Decisions Decisions - Got myself into a quandary- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Decisions Decisions - Got myself into a quandary

    A month and a half ago, I decided to get into Mountain Biking and bought a Specialized Hardrock Sport Disc 29er (my first bicycle in about 25 years). Since about 6 weeks ago, I've put 116 miles on my bike, however it turns out that about 1/2 of those are on unpaved trails and the other half have been on paved roads and/or trails.

    While I have enjoyed biking in the mountains, I've also hit up some paved trails as well. I've also decided to ride my bike in a street/urban fashion (e.g. to the movies, nearby restaurants, etc) just because I've truly taken to biking, but the problem is my Hardrock sport isn't really a hybrid. While I can ride it on paved roads/trails, that's not really what it's designed for. I've also thought about commuting to work every now and then (it's a 28 mile round trip) -- again, not something that my Hardrock sport is really designed to do.

    Hindsight is 20/20 -- I wish I could have anticipated my biking intentions gravitating towards commuting / paved roads otherwise I would have looked at a different type of bike (some sort of hybrid). I've been losing sleep over the fact that I wish I would have known what I know now, but there's nothing I can do about that now.

    I started looking at getting another bike -- something like the Marin Fairfax or Specialized Sirrus, but I hate the thought of spending another ~$700 dollars for a bike -- I just paid $600 for my mountain bike. I know for a lot of the hardcore/serious bikers, that's nothing, but I'm not exactly bathing in cash right now, so I'm trying to figure out the best thing to do here. To make a long story short, I guess my question is should I cut my losses and sell my Specialized Hardrock Sport (knowing that I'm not going to get what I paid for it 6 weeks ago), or start saving up for another road / hybrid bike which I'd spend another ~$600-700 on? I still want to do mountain biking -- nothing exteme, but up to intermediate level trails, but also want the flexibility to be able to commute to work, knowing that it's going to be a relative long round trip.

    I'm not sure if a hybrid is really the answer here or if I should just invest in another road bike in addition to my mountain bike!?!?

    Overall, I guess it's a good problem to have. I absolutely LOVE biking now -- it doesn't matter what type of biking it is (mountain or road). I guess what is really bugging me is that I don't make instant gratification type decisions. I did a LOT of research before I bought my mountain bike and test drove a few different mountain bikes and as far as pure mountain biking goes, I am 100% confident that I made the right decision, but NOW, I have the desire to do some road-biking as well. UGH -- I wish I would have anticipated this 6-7 weeks ago!

  2. #2
    smell the saddle...
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    Keep your mountain bike and search for a cheap commuter. I firmly believe there is no fit-all bike, that’s why most of us have so many bikes. If I am riding trails, I want a bike specific for that use (alternately, same for my commuter). Some may disagree that you can find an in-between bike for both however, you’ll sacrifice one aspect in some form or fashion.

    You already are giving yourself kudos for the research you did on the mtb, and if you want the full use on trails you should keep with your decision. A commuter bike should run you much less $600 (all depends on which route you go – some around here build beater commuters for hardly nothing).

    I often think can I consolidate my SS trail, SS commuter, and FS but I always come back to the reasoning each is specific to its own. Why should I sacrifice any level specifically when I already have all basis covered?

  3. #3
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    On the plus side, a mountain bike works a lot better on the road than a road bike does on trails!
    If you don't have the extra cash for another bike right now, I would just enjoy the one you have and ride it wherever you want - who cares if it takes you a little longer to get there because you are on a MTB? In the meantime take some hybrids and road bikes out for test rides - they are a lot different from each other - so that when you really start shopping you'll make a good choice. And think about what kind of road rides you want to do - like 100 milers or running around town - that will make a big difference in what makes sense. Of course, since you obviously have been bitten by the bug, you may need to run out tomorrow & get 1 of each.

  4. #4
    a lazy pedaler
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    inferno!? reading you...you seem more like a good guy!

    If you are loving biking as you said, you sure have thought about having one of each! I did...and still do.

    Do not sell or even do big modifications to your MTB...(maybe some slicks) keep it and save for a commuter/city bike that is what I understood you are doing right now...then you are going for the full roadie...and then for the FS or a SS or another 29r hehe

    This comes from a guy that is mtbless due to a big modification I did to mine to be a commuter...I'm building a mtb at the moment...so anxious to really get back to the wild!

