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Converting Town and Trail to a road bike?

gary.hounsomegary.hounsome Posts: 296
edited October 2008 in The workshop
Hi i bought a Carrera Crossfire Town and Trail bike from halfords a few months ago for commuting to work and back. I'm now wishing i had purchased a road bike. I travel a 22 mile round trip and it takes me 45/40 minutes each way. Im sure i could cut this time down with a road bike?

I'd also like to use it more in my own time. Only thing is i cannot afford to sell this one and buy a road bike so is there any way i can convert my bike within a decent budget?

I know i'd have to change the tires and handle bar but what about the wheels themselves? And the gears?

Here is the spec for my bike:

Lightweight 7005 aluminium frame

Suntour CR-8V suspension fork with 50mm travel

SRAM 3.0 21 speed gearing with twist shifters

Powerful Tektro Alloy V-brakes

Lightweight Alloy rims and hubs with trekking tyres

Velo comfort saddle with elastomer suspension

Suspension seat post, adjustable stem and dual density grips

Weight: approx. 12.7kg



  • ride_wheneverride_whenever Posts: 13,279
    Just stick some carbon forks on, skinny tyres and drops with bar end shifters and it'll be okay, looking at ~100 for the forks ~40 for tyres and tubes ~40 for the bars ~75 for the shifters and brake levers.
  • I' d chuck some fast rubber which should make a fair differance
  • wgwarburtonwgwarburton Posts: 1,863
    ride_whenever writes:

    > Just stick some carbon forks on...etc

    Umm, the Crossfire is a £250 bike, reduced to £200 at the moment. It can't make sense to spend over £250 on converting it.

    It's never going to be a "road bike". You can probably improve it a bit by making some changes but it's going to be heavy and you'll struggle to get a comfortable, "aero" position for fast commuting.
    Narrow high pressure tyres and some handlebar extensions that allow you to stretch out and get a lower position will probably help a fair bit, but if you want to go fast on road then in the long run you would probably do better to try and trade up to a bike that was designed for the job.
    I don't suppose your employer is part of the Bike To Work scheme? That might make a replacement more accessible, especially if the Crossfire's in good enough condition to sell on.

    11 miles in 45 minutes is an average of over 14mph. That's not at all bad for a 22 mile commute, especially if you're doing it every day. At this speed wind resistance is the biggest drag unless you're climbing, so anything that reduces your frontal area and makes you more aerodynamic will help. No flappy clothes, try to tuck down (hence the bar extensions or a butterfly bar) and try to get your arms in line with your body (narrow handlebars/extensions again). A rack pack or messenger bag behind you might be better than panniers, too.

    Hope this helps.

  • Ok thanks for the replys. For £255 i could sell mine for £150 so £400 odd i may as well get a road bike? Atm i dont have the spare £250 so how much difference will skinnier tyres make for the time being?
  • wgwarburtonwgwarburton Posts: 1,863
    A bit. Not as much as improving the aerodynamics.

    It's not like you have Big Knobbly off road tyres on it at the moment, so the difference won't be huge.
    At 15mph, sitting upright with your arms out past your shoulders you are as aero as a wall. Stretching out forwards and bringing your arms in should make quite a difference, as long as you can get comfortable.

    A £400 road bike would be lovely, if you could do it! Back in the real world some long, curved bar ends might help. I'm thinking something like this: ... 0281604965

    Which work well for my wife when touring on a flat-bar bike.

  • so i use them fixed pointing downwards and angle my bar further down as well Fit some road tyres and a good enough difference would be made untill i can afford a new bike?
  • wgwarburtonwgwarburton Posts: 1,863
    I wouldn't point them downwards, I think that would be less comfortable. I would start with them angled slightly upwards. The idea is to move your hands forward and bend at the waist, so that the wind doesn't hit you square in the chest.
    When in town or denser traffic you'll probably want to be in your usual position, so you can see well and cover the brakes, but on open sections (I'm assuming there are some on a 22-mile commute!) you can duck down out of the wind somewhat and cruise a bit more quickly. Tucking your elbows in helps, too (which is why the extensions let you place your hands in front of you rather than to the side) you want to minimise your frontal area as you speed up.
    The choice of places for your hand should help with comfort, too, as you won't be locked into the same position on the bike while you are riding.
    It's worth experimenting with different angles to get a position that suits you- small changes can make a big difference. You will probably need to tip the nose of your saddle down a touch, too, to avoid numbness.
    I rarely used the full tuck position on my "road bike" until quite recently- but as my fitness has improved and I am commuting faster the benefit to being tucked down is much bigger, so I am spending a lot more time on the drops than I used to.
    Wind resistance takes most of your energy when you get to about 12mph and goes up exponentially with your speed, so the faster you go the more it matters.
    Lighter, narrower tyres should help, too. If you're on road you don't need any tread at all and narrow, slick tyres should roll more easily and be easier to spin up to speed (rotating mass makes more difference than static- It takes more energy than you'd think to spin the wheels up to speed).
    Adding bar extensions and changing tyres are easily reversed if you get the opportunity to sell the bike. On a long commute like yours I think a more focussed bike would help quite a bit, though I don't know what to recommend...

