Help Me Decide - Mountain Bike or Road Bike? (Read 359 times)

mab411


Proboscis Colossus

    Looking at picking up a bike in the next few months.  Going back and forth between mountain and road bikes, and here are the factors going into the decision:

     

    The reasons I want a bike:

    • Cross-training/general fitness
    • to go on the occasional ride with my wife - she's a newbie cyclist (road)
    • I'm not specifically interested in races at this point, but I would like the option to do a few, even if it's just to participate with my wife

    Points in favor of a mountain bike:

    • most of the roads we have around here are "paved," with capital quotation marks.  My wife takes her bike on routes specifically chosen to avoid the really choppy stuff, but I'd like to avoid that restriction.  I'd also just plain like the freedom to go off-road if the mood takes me.
    • I think the mood would take me often.  Even though I'm a road runner as opposed to trail, I fancy myself kind of a rugged individual (even if I do use the term "fancy myself" sometimes), and like the idea of trail riding.
    • generally cheaper, from what I can tell (or maybe it's just the models I'm looking at - I know you can spend as much as you want to on anything with the word "bicycle" in its name)
    • I am not a fan of the idea of riding at the speeds those road bikes can get up to.  Call me chicken if you want, but I'm just not a fan of going that fast without, you know, a car around me (and yes, when my wife builds the strength to get up to those speeds, I'll be biting my nails the whole time).

    Points in favor of a road bike:

    • if I do decide to start entering races (i.e. if I get over the last item above), there are a lot more road races in my area than trail.  Some of them, I think, I could still enter on a mountain bike, but I don't know...is that a "thing," to participate in a road race on a mountain bike?
    • ...and in spite of the terrible roads, there are still a lot more places here to ride a road bike than a mountain bike.  There are trails around, but I'd have to load up and drive out to them, as opposed to setting out from the house.
    • hmm...I guess those are the only two items in favor of a road bike...

    so just by making out this list, I may have helped myself decide.  I'm still interested in you guys' thoughts, though, especially on the issue of bringing a mountain bike to a road race.  If I did want to start entering with DW, I'd hate to have to look at dropping another however many hundreds/thousands of dollars for entry into that world.

     

    MTA: And I highly doubt I'll be interested in becoming a triathlete, as the guys in DW's bike shop insist when the subject comes up.  Because swimming.  As in, there are no public pools or non-gross bodies of water around here.

    "God guides us on our journey, but careful with those feet." - David Lee Roth, of all people


    Needs more cowbell!

      Neither.  Get a cyclocross bike (that's what's in my avatar and profile photo).  It can handle simple singletrack, gravel, and rough, potholed pavement…and grass and dirt, and mud.  If you want to go fast you can throw slicks on it.  Also use it on the indoor trainer that way.  A friend of mine has a custom Ti CX bike.  She does CX and crit races on the same bike, simply swapping wheels/tires.

       

      I recommend disc brakes.  My next CX bike will have discs…as will my next road bike.

       

      Or if you really don't want to go fast, but still want to give yourself a brutal workout get a fat bike.  That can seriously go places that most mountain bikes can't do well, like powder snow and sand.  Good luck keeping up with anything else on 2 wheels lacking an engine, though.

      I shoot pretty things! ~

      '14 Goals:

      • 6 duathlons (1 Olympic distance)

      • 130#s (and stay there, gotdammit!)


      Labrat

        Get both.

         

        The only way to cycle is to always be looking for more gear.

         

         

        Serious answer is that I use my road bike a whole heck of a lot more than my mountain bike.

        Part of that is I have a nice loop from both home and work on fairly quiet roads (apart from dead at 5pm on the work one), so its very convenient to use the roadie.

         

        Last year literally was a washout for our summer, but I expect I'll be using the MTB with a couple of work colleagues who are more into that.