  5. #5
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    Since you bought a 29er you have a lot tire options you could employ to make your bike more efficient on pavement. I agree that there is no magical do it all bike out there. Some would argue that the Surly Karate Monkey is a do it all bike, but that is a whole different discussion that doesn't apply to your questions.

    So, I would consider buying some 38c hybrid tires, or some Schwable Apples...see link.
    http://www.mtbr.com/cat/tires-and-wh...1_1564crx.aspx

    You might be able to run the hybrid tires, but you will need to talk to an experienced wrench or salesman at your LBS. Sometimes when people try to run 38c tires on a bike designed to run tires in the 45-55c range you can run into problems with the bottom bracket (BB) being too low to the ground and this will cause problems with pedal strikes. Running a smaller tire will also lead to riding in higher gears as you are effectively decreasing your wheel roll out. If you don't have problems with the BB height, and you don't mind riding in the big ring alot then buying hybrid tires may be your most cost effective way to go.

    Also if you put in some time and research you can probably find a way to mount a rear rack to your bike so you don't have to carry everything on your back when you commute. I don't have problems of crime in my city so I don't prescribe to the belief that a commuter needs to be a cheap bike, or that you need to try and camo your nice commuter to look like a hunk of junk. Buy a nice lock, or see if you can secure your bike some where inside at your place of work. By all means if you live in a city like New York and bikes are stolen often then you may consider buying a cheap used bike to use as a commuter.

    Lastly, just my soap box opinion here, but I believe that ANY bike can be used as a commuter. Sure, a bike set up specifically for commuting will serve you better, but that commuter specific bike may cost you a ton of money. FWIW...I commute in a fairly flat city on a Monocog 29er. It was my first MTB when I got back into riding about 5 years ago. I am currently turning the bike into what I call my "urban assult bike". I am shopping for a porteur rack and putting road friendly tires on the bike. My cog will not be as fast on the road as my Surly Cross Check, but that is not the point. So, I guess what I am trying to get across to you is that you need to also think about what you want in a commuter. If you want an uber fast and efficient commuter bike then your 29er might not fit the bill. If you want to make your current bike more practical for the road without spending lots of $$$ then you might consider more road friendly tires and a rear rack.

    Good luck! Glad you are enjoying your new bike!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by lnferno
    A month and a half ago, I decided to get into Mountain Biking and bought a Specialized Hardrock Sport Disc 29er (my first bicycle in about 25 years). Since about 6 weeks ago, I've put 116 miles on my bike, however it turns out that about 1/2 of those are on unpaved trails and the other half have been on paved roads and/or trails.

    While I have enjoyed biking in the mountains, I've also hit up some paved trails as well. I've also decided to ride my bike in a street/urban fashion (e.g. to the movies, nearby restaurants, etc) just because I've truly taken to biking, but the problem is my Hardrock sport isn't really a hybrid. While I can ride it on paved roads/trails, that's not really what it's designed for. I've also thought about commuting to work every now and then (it's a 28 mile round trip) -- again, not something that my Hardrock sport is really designed to do.

    Hindsight is 20/20 -- I wish I could have anticipated my biking intentions gravitating towards commuting / paved roads otherwise I would have looked at a different type of bike (some sort of hybrid). I've been losing sleep over the fact that I wish I would have known what I know now, but there's nothing I can do about that now.

    I started looking at getting another bike -- something like the Marin Fairfax or Specialized Sirrus, but I hate the thought of spending another ~$700 dollars for a bike -- I just paid $600 for my mountain bike. I know for a lot of the hardcore/serious bikers, that's nothing, but I'm not exactly bathing in cash right now, so I'm trying to figure out the best thing to do here. To make a long story short, I guess my question is should I cut my losses and sell my Specialized Hardrock Sport (knowing that I'm not going to get what I paid for it 6 weeks ago), or start saving up for another road / hybrid bike which I'd spend another ~$600-700 on? I still want to do mountain biking -- nothing exteme, but up to intermediate level trails, but also want the flexibility to be able to commute to work, knowing that it's going to be a relative long round trip.

