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  1. #1
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    New question here. Are Mountain Bikes Good For Urban Riding?

    Are mountain bikes good for urban riding?

    I see a lot of mountain bikes in NYC. I don't know why so many people want to ride a mountain bike in a city; but apparently they do, and I'm wondering if I'm missing out on something.

  2. #2
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    i ride my mountain bike everywhere it helps keep the ride fun for me. i mean if im riding along the road and i get bored i can find a dirt path somewhere take it and see where it goes and there is always something around to challenge yourself such as stairs,drops off walls and such or just jumping some speed bumps. it really just helps to keep things interesting. i have tried to commute on a sirrus before but it was just boring for me and every time i would go a different way to try and make it interesting i always found something new i wanted to try but i couldnt because of the bike i was on now i just use the same bike i ride on the trails and i am a happy camper.so are mountain bikes good for urban riding i say yes but any bike that gets you out to ride is good for urban riding it really just depends on the person and what they want to accomplish.
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  3. #3
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    Just my opinions.

    1. MTB has a more upright position. I just cant imagine road bike/cx positioning when you have to be aware of the nutjob cars and cabs that are on the streets of NYC.

    2. Horrendous roads. Potholes, broken up streets , gratings , broken bottles , pampers , you name it youll come across it. Seems easier with a MTB to handle terrain than with a road bike.

    3. On paper wouldnt disc brakes handle sudden city stopping and cars cutting you off better in rainy or wet conditions ?

    4. I would think winter riding is basically out of the question. MTB you can have skinny tires all the way to spiked snow tires.

  4. #4
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    A lightweight MTB with slicks isn't that much slower than a road bike.
    No, YOU don't understand. You're making an ass of yourself for all of eternity.

  5. #5
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    I think it is simply because it is what they have. Most of those bikes a re really cheap dept bikes, and dept store bikes are mostly mountain bikes (or at least a loose interpretation of a real mountain bike).

    For those comparing mtb bikes to road racing bikes for city use, the majority of bikes I see in NYC are really neither. There are tons of bikes and designs out there better suited for city riding than a true mtb with slicks, or a road racing bike.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  6. #6
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    I ride my mtb all the time around town. I'm not in a huge city like NY, but if I'm riding laps around my town for fitness, I jump on the mtb. If I wan to get in some miles out on the back roads, I jump on the road bike. For me it's different tools for different jobs.

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    I have an old full rigid Giant mountain bike I am converting over to road/city riding.
    Partly because what it is and its durability and partly because it is cheap and if somebody jacks it, I am not out of a lot of money. I will probably only have $100 total in it when done.

    I would say you wouldn't want full suspension and maybe not any suspension at all.
    I would also go with a slick to semi-slick tire but that is just me.
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  8. #8
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    I see a lot of "jeeps" and SUVs in town. I don't know why so many people want to drive a "jeep" or SUV in a city; but apparently they do, and I'm wondering if I'm missing out on something.

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

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    A lot of similar replies to what I think. I had a road bike and a 26er mtb when I lived in the city. I rode the roadie for speed and fitness riding but for a commuter bike I just put slicks on the mtb bike. Way more comfortable, upright riding position. Better for weaving in and out of traffic. Great for hopping kurbs, bike paths, potholes etc and generally the tyres were much less prone to punctures riding over city streets with rubbish, broken glass etc. I much prefer a mtb for a commuter than a road bike.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wmac View Post
    A lightweight MTB with slicks isn't that much slower than a road bike.
    I'd have to disagree, if we're talking about top end speeds (over about 25-30mph) there is a surprising amount of difference and that's almost entirely down to the aerodynamics of flat bars vs drops. Having said that I think an MTB on slicks can be a great commuter bike because a proper road bike can beat you up a bit on rough roads and the more upright position of the MTB is better for seeing over the tops of cars...A big bonus in the city.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hogdog View Post
    I'd have to disagree, if we're talking about top end speeds (over about 25-30mph) there is a surprising amount of difference and that's almost entirely down to the aerodynamics of flat bars vs drops. Having said that I think an MTB on slicks can be a great commuter bike because a proper road bike can beat you up a bit on rough roads and the more upright position of the MTB is better for seeing over the tops of cars...A big bonus in the city.
    Agree with all of this but who really cares about top end speed when commuting.

