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  1. #1
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    What bike to use for road training

    I ride on the trails 1 or 2 times per week and enter a couple of races per year.
    I like to train 1 time per week on the road, I use the only bike I own, which is a Rocky Mountain Hardtail.
    I have been thinking about buying a road bike for the road training.
    1) Should I not bother and just use the mountain bike?
    2) Any recommendation for a road bike for training?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rock2
    I ride on the trails 1 or 2 times per week and enter a couple of races per year.
    I like to train 1 time per week on the road, I use the only bike I own, which is a Rocky Mountain Hardtail.
    I have been thinking about buying a road bike for the road training.
    1) Should I not bother and just use the mountain bike?
    2) Any recommendation for a road bike for training?
    Depends. Do you enjoy road biking and/or do you intend to get serious about racing. If neither of these is true you can stick with your mtb. Otherwise, any ole road bike will do the trick.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rock2
    I ride on the trails 1 or 2 times per week and enter a couple of races per year.
    I like to train 1 time per week on the road, I use the only bike I own, which is a Rocky Mountain Hardtail.
    I have been thinking about buying a road bike for the road training.
    1) Should I not bother and just use the mountain bike?
    2) Any recommendation for a road bike for training?
    Road bikes are fun and a very effective tool for effective training, doing recovery rides, racing and what not. If you want to race and do the utter best you can possibly do, by doing structured training a road bike is a must. If you want to just race and have fun you probably don't need a road bike. If you want to just race and have fun and also have fun on the road get a mountain bike..

    Essentially my point is work out if you want to be bothered spending time on the road. As a mountain biker I love getting on the roadie and having a spin or whatever. Just for a casual sunday morning the road bike makes for great fun.

    I ride a Giant TCR composite 1 Road bike, which IMHO is the best thing. Its in the $2500 range but comes with some specs that you would see on $3000-4000 bikes such as a Full carbon frame, full carbon fork, full carbon stem, carbon FSA cranks, really good tyres and fairly OK wheels. If you want to spend less there is the OCR range for about $500-1300 or something like that.

    Trev!

  4. #4
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    Idea! No Doubt about it.... (longish)

    Buying a road bike and training on the road is one of the best moves I have ever done for training and just general riding. Don't get me wrong it doesn't replace riding offroad, it enhances it. The ability to ride from the garage instead of driving to the trailhead makes for more effective training time for the amount of time I have to train. I have the same pedals on all of my bikes so I use the same shoes for anything I ride, (*Speedplay Frogs).

    I originally went the route of riding my MTB on the road. I was riding about 1 to 2 times on the road and about the same number of times offroad. Next season I bought a set of slicks to not tear up my dirt tires. It quickly became a pain to change the tires back and forth so I bought another set of wheels and mounted the slicks to those rims. I did this for a few of seasons before I made the plunge and bought a used road bike. Had I realized what new dimension to riding this would give me, I would have done this years ago.

    If you know anything about wrenching on bikes then yard sales, garage sales and second hand stores are a good place to find a starter bike or two, (for parts). If you are looking for a training bike then weight is probably not going to be the deciding factor so an older steel frame is going to give you the most bang for the buck. If you take a look at what you are buying and are willing to do a little research before hand you can get a good frame in the 25-75 dollar range. (*by research I mean go to an LBS and ask them some questions about road bikes, sizing, etc., then check out www.roadbikereview.com or google road cycling, etc. this is not a scam as you could very well be buying that $2500 carbon road bike from the LBS in the next year or two depending on if you like this faccet of cycling.) After after lubing, adjusting and replacing tire/tubes/seat, whatever, and you think you like road riding, you can always invest more for a better bike later. You can save your yard sale special for winter messy rides when you don't want to muck up your good hardware in snow, mud, salt, etc. Does the word 'Commuter' start to have meaning for you here?

