Author Topic: Would changing hybrid commute bike to mountain bike make my commute much harder?  (Read 588 times)

capoevename

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I use a norco indie 3 for commuting 6 miles each way in flat, hot, FL (https://www.bikenhike.com/product/norco-indie-3-281918-1.htm). I commute early to avoid getting to work sweaty because we don't have showers. I work in a cubicle farm.

I want to start mountain biking some trails near by, but I don't have a mountain bike (hybrid would get destroyed). Not having enough space in my apartment, I want to explore the possibility of switching to a mountain bike for my commutes so I can also use it in the mountain bike trails.

Would my commute get much more difficult by switching to a mountain bike? My main worry is getting to work too sweaty to "repair" with just a sink (no showers). Is the only way of knowing it just trying? What type of mountain bike is best suited for something like this?

One

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I use a norco indie 3 for commuting 6 miles each way in flat, hot, FL (https://www.bikenhike.com/product/norco-indie-3-281918-1.htm). I commute early to avoid getting to work sweaty because we don't have showers. I work in a cubicle farm.

I want to start mountain biking some trails near by, but I don't have a mountain bike (hybrid would get destroyed). Not having enough space in my apartment, I want to explore the possibility of switching to a mountain bike for my commutes so I can also use it in the mountain bike trails.

Would my commute get much more difficult by switching to a mountain bike? My main worry is getting to work too sweaty to "repair" with just a sink (no showers). Is the only way of knowing it just trying? What type of mountain bike is best suited for something like this?

I ride both, I'd guess it's about 20 to 30 percent slower. If you get a bike with full suspension I'd get lockouts so you can lockout the suspension when riding on the road.  You could also get a second set of wheels, put a skinnier set of tires that are designed for hybrids when riding on road. I would buy the mountain bike and ride as is, it's no big deal on the flats. Mountain biking is fun!

katscratch

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I agree, it would be slower, but not really harder. My son has a very fast road bike and a single speed mountain bike, and still often finds himself taking the mountain bike on his commute. It takes him longer, by quite a bit, but being in a more upright riding position is favorable in his city's traffic and it's just more fun for him to ride in stop-go conditions. Plus, if you're in an area where you can pop off and hit a few trails on the way home from work, all the better!

Aegishjalmur

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What you may want to consider if the mountain bike has quick release tires is get a 2nd set and put a smoother/less aggressive tire on it that is more suitable for road biking vs the ones you use when on trails. Cut the rolling resistance as much as you can( and preserve your other tires for the trail).

capoevename

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Thanks for the commenst! I hadn't considered getting a second pair of tires. That seems like an excellent idea.

Any recommendations of what to look for when buying a mountain bike? I wanna purchase a used one this time since I would sell mine used. I can look for guides online but was wondering if you guys have favorites. Or perhaps I just buy something off Amazon.

One

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Thanks for the commenst! I hadn't considered getting a second pair of tires. That seems like an excellent idea.

Any recommendations of what to look for when buying a mountain bike? I wanna purchase a used one this time since I would sell mine used. I can look for guides online but was wondering if you guys have favorites. Or perhaps I just buy something off Amazon.

I would look for something less than 10 years old. Don't worry about getting an ultra lightweight bike, some people think that's really important. I'd recommend looking for a specialized but any big name is good, Giant, Trek. It's flat in florida so 4" suspension would be fine, you could also try a hardtail. I wouldn't worry about the tire diameter size, some people think it makes a big difference but I think it's marketing hype to sell the new thing. I'd go 26" because you can probably find a better deal. You should definitely buy used, you can find a great deal on craigslist. Hardtails have less maintenance issue so could start there, maybe try and if you don't like sell and go for the full suspension.

Link to forum with reviews of older bikes and trails near you

http://forums.mtbr.com/forum.php

Hibernaculum

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Why do you think your Norco would get "destroyed" riding it off-road? You've already got an upright-riding bike with disc brakes, flat bars, and clearance for wide tires. That sounds like a good base for off-road riding.

There are three things that influence your speed: wind resistance, rolling resistance, and (following in a distant third) weight.

If you want two bikes, then it would be worth considering one with upright bars (like a mountain bike) and one with drop bars. That would be what might make a difference with wind resistance. As it is, though, your hybrid and whatever mountain bike you might get would have pretty much the same bike position, and pretty much the same wind resistance.

Rolling resistance, of course, depends on your tires. Supple tires with fewer knobs roll faster than tires that have a stiff sidewall and/or knobs. Supple tires, such as those offered by Compass, are expensive, but in my experience, they ride great. I also have had very few flats with Compass tires.

So, in your current situation, and depending on how big a tire your current frame fits, you might either get the big slick Compass, 55mm wide:
https://www.compasscycle.com/shop/components/tires/700c/compass-700c-x-55-antelope-hill-tc/
or the cyclo-cross-ish knobby 38mm wide tire:
https://www.compasscycle.com/shop/components/tires/700c/compass-700c-x-38-steilacoom/

Which might work best off-road would depend on what your trails are like. The fatter slick would be good on sand (and bare rock- probably not what you've got!), and the knobby would be better on vegetation and mud. Either one of them would also probably be quite a bit faster on the road that what you've got on your Norco AND they'd be at least competent off-road if they're good for your trails. The only serious contra-indication would be a lot of sharp rocky terrain, which poses a danger to the sidewalls. Now, ideally, of course, you'd go with still fatter tires. I run 700c x 2.3" on my mountain bike, and nowadays, of course, you can even go much fatter. But that would likely require a second set of wheels. Sure, you could just change tires- but that a pain enough that you'd probably never do it.

