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  1. #1
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    26" slics v. 700c road

    I rode about 20 miles around downtown Atlanta (decent hills around there) on my old SS mountain bike with 1.5 slics on it yesterday. I think that if i had not been riding with friends, i would have been dropped. i have a 40/16 rear ratio and I am pretty fit. but two guys on road bikes, a fixie, and a flat-bar commuter bike smoked me at everything. i feel like i am doing more work than i should and it does not seem fun.

    so i want a bike that is fun to ride around town at a fast pace. how much faster might i be on a road bike, maybe a single-speed, over the 26" bike with slics? i know this is very subjective, but i just want some experiences of people who have ridden both and if switching will make a big difference.

    I am not looking for a commuter bike per se, just a recreational road bike for longer rides around town.
    Last edited by mack_turtle; 10-24-2010 at 07:03 PM.

  2. #2
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    You'll be much faster on a road bike with 700's. I've commuted on both and my road bike does all the commuting now. You can try one of those road bikes with flat bars to ease the transition.
    "When life gives you lemons, I say F@#% the lemons and bail."

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle
    i have a 40/16 rear ratio and I am pretty fit. but two guys on road bikes, a fixie, and a flat-bar commuter bike smoked me at everything. i feel like i am doing more work than i should and it does not seem fun.

    so i want a bike that is fun to ride around town at a fast pace. how much faster might i be on a road bike, maybe a single-speed, over the 26" bike with slics?
    It has virtually nothing to do with wheel size. Does anyone always have to think that bigger is always better?

    Wheel size contributes significantly to the general drag only when riding over uneven surfaces. Roads do not qualify.

    The true reasons why they were faster were:
    - their far more aerodynamic riding position: road bike requires no explanation in this aspect; the flat-bar commuter caused the other bloke to lean towards the front far more than you did; at higher speeds, air resistance contributes about 80% to the drag you have to overcome
    - their riding position on road bikes is better optimized for leg muscle effort thus making it further more efficient
    - in case of the commuter, the better gearing and ability to adjust it helped for sure; the bloke on the fixed gear road bike may had chosen his ratio better than you did, at least at higher speeds
    - tire pressure - were your tires pumped as hard as theirs were?

    Obviously, you can convert your hardware to be as fast as they were, but it will come at a price of ride comfort and usability on anything but smooth roads. To me, bikes heavily tuned for speed are horrid at doing almost anything else other than fast road running and are pretty useless as such.

  4. #4
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    ^those are all reasons that seem to point to a road bike of some sort being superior to my 26" single-speed. i had my 26x1.5 tires at 80 psi, which is the max rated pressure for Maxxis Detonators. it's fun for errands, but i am starting to feel that it's a wasted effort for longer recreational rides. I have a 26" Monocog set up for trail riding and it feels like i am trying to make this old Fuji do something it was never meant to do. it's like running in old Chuck Taylors: fun and classy at first, but running with a bunch of folks in proper running gear makes it feel like you're carrying a ton of bricks.

  5. #5
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    Road bike.

    If you want it to be more utilitarian, make sure to get one that will accept a rack, and maybe fenders. I don't know your area, but around the Pacific Northwest, they expand the range of comfortable riding conditions a lot.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  6. #6
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    Why not you consider gear MTB with slick?

    I don't know what's the obsess with SS??? The day I ever convert from SS to gear bike. I never turn back.

    If you want speed. Multi-Gear bicycle is the way to go.

  7. #7
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    that's what i was thinking upon ruminating over this thread. SS is really fun on the trails, but it slows me down on pavement. gears it be

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle
    I rode about 20 miles around downtown Atlanta (decent hills around there) on my old SS mountain bike with 1.5 slics on it yesterday. I think that if i had not been riding with friends, i would have been dropped. i have a 40/16 rear ratio and I am pretty fit. but two guys on road bikes, a fixie, and a flat-bar commuter bike smoked me at everything. i feel like i am doing more work than i should and it does not seem fun.

    so i want a bike that is fun to ride around town at a fast pace. how much faster might i be on a road bike, maybe a single-speed, over the 26" bike with slics? i know this is very subjective, but i just want some experiences of people who have ridden both and if switching will make a big difference.

    I am not looking for a commuter bike per se, just a recreational road bike for longer rides around town.

    Well seems simple to me you are riding way to small gears...

    If I want to keep up on the road with slicks on an MTB......I need 46/11 at least...

    Normally on the flats I will ride 46/15 at 80 to 90 rpm....with a 1.5 inch slick that is about 31 kph....

    40/16 with 1.5 inch slicks at 80- to 90 rpm is only 25 kph.

  9. #9
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    there's a long hill on our ride and i thought i was going to vomit when i finally reached the top with that 40/16 gear. i ride 32/20 on my off-road bike, i can't imagine trying to climb with 46/11. i am sure this is partially due to the shape i am in relative to the fitness of the guys i was riding with, but my bike choice might make a difference.

    i think i am going to have to at least put a totally different drivetrain on my bike, but i have a dished wheel with a freewheel on it, so 16t is the smallest i can go. i could also go 52/16 with the stuff i have available to me (i have literally no money to spend, i work for peanuts at a non-profit) but i think walking up hills with that steep a gear is slower than riding up with a slower gear.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle
    there's a long hill on our ride and i thought i was going to vomit when i finally reached the top with that 40/16 gear. i ride 32/20 on my off-road bike, i can't imagine trying to climb with 46/11. i am sure this is partially due to the shape i am in relative to the fitness of the guys i was riding with, but my bike choice might make a difference.

