MTB setup versus Road setup

geebee2
geebee2 Posts: 248
edited September 2011 in MTB beginners
I've recently bought my first MTB after riding road bikes for a few years.

My road setup has a fairly large drop from seat to handlebars, which I'm comfortable with.

My MTB came with two spacers, and the stem turned upwards, resulting in almost no drop from seat to handlebars.

Now I think a MTB setup will normally have a smaller drop, with a more upright riding position, but I think the current MTB setup is causing me to place too much weight on my wrists, resulting in sore wrists after a couple of hours (or less) riding. By comparison I can ride my road bike for 8-9 hours with no problem. It might also be the flat bar compared to road racing bars ( I'm wondering about Ergon grips ).

But first I think I'm going to remove the spacers and turn the stem downwards, to lower the handlebars ( there will still be a smaller drop than on my road bike due to the frame/fork geometry). but I'm just wondering what the general principles are here.

Do you have a similar setup on your road and mountain bikes?

Any problems with lowering handlebars?

Comments

  • supersonic
    supersonic Posts: 82,708
    It's always good to experiment with the set up you have. The stem can flipped, as well as lowered (remember to put the spacers back above the stem though!).

    Also try rotating the bars and controls, as wrist angle can play a role in your problem.
  • nicklouse
    nicklouse Posts: 50,675
    totally different. as I am not sat on my arse when on the MTB.
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  • cooldad
    cooldad Posts: 32,599
    Lowering the front end can also get messy on steeper descents. Normally when your face hits the dirt.

    Just a thought though - surely lowering the front will put more weight on your wrists?
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  • geebee2
    geebee2 Posts: 248
    Just a thought though - surely lowering the front will put more weight on your wrists?

    Well the way I see it is currently my body "wants" to be in a position similar to my road position, and the bars are getting in the way.

    The other possibility is to move the saddle back a little, which should naturally put my weight a bit further back and take weight off my hands. I guess I will try that as well.
  • cooldad
    cooldad Posts: 32,599
    Except the riding styles are totally different
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  • supersonic
    supersonic Posts: 82,708
    Moving the saddle back actually does the opposite - your back is at a greater angle, placing more weight on your wrists, not less.
  • ddraver
    ddraver Posts: 26,391
    geebee2 wrote:
    Just a thought though - surely lowering the front will put more weight on your wrists?

    Well the way I see it is currently my body "wants" to be in a position similar to my road position, and the bars are getting in the way.

    The other possibility is to move the saddle back a little, which should naturally put my weight a bit further back and take weight off my hands. I guess I will try that as well.

    I ve started to switch between both quite a lot recently (is that right cooldad?) and it is a matter of getting used to riding in 2 different positions. Sitting more upright on an MTB is neccessary, unless your riding very simple stuff, because you re moving around the bike far more. Whereas on a roadie you re essentially sitting in one position the whole ride and you can fine tune it to death

    It takes me a few mins at the start of each ride to readjust but you will get used to it.
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  • cooldad
    cooldad Posts: 32,599
    Excellent, you have obviously been reading up on Alots.

    I know when I get on my road bike (not very often) it feels huge, long and not quite under control for the first mile or two.
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  • thel33ter
    thel33ter Posts: 2,684
    Best way it just to fiddle with the position of stuff, but only change one thing at a time.
    And now you know, and knowing is half the battle
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  • mac_man
    mac_man Posts: 918
    Also... have a play with your brake/gear positions on the handlebars. It may be that they are too flat or too steep relative to your riding position. Either way it will put extra strain on your wrists.

    Personally I reckon lowering the bars will give more problems on an MTB. I replaced the forks on my bike a couple of months back. The forks are shorter than the ones I was using at the time and now have a shorter steerer to boot... so there's no spacers under the stem now. Result?... I get a pinched feeling across top of my shoulders. I can only put this down to my general riding position being lower, hence I'm having to strain more to look up. A more upright position would mean my neck would also be more upright.

    I have some of the Ergon grips and really like them as I get less strain on the ulna nerve.

    As for position on the bike, you are likely to spend as much time out of the saddle as on it, i.e. when downhill.

    I remember watching this guy, who I could only assume was mainly a roadie, riding seated down a hill and nearly getting his 4rse booted off the bike as it bucked around underneath him. I only say he was a roadie as he was dressed like one ;-)

    A riding position that puts your bars quite low may affect how confident you feel when tackling some steeper trails... you'll feel like you're looking over the edge of a cliff half the time.
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  • geebee2
    geebee2 Posts: 248
    Thanks everyone for the suggestions.

