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  1. #1
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    making mtb more road-worthy?

    I'm new to cycling, I'm a HS student without a big wallet. I love to MTB but riding on the road is also something that appeals to me. Rather than spend $500 at least for a crappy road bike, I'd like to hear your input on converting a MTB to a pretty capable road machine.

    I have a budget of maybe $150? Slightly more if it's worth it.


    This is my bike:
    Specialized Bicycle Components

    Obviously road slicks are a must:
    Specialized Bicycle Components
    Found those because they fit my bike's original tire size (I have no idea if I can get smaller width or not).

    And I was thinking bar ends, specifically these if they are efficient:
    Amazon.com : Origin 8 Bicycle Drop Bar Ends, Black : Bike Mirrors : Sports & Outdoors


    Does anyone have any suggestions? Do I maybe possibly need a new stem?

    I definitely DON'T want to get real road handlebars and have to change the shifters and all that.

  2. #2
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    For your budget, I think you've nailed your changes. The tires are going to make the biggest difference so the narrower you can find the better.

    Like these: Tom Ritchey Slicks

  3. #3
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    You can grab a set of WTB Slicks from Performance Bikes for $30.00.

    WTB Slick Flatguard Sport Tire - Performance Exclusive - Mountain Bike Tires

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shakester View Post
    You can grab a set of WTB Slicks from Performance Bikes for $30.00.

    WTB Slick Flatguard Sport Tire - Performance Exclusive - Mountain Bike Tires
    Even though my current tires are 26x2.0, will something thinner fit?

  5. #5
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    Going thinner won't help a ton, just something that rolls really well. I wouldn't even bother with bars for my part, or really many other parts, just focus on load carriage and having some budget spare to pick up good clothes/helmet for that use. Really, I just learned to run my MTB as-is and be happier with it, and not give up much in the way of trail capability. Once I got in better shape, it was good fun to chase down some of the roadies on really gucci carbon frames just because I could.

    Tires, maybe a separate helmet (with mirror setup), and just run the seat a lot higher.

  6. #6
    Trail Ninja
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    Just pump your tires up harder. Air is free. You go faster on hard surfaces like concrete and asphalt higher air pressure in your tires (don't exceed the max # on the tire sidewall).

    Possibly shoot some sealant (ex. slime) in your tubes to address the potential of flats, since the side of the road can be full of debris. Not all roads are very bike-friendly, with wide shoulders, so you might find it safer to ride in the grassy, rough, and/or sandy area beside the road, rather than close to the white line on the actual pavement (forcing cars to dodge you, since your handlebars and what not are partly in their way), and that's where the wider tires can excel. If you want something less noisy and a bit faster than normal MTB knobbies, don't get straight up slicks; go for the kind with lots of grooves and channels, which are better if there's water on the roads. Not cool to ride slicks in dry weather, only to run over water run-off from sprinklers while going around a 90 deg corner at 20 MPH and end up doing a MLB slide about 10-15 ft.

    Don't be afraid to do the DIY sealant filled tube thing. All you gotta do is follow the instructions on the package. Just beware that it's messy if it gets anywhere other than inside the tube... don't wanna anger the parents if it splatters on their garage/patio/driveway/etc. Lay down a generous amount of newspaper, cardboard, rags, or whatever. Without the sealant, at about $3-4 a tube, you might rival the cost of gasoline for the mileage you go (if you don't patch them up).

    Use that cash to have fun with friends and make memories. Given the choice between A) bike/hobby stuff B) fireworks, paint, nails for woodwork, other spontaneously creative stuff C) stylish clothes, video games, fast food, snacks D) trendy electronics (gopro, smart phone, ipod, etc)... B) and a GoPro sounds much cooler than the other choices, going by what kind of memorable stuff you can get into that you can be proud of later on. Chances are the bike gets much less time once you get a car anyways. You can dream bigger if you save up more too. I wouldn't be surprised if a HS kid could make $150 in a week of wages...

  7. #7
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    I'd do what Varaxis suggested. A solid advice.

    I don't think smaller commuter tires are a good idea, because it's not going to be that fast anyways might as well save the money. You can find plenty of cheap commuter tires at PerformanceBikes. $15 each, or less when some are onsale.

    Drop bar end, on a 640mm riser bar is not a good idea.

  8. #8
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    If you really want to make it better on the road, pickup a rigid fork for under 100 bucks, and find some decent road-inspired tires (Big Apple, Hookworm, etc) that are in 26x2ish. These will give you better speed while keeping some cushioning and ability to light off-road.

  9. #9
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    I put thousands of road miles on a '93 Rockhopper (rigid). I still have it, btw, and when I want to ride on the road, that's what I still use.

    As stated above, pump up the tire pressure to 40-45 ish. I'm running 1.95" wide tires.

    I also have full length bar ends (4 or 5" long), that are a) great for climbing hills, and b) give me some hand position options for comfort.

  10. #10
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    plus one for narrow slick tires. If you want to turn your MTB into a fast road machine look for 1" -1.25" slick tires. (Hutchinson Top Slick 1", and Bontrager 1.25"). These tires make for a fast & snappy ride - especally with a lock out fork. 10 years ago I had a deathwish and set my first speed record at 52mph days after switching to 1" front & rear (and subsequently crashed really hard!). Now I ride a standard 26x2 knobby front and 26x1.25 rear which gives a good balance of stability up front and low rolling resistance in the back where it matters most.

  11. #11
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    Just did this...

    Hey, I just registered to answer to this What I did; 1. Ridgid carbon fork 2. Bought a carbon flat bar (600mm) and trimmed it to 480mm ( more or less my shoulder width) 3. Fitted the shifters as far in as they would go to the stem end of the bar. 4. Fitted Origin8 drop bar ends. 5. Fitted the brake levers (shimano hydraulic disks) to the bar ends (making sure that with a combo of takx carbon paste, a lot of torque and bar end strength plugs that the bar ends will NEVER move) 6. Wrapped it all in Prologo bar tape. 7. Fitted a pair of Continental Speed King 2.2 semi slicks. I finished this this morning so havent ridden it far, the biggest issue I found so far is that I still expect the brake levers to be on the flat part of the bars, not the "drops"...It weighs about 9.5kgs (20lbs or so??)..

  12. #12
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    The changes you suggest are fine.

    My choice of tyre is the Specialized Nimbus Armadillo though. You don't need tread for the road and bomb-proof puncture protection.

    I like bar ends. They let you get a stretch and are great for pulling up long hills. Never seen the ones you linked to though, they are mad! ;0)

    You might also like to think about clippless pedals, or Power Grips if you don't want to spend too much. You'll feel so much more secure and comfortable powering along the road when you don't have to think about your feet.

  13. #13
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    Just wanted to chime in after riding my bike some after making my mods I mentioned above. The bike rides fine. The bar ends (after some fine tuning to make them the same level / to make the brake levers the same height & angle) provide a nice comfy riding position both in the "drops" and the "hoods". The carbon fork is a wee bit "twangy" when braking hard, but it is China carbon so I didnt expect the very very best... I get some odd looks when out riding, too... Folks dont know if it is an mtb, crosser or what...

    Shifting needs to be done in advance, though, as the shifters are well in toward the stem. I think I might move them out toward the ends (cable length allowing) before next season.

    Sorry to hijack the thread a little, but does anyone know the UCI rules regarding these bar ends in XC marathon type comps? I know that road/tt parts are not allowed, but these are mtb bar ends... I like the set up, you see and would like to keep the bike this way for racing too...

    As for the OP - any news? Oh and Mr Pig, Im an Edinburgh lad too! Well, Loanhead, if you want to be exact...

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