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  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Polar Bear's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008

    Faster on a mtb with slicks?

    Hey y'all,

    My current commuter is an aluminum mtb with a carbon rigid fork and 1.5 slicks pumped up to 80 psi. I've done rides up to 45 miles long with this set up and have enjoyed it. My regular cruising speed for riding (alone) on the flats is usually about 17.5 mph. My usual rides (20 -25 miles) vary in elevation between 120 feet above sea level to 600 feet above sea level. The true flat sections may make up only 3 miles of these 20 mile rides - everything else is down hill or up hill.

    This week I finally borrowed a friends road bike with the really skinny tires. I did the same exact ride (20.5 miles) that I usually do with my mountain bike with slicks and my ending time was three minutes slower with the road bike. This was a nice road bike too.

    I'm sure that the road bike was faster on the flats and on the downhills, but I think that the mtb was actually faster on the climbs (I usually stand on climbs and I love those wide bars). I found the road bike kind of awkward on climbs.

    This was all very surprising because people are always telling me how much faster road bikes are. The main differences are probably:
    (1) the road bike is more aerodynamic because I'm not sitting up as much
    (2) the skinny tires pumped up to 120 psi are more efficient
    (3) the big chain ring has more teeth
    (4) the road bike probably weighs less (however, not much less since my commuter mtb is already at 22 lbs.

    Both rides were the exact same route and were done at 4 AM - so traffic (and traffic lights - there are only three of them on the whole ride) were not the issue. If the terrain were flatter around here, I suspect the results would have been much different in favor of the road bike.

  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Jul 2003

    I agree...

    it was most likely the climbs. That and the fact that you are used to the MTB and know how to efficently climb on it.

    Once you got used to the roadie it would be faster though. Climbing on an mtb vs a road bike is quite different. Body position, when to stand and when to stay seated, gear selection, etc. are all different. Another factor is building the strength and endurance to spin the bigger gears or a road bike up the climbs.

    But yeah, I agree, if your not used to a road bike, an mtb can be a faster commuter overall in hilly terrain.

    Good Dirt
    "I do whatever my Rice Cripsies tell me to!"

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    I'd imagine it's just the fitting/getting used to it. When I bought my Bianchi road bike, I was a little slow, but after a week I can keep up just fine.

  4. #4
    MTB Addict
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Personally, I don't think I'd have any issue climbing on a roadie, but that's partly because when I climb on my MTB (with slicks) on road, I just sit and spin (fast and hard). I haven't stood on a climb in over a year, and it just feels downright un-natural.

    It's all in the way you ride.

  5. #5
    i call it a kaiser blade
    Join Date
    May 2008
    you can maintain high speeds on a road bike more easily.

    i've sprinted up to 22 mph on a mountain bike on hookworms, too.

  6. #6
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    According to Schwalbe big tires have less rolling resistance than skinny tires. At low speed (climbing) when the aero advantage of the road tire goes away they might actually be faster.

  7. #7
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    May 2006
    In my experience a road bike and mtb use slightly different muscles and I think its more likely that the slower speed was due to you not being used to the bike rather than the bike being less efficent. When I was commuting in NoVA I switched between my slick-tired MTB and my road bike. When switching the other bike always felt weird at first, but when I gave them both a good chance I was consistently faster on the road bike. I did find that the road bike was more sensitive to tire pressure and form, but once I got it dialed in it was quite fast and eventually became my primary commuter. Now that I'm commuting in Cambridge/Boston I find I prefer the slick tired MTB as my commute is very short and bumpy and the agility, comfort and durability of the MTB far outweight any slight disadvantage in speed.

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