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  1. #1
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    Alternate bike for pavement?

    Just looking for some advice. I ride a Specialized Fatboy, which is my only bike. I love it on the beach and the MTB trails near where I live, but there are a few paved paths that I ride as well. I am finding it really tiring riding the pavement, which I am assuming is due to the resistance of the fat tires. I am relatively new to biking, so I am wondering it I should look at a new set of tires/wheels or a different bike that's meant more for the paved paths.
    Or do you think it's not going to make much of a difference, and it's just the rider?

  2. #2
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    A new bike more paved surface specific will be much more easy to pedal and much faster. You'll feel like you're flying compared to the fattie.


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    Look at a CX/Gravel bike or a Hardtail (with a lockout fork).
    A Specialized Diverge would be a good CX/Gravel bike. They even make a new model for 2021 with straight bars if you prefer that.

  4. #4
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    By the time you buy a new set of tires, wheels, cassette, rotors, you are likely a decent part of cost of a new lower end bike for your pavement rides, excluding convenience.

    I have a fat bike and a gravel bike, sort of as mentioned in this chain. You will be faster on a gravel bike or similar, and each bike will be more fun in different uses...I still ride the fatty on pavement if I am not concerned with speed as its still enjoyable, but I do enjoy having an alternative for when I want to cover more ground.

  5. #5
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    I just rocked a gravel race and got 8th (on my fatbike), but this is through massive power, some drafting, leveraging what few advantages I have, and some luck. The main issue I find is wind resistance, that limits me around 20mph, it's just impossible to overcome this without some sort of help (more aerodynamic, drafting, etc.). I do notice significant rolling resistance on pavement, with low-tread fat tires that are labeled 4, but end up about 3.5 in real width. On gravel/dirt, there doesn't seem to be an appreciable difference in rolling resistance between my setup and a gravel bike...just that damn wind resistance. The race starts out on pavement as a rolling start, then really starts on the gravel, which is good for me, then there are a few alternating sections of pavement and gravel, so the real hard part is holding on in the peleton on those pavement sections. Massively hard. Uphills actually help.

    I consider the fatty on pavement to be good training. It's also not so bad if you are going straight up and down, since you never really encounter the high wind and rolling resistance due to lower speed when outputting, but on flat ground, yeah, it takes a toll, a double-whammy on pavement with the wind and rolling.

    Alternate bike for pavement?-01f549cda54ccbb6316ac8a8a1b1b711086a217252.jpg
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnnySoups View Post
    I am wondering it I should look at a new set of tires/wheels or a different bike that's meant more for the paved paths. Or do you think it's not going to make much of a difference, and it's just the rider?
    It's not just the rider. Fat bikes on the road really do take a lot more work to go the same distance. It seems like it's twice as hard. And you can't go as fast because the top gears are much lower than the top gear on a road bike. I run street tires on my fat bike in the warmer seasons, and it's a little better than knobbies, but not much.

    I would agree with the other commenters: get a gravel bike that you can put road slick tires on (maybe 700 x 38) and you'll be much faster and happier on the road. You can switch back to gravel tires for gravel roads.
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  7. #7
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    Thank you all for the input. I like the idea of a different bike for the pavement. Preferably, I'd like one with flat bars. I will definitely look into the gravel bikes. I love the Fatboy on the trails, but it's tick season here on Long Island and I'd like to do some more street riding.

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    Higher pressure, say 15+ pounds will round our the profile of most tires, which means less area making contact with the ground and less friction. That will help a lot. Faster rolling fat tires will also make a big difference.

    I am now at the point where skinny tires scare me. It's not that I'm afraid of some speed, it's the fact that I can bail off the road or trail onto the shoulder or ditch and still remain riding instead of going over the bars, when someone or something comes at me.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnnySoups View Post
    ... there are a few paved paths that I ride as well. I am finding it really tiring riding the pavement, which I am assuming is due to the resistance of the fat tires. I am relatively new to biking, so I am wondering it I should look at a new set of tires/wheels or a different bike that's meant more for the paved paths. ...
    The obvious is a bike more appropiate for pavement, but...
    Don't forget that fat tires have a lot of deformation from round into the "flat" contact-patch then back to round. To help with that:
    • High tpi tires (like 120 tpi), which are (usually) more supple, so they rob less energy doing that deformation, for less rolling resistance. Usually a meaningful and sometimes a significant difference. Better grip too as more supple allows them to better match the terrain on trails.
    • The tube also deforms & robs energy: use the least mass tube that does the job...
    • Or go tubeless and lose the tube rolling resistance contribution entirely. You lose the tube mass as well. Also increased grip as it lets the tire shape more to match terrain better.
    • Those that ride pavement or path to get to their trails usually carry a pump with them, not only to choose the optimum tire pressure for their trail (or different pressures for different terrain on the trail), but to use a higher pressure for getting to/from the trailhead.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bumpyride View Post
    Higher pressure, say 15+ pounds will round our the profile of most tires, which means less area making contact with the ground and less friction. That will help a lot.
    It's true that you'll get less resistance at higher pressure. I recently bumped the pressure in my Vee Rubber Mission Command 4.0's from 10-12 PSI to 15-16 PSI. It felt like they ran faster, but the ride was too "bouncy" (vertically) with my pedal strokes.

