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  1. #1
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    MTB for Commuting?

    Good Afternoon,

    I just bought my first bike. I chose a mountain bike (Nashbar AT29) because there are several parks in my area with some trails. I also wanted to use the bike for commuting as much as possible. My area is basically flat, paved roads. I am thinking that changing my tires for commuting would make a huge difference. For the time being the furthest round trip commute would be under 20 miles. Average being 8-10 round trip.

    Given my local terrain/distance, what tires would you recommend? Thank you in advance.

  2. #2
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    Typically, the skinnier the tire, the less rolling resistance. The specs say it has 1.95" wide tires on it. I'll tell you that I put thousands of road miles on an old Rockhopper with 1.95s on it. I pumped the pressure up to the max (on the side of the tire) and could haul butt pretty good (not road bike good, but I didn't have to buy new wheel sets and screw around with switching them out), and when I got to a trail to ride, let some air out.

    You'll probably want to lock out the fork suspension when on the road, too.
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  3. #3
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    Personally I wouldn't worry about using different tires for commuting and trail riding, because it will become a PITA to switch the tires each time you want to do one or the other. My dad bought some skinnier road going tires for his MTB because he thought it would make a big difference on road rides, but in reality while it did help out a little the improvement wasn't that substantial.

    Just use a XC tire that rolls well, it won't be amazing at road riding or trail riding but it will do both decently. That is what I do, currently using the stock tires on my Trek Marlin 29er. The furthest I have ridden on the road is 46 miles, and on the trails is 15 miles. I routinely ride on the road to the trails, do a few laps, and then back home on the road again. Having/using a frame pump is good for this because you can run higher pressures on the way there, then air down for the trails, and then air back up for the ride home.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Edit: the tires on my Marlin are 29x2.1 Bontrager 29-1's
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wisconsinite762 View Post
    Personally I wouldn't worry about using different tires for commuting and trail riding, because it will become a PITA to switch the tires each time you want to do one or the other. My dad bought some skinnier road going tires for his MTB because he thought it would make a big difference on road rides, but in reality while it did help out a little the improvement wasn't that substantial.

    Just use a XC tire that rolls well, it won't be amazing at road riding or trail riding but it will do both decently. That is what I do, currently using the stock tires on my Trek Marlin 29er. The furthest I have ridden on the road is 46 miles, and on the trails is 15 miles. I routinely ride on the road to the trails, do a few laps, and then back home on the road again. Having/using a frame pump is good for this because you can run higher pressures on the way there, then air down for the trails, and then air back up for the ride home.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Edit: the tires on my Marlin are 29x2.1 Bontrager 29-1's
    Thank you for the reply! Both of you seem to agree that I don't necessarily have to get commuting tires. I'll definitely give the stock tires a try for a while. As far as the pump goes, do you recommend a specific portable one?

  5. #5
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    There are hybrid tires that have knobs and with a solid rubber line down the middle of the tire. These are nice because they give a little more efficiency on the pavement and still give decent grip on the dirt.

    For a pump, I like lezyne. Good airf for its size, you can get high pressure out of it.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by NolePhin View Post
    Thank you for the reply! Both of you seem to agree that I don't necessarily have to get commuting tires. I'll definitely give the stock tires a try for a while. As far as the pump goes, do you recommend a specific portable one?
    I have this one Lezyne Tech Drive HV M Frame Pump > Accessories > Inflation > Frame and Mini Pumps | Jenson USA

    It can do both presta and shrader valves, uses a hose (that takes some of the stress off the valve when pumping), and is good for up to 90psi (I've only had it up to 50psi).

    You may also want a pressure gauge. Don't get the accessory hose that doubles as a pressure gauge for the above pump, it doesn't work very well.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wisconsinite762 View Post
    I have this one Lezyne Tech Drive HV M Frame Pump > Accessories > Inflation > Frame and Mini Pumps | Jenson USA

    It can do both presta and shrader valves, uses a hose (that takes some of the stress off the valve when pumping), and is good for up to 90psi (I've only had it up to 50psi).

    You may also want a pressure gauge. Don't get the accessory hose that doubles as a pressure gauge for the above pump, it doesn't work very well.
    That's the exact one I'm using for over 2 years now with no problems at all. Well worth the money.
    Last edited by Max24; 03-02-2015 at 05:45 PM.