  12. #12
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    Hi TomBrooklyn, I'm PetefromBrooklyn, welcome to the site.
    Think some members nailed it.
    MTB = better braking, more upright, less pinch flats, better at obstacles and sh!ty roads.
    For smoother roads with less going on a roadbike is the way to go.
    Where do you ride trails?
    Round and round we go

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiwi_GR_Biker View Post
    Agree with all of this but who really cares about top end speed when commuting.

    It also makes a big difference if your pedaling into a headwind but generally speaking an MTB with the right mods would be my choice for a commuter/city bike.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hogdog View Post
    It also makes a big difference if your pedaling into a headwind but generally speaking an MTB with the right mods would be my choice for a commuter/city bike.
    Oh yeah, headwinds. I'd forgotten about those. Worse than hills.

  15. #15
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    I have a 22 lb MTB and a 20 lb road bike and ride them both around the same 17 mile loop or 30 mile loop. The difference in time for my MTB with slicks and my road bike is +\- 2 minutes. I'd disagree with me too if I were comparing a 32 lb MTB vs a 20 lb road bike, but I said a "lightweight MTB."
    No, YOU don't understand. You're making an ass of yourself for all of eternity.

  16. #16
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    Most all the mtb's in NYC are relatively cheap or old used bikes, so if they get stolen it's no biggie. I love my roadie but if I lived in NYC I would ride an mtb to deal with all the potholes and crappy roads, I would destroy road wheels in no time not to mention rattle a frame to pieces. I remember seeing one bike on wall street with duct tape all over the frame and decals, sporting an azonic outlaw wheelset. Only an mtber would notice something like that

  17. #17
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    I love riding my CX bike around town compared to my MTB, but I can see the benefit of disks (esp hydro) on the MTB in the city. I have much more faith in my MTB brakes over the canti's on my CX bike.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by wmac View Post
    I have a 22 lb MTB and a 20 lb road bike and ride them both around the same 17 mile loop or 30 mile loop. The difference in time for my MTB with slicks and my road bike is +\- 2 minutes. I'd disagree with me too if I were comparing a 32 lb MTB vs a 20 lb road bike, but I said a "lightweight MTB."
    22lb mtb with knobby tires?

    a 22lb mountain bike cost a whole lot more than a 20lb road bike.

  19. #19
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    I could only afford one bike. I like to ride a lot, and here is my train of thought. If I don't have time to make it out to the trail, I can still ride. If I had gotten a road bike, I wouldn't have the same freedom. You can ride a mountain bike anywhere, anytime, any condition. Good luck with a road bike anywhere but a road.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob13bob View Post
    22lb mtb with knobby tires?

    a 22lb mountain bike cost a whole lot more than a 20lb road bike.

    Sette Serum Pro XT Carbon Mountain Bike | Sette | Brand | www.PricePoint.com
    No, YOU don't understand. You're making an ass of yourself for all of eternity.

  21. #21
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    And your point is..............what?
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by kapusta View Post
    And your point is..............what?
    That a 22lb MTB isn't that expensive compared to a 20lb road bike. Even a 27 lb MTB with slicks isn't that much slower than a 20lb road bike. And the BIG point is five minutes slower over a 15 mile commute isn't the end of the world - but riding 23c tires @ 105 psi and drop bars in the name of speed during a commute is stupid.
    No, YOU don't understand. You're making an ass of yourself for all of eternity.