    Older road bikes have 27 inch tires/wheels and newer bikes have 700mm wheels which are slightly smaller in diameter so the tires for each are not interchangeable, (*tubes are interchangeable). Look for aluminum wheels, if possible, that spin smoothly and don't wobble or hop. Steel wheels will work if the frame is what you want and you can always find better wheels later from another 'parts bike' that may not be your size. Holding the bike up and spinning the wheels and looking at the distance between the brake pad and rim is the best place to start. Don't be as concerned about replaceable items like cables, brake pads, tires, seat, look for core items that are in good shape like shifters, brake calipers, cranks, rings, etc. After you start looking you are going to be amazed at how many bikes are out there that have been sitting in someone's basement for the last 10 years that have virtually no wear on any of the components and that just need a little TLC to get them back into running order. (*a friend of mind bought an American made Reynolds 853 chromoly steel framed Trek 10 year old road bike for $35 at a yard sale and has been riding it for the last 2 years after replacing the seat, cables, tire, tubes and pedals! This bike probably sold for about $1000-1200 new!) The bearings in the bottom bracket and wheels are almost always open bearing design which means they are made up from loose ball bearings. Normally you can take these apart, clean them up, regrease then reassemble them and you are good to go. The trick is to research what you are looking for before hand to know if you are getting a good deal or not.

    Almost all older frames are steel which may be slightly heavier but will ride much better than any frame made from aluminum. Standover and reach are going to be a little different on the road bike over your mountain bike, again asking the LBS some questions is going to help here. A good rule of thumb here is that the top tube is just under 'the boys' and from the nose of the seat to the handlebar in about the same distance or just slightly longer. Crank length, front gearing and number of cogs in the back are all not as important for your first road bike unless you are planning on spending a lot of money. This whole project should be under $150. Online, WalMart, K-Mart, etc., are great places to get cheap tires/tube for about $10 a piece for the tires, $3 for tubes, cables and housing for about $12, some grease for wheels, handlebar tape, etc. I would also recommend using Slime or Tru Goo in the tubes to minimize flats until you realize these skinny tires cannot take running through what your mountain tires can. Any more than that you could buy a newer complete bike used. This also gives you a chance to see what about road bikes you like and dislike. (*I am not saying that going out and buying a spiffy, shiney new road bike is a bad idea, it just may not be your thing or you may not have the budget for it so why not recycle from someone elses unwanted wares and save the planet from one more good bike winding up in a landfill? I tend to spend most of my bike budget on my mountain bike upgrades and the parts I take off get recycled to other family member bikes or my 'secondary fleet.)

    Probably the first thing that you notice with a road bike is that they roll much faster and for longer distances per pedal stroke due to the skinnier tires with higher pressures and no knobs. One to two miles per hour average increases are typical right off the bat and this number goes up fairly quickly with constant efforts. This allows you to go faster and cover more distance in the same training timeslot which makes for more interesting riding. I typically average about 18+ miles per hour for training rides that don't require big hill climbs so in a relatively flat course I can cover 36-40 miles in a 2 hour ride!

    Another point to mention is that for training you can concentrate on working your lungs and/or legs without having to worry about terrain. After a warm up try working on sprints, or intervals, hill climbs, one legged drills, spin ups, etc., without having to worry about climbing over stuff or dismounting or downhills, etc. In the area of the country where I ride this is not as easy to do when riding offroad and it takes me about 30-45 minutes to get to the trail. Less time in the car, more time on the bike and when I do get the time to ride in the hills I'm physically more prepared for it.

    If you think about it, that is what these bikes are built for, riding on the road. Typical road gearing is a 53tooth and a 39t up front with 12-14/25-28t on the cassette/freehub. Once you get use to pedaling a 53/12 hammering down the road you would be amazed at how easy cranking a 32/34 up your favorite offroad trail on your mountain bike will feel like. You will almost wonder why you have a 22 tooth chainring on your bike.

    I use an 8 speed that has a Dura-Ace cassette on it. This model year cassette allows me to mix and match individual cogs to come up with the best gear range for the training I am trying to accomplish. (*HarrisCyclery.com sells individual cogs http://harriscyclery.net/site/itemdetails.cfm?ID=800 ) General Flat road rides I go with something like a 12-13-15-17-19-21-23-25 but I can sub the lowest 3 for something like 23-25-30 for hill climbs by pulling the 21 and adding the 30.

    You will find that your mindset for each type of riding with meld and separate at the same time. You may never become a true 'Roadie' but when you are on the road bike you will be the speed demon ripping up miles by the minute and carving up twisty roadway like a Ferrari. When you are on the mountain bike you will be on your all terrain vehicle that can go over anything and ride anywhere. You will be stronger, faster and not have to use as low a gear to climb the same terrain that last year you struggled with.