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    I took a look at your Kenda klaw tires, and from what I see you should consider new tires. The klaws are pretty knobby and should do well on the trails, probably overkill for what you describe in your area. They will be slow on the road. It shouldn't stop you from road riding, but a tire with small, numerous knobs will have a lot less rolling resistance. My Airborne Seeker came with Geax AKA tires, and they are a very good compromise tire, decent on the road and reasonable grip on the trail. I commute about 15 miles round trip on my bike and I like the AKA's for the road. Other tires such as racing ralphs and others with a solid rubber strip in the middle, such as "something" raptors, can't remember their exact name, will be even better. I want more grip on the trails, so I am going with a tire like the WTB Trail Boss, and will give up some speed on the road. For your riding, you want to go the other way, and get a lower rolling resistance tire.

    Nothing wrong with riding your tires till they are fairly worn and then switch over. I do not plan on having two sets of rubber, too much trouble for me to deal with. Others don't mind and it is common.

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    I disagree, I think tire choice makes a big difference. Tire choice depends on user preference and the terrain; if the trails that you are talking about are intermediate or more single track then you will want an MTB tire, 2" + Racing Ralphs or Furious Freds are pretty fast rolling but they are not the grippiest in damp or muddy conditions on techy stuff. If these trails are more dirt track / road kind of affair then a puncture resistant touring tire that can be run at a higher pressure would be a better choice - one of the Marathon range (but not the mondials - they suck for road commuting) or a Panaracer T Serv, Pasela etc would be ideal, these are better than MTB tires on pavement, I run a 2.4 Nobby Nic front and 2.35 RaRa rear on my hardtail, I commute to work on road and ride single track on the way home, they are noisy and heavy on road compared to T Servs but I couldn't ride single track on my GP4000s 23mm equipped road bike. I generally use Schwalbe but all other manufacturers have similar ranges, you can compare online

  10. #10
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    Instead of swapping tyres, get another set of wheels. I have two sets of wheels I swap over, one with off-road tyres and one with a set of Specialized Nimbus Armadillo puncture-resistant tyres for road use. Only takes two-minutes to swap the wheels over.

    If you ride knobbly tyres on the road they will wear out really fast. If you ride slicks on the trail you will fall off your bike a lot!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    Instead of swapping tyres, get another set of wheels. I have two sets of wheels I swap over, one with off-road tyres and one with a set of Specialized Nimbus Armadillo puncture-resistant tyres for road use. Only takes two-minutes to swap the wheels over.

    If you ride knobbly tyres on the road they will wear out really fast. If you ride slicks on the trail you will fall off your bike a lot!
    I've been thinking about doing this, but I am also trying to keep my spending low at the moment. Is there a cheap way of getting another set of wheels without breaking the bank?

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    Quote Originally Posted by NolePhin View Post
    I've been thinking about doing this, but I am also trying to keep my spending low at the moment. Is there a cheap way of getting another set of wheels without breaking the bank?
    Check out Pinkbike's Buy/Sell section, when people upgrade their rims they usually sell their stock ones off pretty cheap. You should be able to find a lightly used set for a good price.
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  13. #13
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    I'm also curious about this. I'm on Schwalbe Rocket Ron tires. How would these rate for road use? And for trail use?

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by NolePhin View Post
    Is there a cheap way of getting another set of wheels without breaking the bank?
    Yes, just buy a used pair. The good thing about disk brakes is that you can run different sized wheels! A friend of mine uses 26'' wheels for off road and 700c/29'' for road on the same bike. Loads of used kit out there, you should be able to pick up a cheap set of wheels no problem.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    Yes, just buy a used pair. The good thing about disk brakes is that you can run different sized wheels! A friend of mine uses 26'' wheels for off road and 700c/29'' for road on the same bike. Loads of used kit out there, you should be able to pick up a cheap set of wheels no problem.
    Thank you all for your advice, it is greatly appreciated. I am considering all of your recommendations.

    Another possibility is to buy another bike, preferably used. If I were to go this route, considering I have a mountain bike, would you guys recommend a road bike or commuter, or something completely different?

    Again, Thank you all for your opinions and advice.

  16. #16
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    I used to ride my 29er ht for commuting and trails. Ran whatever tires I happened to have on at the time, knobbiest was kenda karmas. 1.9s weren't bad at all, 2.2s were torture on pavement. Even tried road tires and cost wasn't worth the little benefit and hassle of switching back and forth. But being my 29er drew alot of attention from wrong kind of ppl, a friend in local mtb club I'm with sold me his old trek 26" entry ht for cheap, already had commuting tires on it. Through a cheap crankset on it and ride the hell outta the thing. After buying a rear rack, crankset, pedals, and chain I have a whole $150 in the thing. Best $150 I ever spent.