    I'm not sure if a hybrid is really the answer here or if I should just invest in another road bike in addition to my mountain bike!?!?

    Overall, I guess it's a good problem to have. I absolutely LOVE biking now -- it doesn't matter what type of biking it is (mountain or road). I guess what is really bugging me is that I don't make instant gratification type decisions. I did a LOT of research before I bought my mountain bike and test drove a few different mountain bikes and as far as pure mountain biking goes, I am 100% confident that I made the right decision, but NOW, I have the desire to do some road-biking as well. UGH -- I wish I would have anticipated this 6-7 weeks ago!

    Pump up the tires and ride hard on the road....let a bit of air out and ride the trails...

    You are way overthinking it.

    When you get to 2500 miles on the bike then you can start thinking....but just a little bit.

  7. #7
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    I used a mountain bike for everything for about six months in college, before cadging a road bike off my Dad. Running MTB tires at 10 pounds over rated pressure makes them a lot more efficient. You can also get a second set of tires, which I never found practical - I'm too lazy to swap tires all the time - or a second set of wheels, which are much easier to swap.

    I think that a commuter bike is any bike I commute on. I prefer a cheap road bike at the moment. Mine was $95, less than a second set of wheels or even a set of racing tires. I prefer having an additional bike because it lets me leave my mountain bike set up for off-road duty, without a rack and with removable fenders. I figure my commuters also get vandalized and risk being stolen on behalf of my nicer bikes. If you haven't drunk the road bike Kool-Aid yet, an older mountain bike does a great job too. If you see yourself doing more athletic riding on your second bike... Actually, I think my commuter would be a perfectly good bike for doing distance for someone a little taller than me.

    I think hybrids blow. I guess a lot of people like them okay, but I wouldn't want to spend more than about ten miles on one. Road bikes take some getting used to, but they evolved into their current setup for a reason.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  8. #8
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    I commuted on my Hardrock with city tires for about 2 years until I got my Cross a couple weeks ago. Maybe consider some thinner slicks? Or possibly a beater for a commuter, check craigslist?
    Friends Don't Let Friends Drive

    2008 Specialized Hardrock Sport
    2010 Bottecchia RS290 Cross

  9. #9
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    My Hardrock sport is pretty heavy, although I'm not sure how much of that is attributed to the wheels and tires.

    A true road bike, the kind with the bars that you have to totally lean forward with, is completely out of the question for me. One detail that I should have included in my original post is that I have scoliosis and leaning that far forward for any extended period of time will cause me a significant amount of pain, so comfort is the top priority for me for a road bike. That's why I'm leaning towards getting a 2nd bike specifically for the road as my mountain bike is perfectly suited for the XC riding that I do, but becomes a bit arduous and uncomfortable of a ride for long extended periods of time (anything longer than an hour).

    Thanks all for the feedback.

  10. #10
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    I second JeffScott - just ride and don't over think this. I commute 44 miles round trip on my MCR and, depending on which wheel set I have on am either running 2.1 Small Block 8's or 2.25 Racing Ralphs. I tried running 32 mm tires for close to a year but found that when pumped up a little extra, the fat tires are almost as efficient (especially the RR's).

    If you are going to consider any changes, look at other bar options. Bar ends or something like a Titec H-bar allow you to still go off road but also add extra hand position options.

  11. #11
    Ovaries on the Outside
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    You're from CO Springs. You could find an 80/90s mountainbike on craigslist- like this one- http://cosprings.craigslist.org/bik/1737997263.html

    New tires (slicks), a rack, maybe a couple changes (new derailer or shifter) and you've spent 200 dollars.

  12. #12
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    Quote Originally Posted by lnferno
    A true road bike, the kind with the bars that you have to totally lean forward with, is completely out of the question for me. One detail that I should have included in my original post is that I have scoliosis and leaning that far forward for any extended period of time will cause me a significant amount of pain, so comfort is the top priority for me for a road bike.
    I have actually been working on making the position on one of my bikes more moderate for my girlfriend. She's taller than I am, with longer legs, so to fit the bike we had to raise the saddle quite a bit. That made the cockpit position way too low and a little too far away for her, so I did this...

