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Adapting MTB for road use

timothiustimothius Posts: 61
edited July 2008 in Commuting chat
Hi,

I need to convert my mountain bike (Kona hardtail) for road use, since in it's current configuration its set up for XC riding.

Am I right in thinking that putting "slicks" on the wheels will make a big difference when on the road? I was thinking of using these:

http://www.conti-tyres.co.uk/conticycle ... tact.shtml

As they are around £12 and seem to be good against punctures.

Also, should I go for 1.3" or 1.6" slicks? I am not quite sure if a 1.3 would fit on my rims (Mavic X517)

I also think I may have to change the bikes gearing as I've noticed that the highest gear is rather low when going down steep hills, even with XC tyres.

Also, should I look into getting some reflective gear?

Thanks

Posts

  • el_presidenteel_presidente Posts: 1,963
    Slicks are a must

    I used 1.3" s for years then eventually went to 1.0". Should be fine on mostly any rim I would think. 1.3"s will take a normal inner tube, you migh tneed a special skinny one for 1.0"s

    One tip make sure they are pumped up well as they will need a much higher pressure than your normal knobblies. check the sidewall.

    Gearing and reflective gear at yoru discretion really.
    <a>road</a>
  • FrankMFrankM Posts: 129
    I converted my Trek hardtail by replacing the XC tyres with slicks and replacing the MTB cassette with a road cassette (11-23). Some parts of London are hilly, but not that hilly, and that gearing works for me.
  • snookssnooks Posts: 1,521
    Have a go commuting on nobblies...then change to slicks! What a difference! faster smoother, more control....I went for 1.5's on my old Marin (schwalbe city jets, cheap and do the job)

    After that it's time to decide what you're going to do...if you're going to take this commuting lark seriously, you might be better off getting a bike made for the job, if that's a hybrid or racer only you can chose

    Or if you lack funds get the biggest chainrings you can on the front...this now makes good off road out of the question for your mtb, but on the black stuff you'll fly along with ease :0) This is what I've done, as well as spd pedals...But I do wonder how much faster I'd be with 700 wheel, instead of the 26" mtb ones...not that many overtake me, of course....but I do wonder...and who doesn't think about new bikes??
    FCN:5, 8 & 9
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  • Everything above.
    If you're hardcore MTB you might want to user the bigger tyres for a bit of cushioning, until you get used to the road.
    I won't bore you with cyclocross bike references :-)
    If you see the candle as flame, the meal is already cooked.
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  • markybhoy67markybhoy67 Posts: 346
    timothius wrote:
    Hi,

    I need to convert my mountain bike (Kona hardtail) for road use, since in it's current configuration its set up for XC riding.

    Am I right in thinking that putting "slicks" on the wheels will make a big difference when on the road? I was thinking of using these:

    http://www.conti-tyres.co.uk/conticycle ... tact.shtml

    As they are around £12 and seem to be good against punctures.

    Also, should I go for 1.3" or 1.6" slicks? I am not quite sure if a 1.3 would fit on my rims (Mavic X517)

    I also think I may have to change the bikes gearing as I've noticed that the highest gear is rather low when going down steep hills, even with XC tyres.

    Also, should I look into getting some reflective gear?

    Thanks

    I have just taken these off my bike, as I got a puncture after about 14 miles of use. (1.5 or 1.6 version that came with the bike)

    I changed to schwalbe marathon plus 1.9, so know I have more grip but less speed.

    I done 80 miles after my initial puncture on the contis and they where fine, it's just I lost confidence in them and ordered new tyres on a spur of the moment.

    The conti tyres make you fly going downhill :-)
  • I have 'converted' my MTB to commuting duty by putting on fat Schwalbe City Jet tyres and nothing else, I've been doing fine. Most weeks I do 1 or 2 16-mile commutes one-way, and also 1 or 2 times a week I drive partway and cycle the rest of the way (6 miles one-way) when I have to be home earlier. When these tyres wear out I'll change to thinner Schwalbe tyres but I'm very happy with the ones I got because I go over a lot of drains and uneven bits. The shocks that came with the bike are pretty cheap compared to today's trail bikes, but they're great for the road - I have them set to their stiffest setting.

