Converting a mountain bike for commuting

supercarl Posts: 43
edited April 2009 in MTB general
I have two Marin Hawk Hills from early - mid 2000's and am looking at converting one of them to be used for commuting (all on the road).

As I am not looking to buy a road bike, which changes will give me the most bang for my buck? I am guessing slicks are a given, one of the bikes currently has semi-slicks and I have really noticed the difference.

Have also heard that presta valve tubes are better due to the higher possible pressures.

Anything else I should change / consider / bear in mind to help on-road riding?


  • stumpyjon
    stumpyjon Posts: 4,069
    I recently converted my first mountain bike into a commuter. I stripped off any unecessary extras such as bottle cages etc. Put the original rigid forks back on (the RST MOZO PROs I had on were nearly rigid anyway but weighed a ton). Semi slicks (1.5") are as you have already said a given.

    The other thing I'm considering is replacing the chain rings with a road triple. I find the pedals spin out at 30 mph and as I have a lot of hills on the way to work I'm not making the most of some of the downhills. Also been meaning to refit the reflectors front and rear. Lights are also a good idea, I don't tend to commute in the dark but sometimes it is foggy or poor light and anything that makes me more visible to car drivers is good.

    Only other thing to consider is that the less bling and moutain bikey it looks the less likely you are to get it nicked.

    A pannier rack might also be a good idea, I tend to take a change of clothes into work the day before I ride but it would be nice to carry stuff actually on the bike rather than always have to plan ahead for the days I ride in.
    It's easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission.

    I've bought a new bike....ouch - result
    Can I buy a new bike?...No - no result
  • supercarl
    supercarl Posts: 43
    cheers stumpyjon, some good points. Luckily don't need to worry about it getting nicked as I'll take it in the office with me.

    I think a rigid fork should reduce a lot of weight, does anybody have any recommendations of where to buy one (as cheaply as possible!)?
  • Jay dubbleU
    Jay dubbleU Posts: 3,159
    I use the Giant Escape M2 for commuting which uses the same frame as the Giant XTC bikes but with solid front forks
    I use Schwalbe Marathons with presta valves which I run at around 65 psi - my wheels are 26 x 1.5s - I don't run them any higher because the bike runs OK at that pressure and it means they have a little give in them which protects the rims - my commute includes an old canal path which is surfaced with concrete slabs which have drops of an inch to an two inches between them.
    I have added a rack and panniers and lightweight SCS mudguards - now I have pretty much to ideal commuting machine - smaller wheels and light frame make it very responsive in traffic and the gearing 28/38/48 covers pretty much all situations
  • Raymondavalon
    Raymondavalon Posts: 5,346
    I did a commuter conversion on a Diamondback HT I got from the local classifieds
    First thing I did was fit slicks, but I went for the oversized (2.3) Schwalbe Big Apples as they're more forgiving when the mountain biker in me kicks in and I mount/dismount pavements. I also fitted Panaracer Kevlar tire liners to prevent puctures.
    Tyres run at 3 Bar (max on the Big Apple is 4) and I am using Schraeder valves
    I then removed the standard V brakes and fitted a pre-owned pair of Magura HS33's I picked up cheapish on Ebay. I fitted rigid forks as the Suntours were heavy and unneeded on a commuter. Lastly some cheapo lights, a Topeak saddlebag clip under the saddle and a crud catcher
    Total cost was under £300. Bargain. Old MTB's do make great commuters. Photo in the Your Rides section
  • snotty badger
    snotty badger Posts: 1,593
    I've just been sorting my old and first proper (at the time) mountain bike out for getting to work.

    Basically I've just fitted 1.5" slicks as it was already rigid.

    It could do with bigger gearing as I spin out the downhills (just over 35mph)- running a 32/42 at the minute. Ditched the granny as I knew I wouldn't need it but I know I can just get away with one ring now- or like stumpyjon I'll go for road bike gearing up front something like a 40/50.

    I reckon once its got a set of mudguards on its sorted then.

    Oh and I fitted some toe clips to try and make it a bit more efficent too.
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  • Surf-Matt
    Surf-Matt Posts: 5,952
    My "commutification" of my Stumpjumper extends to:

    Conti Mountain Kings pumped up to 65PSi that sort of roll well, decent lights, Crud Guards front and rear and...errrmmm....that's it really.

    I also wear a hi viz vest on all but the brightest of mornings.
  • GHill
    GHill Posts: 2,402
    Unless you're taking a full change of clothes, grab some mud guards. The black grease that comes off the road when it's wet is a bugger to shift.

    Pannier rack and bags might be worth considering, helps prevent a sweaty back.

    Otherwise, the good folks above have it sorted.