        5K  23:21*  (Vdot 41.53)   10/13/12

        10K  51:48 (Vdot 38.39)  7/15/12

        HM 1:46:23 (Vdot 41.95) 11/9/13

        FM 4:28:33 (Vdot 33.01) 11/12/11

        *Gun time, all others are chip time

          +1 on get both...all four actually

           

          But if you are only going to get one bike I'll +1 Zoomies recommendation on the cyclecross. A very versatile bike that meats all the reasons you listed.

           

          My 2nd recommendation would be a non-suspension (fork and rear) 29'r. You can always run skinny wheels on the rims. I'm a little old school so when someone says mountain bike I'm still thinking 26inch wheels and at least front suspension.

           

          I have one bike that would be reffered to as a monster cross. It's a 29'r frame with drop handlebars running 2.1" wide tires. I think it's pictured in my profile. This bike handles single track trails as well pure XC as well as gravel roads as well as pavement. It is one bike that with the exception of fast road group rides is always ready for the chore.

           

          That bike is a Surley Karate Monkey. The best damned bike I ever owned. Not to mention the least expensive.

           

          MTA...The profile doesn't show much of the bike. That is a set century bars coming off the front. I do a nummber of endurance races on this machine and those wierd drop bars along with the century bars gives me lots of hand options.

          www.hplg.net  The Human Powered League - Solo Cup Series - Trail Building


          ultramarathon/triathlete

            While I don't own one, I'd also suggest a cyclocross based on your needs.

             

            I have a commuter (single speed)

            TT bike (triathlon)

            Road bike (general riding)

             

            If cost is a factor but you might also want to go off road, skip the mountain bike.  They seem cheaper and ARE in the sense that the cheap ones are cheap POS and will NOT be good for off roading.  If you want to go off road, you're gonna need to spend more money, or expect the bike to die (I know this from experience, having killed two "mountain bikes" trying to off road, and nothing even close to what my off roading friends do).  It's like an SUV, you really gonna take one off roading?  Maybe if it's a Rover.  Not if it's a entry level Honda or Ford.

             

            Also, if you're riding around with your wife, the POS cheap mountain bike is gonna be a brick and sluggish.  Sure, that's good for training since you'll work harder, but it's not fun... do you REALLY wanna work harder?

            HTFU?  Why not!

            Coach: Empire Tri Club 

            Speed Coach: Brooklyn Tri Club
            USATF Coach

            mab411


            Proboscis Colossus

              Thanks for the replies so far!

               

              So, my wife's first bike, when she first started getting into this - and I mean "first" as in, "never had ridden a bike with gears before" - was a hybrid bike.  I've had cyclocross bikes recommended to me before, but about the only person that's recommended a hybrid bike to us was the guy that sold us that bike.

               

              ...and looking at that hybrid, it sort of seems like the main distinguishing characteristic is that it bridges the gap between MTN bike and roadie, particularly with respect to the wheels.

               

              So...I'm sure there's a difference between a hybrid and a cyclocross bike; what is it?

               

              Oh, and if I get a mountain bike, it will have 29" wheels.  I mean, is there some downside to that that would make me want to consider smaller wheels?  Seems like the benefit to speed and terrain handling would make it a no-brainer.

              "God guides us on our journey, but careful with those feet." - David Lee Roth, of all people


              Needs more cowbell!

                So...I'm sure there's a difference between a hybrid and a cyclocross bike; what is it?

                 

                Oh, and if I get a mountain bike, it will have 29" wheels.  I mean, is there some downside to that that would make me want to consider smaller wheels?  Seems like the benefit to speed and terrain handling would make it a no-brainer.

                 

                Hybrids are generally VERY relaxed geometry, lower-end components, heavy, and flat-bar'd…so there is only one hand position.  I frankly don't understand why anyone planning to ride mostly on the road or non-technical trails wouldn't want drop bars.  Having at least 3 hand positions really adds to one's comfort.  As my DH is fond of saying, hybrids don't really do anything well.  They appeal to people who look at drop bars and fear that they are only for racing.