    My rear cassette is 7 speed 11T to 28T - what came with the bike, which works fine for me because of a few steep hills, plus I've added a rear rack/pannier plus lights all around. I still have flat handlebars even :)

    I'm working to slowly convert a 700c road racer into a commuter, I have spare riser bars and will scrounge for other stuff, but the MTB is working pretty good right now.
    '99 Giant ATX 890
    '?? Raliegh something-or-other, commuter
    Trying to keep the rubber side down!
  • meanwhilemeanwhile Posts: 392
    timothius wrote:
    Hi,

    I need to convert my mountain bike (Kona hardtail) for road use, since in it's current configuration its set up for XC riding.

    Am I right in thinking that putting "slicks" on the wheels will make a big difference when on the road?

    If you get the right ones, yes. Even more to cornering and acceleration than speed.
    I was thinking of using these:

    http://www.conti-tyres.co.uk/conticycle ... tact.shtml

    As they are around £12 and seem to be good against punctures.

    If these are Sport Contacts, they're excellent.
    Also, should I go for 1.3" or 1.6" slicks? I am not quite sure if a 1.3 would fit on my rims (Mavic X517)

    How much do you weigh? What are the roads you ride like? As for compatibility, you need to read the internal width of your rim off the side and check it against the tyre spec.
    I also think I may have to change the bikes gearing as I've noticed that the highest gear is rather low when going down steep hills, even with XC tyres.

    It's easily done, but wait until you've changed the tyres. Most people have too slow a pedaling cadence anyway. You might want to keep an undergeared bike unchanged for a while to up your cadence.
    Also, should I look into getting some reflective gear?

    Again, combination of personal and to do with the roads you ride.

    You might want to look at setting your bars lower. And cut them down to around shoulder width, if you haven't already.
  • timothiustimothius Posts: 61
    Yup they are Sport Contacts.
    I have just taken these off my bike, as I got a puncture after about 14 miles of use. (1.5 or 1.6 version that came with the bike)

    Don't they have a year warranty against punctures?

    How much do you weigh? What are the roads you ride like? As for compatibility, you need to read the internal width of your rim off the side and check it against the tyre spec.

    I weight 57kg (just over 9 stone). The roads I ride should be relatively smooth - they tend to be well maintained around here.

    My Mavic 517 rims have the following specs:
    ETRTO compatible size: 559 x 17c
    Recommended nipple length: 12 mm
    Recommended rim tape: 559 x 18 x 0.6
    Recommended tire widths: 1.50 to 2.30

    The tyres (1.3) have this spec:

    ETRTO: 32-559

    I need to figure out what this ETRTO means... From my understanding, I think they should fit as the number 559 matches in both cases.
  • redveeredvee Posts: 11,920
    559 is the bead diameter of the rim/tyre, think it is mm.
    I've added a signature to prove it is still possible.
  • meanwhilemeanwhile Posts: 392
    Could be useful:

    http://www.ctc.org.uk/DesktopDefault.aspx?TabID=3802

    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/tire-sizing.html

    Or just mail Conti; there should be an address on their site. The info might be there on a data sheet anyway.

    However, a 1.6 shouldn't be much slower than a 1.3, and it will give much more bounce. If your roads aren't super smooth, start with the wider tyre.
  • cupofteacpcupofteacp Posts: 578
    I use an MTB 5 days a week and do a 30 mile round trip.

    During the summer I run 1.1 for speed and the rest of the time I use 1.35 marathon pluses. Changing a tyre on a wet February morning is not fun.

    My route takes me from Essex to Westminster, so it's mainly heavy traffic.

    If it rains then you'll want the larger tyre, as manhole covers are lethal.

    I use a backpack as I find it easier to load and unload as well as keeping the bike “light”, useful in the traffic.

    When the nights draw in you can never have too many light and I know it may look stilly but put reflective tape on your rims and your crank arms, they’ll attract the eyes of motorist, better safe and all that
    15 * 2 * 5
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  • Surf-MattSurf-Matt Posts: 5,952
    I use 2.0" XC Tyres on my daily ride - the drag means it's better exercise :D
  • woodgobwoodgob Posts: 96
    I use The Conti Sport Contact 1.3's on my old Rockhopper. Great tyres and (touch wood) not had a puncture since using them daily (well over a year now). Agree about the wet manhole covers....butt-clenching riding over them :x

    Also removed the riser bar in favour of a narrower straight bar with stubby bar ends. Means I'm as tucked-in nicely which is handy when riding through traffic queues and have optionla hand positioning.
  • Surf-MattSurf-Matt Posts: 5,952
    Do they make Sport Contacts for bikes too?