Mountain biking without suspension is totally possible. In fact, it makes you a better rider. And the better tires (even though fatter) will likely make your road commute easier.

Askel

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I concur with Hibernaculum. Just because a trail is a "mountain bike" trail doesn't mean you need a mountain bike for it. 

There's a lot of gray between road bike and mountain bike just as there is a lot of gray between road and gnarly singletrack.  There's a lot more overlap in those areas than you might expect. 

Still, if you're looking to push more towards the mountain bike end of the spectrum- hardtail 29er is a good compromise and won't feel that much different than your current road bike depending on the tires you use.  Look for a fork with a lockout, but also don't be afraid to just run a rigid fork. Good tires and the proper pressure will do way more than a cheap fork and crappy tires.  Good frames will even have brazeons for racks to make them even more commuter friendly. 

capoevename

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Why do you think your Norco would get "destroyed" riding it off-road? You've already got an upright-riding bike with disc brakes, flat bars, and clearance for wide tires. That sounds like a good base for off-road riding.

...
That just blew my mind. I didn't even know you could take a rigid fork through trails, I'm glad to find out it's doable! I'm starting out so I will look more into this first and upgrade when/if I outgrow it.

Would you recommend taking my bike to the shop near the trails and see if they can help me find tires that fit the bike and are good for the beginner trails? Or just go through the online route? The specs say the max tire size is 45mm.

You have sparked my curiosity now. Do you think it's a good idea to eventually upgrade the fork? How do you suggest I learn more about the type of things? I have been commuting by bike for 1.5 years but that has been so trouble-free that I have learned very little. And the information online is so scattered that it's hard to put together. Should I just put the online pieces together or do you recommend a resource/book?

Thank you all so much.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2018, 07:27:39 PM by capoevename »

Askel

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If the specs say the max tire size is 45c, it's probably 45c.  Even then, there's a lot of variation in actual vs. listed size so some 45c tires might not fit and some will have room to spare. 

A good local shop is invaluable for mountain biking. They know the trails and conditions you'll be riding in and can save you a lot of trial and error in finding something that works. 

Also, standards in the mountain biking world change incredibly fast now. It's helpful to have a pro who knows what works with what when considering upgrades. Sometimes it's not entirely clear on the internet.

IMO, it's almost never worth upgrading suspension forks on a bike- they tend to be incredibly expensive when purchased new, to the point it's often not much more to just buy a new bike. Plus I suspect the geometry of your frame will result in significant changes to the handling if you add a suspension fork. 

One thing to keep in mind when going with one bike is that mountain biking can significantly increase the amount of maintenance you need to do. Dirt and mud can wear down drive train components. The occasional crash can do worse.  If you depend on your ride to get to work, make sure you show it some love after hitting the trails. 

Hibernaculum

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There are lots of good online bike repair resources. One of the best is Sheldon Brown's:
https://www.sheldonbrown.com/repairs.html

That'll help you get up to speed on the most common repairs: fixing flats/replacing tires, lubricating the chain, adjusting brakes, adjusting derailers.

A good local bike shop can be a great resource, too.

Part of the difficulty today with shops is that the bike market has become very fragmented. Much of what you see is either a carbon fiber racing bike with 23mm wide tires or a full-suspension 650b mountain bike. That's starting to change a bit, though, and there are more and more bikes that are suitable for being all-rounder bikes. If you can find a shop that will work with what you have and help you find good tires for what you want to do, that would be great. Maybe something like the Compass Steilacoom I mentioned, or Panaracer Gravelking in 40 mm (depending on fit- it will be close!):
http://www.gravelcyclist.com/bicycle-tech/review-panaracer-gravelking-sk-35mm-and-40mm-tires/

As Askel mentioned, changing out your fork to a suspension fork is probably more hassle and expense that it is worth.

bognish

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You can ride mountain bike trails with the bike you have just fine. Even with a rigid front fork. Go slow. Get of and walk a bit if it seems too hard. If you go a few times and decide you really like it then think about a new bike. Maybe demo a mountain bike from a local shop.

At this point its kind of crazy to think about switching out the commuter bike you ride every day for a mountain bike you will ride on trails occasionally. You might not even end up liking mountain biking, then your stuck with a worse commuter.

MDfive21

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i wouldn't make any changes to your hybrid, nor would i go out and buy a mtb right away.  borrow a mtb (that fits you! fit is important) and see what you think about riding it on trails and the commute.  i have a feeling you'll hate commuting on a mtb due to the extra weight, riding position and the knobby tires.  i can't stand the feeling of pushing heavy knobby tires on pavement for very long.  and unless your trails are really tame, flat and packed down with no mud, your hybrid will be no fun to ride on trails.

there's a reason there are different types of bikes for different applications.  you wouldn't wear soccer cleats to run on a track and you wouldn't wear flat soled trainers when you're running mountain trails.  same difference.