                 

                CX bikes tend to have more aggressive geometry and a higher bottom-bracket for clearing logs and debris without getting hung-up.  There's a much wider range of quality and componentry available for CX bikes and greater tire clearance to use knobbier tires (I wouldn't consider any bike that can't take Clement PDXs, personally…they seem to be the most popular tire around here, but they are kinda big mofos.  More clearance gives the option to use studded tires in Winter, too).  CX bikes generally have cantilever or disc brakes, which also provide more clearance and less likelihood of gumming up with mud.

                 

                If you're considering doing some racing, give CX racing a try (perhaps the best of all reasons to go with a CX bike).  It's crazy fun and not generally super technical.  The people who do well at CX are those with strong aerobic endurance at 5k-like effort and decent bike-handling skills.  Speedy mounts/dismounts often make the difference.  A friend who is half my age and a crazy fast runner (frequently takes her AG and places overall in tris) would still finish behind me in CX races…because my pathetic bike-handling skills are still a bit ahead of hers.  In another season or two I'll be looking at her back. Tongue

                 

                26 vs. 29" wheels…it's mostly a maneuverability thing.  26" is getting damned hard to find, too…especially with 27.5" (aka 650b) becoming more popular.  I have a 29er…I have some buyer's remorse with the bike.  I'm really at the too-short end in terms of being able to handle it properly (hello, broken wrist 102 miles into the new bike after about a year on a 26").  I got this bike about a year before the 27.5 bikes became more widely available.  If I were to buy now I'd go with a 27.5, no question.  I'm just under 5'4".  A lot of experts don't recommend 29ers for anyone much under maybe 5'7".

                I shoot pretty things! ~

                '14 Goals:

                • 6 duathlons (1 Olympic distance)

                • 130#s (and stay there, gotdammit!)

                Hobie1


                  Go get a Kona Jake the Snake.   Skip the hybrid.


                  Needs more cowbell!

                    Go get a Kona Jake the Snake.   Skip the hybrid.

                     

                    Forget the one with the aluminum fork if you have any interest at all in taking it off the pavement.  Aluminum in that region of the bike isn't particularly strong.  This is why even entry-level road bikes generally still have carbon forks…and that's for a bike that is designed to keep on the pavement.

                     

                    I personally recommend Redline for CX.  I love my little Conquest, though it's not particularly light and the components are all low-rent.  I'd kill to upgrade to their carbon Pro with disc brakes…but the smallest size it's available in is one size too big for me.  They only do their tiny frames as lower-end models.  I run into this pretty much with EVERY company.  They don't sell enough of the smallest sizes to bother making carbon molds or equipping them with better wheels, cranks, etc.  Someday a custom frame will likely be in my future (my friend with the Ti CX bike had to go custom for the same reason.  She and I have virtually identical proportions).

                    I shoot pretty things! ~

                    '14 Goals:

                    • 6 duathlons (1 Olympic distance)

                    • 130#s (and stay there, gotdammit!)


                    Needs more cowbell!

                      How to be a road biker Tongue

                       

                      The N+1 thing is no joke!  My N+1 is a TT bike or a new CX bike, depending upon the day and my mood… Tongue

                      I shoot pretty things! ~

                      '14 Goals:

                      • 6 duathlons (1 Olympic distance)

                      • 130#s (and stay there, gotdammit!)


                      Cheap and Evil Girl

                        My husband really likes his Surly Crosscheck, it works well for our country road which can sometimes be paved and sometimes not.  Plus our driveway is half a mile of gravel and I have gotten a pinch flat on my Jamis roadie before.

                         

                        I am of the mindset that I need three bikes.  A mountain bike for winter biking, something I can put studs on and fenders, and that I don't mind getting trashed with salt and sand.  A road bike for clear, dry, summer days.  A touring bike with panniers for loading up with books from the library.  So I have three bikes.  I really trashed the mountain bike though, winter riding is hell on components. My shocks are completely frozen up.

                         

                        I figure, you have one bike so you need spare parts and tools anyway.  So with that investment already made, get multiple bikes so you have whatever you need for the conditions.  Smile

                        I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I AM DOING.  