    Got 225mm (or about 8.9") ones all round (3s) on my car!
  • meanwhilemeanwhile Posts: 392
    Surf-Matt wrote:
    I use 2.0" XC Tyres on my daily ride - the drag means it's better exercise :D

    Actually, the main benefit of riding with proper road tyres isn't speed - it's safety.

    Standard XC tyres have lousy cornering characteristics on the road. The knobbly bits designed to dig into soft ground can bend on hard surfaces, and even before that point is reached the reduced contact means loss of grip. Besides skidding from under the rider, bikes can "walk" sideways. And hence into or under cars. This is mostly likely to happen (obviously) when you turn most sharply at the highest speed - i.e. in an emergency and so at the worst possible time.

    You might want to take a look at: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/tyres.html

    Unlike helmets, there aren't safety arguments that go each way here - slicks are *always* better on the road than XC tyres.
  • Surf-MattSurf-Matt Posts: 5,952
    Meanwhile - It's actually mixed road/off road and I only use tyres with rounded "shoulders" like the Fast Trak and Conti Speed King. Having slipped used square edged tyres, I always look out for XC tyres with small tread. Been fine for 5 years so far.
  • marcbamarcba Posts: 84
    I commute with a MTB. I switch mtb tires to Schwalbe Marathon (1.75 in order to keep same inner tubes); two months ago, I destroyed the back tire on a broken beer bottle and switch it to Marathon Plus (because I didn't find a standard one): I don't like this Marathon Plus (although I like standard Marathon): when it is not inflated at max pressure, it feels like you have a slow puncture; yesterday, I manage to get a real puncture...

    Adding mudguards is a bonus for wet days.

    About gears, I don't feel I need longer ones, but shorter ones, given by MTB cassettes are useless on roads; I switch 11-34 cassette to a 12-26 giving closer gears.
  • markybhoy67markybhoy67 Posts: 346
    FAO marcba, I too have just put smp's on my bike, I too feel that there is an awful lot of drag whilst riding.

    Are these tyres directional? I have both my treads facing forward but I am sure I read something on here about tyres with the treads facing each other (can't find the post now :? )

    I have also noticed that the back tyre always feels a little flat, maybe something to do with my 16 stone weight though :oops:

    I am seriously considering going back to slicks, I previously had conti sport contacts and they had no resistance at all.
  • timothiustimothius Posts: 61
    Well, I bought a couple of 1.3" conti sport contacts for £30 - should come in a few days. They come with inner tubes as well.

    I also had to buy some rubber grommets to adapt my schrader valve holes to presta.

    I've had the XC tire washout problem before as well - I can never control a front wheel skid. Are they actually possible to recover from with enough skill?
  • meanwhilemeanwhile Posts: 392
    edited July 2008
    Surf-Matt wrote:
    Meanwhile - It's actually mixed road/off road and I only use tyres with rounded "shoulders" like the Fast Trak and Conti Speed King. Having slipped used square edged tyres, I always look out for XC tyres with small tread. Been fine for 5 years so far.

    Well, you've obviously thought that one through. Have you seen the Schwalbes* they use on police bikes? Imagine a slick with hexagon(?) insets to provide grip. No protrusions, so no chance of "walking". Not a mud tyre, but good for gravel and what have you.

    *Actually, they're Contis - Town & Country's, I think.
  • John StevensonJohn Stevenson Posts: 1,131
    An old-school cross-country riding position is good for a road-going mountain bike too: long stem, flat bar. Lets you get down into something of a tucked position, which is more aerodynamically efficient.

    Good use for that old set of bar ends you have kicking round in the shed too.
    John Stevenson
  • timothiustimothius Posts: 61
    Well, I got the slicks today - seem so strange to ride. Looking down and seeing a 1.3' instead of a 1.8' just seems odd. Also, you really feel the road surface - before I just got the bumps from the XC tyres tread. Even so, the ride does not seem any harsher.

    The most odd thing is they way the tyres make no noise when rolling. My XC tyres made a humming noise - which I kinda got used to.

    Cycling actually seems way less effort now on the road - especially going up hills. When I used to come back from a ride before I would be drenched in sweat - but when I came back today with the new tyres on I was hardly even hot.

    Like Meanwhile said, cornering seems to be better too. Infact, I'm not quite sure why I used XC tyres for so long on the road....should have changed to slicks ages ago.

    I really need to get a front fork with no travel, or locking travel - I noticed it bobs like mad when sprinting.
  • Or no suspension at all - I threw slicks on an old fully rigid GT Talera after my old commuter got nicked.