    Read closely normally I ride 46/15....

    If you don't move to a geared bike then you will need to practice the standing climb....I can get up about a 15% grade at 46/15.....you will need lots of core training to make it happen.

    But then your the man.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle
    i think i am going to have to at least put a totally different drivetrain on my bike, but i have a dished wheel with a freewheel on it, so 16t is the smallest i can go. i could also go 52/16 with the stuff i have available to me (i have literally no money to spend, i work for peanuts at a non-profit) but i think walking up hills with that steep a gear is slower than riding up with a slower gear.
    Be aware that 52t rings don't always clear the chainstays on mountain bikes.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle
    there's a long hill on our ride and i thought i was going to vomit when i finally reached the top with that 40/16 gear. i ride 32/20 on my off-road bike, i can't imagine trying to climb with 46/11. i am sure this is partially due to the shape i am in relative to the fitness of the guys i was riding with, but my bike choice might make a difference.

    i think i am going to have to at least put a totally different drivetrain on my bike, but i have a dished wheel with a freewheel on it, so 16t is the smallest i can go. i could also go 52/16 with the stuff i have available to me (i have literally no money to spend, i work for peanuts at a non-profit) but i think walking up hills with that steep a gear is slower than riding up with a slower gear.
    Trust me pal, go multi gear bike.. 46/11 is going to kill you if have hills to climb. Yes, its fast on flat but pick up will sucks.

    40/16 is way too slow on flat .

    Get a multi- gear bicycle and have an all in one multi purpose bicycle. Trail, commute, climb hills. Multi gear bicyle is yr perfect solution.

    No offense to SS lover(I used to be a SS owner too)

  13. #13
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    If doing more work than you should be doing isn't fun for you, then you probably shouldn't be doing road rides on a single speed bike. As stated in previous posts, wheel diameter isn't the primary issue here. The geometry and variable gear ratio on a traditional road bike will help you to use your energy more efficiently on road rides. I have no idea why you put this in the commuting forum.

  14. #14
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    There are many factors in speed, including tire/rim width, tire pressure, and circumference. I rode a MTB with 1.5" slicks for quite a while and three things slowed me down versus my road bike.

    1. Aerodynamic position (or rather the lack of it). After 16mph or so almost all of your effort goes to fighting wind resistance.

    2. Gearing. I'd spin out at about 18mph, and while I could pull 20+ it was horribly inefficient and looked silly besides.

    3. Tire size and pressure. My 26x1.5" semi-slicks were fat and had a maximum pressure of 80 psi. Rolling resistance AND wind resistance resulted in a lot more work.

    My next step was a Trek Soho commuter hybrid, belt drive, drum brake, IGH thingy. Pretty cool, and great commuter but had a worse aero position than my MTB. It also weighed a ton with fenders, a rack, tail trunk, etc. It was a good upgrade though and helped me ease into commuting every day, and got me to sell my car which resulted in $8k in the bank.

    Finally, this last spring I bought a standard aluminum frame road bike and WOW what a difference. From 35# of commuting comfort to a 20# speedster! 700x23c tires, Ultegra deraillers, light wheelset, aerodynamic riding position, etc. On the MTB with slicks 16mph was a comfortable cruising speed, on the Trek Soho it was 18mph, and on the road bike it's 20mph. Even cranking out 25mph on the road bike is not hard. So, now it's my all year round commuter. I just slap some clip-on fenders, some lights, and throw the rain gear in my backpack just in case. But that's just me, I prefer speed to comfort especially when commuting.
    "Got everything you need?"

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by TwoHeadsBrewing
    There are many factors in speed, including tire/rim width, tire pressure, and circumference. I rode a MTB with 1.5" slicks for quite a while and three things slowed me down versus my road bike.

    1. Aerodynamic position (or rather the lack of it). After 16mph or so almost all of your effort goes to fighting wind resistance.

    2. Gearing. I'd spin out at about 18mph, and while I could pull 20+ it was horribly inefficient and looked silly besides.

    3. Tire size and pressure. My 26x1.5" semi-slicks were fat and had a maximum pressure of 80 psi. Rolling resistance AND wind resistance resulted in a lot more work.

    My next step was a Trek Soho commuter hybrid, belt drive, drum brake, IGH thingy. Pretty cool, and great commuter but had a worse aero position than my MTB. It also weighed a ton with fenders, a rack, tail trunk, etc. It was a good upgrade though and helped me ease into commuting every day, and got me to sell my car which resulted in $8k in the bank.

    Finally, this last spring I bought a standard aluminum frame road bike and WOW what a difference. From 35# of commuting comfort to a 20# speedster! 700x23c tires, Ultegra deraillers, light wheelset, aerodynamic riding position, etc. On the MTB with slicks 16mph was a comfortable cruising speed, on the Trek Soho it was 18mph, and on the road bike it's 20mph. Even cranking out 25mph on the road bike is not hard. So, now it's my all year round commuter. I just slap some clip-on fenders, some lights, and throw the rain gear in my backpack just in case. But that's just me, I prefer speed to comfort especially when commuting.
    Excellent points, here.


    I commute with my 27lb Cannondale Super V1000 with 1.5" slicks. I average about 18MPH.

  16. #16
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    As others have said, it's a combination of things, but there's no doubt a road bike is faster. Even my heavy 700c touring bike (which weighs more than a couple of my mtbs) running cross tires is noticeably faster on the road or gravel/crushed stone trails.
    Warning: may contain sarcasm and/or crap made up in an attempt to feel important.

  17. #17
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    It all sums up to OP's fixie bike is not gonna be fast.

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