We all know the joys of mountain biking.
Heading down the unbeaten tracks, no motor traffic for miles, no exhaust fumes to deal with, superb views and a lot of camaraderie. Wonderful – especially in the summer months! In the winter months the challenge just gets harder and a lot muddier but not any less fun.
Mountain bikes are generally heavy, durable with a strong suspension and wide studded tyres for added grip and friction. The straight handlebars are designed for total control. Marvellous machines – for mountains.
Not quite right
But when you hit the roads something just doesn’t feel quite right. The pedalling suddenly feels like extra effort. You are not taking advantage of the sheer speeds combined with comfort levels than only a road bike can bring.
A road bike is all about perfection, speed, the gentle hum of those slick tyres as you race along. You’ll soon find yourself wanting to join races or, heaven forbid, ride in groups.
The light, streamlined frame with components built to reduce weight in any way possible. Suspension and traction are done away with – dismissed as an impediment to speed.
The new riding position is bent right down over the top bar. The guts and strength needed for mountain biking are replaced with fitness and a propensity for pain.
To switch or not to switch? That is the question
So should you make the switch? The investment can be quite heavy. The lighter road bikes are expensive and if you are not sure you’ll get into it then you may hesitate. That’s not forgetting all the additional gear you’ll need. It’s not just the bike that needs to be streamlined, it’s also the cyclist. Tight fitting clothes, cycling shoes.
Most people will dabble with the dark side through commuting to work. Although this can be done on a mountain bike people will often eye a road bike purchase. The enjoyment of the challenge on the road can push people to take it further.
There is another option
Of course there is always a half-way alternative. A hybrid bike. Still capable of tackling some trails whilst not dragging you along on the road. These normally feature flat handlebars but thinner tires and a lighter frame. This remains my preferred bike for most rides but doesn’t quite achieve the same enjoyment as a road bike.
You could also opt for changing your mountain bike. Whilst you’ll never achieve a full road bike, especially with a heavy frame, you can make your mountain bike more suitable for the road. The first is to switch for a pair of thinner, slick and ideally puncture proof tires that help achieve better rollability. This will also probably mean however a new set of wheels will needed to fit the thinner tire width.
Additionally, clipless pedals that allow you to maximise the return on your pedalling effort can easily be installed to a mountain bike.
Have you made the switch? Or have you always enjoyed both road and mountain biking? Leave a comment below..
This post was written by Andreas. He blogs over at London Cyclist and covers everything from product reviews to cycling editorials. He has been a long time friend of Bike198 so check his site out when you get a chance.