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    Quote Originally Posted by theMeat View Post
    Where do you ride trails?
    Hi Pete. I ride mainly in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and a little bit over the GW Bridge in NJ. I don't come across many trails. There's a few places the paths are washed out in Prospect Park. There's a little dirt hill besides the stairway that accesses the the shore path from the 4th Avenue overpass over the Belt Parkway. There's a few parks with some kind of hardpack path. I'd say I come across trails pretty rarely. There are some rough patches of road, and occasional potholes all over.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by wmac View Post
    That a 22lb MTB isn't that expensive compared to a 20lb road bike.
    You linked to a 22.5 lb mtb coating $1,700
    20 seconds of searching on the same site turns up a 19.5 lb road bike costing $800.
    Sette Vitale 2.0 Tiagra Road Bike | Sette | Brand | www.PricePoint.com
    That's a really big price difference. The mtb weighing 22.5 lb is more than double the price of the road bike weighing 19.5 lb.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by TomBrooklyn View Post
    Hi Pete. I ride mainly in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and a little bit over the GW Bridge in NJ. I don't come across many trails. There's a few places the paths are washed out in Prospect Park. There's a little dirt hill besides the stairway that accesses the the shore path from the 4th Avenue overpass over the Belt Parkway. There's a few parks with some kind of hardpack path. I'd say I come across trails pretty rarely. There are some rough patches of road, and occasional potholes all over.
    Yeah, thought I might learn something, that's what I figured. Well since this is a mtb site and all I'll throw out there that Cunningham Park in Queens is the closest to you trails I know of that're worth the trip. It's not huge, and there's not a whole lot of elevation, but it's packed full of all levels/types of trails and even has a couple dirt jump and pump tracks.
    here's a linky Cunningham Park Mountain Bike Trail Map | NYC Bike Maps

    Oh, and if you've never done the 5 boro bike tour you should. Can't explain how cool it is to ride the path, like along the FDR drive with 10,000 fellow cyclists.
    Round and round we go

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    We the people ...

    Mainly, I'm not looking for trails. I was just thinking about getting a new used bike for local transportation, and many of the bikes I see for sale are mountain bikes.

    My current ride, a road bike, has several suboptimal things about it. To wit,
    - it isn't geared low enough
    - the tires, at 27" x 1 1/4" are on the skinny side for me and my luggage (300 to 340 lbs depending on what I'm carrying in back)
    - it's not the best with potholes, etc.
    - I don't need the drop handlebars. I never ride in the drops.
    - The brakes aren't the best. They barely work in the rain. I get by because I usually don't go that fast.

    Those are all things a mountain bike could address, but on the other hand, I don't want to lose efficiency to very fat rough tires and a suspension, or the ability to go fast where possible with tall gearing. I am already the slowest rider on the road. I only average 6 mph.

    Also, I need fenders since I ride in all weather conditions. Can mountain bikes be fitted with fenders?

  27. #27
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    Yes, mtbs cab be fitted with fenders. Not sure bout all makes and models.
    Efficiency can be affected, but I'd argue that yours would go up do to the fact you won't be slowing down for rough surfaces as much, you'll see down the road better, have more confidence in your brakes, and the shorter gearing and longer crank arms will get you back up to speed quicker with less energy.
    For your use I'd recommend a bike with a rigid fork, one that has holes for racks, or maybe even a comfort or hybrid.
    Aluminum framed bikes tend to be less forgiving, meaning the road chatter travels throu to the grips and saddle more, and a decent set or canti brakes althou not as good at wet conditions as disc, should be all you want or need.
    Round and round we go

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by theMeat View Post
    Yeah, thought I might learn something, that's what I figured. Well since this is a mtb site and all I'll throw out there that Cunningham Park in Queens is the closest to you trails I know of that're worth the trip. It's not huge, and there's not a whole lot of elevation, but it's packed full of all levels/types of trails and even has a couple dirt jump and pump tracks.
    here's a linky Cunningham Park Mountain Bike Trail Map | NYC Bike Maps

    Oh, and if you've never done the 5 boro bike tour you should. Can't explain how cool it is to ride the path, like along the FDR drive with 10,000 fellow cyclists.
    I think the 5-Boro Tour was 32,000 the time I did it (2008 or 2009?). It was pretty cool (especially the FDR part), but not sure I would do it again. It was the first time I have ever been stuck dead in all-bike traffic. One section took us 45 minutes to go 4 blocks, and then we were stuck for about 1-1/2 hours at a near dead stop in Brooklyn on some raised highway that we could not get off of. We are not slow riders, but it still took us about 7-8 hours to do the 42 mile ride due to the number of people clogging the streets. However, the weather was nice, and the people were really awesome. Almost everyone I was stuck next to in traffic was great to talk with. Great vibes all around.

