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  1. #1
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    Logging miles to train for MTB - Road or Tri bike?

    Hey everyone. I am drooling over the BC bike race. I realized that in order to do a long race like that, I'd need to be able to ride for 5+ hours. I can't log that many on my MTB with regularity. It would seem that a road or tri bike + a decent trainer would be the ticket. The question is, which would be better for what I'm trying to do? If there isn't much difference, I would probably opt for the tri bike as I have been kicking around doing them for years now. Any opinions on which would be better for training would be greatly appreciated. Also, brand and/or design recs would be lovely as well. I probably wouldn't pull the trigger on this for a while. Due to a baby on the way, I wouldn't be doing the race till 2016. So, I can take my time doing my homework. It'd be a CL/ebay special for sure. Have a great day!

  2. #2
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    What you are looking for is a standard road bike...forget the tri bike...they are purpose built for time-trial type riding.
    Geologist by trade...bicycle mechanic (former) by the grace of God!

    2012 Specialized Stumpy EVO 29 HT

  3. #3
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    Thanks very much!

  4. #4
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    A roadie can give you the distance for seat conditioning and cardio thats required to log the 50mi but do what you can on the MTB since it is the tool for the job.

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    Logging miles to train for MTB - Road or Tri bike?

    My tri bike is mounted to my trainer and my road bike lives in the real world. The tri bike isn't that much fun to ride in MN due to the choppy roads. As said above, it is more of a single purpose machine. But, I do like my tri bike on the trainer because the it has about the same seat tube angle as my mtbs. My road bike is a little slacker and works different muscles.

    Just plan on doing shorter trainer workouts--forget long trainer rides. get the collection of Sufferfest videos and go at it.

  6. #6
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    Logging miles to train for MTB - Road or Tri bike?

    Riding a road bike to train for mountain biking is like eating cauliflower to get better at eating pizza.




    That said stay away from tri bikes for fitness training. I've been a MTB racer and triathlete and tri bikes are not versatile enough for general training. And they are downright scary on fast descents.
    I live with fear and danger every day. And on the weekends she lets me go mountain biking.

  7. #7
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    For building your base, the road bike is a great way to train. I find it the best way to spin for long periods of time. Long sustained climbs will help also. For strength, get a single speed and climb with it.

  8. #8
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    Road bikes are a great way to get base in, especially during the shoulder seasons where trails may not be in great shape. The road bike also lets you set up more predictable intervals, which are hugely helpful for MTB.
    2013 Ritchey Swiss Cross
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  9. #9
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    Thanks very much. You've been so helpful. Is it the geo of the two that makes for the versatility of the road bike vs the single purpose of the tri?

  10. #10
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    It's the geo for sure.

  11. #11
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    Geo plus shifter and brake positioning....Tri bikes are terrible for the average road rider.
    Geologist by trade...bicycle mechanic (former) by the grace of God!

    2012 Specialized Stumpy EVO 29 HT

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    I just sold my tri bike about a month ago because I never rode it... I always feel that they're a bit dangerous for normal road riding since you're not by your brakes when in the aero bars. I really don't get how people ride them in heavy traffic... Yes, they're fun because they can be fast, but the aero position is just that... you're kinda stuck there. I'd say get a road bike, and along with all the advantages everyone posted, when you do a tri you can always add on clip on aero bars to the road bike. Many people do tri's on road bikes anyway.

    When I started road biking it drastically improved my mountain biking fitness. I'm a believer in the road bike when it comes to building endurance, riding in the times of the year the trails are snowy/wet, and for doing all my intervals.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by sooshee View Post
    I just sold my tri bike about a month ago because I never rode it... I always feel that they're a bit dangerous for normal road riding since you're not by your brakes when in the aero bars. I really don't get how people ride them in heavy traffic... Yes, they're fun because they can be fast, but the aero position is just that... you're kinda stuck there. I'd say get a road bike, and along with all the advantages everyone posted, when you do a tri you can always add on clip on aero bars to the road bike. Many people do tri's on road bikes anyway.

    When I started road biking it drastically improved my mountain biking fitness. I'm a believer in the road bike when it comes to building endurance, riding in the times of the year the trails are snowy/wet, and for doing all my intervals.
    That's the main reason I am considering it. When the race gets closer I'll need to have been putting in miles for a couple of months before the trails are usable.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by chuckha62 View Post
    For building your base, the road bike is a great way to train. I find it the best way to spin for long periods of time. Long sustained climbs will help also. For strength, get a single speed and climb with it.
    ^^^All this.

    The last race I took part in I beat the rest of my category by 8 minutes and change. I attribute a good deal of that to my road riding. I didn't have a SS at the time, but it definitely would've helped in the climbs. Road cycling really helped teach me conservation of energy and had me recovering much faster than I could get by mtb'ing alone.

    All that said, ride the bike you plan to race every time you can so that you know it's characteristics intimately.
    Trying to win hearts and minds, but willing to stomp them if necessary.

  15. #15
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    ^^^time to move up.
    Geologist by trade...bicycle mechanic (former) by the grace of God!

    2012 Specialized Stumpy EVO 29 HT

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    It's not a single speed, but I have my MTB currently set up as a 1x10 with a 32t up front. There is definitely room for improvement in the fitness department to keep up. That being said, I do feel like keeping the 2 x10 off the bike has pushed me to attack climbs more and has given me motivation for improved aerobic fitness. I have definitely noticed an improvement since the beginning of the season.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by tokarsky268 View Post
    It's not a single speed, but I have my MTB currently set up as a 1x10 with a 32t up front. There is definitely room for improvement in the fitness department to keep up. That being said, I do feel like keeping the 2 x10 off the bike has pushed me to attack climbs more and has given me motivation for improved aerobic fitness. I have definitely noticed an improvement since the beginning of the season.
    carry on with it.

  18. #18
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    I recently moved from 3x9 to 1x9 on my non-racer geared bike just for that reason. The SS has been so good about teaching to better use momentum and when to attack (not to mention just being a blast to ride) that my 3x9 was starting to collect dust. Switching it to 1x9 has renewed my interest in that bike for days I want some higher gears for the flatter areas.
    Trying to win hearts and minds, but willing to stomp them if necessary.

  19. #19
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    Tri bikes are great for time trials and triathlons, and training for them. But other than that they're not a whole lot of fun.

    I don't want to trash them too badly. I own two and have done a ton of tri's. But I would not want it to be my only bike.

  20. #20
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    Another thing about tri bikes not yet mentioned is that if you think you'll ever do a group ride with other roadies, they often won't allow tri bikes in the group for a safety reasons. The steep aero geometry puts more weight on the front wheel, which makes for twitchy handling, and the aerobars sticking out of the front are like lances that can spear another rider in a crash. Plus, if the other riders don't know you well they may not trust you to not ride on the aerobars, which exacerbates the handling issues and puts your hands far from the brake levers in an emergency.

    I also don't want to sound like I'm bashing Tri/TT bikes either. They are great for the job they are designed for, just know that they are a highly specialized piece of equipment. A road bike is much more of a general purpose machine.
    Speed solves all problems, except for those things it makes worse.

  21. #21
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    Very cool. Thanks everybody. It's nice that there's a clear consensus on this.

  22. #22
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    Logging miles to train for MTB - Road or Tri bike?

    Quote Originally Posted by tokarsky268 View Post
    Very cool. Thanks everybody. It's nice that there's a clear consensus on this.
    Now if you had asked if a 650b or 700c Tri bike was best, there might have been a more lively discussion.


    Your next challenge is to enjoy a road bike ride on a hilly course with a wind that never seems to give you a break.

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