  • Hi Gary,

    Seriously, you're doing really well to cover that distance in that time. You might consider seeing if you can change the cassette or chainrings to get something you can put a bit more power into. I wouldn't necessarily recommend this though as I did this on my first commuting bike and then shortly afterwards decided to get a new bike (bike2work time came round). It cost me ca £70 at the LBS so wasn't a cheap mod to implement and I didn't get value for money. It depends on how long you see yourself using your current bike. If it will be for some time then it might be worth it.

    I'd echo WGW's comments above about technique and bike set-up to improve aerodynamics - free to do and will make a difference (top value for money!)

    Ridgeback R25 - 1% bike
  • thanks both of you for your advice. I am eventually going to get a new road bike but i have no idea when it could be christmas or next year! I have alot of open roads so technique and positining is key so that advice helps. I'll invest in those bars and some new tyres as it seems they will be a good short term investment!

    thanks again

  • seen some Continental Ultra GatorSkin 700 x 28 £5 each seems good to me?? And would they fit? Currently running 700x38c tyres. Also found a pair of 700x25c panaracer pasela TG for £27.99.
  • wgwarburtonwgwarburton Posts: 1,863
    The gatorskins look like a good buy. I had to get a tyre in a hurry a week or two back and ended up with one of these from Halfords for a fiver. It seems perfectly good to me and well suited to your commute.


    Are you sure the wheels are 700c? I think they are more likely to be 26" "mountain bike" size. Look for the ETRTO specification on your current tyres (a pair of numbers seperated by a dash, eg 559-32 or 622-23) If it has "559" then you have 26" wheels, if it's "622" then you have 700c "road" wheels. If it is something else then I'm very surprised(!).

  • the number is 622, ive even seen those gatorskins in a 700x23 so i assume they would be even better still?
  • i got those bars off ebay you showed me but also seen this for three different postions what do you think? £11 from ebay, not sure if it would fit my stem or not though it has a 25.4mm centre bar whats the standard size?


    also found a drop bar for next to nothing but is oversized at 31.8mm

    obviously these would require switching over brakes and gears though!
  • wgwarburtonwgwarburton Posts: 1,863
    Those are butterfly bars. I havn't used them, so I can't really comment, but at a glance they don't seem to let you stretch out forwards much. Comfortable but not fast, maybe?

    25.4mm is one standard size but there are others(!). You'd need to check to be sure.

    I think that your current shifters & brakes might fit on a butterfly bar, but I doubt they'd work with drops. If you need to replace those it's going to get quite expensive.

    Re the 23c tyres. I think you're into diminishing returns territory- as tyres get narrower they are more prone to punctures- less sidewall to give to avoid pinch-flats, usually thinner tread etc. A light road frame (especially one without luggage on it) will bounce over potholes and stones more easily than a heavier hybrid, and hence run with lighter tyres. I suspect that you'll find 23cs are more hassle without enough benefit over a slightly fatter tyre.
    Personally, I use a 28c on the rear and maybe a 25c on the front, though others find that 23s work for them. There are a lot of variables: your riding style, weight, how you carry your gear (backpack/panniers), the bike itself, road conditions (potholes? stones? thorns/glass/flint?). Some people prefer a chunky 38c tyre because it's less vulnerable to pinch flats and rim damage if you hit debris in the dark (and they hate fixing punctures) others would rather risk a flat, keep their wits about them and float the bike over any obstacles- this works better if you have a light bike and only a small backpack- jumping a 13Kg hybrid with 10Kg panniers is tricky, so if you have to carry a suit, shoes, laptop & files with you it's not the obvious choice!

  • they seem to use the butterfly bars alot in america. They call them trekking bars. Some people mount them the other way to the picture shown which i think would allow me for lean a little further forward.

    like you say a drop bar would be to much hassle and for the money i may aswell get a road bike! which obviously i can't afford at this time :lol:

    i've purchased some 700x25's so i'll see how i get on with them i had some money in paypal so wanted some from ebay so went with the 700x25c panaracer pasela TG.
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