    A few days later my wife and I went back into the city with our bikes and did our own ride (we try to get up there and do so once a year). It was really much nicer. But the 5BT is just so unbelievable, you've got to do it once.

    I will say that taking my bike into NYC for a day is one of my greatest joys on a bike.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  29. #29
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    Lots of current MTBs do not have mounts for racks or fenders. Some do. Surly and Salsa seem to be among favorite brands there ... I don't know if you can find those in whatever budget you may have in mind.
    Detachable fenders are mainly not all that good at keeping bike and rider clean.
    Fat tires don't have to be knobby - but you might not want the fattest out there anyway for urban transportation.

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  30. #30
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    Yes Kapusta, every cyclist should do it at least once. Think they sell 32,000 spots and that's not counting the people who just ride without a tag. The last few years they've been selling out within a few hours.
    Riding throu central Park and over the Verrazano Bridge isn't to shabby neither.
    Getting caught up in a cluster f@ck is no fun. We either get there early to get to the front of the pack and stay there, or go for breakfast and start 30-60 minutes after the madness.
    Round and round we go

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by perttime View Post
    I see a lot of "jeeps" and SUVs in town. I don't know why so many people want to drive a "jeep" or SUV in a city; but apparently they do, and I'm wondering if I'm missing out on something.
    You (and I) are probably benefiting as opposed to missing out. The big SUV's (like my friend's FJ w/ the factory bike rack on top) are too tall to clear a lot of Washington, DC area garages- even with the bike rack fully retracted

  32. #32
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    Re: Are Mountain Bikes Good For Urban Riding?

    Man god forbid you get diarrhea during that bike tour.

    Cunningham is pretty awesome. I know there's a few flatter trails but it really is fun.

    As for mtb slowing you down further. Honestly browse around and maybe ask questions in the Clydesdale forums. Having a bike that can handle the terrain, your weight, and brake confidently IMO will negate any worries about top speed. At the end of the day its about having fun.

  33. #33
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    I ride my MTB all the time on pavement. I'll some times go out on 40 mile bike path rides. I've done weekend tours around Chicago and Indianapolis (40miles each) on an old 1999 FSR.

    Now I would like a road bike because it would be a bit easier (and cut down on time) to do those 80-200mile rides, however for urban touring a MTB is plenty fine.

    I will add that a full suspension MTB is actually quite nice in the urban environment and that's what i ride most of the time there, it's such a nice ride and you can roll anywhere (like on sidewalks) with comfort.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by kapusta View Post
    You linked to a 22.5 lb mtb coating $1,700
    20 seconds of searching on the same site turns up a 19.5 lb road bike costing $800.
    Sette Vitale 2.0 Tiagra Road Bike | Sette | Brand | www.PricePoint.com
    That's a really big price difference. The mtb weighing 22.5 lb is more than double the price of the road bike weighing 19.5 lb.
    It was an example. People drop $1700 on name brand road bikes all the time. I own both and, like I said, even an $800 27lb MTB with slicks isn't going to be that much slower than an $800 19.5 lb road bike. Especially for commuting.
    No, YOU don't understand. You're making an ass of yourself for all of eternity.

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    Re: Are Mountain Bikes Good For Urban Riding?

    Quote Originally Posted by wmac View Post
    It was an example. People drop $1700 on name brand road bikes all the time. I own both and, like I said, even an $800 27lb MTB with slicks isn't going to be that much slower than an $800 19.5 lb road bike. Especially for commuting.
    It's a lot slower. It depends on wind and hills. Why have mountain bike and put slicks on it

  36. #36
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    I vote mtb for urban crawling. The only caveat I would have is the width of your bars... With the tendency for wider bars these days, gettin' squeezed in traffic can be a bit close.

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    Here's something to consider too.

    Triathletes want paved road

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by wmac View Post
    I own both and, like I said, even an $800 27lb MTB with slicks isn't going to be that much slower than an $800 19.5 lb road bike. Especially for commuting.
    Yeah, I've owned both too. I think your experience with this is the exception, not the rule. Most people WOULD notice a real difference between a typical 27 lb $800 mtb and a typical $800 road bike.