    The possibilities are endless.....
    Last edited by QMrider; 05-09-2004 at 09:50 AM.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rock2
    I ride on the trails 1 or 2 times per week and enter a couple of races per year.
    I like to train 1 time per week on the road, I use the only bike I own, which is a Rocky Mountain Hardtail.
    I have been thinking about buying a road bike for the road training.
    1) Should I not bother and just use the mountain bike?
    2) Any recommendation for a road bike for training?
    One option might be to pick up a used pair of wheels for your MTB and mount slicks for the road training, and go from there.

  6. #6
    Trail rider and racer
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    SPAM!!!! I have a set of 700c disk wheels

    Quote Originally Posted by fsrxc
    One option might be to pick up a used pair of wheels for your MTB and mount slicks for the road training, and go from there.
    This is spam but I will pay the $2 if need be:

    I have a set of 700c disk wheelset, which has deore hubs and can be used on a mountain bike using a set of 700c clinchers. It makes for a great option for training if a road bike is out of the question.....

    Contact me, PM, Email me or whatever if anyone is interested.
    Trev!

  7. #7
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    You only need a road bike if you're interested in riding with other roadies. From a training standpoint, your legs and lungs couldn't care less if you're on a knobby-tired mountain bike or some slick supalite road rocket.

    Road bikes are faster for the same amout of effort - which is why you'll want one if you start doing group road rides, and more comfortable for longer rides - but you can get exactly the same training benefit riding your mountain bike on the pavement if you do the same efforts.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by TechniKal
    You only need a road bike if you're interested in riding with other roadies. From a training standpoint, your legs and lungs couldn't care less if you're on a knobby-tired mountain bike or some slick supalite road rocket. .
    I really strongly disagree here big time. And i think anyone who understands the basics of training will too.

    You are wrong. Riding on a road bike for the purposes of training is much more effective for you and is much more beneficial for your legs. continually training on a mountain bike is not good for you what so ever, it causes strain and doesn't allow for good recovery as you are always battling against resistance.

    I train on a roadie and could never imagine not having one.....
    Trev!

  9. #9
    The Riddler
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    Quote Originally Posted by TechniKal
    You only need a road bike if you're interested in riding with other roadies. From a training standpoint, your legs and lungs couldn't care less if you're on a knobby-tired mountain bike or some slick supalite road rocket.

    Road bikes are faster for the same amout of effort - which is why you'll want one if you start doing group road rides, and more comfortable for longer rides - but you can get exactly the same training benefit riding your mountain bike on the pavement if you do the same efforts.
    Your basic principle is true. Riding a bike will improve your strength, aerobic, and anaerobic systems. However, road bikes are able to do this much more effeciently and to a greater degree. Not only does a mountian bike eventually run out of gearing, it is also much more exposed to the wind and is not aerodynamic for the road at all. It may allow for simple recovery riding, but its is weak at super long aerobic rides, power repitions and anaerobic intervals that are combined with longer aerobic rides. I think that some could interpret the fact that many mountain bike racers train on road bikes as a statement that they are either roadies and not true mtbers, just interested in going fast, copying the pros who train almost 100percent on road, or whatever other reason you mave. BUT, the truth is that most understand the enormous benefits of a road bike. I am surely one of them. Last year i rode my bike to the trails and back every day, and also road the road alone some days as well. It helped, but having a road bike is beyond comparison in terms of training. I would find it hard to beleive that you have a road bike yourself. But maybe you do, and i am all wrong.

  10. #10
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    I was in the same boat

    I wanted a road bike for the convenience of riding out of my garage door, the speed, and the greater distance over time. It is a fun break to get out on the road and go fast.

    I bought a 2003 Iron Horse Triumph from Getaway bikes. It is a fairly inexpensive road bike, with lower end components, but for what I do, I enjoy it.

    The bottom line is, you don't have to get a road bike, but they can be convenient and a lot of fun.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trevor!
    I really strongly disagree here big time. And i think anyone who understands the basics of training will too.

