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  1. #1
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    Road bike specific or mtn bike with road tires

    I am debating whether or not to purchase a road bike to train for mountain bike race. I know i will not do any road racing but i know that training on the road is very good for my mountain bike racing, particularly endurance(which i am lack). However, i can't justify buying a road bike when i can just buy some road specific tires for my mountain bikes(i have a couple of extra sets of rims). Anyone have done this? Oh, and why do the roadies look at me funny when they passed my on the road? I have the feeling that they don't think i belong on the road. Weird!!!

  2. #2
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    The roadies probably already rode three hours and are spinning easy back home when you passed them.

  3. #3
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    Road bikes were designed for the road, and therefore are faster on the road.
    MTB's with slicks are faster than MTB's with knobs.
    Unless you are trying to get somewhere fast, there is no reason not to train on MTB with slicks, or knobs for that matter.
    Although, speed is fun

  4. #4
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    slicks

    Try some slicks! What you can use on your mt rims will depend on their width.
    If the slicks suit you, then its a simple and cheap solution.

    Of course, a second wheelset can help you avoid changing tires all the time.

    You can't stop the roadies from mouthing off, just ignore it. If you ride with them regularly and hold your own, there should be no complaints.

    A road bike will be geared faster, lighter, and give you a more aerodynamic position, all making you faster. All of that only matters if you're trying to go fast. If you're solo training, it doesn't make any difference.

    Just ride a lot.

  5. #5
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    i think part of the allure/fun of road biking is added speed per unit of energy expended, along with the quicker acceleration and better top speed. and if that makes riding more enjoyable.....ie. being able to catch/hang with the fast roadies, or look down at a 23+mph average on flats....and thus will get you on the bike more, then getting a road specific bike may be worth it.

    it certainly has a significantly different feel to it (road vs. mtn with slicks)

  6. #6
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    Limba: They passed me, not the other way around. they are way too fast.
    Jpark and DL: Thanks for the responds. I usually train solo and don't mind the slower pace. I just wonder if the benifit is the same whether you're on a roadbike or a mountain bike. The way i look at it is: why would i ride a road bike when i don't intend to race on it, and just by switching the tires, i got a bike that is having the same geometry, seat, handle bar...etc and still get the same benifit without punishing my body. right?

  7. #7
    Chicken or egg? Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by limba
    The roadies probably already rode three hours and are spinning easy back home when you passed them.
    You are the poster boy for overly-frickin sensitive roadies. He even said the roadies passed him, and you proceed to project your own insecurities into your reply above.

  8. #8
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    Get the road bike so you can go to some of the faster group rides in your area. It's a good way to motivate you to train at the same intensity and push yourself like you would during a XC race.

    (not that you HAVE to have a road bike to go to a group ride, but most people couldn't keep up on the local Tuesday Night Worlds on a MTB w/slicks)
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  9. #9
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    First let me say that I'm a mtb'er that trains on a road bike 75% of the time. When I first started riding years and years ago, I only had a mtb, and bought some 1" slicks for it. It worked fine for a while. There are a couple of issues. First is gearing. A road bike will have more gears toward the "large" end, allowing you to go faster, if you can turn them, and still pedal while going down hill. You'll run out of gears very quickly on a mtb with slicks, especially once you start getting stronger. The second issue is that when you start doing longer road rides, it's just more comfortable, at least to me, to do those on a road bike. You can do more specific workouts on the road, with a road bike. I do tempo rides, seated and standing hill intervals, long endurance rides, etc, on the road bike. I can't imagine doing any of that and getting the same benefit on a mtb with slicks. I'm sure some will disagree, but give the slicks a try, and when you feel like you've reached the limit on what you can do on it, on the road, look into getting a road bike.
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  10. #10
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    If you're training alone, it doesn't matter (especially if it's a hard tail; an FS on the road just feels so, so wrong IMO). Probably the MTB with slicks is better due to no adjustment in bike geometry.


    If you have a big outlet to road bike groups and racing (like I do), then a road bike is better.

    In my town, we have the Tuesday night hammerfest; and during the summer weekly crits on Thursday night (which have a lot of expert and pro level MTBers show up, along with some viciously strong roadies). Better to have a real road bike for those events. Some MTBers show up with Carbon Tubulars (pretty far cry from MTB with slicks).

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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by snellvilleGAbiker
    I am debating whether or not to purchase a road bike to train for mountain bike race. I know i will not do any road racing but i know that training on the road is very good for my mountain bike racing, particularly endurance(which i am lack). However, i can't justify buying a road bike when i can just buy some road specific tires for my mountain bikes(i have a couple of extra sets of rims). Anyone have done this? Oh, and why do the roadies look at me funny when they passed my on the road? I have the feeling that they don't think i belong on the road. Weird!!!