    Also, when I leaned in a turn and fell off the more prominent center track, the tires were much more grabby and the unique fat bike experience of the bike pulling itself further into a turn was a little too aggressive for me, even as an experienced fat bike rider. So back to 10-12 PSI I went, putting up with more friction for a more pleasant quality of ride.
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  11. #11
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    Get some skinny-ish 29er wheels for your fatbike, then mount gravel tires or whatever. 90% of the advantage of a gravel bike will come from eliminating the giant brick-in-the-airstream fat tires and rims, weight and decreasing the rolling resistance.

    You can sometimes find some really cheap stuff. On-one was making some for a while for $200. A cassette can be pretty cheap as long as you aren't on an XD, and even then, you can just swap it, not that big a deal, I do it. Rotors are also relatively cheap.

    A $500 gravel bike is likely going to be pretty trash, if it exists. Maybe you can find a used one, but you'd be looking for a unicorn.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    A $500 gravel bike is likely going to be pretty trash, if it exists. Maybe you can find a used one, but you'd be looking for a unicorn.
    Youíd be surprised. I got a screaming deal on my All City Nature Boy, and I see other great deals on these and similar steel CX/gravel bikes. I run 700x42 on mine and use it to complement my 29+ MTBs. Ride on days that are too wet for trails.

    I highly recommend SS for the backup bike. Cheaper, less maintenance and a whole new way to get in touch with other Zen aspects of riding.

    Jayem, I feel your pain on gravel races on my SS. Itís way easier for me to hang with (or pass) on the climbs and descents than the flats. But the sense of accomplishment is awesome, and I never worry about breaking a derailleur

  13. #13
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    Having a second bike seems appealing at first but that means double the maintenance effort and cost. I would recommend getting a 2nd wheel set. i am on my 4th extra wheel set and it is great to just throw on a new wheel and have a totally different yet familiar bike. Framed makes some decent wheel sets for cheap or you can always build your own. there are tons of tutorials out there on how to do it. want to know the secret to wheel building? there is not secret to wheel building.

  14. #14
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    I ride my mountain bike on the road to get my miles in. I've got a set of 2.1" tires for hard pack that can take up to 60psi. They are great for the streets, and handle the cleaner trails nearby with ease.

    When I do 50+ mile rides, I've got a set of 1.5" tires (Vittoria Roadster) that take 75psi. No issues keeping up with the guys on road bikes (riding for pleasure, 16-18mph), and I'm a fat clyde. I'm pretty certain my body presents a hell of a lot more resistance to motion at those speeds than the tires. I can crank it up to 25mph on flat surfaces for a few minutes, that's my spin limit due to gearing.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jefflinde View Post
    Having a second bike seems appealing at first but that means double the maintenance effort and cost.


    Not really. There is the initial cost of course but after that the maintenance and repair costs are about the same because you're splitting the miles between 2 bikes. Also road bikes require a lot less maintenance than mtb's.

    Other benefits are not having to mess with changing wheels and having a bike that's a little faster and more nimble on the road.
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  16. #16
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    my 2nd bike costs me very little, but it doesn't get ridden much, mostly on the trainer indoors. I used to ride my hardtail on the road with 1.5" slicks. It was obviously much faster but was still a 30 lb bike. My road bike on the same track is easily 4 to 5 mph faster than my mtb and it's a cheap, heavy(relatively speaking) road bike. Its older so I could throw gravel tires on it and they would fit, but sometimes its kinda fun to ride "fast" on the road. In general the types of tires you use make a big difference.

    If you shop right you could find a cheap used road bike for the price of a 2nd set of wheels and tires.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    Not really. There is the initial cost of course but after that the maintenance and repair costs are about the same because you're splitting the miles between 2 bikes. Also road bikes require a lot less maintenance than mtb's.