    Nothing wrong with either route but having a separate bike for each need is so much easier and good mtb parts aren't cheap, so last thing I want to do is wear out tires and drivetrain riding around town seeing how long before someone tried to steal it.
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  17. #17
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    Buying another bike is a good idea. Buying whole bikes tends to be a lot cheaper than buying parts. The other thing is that commuter bikes tend to get the stuffing knocked out of them, mine does anyway, so having a separate bike lets you keep your other one good.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    Buying another bike is a good idea. Buying whole bikes tends to be a lot cheaper than buying parts. The other thing is that commuter bikes tend to get the stuffing knocked out of them, mine does anyway, so having a separate bike lets you keep your other one good.
    Do you have some entry level recommendations for a commuter/road bike? Also what are the pros and cons to the commuter vs road for getting places? Also I have seen other "types" of bikes called cyclocross and cruisers, etc. What role do those bikes play?

  19. #19
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    A road bike is faster on the road than a mountain bike, even if it has slicks on. A road bike is designed to be good at one thing, going as fast as possible on tarmac. The bent-over riding position means you are more aerodynamic, they are lighter and the larger wheels roll more easily.

    On a mountain bike you are more upright, they feel more agile and stable and they can take more abuse. Not relevant on the road but actually it is. A pothole that a mountain bike might just batter through could well buckle the wheel of a road bike. I had a friend who buckled his back wheel catching a skid!

    Cyclocross bikes are kinda in between. They are basically road bikes but designed to be a bit tougher. They usually have wider tyres and often have disk brakes. I think they're a really good idea actually but I still don't like drop bars. I like the control of a nice, wide bar and my back doesn't enjoy the bent-over riding position.

    It's a very personal choice. If you are going a reasonable distance on roads every day I would look at a road bike or a similar bike with flat bars. If you want more comfort and don't mind a little extra work a MTB will get you there.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by NolePhin View Post
    Do you have some entry level recommendations for a commuter/road bike? Also what are the pros and cons to the commuter vs road for getting places? Also I have seen other "types" of bikes called cyclocross and cruisers, etc. What role do those bikes play?
    All the options are going to involve compromises, it just depends on which ones you want to make.

    Another bike for commuting involves the extra expense of another bike.

    A commuter wheelset with semi-slicks will cost much less than another bike, and will give you the advantage of mountain biking on higher quality (read more expensive) and more confidence inspiring tires while burning up cheaper commuter tires on the road.

    Or, you can find some sort of a compromise of one set of tires to use on both road and trail and change them more often as the road wears them down.

    The latter two options will put more wear and tear on your drivetrain than the second bike option, but you'll only have to worry about taking care of one bike.

    If I was in your position with a hardtail, I'd go with the second set of wheels.

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    A second bike doesn't cost much more beyond the cost of buying the bike. You are splitting the wear between two bikes so your 'good' bike lasts a lot longer.

    You usually can buy a whole bike for the price of a set of wheels, I've done it. I bought a barely used bike with decent parts on it for 60 earlier this year. Took an hour to strip it, sold enough of the bits to get my money back and still have a bunch of spare parts from it, including the wheels.

    I'm not saying don't go for the second set of wheels, it totally depends on what makes sense for you. I do both. I have a bike for riding to work and extra wheels for my 'fun' bike.

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    And it's worth remembering that on a road bike it's totally impossible to do stuff like this: ;0)


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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    And it's worth remembering that on a road bike it's totally impossible to do stuff like this: ;0)

    Forgive my ignorance. How was that bike able to sustain that kind of use?? Awesome video!

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    Quote Originally Posted by NolePhin View Post
    Forgive my ignorance. How was that bike able to sustain that kind of use?? Awesome video!
    Beats me. This is the third video. If you look on YouTube you'll see the first two which are actually better than this one. The guy featured in the first two, Martyn Ashton, fell while doing stunts like this at a show and tragically ended up paralysed from the waist down.

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    That is terrible. =(

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    Quote Originally Posted by NolePhin View Post
    That is terrible. =(
    Yes, poor guy. We watch these videos and they're just a bit of fun but the risks are very real. If you keep pushing it eventually you'll get hurt, possibly very badly.

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    I am still unsure how that bike is able to handle that type of abuse. It clearly has road tires and no suspension from what I remember seeing.

    As far as deciding on what to do between a new set of wheels or a cheap commuter, I am going to have to test ride some road bike / commuters before really making my mind up. It's a shame I wasn't able to do this before all the online holiday deals are up.

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