    I did a fairly long ride on Dartmoor yesterday, the most difficult ride I have done so far by some way.

    No firm conclusions yet, my wrists were better, but certainly I did feel rather insecure on steep descents, nearly went over the handlebars once, so I think the bars will need to go up again. Maybe the saddle needs to go down a bit as well..

    Besides that, I lost my nerve at one point, braked into a rock step up on a descent instead of riding over it, resulting in a fairly spectacular ( but harmless ) dismount. The bike stopped, I dismounted with both feet unclipping simultaneously, sort of jumped off the bike and landed on both feet.

    One problem I have is when the going gets tough and I get nervous, I tend to grip the bar very tight, resulting in stiffness in my wrist, I need to relax. This is I think a different problem, the original problem I got when riding simple road sections to get to my local bridleways.
  • mac_man
    mac_man Posts: 918
    Might be worth doing a skills day...
    Best £60 upgrade you'll ever make :-). Riding offroad takes a different mental approach to road biking (I would guess). And there's a whole different skillset and riding position involved. If you're tending to ride offroad in the same way you ride onroad... you might be in for some pain ;-).

    Or at you could check out some of the basics via youtube... probably loads of videos on there on the simple stuff - like seated and standing positions when you're either climbing or descending, how to do manuals, rolling drops etc.

    A few minor tweaks could make a massive difference to confidence.
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  • kinmofo
    kinmofo Posts: 172
    road bike - like ronseal, does exactly what it says on the tin.

    MTB - ronseal etc etc blah blah

    basically, MTB and road is 2 different diciplines (sp) and require vastly different riding styles.
    when MTB, personally i spend as little time sitting down as possible.
    when Road, again i spend as little time stood up as possible.
    riding position, seat hight and angle, handle bars, brake levers n shifters r all in different places on the different bikes.

    if you set up your MTB like a road bike, or visa versa you're heading for a nasty fall and/or a lot of pain in your back / shoulders / neck etc.

    check my bike below \/ \/ \/, thats a downhill MTB, see how laid back it is? how low the seat is compared to handle bars? believe me, it doesn't work as a road bike! nor would i ever dream of trying to set it up like that. hope this helps :)
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  • geebee2
    geebee2 Posts: 248
    check my bike below \/ \/ \/, thats a downhill MTB,

    I should have made it clear that I was talking about XC setup, not downhill.
  • cooldad
    cooldad Posts: 32,599
    Don't worry most of us got that.
    I don't do smileys.

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  • ddraver
    ddraver Posts: 26,391
    Skills day saounds like a good plan to me, If you have the engine from road biking a bit (corrected for CD) of knowledge of how to ride trails properly will help a great deal!

    I'm shocked at the lack of bike handling skills i see at the road club, and this is in Holland where people have been riding since they could stand up!
    We're in danger of confusing passion with incompetence
    - @ddraver
  • kinmofo
    kinmofo Posts: 172
    geebee2 wrote:
    check my bike below \/ \/ \/, thats a downhill MTB,

    I should have made it clear that I was talking about XC setup, not downhill.

    i was making the point, that you should have a specific bike for specific purpose, there's no point setting your MTB up like a road bike, its not a road bike. even more so if you already have a road bike?

    sorry if i didn't make a clear point, now or before, i struggle... but im a work in progress.
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    Out of all the things I've lost, I miss my Mind the most!

    dont get mad, get KROSS
  • Go check that your brakes are in line with yoru forearms, this leads to sore wrists.

    Most bikes get supplied with brakes in a useless position and this for comfort is an extremely important thing. So they should roughly be in line with you forearm in your prefered riding postion.

    Also compared to road your gonna take way more of a personal beating and if your not used it this can be part of the issue untill your body becomes conditioned to it.
  • geebee2
    geebee2 Posts: 248
    Go check that your brakes are in line with yoru forearms, this leads to sore wrists.

    Thanks, I already did this.

    I have put the bars back up by putting the spacers back ( but have not flipped the stem, so still a little bit lower than the original ). I'm fairly sure that putting the saddle slightly further back has helped, and was what I originally needed.

    The other thing I'm thinking about is handlebar width. This link

    http://www.bike+radar.com/fitness/artic ... bars-2443/

    says "Some riders might prefer more width for more leverage, some might prefer less because their wrists or shoulders hurt on wider bars."