    Other benefits are not having to mess with changing wheels and having a bike that's a little faster and more nimble on the road.
    Better to own two mountain bikes with Swappable wheeelsets. You can run a fast tire on a set if you must.

    This way you never are without a mountain bike to ride.

    Unless of course, you give a crap about road group A rides. A mountain bike with Togs and Fast XC tire is the Cats meow.

    One time I had both Frames broken at once. So I road my wifeís second MTB . Whatís the name of this forum...


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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by FJSnoozer View Post
    Better to own two mountain bikes with Swappable wheeelsets. You can run a fast tire on a set if you must.


    Different strokes, I love riding my 16# carbon wonder machine on pavement whether I'm solo or with a group. I guess I could get used to using a sloggy mtb on the road if I had to but thankfully I don't have to.
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  19. #19
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    People, he says he's "relatively new" to biking. Likely running his fat bike stock. As in, hasn't even done the usual fat bike steps for reduction of rolling resistance and optimization of grip yet.

    Until he's done that to get more out of his fat bike experience, he can't know if he needs a different tire, a different wheel or a different bike...
    Crazy on this ship of fools...

  20. #20
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    Alternate bike for pavement?

    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    Different strokes, I love riding my 16# carbon wonder machine on pavement whether I'm solo or with a group. I guess I could get used to using a sloggy mtb on the road if I had to but thankfully I don't have to.
    Agree with you about different strokes. If I was chasing hill top tens I would want a Tarmac.

    My mountain bike is 18.9pounds as it sits. Itís lighter than most gravel rigs. Itís going to be a hoot in the Belgium waffle ride and will be 17# with 2.1 tires instead of 2.35s

    I enjoy hacking off retention walls and hitting potholes at 23 mph while looking back at my co-pilot and not batting an eye or going OTB. I also enjoy riding long distances, hitting a trail, and riding home. I wouldnít really call what I do slogging on the road. I get after it and am more limited by aero position than tires.

    For the OP: My average speed on the road on a mountain bike is 5-6 mph faster than what it was when I first started riding a bike as an adult. A lot of the speed just comes with time and fitness, learning to be happy with being uncomfortable (thighs screaming at you). Initial rides were 12.5 which quickly pushed to 14.5 mph average. After a solid two years I was at 16.5 at the end of racing my first season of MTB. After that I added mph more slowly, but can average 18.5 on the gas for a decent 30-40 mile ride. Keep in mind solid bike path segments. That go on for miles without stops are cruising at 19-22 mph. These time are all on 23-25 lb MTBs with 2.35 aggressive XC tire. Just keep working on improving and you will get much faster!

    You could spend money creating a second wheel set for your bike and tires with a spare cassette and brakes, at the end of the day, I would just get another mountain bike

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Canoe View Post
    People, he says he's "relatively new" to biking. Likely running his fat bike stock. As in, hasn't even done the usual fat bike steps for reduction of rolling resistance and optimization of grip yet.

    Until he's done that to get more out of his fat bike experience, he can't know if he needs a different tire, a different wheel or a different bike...
    That's a drop in the bucket compared to wind resistance IME.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    That's a drop in the bucket compared to wind resistance IME.
    Perhaps at the speeds you move, but not at the speeds I move lol

    I see a huge difference in rolling resistance between 27 tpi and 120 tpi.
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnnySoups View Post
    Just looking for some advice. I ride a Specialized Fatboy, which is my only bike. I love it on the beach and the MTB trails near where I live, but there are a few paved paths that I ride as well. I am finding it really tiring riding the pavement, which I am assuming is due to the resistance of the fat tires. I am relatively new to biking, so I am wondering it I should look at a new set of tires/wheels or a different bike that's meant more for the paved paths.
    Or do you think it's not going to make much of a difference, and it's just the rider?
    I agree with the person above that recommended a Cross/Gravel bike. They're great for mixed surface rides, much more efficient on gravel or pavement, and generally awesome for a wide variety of riding. Commuting, mixed surface rides, off-road adventures, racing, urban assaults, bikepacking, etc.

    I think this is exactly what you're looking for without going full road bike (sucks and a one trick pony)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    I just rocked a gravel race and got 8th (on my fatbike), but this is through massive power, some drafting, leveraging what few advantages I have, and some luck. The main issue I find is wind resistance, that limits me around 20mph, it's just impossible to overcome this without some sort of help (more aerodynamic, drafting, etc.). I do notice significant rolling resistance on pavement, with low-tread fat tires that are labeled 4, but end up about 3.5 in real width. On gravel/dirt, there doesn't seem to be an appreciable difference in rolling resistance between my setup and a gravel bike...just that damn wind resistance. The race starts out on pavement as a rolling start, then really starts on the gravel, which is good for me, then there are a few alternating sections of pavement and gravel, so the real hard part is holding on in the peleton on those pavement sections. Massively hard. Uphills actually help.