                         

                        "Mental toughness is built by doing something that is hard over and over again, especially when you don't feel like doing it. Our society has conditioned us to believe that there should be no discomfort, to stop when we are uncomfortable. But the discomfort we feel when we're doing a challenging workout is an important part of the strengthening process." -Jim Afremow, The Champion's Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train, and Thrive

                        mab411


                        Proboscis Colossus

                          Okay, you guys have about got me convinced on a CX bike, enough that I'll bring it up next time we're in the bike shop.

                           

                          Speaking of which, I will want to use them when the time comes...supporting the local economy and all, but mainly I've been very pleased with how they've handled my wife and her many trials and tribulations getting into cycling.

                           

                          Looking at their website, the brands they carry are Specialized (lots of Specialized), Felt, Bianchi, Kona, Niner, Yeti, Surly, and Scott.  I've seen Kona and Surly mentioned in this thread, any of those other brands have good offerings?

                           

                          MTA: ...and regarding the idea that I'll "need" three/four bikes...of course this could change after getting one and seeing how I like it, but I really am just getting this as something to add into my run training, and if weather/location make a ride unworkable due to the bike I have, I don't think it will bother me.  At least, I don't think it will bother me to the point that I'll want to spend another 10-20 bills on another bike!

                          "God guides us on our journey, but careful with those feet." - David Lee Roth, of all people

                            Okay, you guys have about got me convinced on a CX bike, enough that I'll bring it up next time we're in the bike shop.

                             

                            Speaking of which, I will want to use them when the time comes...supporting the local economy and all, but mainly I've been very pleased with how they've handled my wife and her many trials and tribulations getting into cycling.

                             

                            Looking at their website, the brands they carry are Specialized (lots of Specialized), Felt, Bianchi, Kona, Niner, Yeti, Surly, and Scott.  I've seen Kona and Surly mentioned in this thread, any of those other brands have good offerings?

                             

                            MTA: ...and regarding the idea that I'll "need" three/four bikes...of course this could change after getting one and seeing how I like it, but I really am just getting this as something to add into my run training, and if weather/location make a ride unworkable due to the bike I have, I don't think it will bother me.  At least, I don't think it will bother me to the point that I'll want to spend another 10-20 bills on another bike!

                             

                            Regarding whether you'll "need" 3 or 4 bikes ... I only bike for fun and maybe once a week and I bike/run commute to work maybe once every two weeks.  But I have 3 bikes and they are ALL mountain bikes - one titanium hardtail, one all-mountain full-susser and one fully rigid vintage bike which is my cheapest and simplest yet most highly cherished bike.  Thank God I never have been interested in road riding or I might have 6 bikes!  There's no end to the stuff you could end up "needing"!

                              I like Surly for lots of reasons. One is thier Blogs

                               

                              From an old Surly Blog:

                               

                              Some answers to just about any bike forum post I’ve ever read

                              posted by Skip BernetThursday, June 16th, 2011

                              If you think your bike looks good, it does.

                               

                              If you like the way your bike rides, it’s an awesome bike.

                               

                              You don’t need to spend a million dollars to have a great bike, but if you do spend a million dollars and know what you want you’ll probably also have a great bike.

                               

                              Yes, you can tour on your bike – whatever it is.

                               

                              Yes, you can race on your bike – whatever it is.

                               

                              Yes, you can commute on your bike – whatever it is.

                               

                              26” wheels or 29” or 650b or 700c or 24” or 20” or whatever – yes, that wheel size is rad and you’ll probably get where you’re going.

                              Disc brakes, cantis, v-brakes, and road calipers all do a great job of stopping a bike when they’re working and adjusted.

                              No paint job makes everyone happy.

                               

                              Yes, you can put a rack on that. Get some p-clamps if there are no mounts.

                               

                              Steel is a great material for making bike frames - so is aluminum, carbon fiber, and titanium.

                               

                              You can have your saddle at whatever angle makes you happy.

                               

                              Your handlebars can be lower than your saddle, even with your saddle, or higher than your saddle. Whichever way you like it is right.

