k850) with "slicks". How much would that help? Would a road-bike-style less-squishy saddle be nicer on pavement?

Any advice on using an MTB on-road?

Thanks!
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Old 08-08-11, 09:28 PM
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Slicks would give a better ride.
Saddle comfort is your choice.
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Old 08-08-11, 09:32 PM
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I use my mountain bike on-road all the time. I don't yet have a road bike. It's a 2007 Specialized Rockhopper. The front shocks can be locked out, which helps. I use Kenda Small Block Eight tires. They're not slick, but with ~75lb of pressure, they do pretty good. I bought them basically because I was looking for a good on/off road tire. They work great even climbing very steep hills with loose gravel & dirt.

Don't kid yourself, though. You're never going to get a mountain bike to ride like a road bike.
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Old 08-08-11, 09:35 PM
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Narrow slicks with >100psi will make you a lot faster. As will a more road-like position; you might like to try raising the seat and lowering the bars.

The next big inadequacy MTBs have on the road is too-wide gearing. A close-ratio cassette is called for.

But you can't turn a sow's ear into a silk purse. For the price of a half-decent pair of tyres and a cassette, you should be able to pick up an okay road bike (something with ally rims) in acceptable condition if you keep your eye out.
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Old 08-10-11, 09:12 PM
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Anyone have any recommendations for ~100psi slicks that'd be suitable replacements for a bike with 26 x 1.95 tires?

What would I look for in a cassette that'd be more roadworthy? Currently my cassette is a 7-speed, with 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 26, and 34 tooth sprockets. (Front chainrings are 28, 38, and 48 teeth).

Thanks,
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Old 08-10-11, 09:27 PM
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I use specialized fatboy slicks on my psuedo rode bike. Fatboys pump up to 100psi. The tires will make a big differance. I wouldn't worry about the cassette and front chain rings untill you start spinning out at top speed and you still want to go faster. That could be never.
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Old 08-10-11, 09:45 PM
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If you enjoyed the speed of the road bike, the MTB will always be a compromise.
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Old 08-10-11, 09:47 PM
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Originally Posted by signalandnoise

What would I look for in a cassette that'd be more roadworthy? Currently my cassette is a 7-speed, with 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 26, and 34 tooth sprockets. (Front chainrings are 28, 38, and 48 teeth).

Thanks,
A 13-14-15-16-17-19-21 should be OK IMO. Or you could use an 8sp starting at 12 and remove the biggest cog.
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Old 08-11-11, 08:37 AM
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Its like I said unless you are already using your highest gear and spinning out, forget about changing up the drive train. Do you often spin out in your highest gear and need more speed????
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Old 08-11-11, 09:27 AM
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Best option is to get a cheap road bike off craigslist. You won 't be happy unless you have a real road bike, trust me. You can find some good deals, and always low ball.
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Old 08-11-11, 11:28 AM
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Old mountain bikes make great utility/errand bikes with street tires.

I use these: https://www.nashbar.com/webapp/wcs/st...0052&langId=-1
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Old 08-11-11, 11:37 AM
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The big differences between the MTB and the road bike are:

1. Wheel width,

2. Wheel diameter,

3. Gearing,

4. (probably) front suspension, and

5. Flat bars vs drop bars (and the attendant change in shifters/brake levers).

If you put slicks on it, put a narrow bar on it and run the bar as low as you can, add bar ends, and swap the suspension fork for a rigid fork, you get a "hybrid" which is better suited to road use than a straight-up MTB. Plus the fatter tires and more upright position (compared to a road bike) some people find more comfortable.

But the smaller diameter wheels, coupled to the lower gearing (MTBs usually have a 44t big ring, where road bikes are 50+) means that your top speed on a flat is limited to ~44 km/h. And while the smaller wheels help with acceleration from a gearing perspective, the heavier rims and tires will hurt from an inertia perspective, with inertia usually winning.

In the short term, slicks can help. But for real road use, a real road bike is required.

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Old 08-11-11, 01:35 PM
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6. Weight.

Older/cheaper MTBs are well into the 30-35 pound range. A halfway decent road bike is at least 5 pounds lighter.
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Old 08-11-11, 01:52 PM
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I use fatboy from specialized also. THey are great, compared to the cheaper stuff that you can only pump up to 40psi. That being said, if you want to go fast, you should just buckle down and get a road bike, new or used. If you were to do a moderately paced group ride, you'll get dropped pretty quick because of the wheel diameter and width of the tires. We do have a dude that rides a 29er with slicks on our fast group ride, but I think he is also a pro mtber also. If you just want to tool around, mtb with slicks are fine, I've sadly converted my nice mtb into a commuter.
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Old 08-11-11, 02:05 PM
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1) Remember: The OP asked ,"Are there any things I could do to make the old MTB more road-friendly?"

2) My 1993 KHS errand/utility bike weighs about 25 pounds.
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Old 08-11-11, 02:18 PM
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Just switch your tires to 1.5 slicks and you will notice a huge difference.
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Old 08-11-11, 02:20 PM
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Some tires:
Conti Ultra Gatorskin 1.125
Performance Strada Slick City 1.25
Ritchey Tom Slick 1.4

48T big chainring helps (I need one bad)
11-28 (or 26) cassettes are nice. Since yours starts with a 14T it might actually be a freewheel, however.

Rigid fork is always nice.

Barends are nice also. When I ride road I spent most of my time on the barends so I put my shifters and brakes on 'em.

This 1996 Mongoose is pretty light. 24 lbs in this pic. 23 1/4 lbs now with slimmer, lighter tires and a lighter stem.

More aero than most weekend roadies.

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Old 08-11-11, 02:21 PM
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I use a richy Tom Slick 26x1 as it is fairly light and takes high PSI. Conti Gatorskin comes in a 26x1-1/8 size also and is rated to 120psi. The problem is that it seriously changes your gearing - so I often use a 26x1.5 in the rear for that reason. Light weight, higher PSI, better aerodynamics, lower rolling resistance - all of that makes a huge difference with road tires/wheels compared to mountain bike. My good road wheels are not wide, very aero (43mm deep) and weigh 3 lbs for the parir. I spent many years riding a mountain bike with roadies, but for riding with the top dogs, a mountain bike won't hack it.

What is your goal? I can ride a mountain bike all day on the road with a group going 18-20mph. More of a race team that is going to average 25mph, sprint into the mid thirties and top out near 40mph - well I can do that on a road bike, but not a mountain bike.

Last edited by chas58; 08-11-11 at 02:37 PM.
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