    I am using some Conti Sport Contacts 1.3 x26 for my FS mtb, I use a 46 tooth big ring (you will spin out faster with the smaller tires)...

    Anyway, we did a road ride, buddy on a specialized road bike, me on the MTB, we hit a hill 10% grade, and a 35 km/h tail wind. We both went down the dam thing didn't touch the brakes, his comp read 92.9 km/h mine read 95.4 km/h, we were going the same speed cause mine was reading a bit high....

    The only really noticable difference between a full blown roadie and a MTB is the weight...

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by snellvilleGAbiker
    I have the feeling that they don't think i belong on the road.
    Nobody cares but you.

    Training alone - MTB is fine. It's all about heart rate or power. How you do it doesn't matter.

    Training with a group of roadies - get a road bike.

    You *can* do it on a MTB, but I personally got really tired of getting passed by roadies, so I bought a road bike. Then I still got passed by roadies, but at least I had the right gear.

    That was about 8 years ago. Now I log about 7K of training / racing / riding on the road per year.

  13. #13
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    I used to throw semi-slicks on the mtb for road rides, but got sick of being on a 30 lb slow ass bike. A road bike on the road is so much more fun IMHO.

    But like others have said, it is all about the level of effort you are putting in, which you can do on any bike (even your neighbor's beach cruiser).

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by snellvilleGAbiker
    I am debating whether or not to purchase a road bike to train for mountain bike race. I know i will not do any road racing but i know that training on the road is very good for my mountain bike racing, particularly endurance(which i am lack). However, i can't justify buying a road bike when i can just buy some road specific tires for my mountain bikes(i have a couple of extra sets of rims). Anyone have done this? Oh, and why do the roadies look at me funny when they passed my on the road? I have the feeling that they don't think i belong on the road. Weird!!!


    You answered your own question when you wrote "I cant justify buying a road bike when I can just buy some road specific tires". Just throw sme road tires on it and have at it .

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by snellvilleGAbiker
    I am debating whether or not to purchase a road bike to train for mountain bike race. I know i will not do any road racing but i know that training on the road is very good for my mountain bike racing, particularly endurance(which i am lack). However, i can't justify buying a road bike when i can just buy some road specific tires for my mountain bikes(i have a couple of extra sets of rims). Anyone have done this? Oh, and why do the roadies look at me funny when they passed my on the road? I have the feeling that they don't think i belong on the road. Weird!!!
    Specific cyclocross bikes are available, both as framesets and complete bikes, in a broad range of prices from a wide variety of manufacturers. But if you've already got a garage full of bikes, you might consider modifying one of them instead of adding yet another.

  16. #16
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    There are about 4 of us in a group of 6 that ride mountain bikes with slicks on when we are riding road. The other 2 have Carbon road bikes that they use when we switch to a road specific ride. Having slicks on a XC makes climbing a steep hill easier then having trail tires on, you have less rotating mass. Weight and rolling resistance come into play when you are trying to keep up with guys on road bikes. Carbon road bikes weigh anywhere from 14 to 16 pounds depending on components versus an XC mountain bike which weighs 24 to 27 pounds.

    Having a second wheel set does help. It takes only about a minute to do. It does help that I have rim brakes, no real adjustments, and I have the same cassette on both wheel sets.

    Roadies that we meet on the road are actually very encouraging when they see a rider on a mountain bike climbing the same steep hills as they are.

    This is something to think about. A riding buddy did some search on the difference between a road bike versus a mountain bike with slicks on. It is not very scientific, just theories and opinions.


    26” vs. 700c (mt. bike vs. road wheels). Did you know that roadie wheels are 4% more efficient when it comes to rolling resistance (friction coefficient, mass, speed variables)? The size difference also translates to 10” longer for every wheel revolution! It also gets easier when these wheels get moving on the flats.

    The advantage of the mt. bike (with slicks) is that it gives you better torque and quickness (with less effort/power) which is HUGE when it comes to the steep sections. So if you can keep up with your road buddies on the flats, you can try to power up the steeper sections out of the saddle.
    Last edited by dayten; 09-23-2009 at 01:05 PM.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by digitaldream
    Specific cyclocross bikes are available, both as framesets and complete bikes, in a broad range of prices from a wide variety of manufacturers. But if you've already got a garage full of bikes, you might consider modifying one of them instead of adding yet another.
    +1 ....CX rigs are truly the swiss army knife of bikes.....Great for logging base miles on pavement....Awesome for improving offroad skillz in the dirt.....and hella killa for commuting...IMHO
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  18. #18
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    Buy the slicks--if they don't give you what you're looking for, then start saving for the road bike. I have both. As others have said, my road bike is much lighter,faster than my mtb hard tail with slicks, and I need a road bike to keep up on road group rides.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by dayten
    Roadies that we meet on the road are actually very encouraging when they see a rider on a mountain bike climbing the same steep hills as they are.
    I find that sort of funny, the steepest grade I've ever ridden on my road bike is 10%, those tend to be short sections in the middle of a climb with a 4-6% grade. Most mountain bike rides in this area have extended climbs with the grades between 6-10% with sections as high as 18%.