    Was entertaining the first few rides as I'm so used to riding through all sorts of holes, trenches and tiger pits (damn those punji sticks) with a tidy fork and fat tyres on my MTB but I got used to it quickly. Without the bob it's like lightening off the mark, albeit lightening powered by 8v battery.

    It was like travelling back to when I started MTBing on fully rigid bikes, so much so a few weekends ago I whipped some knobblies on it and threw it round the usual route in the Chilterns for a weekend. :lol:
    As an internet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or cycling helmets approaches one
  • Surf-MattSurf-Matt Posts: 5,952
    meanwhile wrote:
    Surf-Matt wrote:
    Meanwhile - It's actually mixed road/off road and I only use tyres with rounded "shoulders" like the Fast Trak and Conti Speed King. Having slipped used square edged tyres, I always look out for XC tyres with small tread. Been fine for 5 years so far.

    Well, you've obviously thought that one through. Have you seen the Schwalbes* they use on police bikes? Imagine a slick with hexagon(?) insets to provide grip. No protrusions, so no chance of "walking". Not a mud tyre, but good for gravel and what have you.

    *Actually, they're Contis - Town & Country's, I think.

    Yep I have looked. Trouble is, I don't really want to buy new wheels and changing tyres all the time is a major faff.

    MTB tyres can be ridden on the road (been doing it for many years) but slicks can't be used off road so it's a tricky one.
  • alfabluealfablue Posts: 8,497
    timothius wrote:
    Yup they are Sport Contacts.
    I have just taken these off my bike, as I got a puncture after about 14 miles of use. (1.5 or 1.6 version that came with the bike)

    Don't they have a year warranty against punctures?

    I tried Conti Sports Contacts, they punctured often and the tread was noticeably worn after a very short time. The puncture warranty is meaningless, I don't want the hassle of taking the tyre and tube back to the shop every time I get a puncture, then go through the hassle of it happening again with the replacement! I just want a tyre that wont puncture, not a warranty! IMHO Conti tyres are too flimsy/rubber compound is too soft, wears fast, picks up and embeds debris easily.

    I swapped (back) to Specialised All Conditions Pro's, never punctured with these, ever!

    By the way, I have Mavic XC517 rims and 26x1.0 are fine.

    To complete conversion to a commuter/tourer I fitted rigid forks (Kona Project II Triple Butted, suspension corrected), and fitted mudguards (SKS) and a rear rack (Tubus). I left the gearing alone, its fine for me.
  • meanwhilemeanwhile Posts: 392
    Surf-Matt wrote:
    meanwhile wrote:
    Surf-Matt wrote:
    Meanwhile - It's actually mixed road/off road and I only use tyres with rounded "shoulders" like the Fast Trak and Conti Speed King. Having slipped used square edged tyres, I always look out for XC tyres with small tread. Been fine for 5 years so far.

    Well, you've obviously thought that one through. Have you seen the Schwalbes* they use on police bikes? Imagine a slick with hexagon(?) insets to provide grip. No protrusions, so no chance of "walking". Not a mud tyre, but good for gravel and what have you.

    *Actually, they're Contis - Town & Country's, I think.

    Yep I have looked. Trouble is, I don't really want to buy new wheels and changing tyres all the time is a major faff.

    MTB tyres can be ridden on the road (been doing it for many years) but slicks can't be used off road so it's a tricky one.

    Have you read the advice on Sheldon Brown's site about putting an offroad on one wheel and a road tyre on the other? I can never remember which is supposed to go on which. Maybe with a T&C as the "road" tyre and an offroad with very stiff knobbly bits you'd get an ideal mix.
  • m0scsm0scs Posts: 196
    I switched from my standard nobblies to Spec Crossroads and then to Spec Nimbus Armadillos for road use on my Spec Epic. Good tyre no puctures at all, but not the fastest.

    I also tried Continental Sport contact, as I thought this would be faster still, but found that while it was a bit quicker it punctured on its first use from a very small flint.

    I see from posts that others are using the spec All Condition Pro but had dismissed these as they dont seem to offer the same puncture resistance as the Armadillos, which spec only make for 700c wheels.

    Im also now looking at Conti Gators as having good speed and puncture resistance for an upcoming 75mile charity event.

    Anyone got any experience of either of these. Comments appreciated

    Cheers

    Simon
    Specialised Epic MTB on slicks.
    SPD clipless pedals: FCN 7
  • Surf-MattSurf-Matt Posts: 5,952
    Used the Conti Mountain Kings for the first time today and they roll well and corner hard without letting go. Splendid :D
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