    You are wrong. Riding on a road bike for the purposes of training is much more effective for you and is much more beneficial for your legs. continually training on a mountain bike is not good for you what so ever, it causes strain and doesn't allow for good recovery as you are always battling against resistance.

    I train on a roadie and could never imagine not having one.....
    Ok. Explain to me how, if I were to go out and ride for x amount of time, putting out x amount of wattage - how is there -any- impact whatsoever on derived fitness if I were to do the ride on a mountain bike instead of a road bike? If I'm stressing my muscles and cardio vasular system in exactly the same way, there is no way my body would ever know the difference. If anything, it'd be more beneficial to do the training on a mountain bike because Id get more time on the bike I'd be racing on.

    I'll be slower on the mountain bike over the same roads, but I'm not training my speedometer, I'm training my body. If I impact my body in the same way, how could it possibly react differently?

    I'm not saying the mountain biking is the same as road riding. I'm saying that there's no specific benefit to be gained simply by riding a road bike. You can accomplish exactly the same impacts to your fitness by riding a mountain bike on pavement as you can riding a road bike.

    I have a road bike as well and ride it a lot. I have one because I enjoy riding with fast groups, find it more comfortable on long ride and I like bikes. I don't think that having a road bike is a requirement for good training, though. There's not an interval or power output that I can do on a road bike that I can't do on a mountain bike. They are nice to have but certainly not needed.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaparzo
    Riding a bike will improve your strength, aerobic, and anaerobic systems. However, road bikes are able to do this much more effeciently and to a greater degree. Not only does a mountian bike eventually run out of gearing, it is also much more exposed to the wind and is not aerodynamic for the road at all. It may allow for simple recovery riding, but its is weak at super long aerobic rides, power repitions and anaerobic intervals that are combined with longer aerobic rides.
    Why is a mountain bike less effective at aerobic rides or intervals? Running out of gearing and aerodynamic inefficiencies impact your speed, not your exertion. You may be slower on a mountain bike, but there's no reason you can't do the same efforts.

    And yes, I do have a road bike. I probably put in double the miles on it over the last year than I have on my mountain bike. I enjoy riding and training on it - but I don't see it as a requirement.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by TechniKal
    Why is a mountain bike less effective at aerobic rides or intervals? Running out of gearing and aerodynamic inefficiencies impact your speed, not your exertion. You may be slower on a mountain bike, but there's no reason you can't do the same efforts.

    And yes, I do have a road bike. I probably put in double the miles on it over the last year than I have on my mountain bike. I enjoy riding and training on it - but I don't see it as a requirement.
    Well, i guess i WAS wrong. Anyway, i think your post just came across as kind of negative to road bike training, and seemed to suggest against getting a road bike. You never know with these posts.... I am going to stick to my argument that there is a difference however, IMO, between the two simply based on experience.
    Last edited by Kaparzo; 05-10-2004 at 06:08 PM. Reason: just to make sure no one gets MY attitude wrong...

  14. #14
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    Give your head a shake!

    Quote Originally Posted by Trevor!
    I really strongly disagree here big time. And i think anyone who understands the basics of training will too.

    You are wrong. Riding on a road bike for the purposes of training is much more effective for you and is much more beneficial for your legs. continually training on a mountain bike is not good for you what so ever, it causes strain and doesn't allow for good recovery as you are always battling against resistance.

    I train on a roadie and could never imagine not having one.....
    Trevor, if you read Technikal's post he's not saying that training on trails using a mountain bike is the same as training with a road bike on the road. What he IS saying is that riding on the road with a mountain bike has the exact same physiological effect as riding on the road with a road bike, provided (here's the big catch) you are maintaining the exact same power output on both. This is undisputable.

    However;

    1) Riding on a road bike on the road may be more enjoyable for many people since it simply rolls better, farther, faster with the same power input and therefore is naturally more fun. If it's more fun then it's a better training tool for the pychological side to keep you motivated in your training. Some people have a perfectly good time riding their MTB on the road so it's not an issue for them.

    2) On some downhills or with larger tailwinds if you are spinning out on your MTB then you may not be able to maintain your target power output for portions of your session, which the taller gearing of the road bike can help with.

    3) As Technikal described, if you train with other roadies of equal fitness you should have a road bike so that you're not operating at a completely different (higher) power output level than the rest of the riders in your group.