                               

                              Being shuttled up a downhill run does not make you a weak person, nor does choosing not to fly off of a 10 foot drop.

                               

                              Bike frames made overseas can be super cool. Bike frames made in the USA can be super cool.

                               

                              Hey, tattooed and pierced long shorts wearin flat brim hat red bull drinkin white Oakley sportin rad person on your full suspension big hit bike – nice work out there.

                               

                              Hey, little round glasses pocket protector collared shirt skid lid rear view mirror sandal wearing schwalbe marathon running pletscher two-leg kickstand tourist – good job.

                               

                              Hey, shaved leg skinny as hell super duper tan line hear rate monitor checking power tap train in the basement all winter super loud lycra kit million dollar wheels racer – keep it up.

                               

                              The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

                               

                              The following short answers are good answers, but not the only ones for the question asked – 29”, Brooks, lugged, disc brake, steel, Campagnolo, helmet, custom, Rohloff, NJS, carbon, 31.8, clipless, porteur.

                               

                              No bike does everything perfectly. In fact, no bike does anything until someone gets on it to ride.

                               

                              Sometimes, recumbent bikes are ok.

                               

                              Your bikeshop is not trying to screw you. They’re trying to stay open.

                               

                              Buying things off of the internet is great, except when it sucks.

                               

                              Some people know more about bikes than you do. Other people know less.

                               

                              Maybe the person you waved at while you were out riding didn’t see you wave at them.

                               

                              It sucks to be harassed by assholes in cars while you’re on a bike. It also sucks to drive behind assholes on bikes.

                               

                              Did you build that yourself? Awesome. Did you buy that? Cool.

                               

                              Wheelies are the best trick ever invented. That’s just a fact.

                               

                              Which is better, riding long miles, or hanging out under a bridge doing tricks? Yes.

                               

                              Yes, you can break your collar bone riding a bike like that.

                               

                              Stopping at stop signs is probably a good idea.

                               

                              Driving with your bikes on top of your car to get to a dirt trail isn’t ideal, but for most people it’s necessary.

                               

                              If your bike has couplers, or if you have a spendy bike case, or if you pay a shop to pack your bike, or if you have a folding bike, shipping a bike is still a pain in the ass for everyone involved.

                               

                              That dent in your frame is probably ok, but maybe it’s not. You should get it looked at.

                               

                              Touch up paint always looks like shit. Often it looks worse than the scratch.

                               

                              A pristine bike free of dirt, scratches, and wear marks makes me sort of sad.

                               

                              A bike that’s been chained to the same tree for three years caked with rust and missing parts makes me sad too.

                               

                              Bikes purchased at Wal-mart, Target, Costco, or K-mart are generally not the best bang for your buck.

                               

                              Toe overlap is not the end of the world, unless you crash and die – then it is.

                               

                              Sometimes parts break. Sometimes you crash. Sometimes it’s your fault.

                               

                              Yes, you can buy a bike without riding it first. It would be nice to ride it first, but it’s not a deal breaker not to.

                               

                              Ownership of a truing stand does not a wheel builder make.

                               

                              32 spokes, 48 spokes, 24 spokes, three spokes? Sure.

                               

                              Single speed bikes are rad. Bikes with derailleurs and cassettes are sexy. Belt drive internal gear bikes work great too.

                               

                              Columbus, TruTemper, Reynolds, Ishiwata, or no brand? I’d ride it.

                               

                              Tubeless tires are pretty cool. So are tubes.

                               

                              The moral of RAGBRAI is that families and drunken boobs can have fun on the same route, just maybe at different times of day.

                               

                              Riding by yourself kicks ass. You might also try riding with a group.

                               

                              Really fast people are frustrating, but they make you faster. When you get faster, you might frustrate someone else.

                               

                              Stopping can be as much fun as riding.

                               

                              Lots of people worked their asses off to build whatever trail or road or alley you’re riding on. You should thank them.

                              www.hplg.net  The Human Powered League - Solo Cup Series - Trail Building


                              sugnim

                                Get a road bike.  That way there will be less people on the trails and more open space for me!