    Of course, speed is not everything on a commuter, anyways. But most people would notice a difference.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  39. #39
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    I always thought it was funny that people think that commuting on a road bike is such an ordeal, and go off on rants about comfort and potholes etc.

    A bike commute is maybe an hour? I dont think an hour bike ride necessitates huge tires for comfort when we ride for fun for many hours at a time on road bikes, with narrow high pressure tires and no one complains about comfort.

    I commuted on 23 and 25c's. Im on the bike for 30 minutes, its not even sort of an issue. If I can do a century on a road racing bike, I can commute at a casual pace for 30 minutes.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by One Pivot View Post
    A bike commute is maybe an hour? I dont think an hour bike ride necessitates huge tires for comfort when we ride for fun for many hours at a time on road bikes, with narrow high pressure tires and no one complains about comfort.
    .
    I do I am totally over 23c tires for the roads around me, ESPECIALLY for a century. I run 32-35c at lower pressures all the time, now. Of course, I don't have matching bike clothes, and even if I did I would not call it a "kit", so what do I know

    Some of the road riders around here complain a lot about the fact that so many of the back roads are rough chipseal. I tell them to get some fatter tires and quit their whining.

    However, I think your point is that you don't need to run a set of 2.0's to be comfortable and I agree. For me, 32s are great for pretty much anything paved, and even for gravel / dirt roads.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  41. #41
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    I like bigger tires too, but my bike seems to top out around 27's. Ive been happy with 25's.

    Road bikes are deceptive. A proper road bike is actually quite a bit more comfortable than a mountain bike for around town. Its designed to sit on, comfortably, for hours on end. I think the appearance scares people away and the choose a less comfortable mountain bike, or even worse a "comfort" bike.

    If you really want to feel wrecked, spend a day on a beach cruiser!

  42. #42
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    Re: Are Mountain Bikes Good For Urban Riding?

    They are designed for that... But for no traffic straight aheads. Having to posture up to look around sucks and it feels like your face is right above the ground.

    I dunno road bikes seem so non versatile. Cyclocross bikes are supposed to be good go between but lack of suspension means you still have to be extra cautious after during and after winter.

  43. #43
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    Guys: Dude is 300+ lbs and is riding in Manhattan. Keep arguing.
    No, YOU don't understand. You're making an ass of yourself for all of eternity.

  44. #44
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    Plus, the gearing on a MTB is much lower than on a road bike.
    No, YOU don't understand. You're making an ass of yourself for all of eternity.

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    We the people ...

    Quote Originally Posted by manmythlegend View Post
    Just my opinions.

    1. MTB has a more upright position.

    2. Horrendous roads. Potholes, broken up streets , gratings ,

    3. On paper wouldnt disc brakes handle sudden city stopping and cars cutting you off better in rainy or wet conditions ?

    4. I would think winter riding is basically out of the question. MTB you can have skinny tires all the way to spiked snow tires.
    Those are all good reasons.

    1. I would prefer being more upright. I already have my handlebars set to their highest position and I virtually never ride in the drops.

    2. I am often dodging and stressing over potholes, gratings, and the like.

    3. LoL about the brakes. When it's raining, my brakes become barely functional. I have to ride slowly and look way ahead to predict stops early. And I do ride in the rain quite a bit. That brings up the question of fenders. I do need good fenders to keep all the dirty road spray off of me.

    4. I can actually ride OK in fresh snow until it gets over about 3" deep. The slick skinny tires cut through and find the pavement. Hard snow and ice, and any ridges, are problematic.

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    FWIW, I converted a 29" Fuji Nevada 1.9 to road only use, by changing to a 32mm tire (85psi), changing the bars to a riser style, and changing the seat to something with a bit of suspension in it.
    I'm sitting more upright than a std. MTB, it rides nice, especially when bombing over rough pavement, and passing roadies
    The only real issue is a lack of top gear ... Heck, unless it's a very steep and long hill, I'm only using the top 3 gears on the bike ... Might fix that with a gear change, someday.

    I highly recommend a converted MTB for your situation.
    Fenders/kickstand/rear rack ... Shouldn't be a problem with the right bike.

    But they might be, if you choose the wrong MTB for street use.

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