    I have moved the shifters and brakes in about 15mm on each side as an experiment.
  • geebee2 wrote:
    Thanks everyone for the suggestions.

    I did a fairly long ride on Dartmoor yesterday, the most difficult ride I have done so far by some way.

    No firm conclusions yet, my wrists were better, but certainly I did feel rather insecure on steep descents, nearly went over the handlebars once, so I think the bars will need to go up again. Maybe the saddle needs to go down a bit as well..

    Besides that, I lost my nerve at one point, braked into a rock step up on a descent instead of riding over it, resulting in a fairly spectacular ( but harmless ) dismount. The bike stopped, I dismounted with both feet unclipping simultaneously, sort of jumped off the bike and landed on both feet.

    One problem I have is when the going gets tough and I get nervous, I tend to grip the bar very tight, resulting in stiffness in my wrist, I need to relax. This is I think a different problem, the original problem I got when riding simple road sections to get to my local bridleways.

    Were you still sat in the saddle when going downhill?
    I ride both roadies and mtb and the styles vary so much. Downhill you want to be off the saddle. Depending of steepness You should think about lowering it also so you can shift more weight over your back wheel. Even with my seat well down I wouldn't ever dream of sitting down when going downhill.
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  • geebee2
    geebee2 Posts: 248
    Were you still sat in the saddle when going downhill?

    No.

    But I think I would will be more secure with handlebars higher on steep downhill sections, that's why I have put them back up.

    Obviously there are some compromises... I doubt that I would often adjust my saddle height during a ride, probably too much of a fiddle, there might be the occasional exception. I don't expect to be doing steep downhills that often, in fact on Dartmoor it was due to going off the planned route on a couple of occasions. But it's early days for me.
  • mac_man
    mac_man Posts: 918
    I only drop my seat post if it's particularly steppy and steep with a fair amount of drops/rocks/roots etc.

    You'll find you'll be able to move the bike underneath you much more when the saddle is down... plus you won't get booted up the 4rse by your saddle when going over drops and suchlike.

    The analogy of difference between road and mountain biking was spot on i.e. your 'in' the road bike whereas on an MTB you need to maintain your centre of gravity with the bike at all times. Think of you and the bike as a glass of water - you as the water and the bike as the glass. The glass can be moved around at different angles, yet the water always stays level.

    If you watch some of the top downhill riders you'll see what I mean. The bike can be bucking around underneath the rider yet his head will be calm and level as he lets his body float with the bike.

    Took me a while to get the hang of it... and still not that great ;-)
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  • gmacz
    gmacz Posts: 343
    I am doing the reverse mtb to roadie.
    Many years mtb to newbie roadie.
    I am currently matching the roadie to the same settings as the mtb.
    Frames are very similar and seat height is the same, now trying to get the handlebars at the exact same height.
    Totally the wrong way to do it but it is the only way it will work for me.
    It will be a lighter faster bike that will be very familar and comfortable for my frame.
    No more sore points and the bike will get more use because of this
  • geebee2
    geebee2 Posts: 248
    One thing that I'm just beginning to appreciate is that MTB is currently much harder on my joints and muscles generally than riding on the road.

    Some may be due to lack of specific fitness, but this weekend I really over-did it.

    I went out for 6 hours MTB round Cam/Dursley on Saturday (pretty hilly, maybe 1500m ascent), I felt ok at the time, but while doing a long (road) club ride on Sunday my legs were really wrecked, and coming back into a strong headwind I totally bonked, had to stop at a garage to get some energy, I was shaking.

    I reckon a 6 hours MTB ride does as much damage as a 9 or 10 hour ride on the road.
  • geebee2 wrote:
    One thing that I'm just beginning to appreciate is that MTB is currently much harder on my joints and muscles generally than riding on the road.

    Some may be due to lack of specific fitness, but this weekend I really over-did it.

    I went out for 6 hours MTB round Cam/Dursley on Saturday (pretty hilly, maybe 1500m ascent), I felt ok at the time, but while doing a long (road) club ride on Sunday my legs were really wrecked, and coming back into a strong headwind I totally bonked, had to stop at a garage to get some energy, I was shaking.

    I reckon a 6 hours MTB ride does as much damage as a 9 or 10 hour ride on the road.

    Easily, and if your ride pretty tough terrain it's hard on your whole body, Should feel how battered your arms and shoulders get after some serious decents :)