    I consider the fatty on pavement to be good training. It's also not so bad if you are going straight up and down, since you never really encounter the high wind and rolling resistance due to lower speed when outputting, but on flat ground, yeah, it takes a toll, a double-whammy on pavement with the wind and rolling.
    A great description of your expert level racing and training program. None of which the OP asked about.
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  24. #24
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    I just built 29+ wheelset and put on surly extraterrestrials. Plenty fast on the road (will find rolling resistance sucks worse than aerodynamic drag) and not lugging around big fat tires. Way more comfortable too because fat bike is dialed for long slow rides, so I can do long fast pavement rides without being miserable.

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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by *OneSpeed* View Post
    I agree with the person above that recommended a Cross/Gravel bike. They're great for mixed surface rides, much more efficient on gravel or pavement, and generally awesome for a wide variety of riding. Commuting, mixed surface rides, off-road adventures, racing, urban assaults, bikepacking, etc.

    I think this is exactly what you're looking for without going full road bike (sucks and a one trick pony)



    A great description of your expert level racing and training program. None of which the OP asked about.
    He assumed all the resistance was due to rolling resistance. I was pointing out I find the main resistance to be wind. Sorry if you feel that is not relevant.
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  26. #26
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    I appreciate all of the input on this. Like I said, I am relatively new to biking. The last bike I had prior to the Fatboy was a GT Performer, so that tells you how long it's been. Once I got my driver's license in '92, my biking days were over.
    That being said, my friends ans I would constantly switch parts over on our BMX bikes, but it seemed a lot easier on those bikes. I am pretty handy, but these bikes look way more complicated to work on. And to be honest, I don't have a decent space to work on it or the time. My Fatboy is completely stock, like one of you pointed out. I'll look into steps I can take to improve the ride, and lessen the weight a bit. The thinkg is, none of my current friends ride, so It's hard to get good advice. When I go into my local shop, it's hard to tell what is advice and what is a sales tactic.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnnySoups View Post
    Just looking for some advice. I ride a Specialized Fatboy, which is my only bike. I love it on the beach and the MTB trails near where I live, but there are a few paved paths that I ride as well. I am finding it really tiring riding the pavement, which I am assuming is due to the resistance of the fat tires. I am relatively new to biking, so I am wondering it I should look at a new set of tires/wheels or a different bike that's meant more for the paved paths.
    Or do you think it's not going to make much of a difference, and it's just the rider?
    My fat bike is a Salsa Beargrease, replacement for the 2017 Fatboy Comp Carbon that was stolen in February. I spent about a year of the time with the Fatboy tuning and modifying it to suit my uses, which are primarily street riding with a little bit of dirt road and gravel road stuff. Tuning the Fatboy for primarily street use meant changing the 1x10 drive system to a 1x11 that added a slightly higher gear for those long, slightly downhill street segments, upgrading the brakes to ones that were a little less sudden than the original Shimano Deore brakes, getting the right saddle, the right grips, configuring the fit and adjustment of the seat height, reach, etc, and ultimately building up a set of wheels with better hubs and carbon rims.

    But the most important change was the one I did first: changing the tires from typical off-road and sand/snow primary use tires that you run at 12-14 psi to semi-slick, inverted knobby tires, designed for street use, rated for 15-30 psi, which I run at 26psi. That one change changes the pedaling effort from "a bit too much for a long ride" to "all day no problem" riding, it reduces the noise in riding, and improves braking and cornering quite a lot, never mind ride comfort on the street.

    I did the Salsa Beargrease as a full custom build using all I had learned (and the same components) that I'd used on the Fatboy. It works just as well or better, and I like it so much for what I do on the street and light dirt/trail stuff that I am building up a second one that will be my travel bike to take with me when next it's possible to fly interesting places again.

    I occasionally get a yen for something with thinner, higher pressure tires that's similarly light weight. It would be faster on the street but, more importantly, it would fit in the bus and train bike carriers better and I could go more places with it. I might do that next year. But I'm quite content with the fat bike as my only bike ... So what if I can't run 25mph and challenge the 20-30 year old set with my speed? I'm an older guy and get along just fine as it is.

    G

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