    It's all in the power output. You could be riding a $100 40lb bike with knobbies and if the power output profile for your ride is the same as on the carbon road bike then the physiological effect on your body is the same. End of story.

  15. #15
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    Thanks

    Thanks for all the input.
    The overall response is, a road bike is prefered for road training. Even though a mountain bike will work fine on the road. For the convenience I would rather buy a road bike then change the tires/rims on my Mountain bike. On the road bikes I have looked at, the feature I like is the shifters on the brake levers and I like the idea that I will go faster, seeing more terrian making the biking more interesting.

    I will start looking for one. Also thanks for the website links.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by TechniKal
    Why is a mountain bike less effective at aerobic rides or intervals? Running out of gearing and aerodynamic inefficiencies impact your speed, not your exertion. You may be slower on a mountain bike, but there's no reason you can't do the same efforts.

    And yes, I do have a road bike. I probably put in double the miles on it over the last year than I have on my mountain bike. I enjoy riding and training on it - but I don't see it as a requirement.
    I guess maybe then that road bikes have BETTER gearing, maybe, i don't really know, kinda taking a stab. The lesser range of gear ratios on a road casette would give a closer shifting pattern.

  17. #17
    No. Just No.
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    No, no, and no

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaparzo
    it is also much more exposed to the wind and is not aerodynamic for the road at all. It may allow for simple recovery riding, but its is weak at super long aerobic rides, power repitions and anaerobic intervals that are combined with longer aerobic rides
    Simply wrong. The inferior adverse aerodynamics of the MTB only affect speed and hence distance for a given amount of power input over a fixed amount of time. Power output is power output regardless of aerodynamic effect. Just to throw out an example, if you were producing X amount of watts steady for 2hrs to go 20mph average speed on your road bike, and produced the same X watts for the same 2hrs to go 16mph average speed on your MTB over the same 2hrs, it's the same training effect, same physiological effect.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaparzo
    I would find it hard to beleive that you have a road bike yourself. But maybe you do, and i am all wrong.
    Had nice road bikes since about the same time you were born.

  18. #18
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    I'm in the same boat as you are, a mt biker looking for more fitness from the road. My wife had this old steel-framed rigid mt bike that I'm using slicks with on the road. Not a true road-bike but it gets the job done.
    If it's any help, a lot of new road bikes are available with flat bars. Perfect if you don't like the typical roadie position. If I get a new road bike that's what I'll look for.

    Lou.
    Niner Jet 9 RDO, Scalpel 29, XTC 650b, 04 Stumpjumper FSR Pro, Trek Rigid SS - No suspension, no gears....no problem

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trevor!
    continually training on a mountain bike is not good for you what so ever, it causes strain and doesn't allow for good recovery as you are always battling against resistance.
    WHAT? Ummmm...wouldnt having more resistance be beneficial? I have ALWAYS ridden my mtn bike on the road and I hate to say it but roadies don't like it when I pass them on my mtn bike. Strain? Wouldn't any bike put strain on your legs? Isn't that how you get stronger? The ONLY thing I can see beneficial about getting a road bike is the group rides. Personally I think road bikes are more dangerous to ride. You have limited options on bailing out of a dangerous situation on a road bike. On a mtn bike if you have to bail you can at least do some off roading and not have to pray about not getting a flat...not screwing up your rims...and you can always ride the sidewalks and/or shoulder if need be. A road bike is limited only to pavement and that is just not safe in my opinion. I say if you want to ride faster on ur mtn bike, get some slicks or some bigger chainring combinations up front such as 28/38/48(i have this setup on my bike). Yes, a mtn bike may be slower on pavement but another way you could look at it is if you wreck you wont be as far away from home.
    Slicks would always help the "battling with resistance"(which is what I thought cycling was all about). You can do a recovery ride just as easily on a mtn bike...you just wont be rolling as fast, that is the ONLY difference. I can easily spin all day in a 38 front, 32 rear combination. The only way to get stronger is to pedal harder. Another good thing about training on a mtn bike is that if you ever do get a road bike those roadies better watch out. I rode my friends road bike(first time ever) the other evening and I could go so fast it was scary. I don't think I like going fast on 1" wide tires. But, to each his own.

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