    Frequently when doing a steep climb on my road bike I am wishing for my mountain bike, or at least my mountain bike gearing, just because it is so much easier to climb with one.

    Personally I like riding my road bike on the road. It is nice to get out and do a 60 mile ride. That is something I could personally never do on a mountain bike because it just feels so slow and boring to me. Ever minute on the road with a mountain bike is hard for me and I just wouldn't be able to put the same mileage in if I didn't have a road bike.

  20. #20
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    If you can afford it and have room to store it, get the road bike. A road bike is just way more fun than a mtn bike with slicks on the road. I've done both, now that I have the road bike I'll never go back to slicks.
    Another option, if you use discs, is to lace up some road rims to some old hubs. I heard Tinker did that back on the day when he was traveling for races, just less gear to travel with. He would use that setup for recovery rides. Cannondale took that idea and made their Badboy series bikes from it.

  21. #21
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    right on

    Quote Originally Posted by dirthead
    First let me say that I'm a mtb'er that trains on a road bike 75% of the time. When I first started riding years and years ago, I only had a mtb, and bought some 1" slicks for it. It worked fine for a while. There are a couple of issues. First is gearing. A road bike will have more gears toward the "large" end, allowing you to go faster, if you can turn them, and still pedal while going down hill. You'll run out of gears very quickly on a mtb with slicks, especially once you start getting stronger. The second issue is that when you start doing longer road rides, it's just more comfortable, at least to me, to do those on a road bike. You can do more specific workouts on the road, with a road bike. I do tempo rides, seated and standing hill intervals, long endurance rides, etc, on the road bike. I can't imagine doing any of that and getting the same benefit on a mtb with slicks. I'm sure some will disagree, but give the slicks a try, and when you feel like you've reached the limit on what you can do on it, on the road, look into getting a road bike.
    dirthead: You are right on target. I am totally agree with gearing. funny thing is i am running 1x9 with 34T ring and 11x34, imagine that. I can't speak about comfort level because i've never ridden a road bike before but i feel pretty comfortable on the mountain bike.

    Thank you for all the responses. I am still new to the road riding. I've only ridden on the road for a few weeks with 1.9 slick. I do enjoy it very much. I am not at the point where i feel i "need" a road bike. I am more of a solo rider and don't mind the slower pace. Last Sunday, i put on 40mi road ride. I took me almost three hours to do it but at the end i felt great. I am sure the benifit of road riding vs. trail riding is the same, right?

    Everyone talking about "logging" on mile. Does it really matter? If a roadie ride for three hours and log 80mi and i ride three hours and log 40mi, what does that mean???

  22. #22
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    I only ride my mtn bike on the road because I have to, and I really don't like doing it even with slicks. Once I save up enough for a road bike, I'm getting one.

  23. #23
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    Guess what! I rode a road bike this morning. I borrowed my brother's road bike this morning and give it a try. I rode 18mi/62min. I know, it's slow. What i like about the road bike is that it's fast down hill, that's about it. What i did not like about road bike are: 1) it's unconfortable: my neck and shoulders are hurting 2) i can't get out of the shaddle and pedal like i was on a mountain bike(maybe i am not use to it) 3) The tires are like rock hard, i felts every pebbles on the road.

    I felt that road bike is an acquired "taste" I may give it another try soon.

  24. #24
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    That's great you got to try one! Fit is very, very important... the reason why you're so sore is probably because it wasn't set up just right for you, so your weight wasn't well-balanced between your butt & your hands. That will also magnify every bump in the road, though even with a proper fit, you're def. gonna feel them more on smaller, higher pressure tires.
    If you get a chance to borrow it for a little while, try taking it by a shop & getting some help with setting it up. Even just a tiny change in saddle tilt or height can make a huge difference in comfort.
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  25. #25
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    Done both. My extra set of wheels For my MTN bike Has continental Traffic tires , with smooth lugs in the middle and larger lugs on the outside to corner in all dirt or pavement. and roll well at 60 lbs. My cross bike(NOT ROAD BIKE) will change to street tires after the cross season.
    I recomend cross racing for the speed and corner training the, intenseity and just fun. And all the fun mud you can eat.


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    Nothing quite like it for cooling the the blood.
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    Where we will wallow in the glorious mud.

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