    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/4603215618/" title="Kona Cockpit by Andrew183, on Flickr"><img src="https://farm5.static.flickr.com/4058/4603215618_ffb499d959.jpg" width="500" height="443" alt="Kona Cockpit" /></a>

    If I wanted to raise the handlebars even more, I could get one of these...



    A lot of purpose-built touring bikes are set up to have the handlebars relatively high without having to get into +35 stems or weird adapters, so if you decided later that you wanted to spend some more money, there are some options. My point is just that it's possible to put the handlebars really high on an existing bike as well, maybe high enough to put your back in the right spot.

    I don't want to seem like I'm trying to badger you into choosing the same type of bike that I prefer. One of the things I love about bikes is that there are so many different styles, to fit so many different users. My own experience has been that the position of my hands, wrists and arms is most comfortable on one of my better-fitting road bikes, with drop bars. By the end of a long ride, any discomfort I have in one place will have radiated toward my back. If my back (or more likely shoulder) hurts, I'm probably not having fun anymore, so it's important to me to have a riding position that doesn't cause pain and I've had the best luck with road bikes. I wouldn't want you to throw out the entire category without trying a few for yourself.

    Bar ends are certainly an improvement, but they're not as good for me as the brake hoods on my favorite road bike. I've seen a few bikes with the bar ends placed inboard of the grips, and I think that if you can figure out how to make that fit on your handlebars, that's potentially even better. Also, I'd love to see pics of how you did it.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  13. #13
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    In all fairness, I did try a touring bike (like what you had picture above), but without the mods of course, and it just did not feel comfortable at all to me and that was on a 5 minute ride. I understand your point, though, I'm sure that they can be made to be a lot more comfortable (like what you did).

    For me, personally, I think my best bet is to get something with the straight style bars. I've been looking at the Marin Fairfax, Novara Express, and Specialized Sirrus. So far, the Marin Fairfax seems to be the best fit for me, but I'm going to do some more research before I make a decision. The Sirrus is really comfortable, but didn't seem to shift as well as the Marin. The Novara is a bit out of my price range, but it sure is a nice bike as well.

  14. #14
    smell the saddle...
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    It sounds as though you had you mind made up for another bike since the beginning. Others suggested don’t over-think and ride what you got, but you are still convinced otherwise. I mean more power to you, I have 3 bikes and I could certainly find use for a few more.

    Personally, as I stated in my previous reply I would go for the 2nd bike option. I don’t like road bikes so I built a commuter bike on a MTB frame. You can go the route on a Marin Fairfax, Novara Express, etc. if you want (IMO, they are both over-priced for the junk components that come with it). I think you would come out cheaper and better off with a used rigid mtb bike. Craigslist or local bike shops as others suggested. There is nothing wrong with buying used if the bike is well kept. Do you need the gears? Maybe you can get by with single-speed, less money to invest and less to worry about – plus it will make you a better rider.

  15. #15
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    I definitely need the gears. I live in a city with LOTS of elevation changes.

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    Well, I made up my mind just a little while ago on two fronts. I plan on doing a lot of road biking/commuting/long distance riding during the week and pure mountain biking on the weekends. I'm not fond of the idea of constantly changing out wheels/tires. So with that said, I'm going to get another bike dedicated to road-biking.

    I looked really hard at a few bikes. In the end, it came down to the Motobecane Cafe Sprint and the Marin Fairfax. I LOVE the price of the Cafe Sprint. It definitely won in the price category, but unfortunately the bike requires assembly and I'm not comfortable with my skills that I'd be able to put it together at this point with my extremely limited knowledge and experience with bikes at this point. I'd have to pay my LBS to assemble it and after all of that, the price becomes a wash.

    On paper, both bikes seem to be very comparable to each other and I'm sure I couldn't go wrong with either of them, but I just hate the idea of not being able to ride a bike before buying it. With the Marin, I was able to ride it and it felt really good to me. That, plus I'd getter better LBS support buying the Marin through them than I would for a bike/brand that they don't sell. So, in the end, I have to weigh both the hard and soft costs associated to the bikes and the Marin seems to be the better choice.

    I'll need to learn how to tear down these bikes and put them back together because that Motobecane I think was the better deal in terms of pure dollars to dollars, but unfortunately, I'm not at that level, yet.

    Thanks to everyone for your input and feedback -- it's greatly appreciated.

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