Mountain Bike based Tourer opinions

barrowmatt Posts: 104
edited June 2014 in Tour & expedition
I am in between the idea of buying/building up a road based touring bike or use my underused mountain bike.

I'm not planning anything epic but my trip are likely to be one night so getting good mileage in each day would be essential. I will try it but from others experience is there a huge difference trying to cover 80-100 miles per day on a slick tyred mountain bike compared to a road bike?

Can anyone put an approx figure on say a flat rolling speed difference between the two for the same effort?


  • ai_1
    ai_1 Posts: 3,060
    It depends very much on your position on the bike versus the position you would adopt on a road or audax bike. It also depend on how hard you'll be pushing along. Typically you'll ride a road bike in a much lower position which will make some difference at lower speeds but a lot of difference at higher speeds.
    Any estimates of the speed difference between a mountain bike with slicks versus a road bike will have to make too mamy assumptions to be useful.
  • mercia_man
    mercia_man Posts: 1,431
    I've toured on a drop bar tourer and flat bar rigid mountain bike with semi-slicks. Unless you are trying to go really fast, the difference in average speed is tiny - perhaps one mile an hour, if that. The big benefit with drop bars is the much better comfort due to being able to change your hand position. I think bar ends are essential if you use flat bars for long distances. Hand pain can be a big issue if your hands are stuck in just one position.

    A rigid mountain bike with slick tyres can make an excellent tourer and load carrier. Suspension mountain bikes, however, are much less suitable for road touring. The extra weight makes hills a pain and they are significantly slower than a drop bar tourer.

    Drop bar touring bikes are peculiarly British. They are pretty rare in Europe. Flat bar trekking bikes are more popular.
  • joesteve
    joesteve Posts: 21
    Im planning to do LEJOG in September and going through the exact same dilemma. I've got a carbon road bike that wont take panniers and a hardtail MTB that I've put a rack on, swapped the forks for rigid carbon ones and fitted bar ends. I was estimating an approx 2mph difference then went out last weekend on a 100k ride on the MTB without luggage and was faster than my previous times on the road bike averaging over 15mph without really pushing it. I've opted for the MTB based on the lower gearing, stronger wheels (a broken spoke on a 20 spoke road wheel is a lot more serious than on an MTB) and more upright, comfortable position. The lower gears for when you are tired are a big advantage. I just did two 70 mile days with about 6000ft of climbing each day and was fine (averaged 13mph over the two days with approx 6kg pannier). If I had the choice I'd probably get a proper drop bar tourer with all the attachment points for racks, mudgaurds etc but I dont have room for another bike.
  • Bodhbh
    Bodhbh Posts: 117
    If you're gonna stick a bunch of luggage on either I can't see they'll be much difference. And a MTB with slicks on rolls fine, just (unloaded) takes longer to get up to speed due to the likely extra weight of the fatter tyres. Loaded, I doubt it makes much odds. I've toured mostly on a converted MTB and 80-100mile days are fine.

    Suspension is not needed on the road and is one more thing to go wrong, but it's not the end of the world if you're stuck with it and can't be bothered/afford to swap out the forks. Can always be locked out and can't add much more than a kg to the bike weight.
  • jc4lab
    jc4lab Posts: 554

    Why not first exchange your MTB tyres for a road tyre and see how you go...They make a large difference to speed and comfort and daily mileage if on the road.but they dont have the grip for off roaduse so are not really duel purpose...I I use Schwalbe big apple on mine...
    A cheap example of one is included in the link above but you can get something similar and of better quality from most bike stores Evans Halfords etcs..Try Ebay and amazon too. Read the wiggle customers reviews on the above tyre if you do look it up. On my MTB you can adjust the front suspension with the screw nuts on the top of the forks to reduce the bounce when riding on the road if needs be...Maybe yours will allow it..
  • barrowmatt
    barrowmatt Posts: 104
    Thanks for the responses, my MTB is already fitted with City Jet tyres from before I got my Fixie for commuting, will give it a few longer rides and see how it feels. It also has lockout on the suspension.

    It will get me out in the summer anyway then I can decide in the longer term if I want to build up a more road orientated tour/winter bike.

    I picked up a seat post mount rack in Tesco and think i'm going to go with Halfords £25/pair panniers which look about the right size to get me going without a huge investment.