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Festina Lente'
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all,

I am thinking about making my hardtail MTB (pecalized Hardrock) into a dedicated commuter.

My thoughts:

Slicks (any recommendations?)
Hard case panniers (rain proof? any recommendations?)
Fenders for the california winters
Lights I have...


Any thoughts on fitment of parts to MTB's vs Road frames? any other suggestions? Just looking to get some input... my commute is a flat 3-5 miles, pretty simple.

Thanks

nK
 

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That's what I do... though I haven't (yet) made the swap to TT bars. Disc brakes, so I need to buy the road lever specific calipers, and I'm just not there yet. Flat bar fits me fine.

for slicks, there's a pretty wide range. You can go with something bigger, like the specialized nimbus stuff, which might be nice on a bumpy road. Or, look into 650c road slicks, which I use. (I dig em) My next trick is going to be swapping in a set of 700c wheels that use disc brakes. I have wheel clearance, I just haven't built the wheels yet. Basically, it's like turning it into a 29er. and disc brakes don't care what the outer diameter of the wheel is.

No advice on panniers... but there's a pretty wide variety. Usually I use a backpack. If I have more than I can fit in a backpack, I use a trailer, and the BOB comes with a waterproof bag that's derived from whitewater rafting gear. Great for groceries.

I will say that making sure you use a rigid fork will make a world of difference. They do make models that are corrected for suspension frames, and if you have hand numbness issues with handlebar height, they're the way to go, because they'll tilt the frame back a bit. Suspension forks are fine, but the steering is snappier with a rigid fork, and there's less energy lost when you're stomping on the cranks.

Fenders are a good idea.

Versus road frames... Well, my big beef with road frames is that I like to have my hands near or on the brake levers at all times, because city riding is chaotic on a good day. And road levers just don't fit the bill. I'll try TT bars sometime soon though. My other beef is that I haven't found any road brake calipers that are as strong as canti's or V brakes. SO I'm thinking I'll have to invest in a cyclocross fork if I'm going to stick with my road bike for city riding.

But the bonus of road frames is that there's no need to worry about clearance for road cranks. Most MTB frames that I've seen lately won't clear the big rings. Some frames do, some don't... but the trend lately has been to maximize tire clearance to give room for 2.3-2.5" DH tires, and that means pushing the chainstays outward. I've used nashbar mtb frames for beaters for years... The nashbar steel mtb frame will clear road cranks, but it's really heavy. The nash 853 frame is actually pretty sweet, but won't clear the big rings.

Other than that, parts is parts, and for the mechanic, there aren't any appreciable differences.
 

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I ride my rigid fork hardtail to work a few times a year. Although I use studded tires on it not slicks.......

I'm no fan of hardcase panniers and a nice garbage bag will make anything waterproof.
 

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Do it...I think converted hardtails make the best commuters. The Nimbi are good; I went even wider. I'm using Armadillo Crossroads, which are 2" wide. I'll gladly take the slight increase in rolling resistance for the way increased absorption of shock from buckling pavement, expansion joints, dirt roads, etc. Besides, I'm a Clyesdale. I'm using a vintage Trek, so I ditched the wretched stock stem and bars for a Nashbar comfort quill, and Nitto Dove bars (Albatross bar would probably be better, if you like wider). Fenders...SKS. Way better than Planet Bike. Rack...still deciding. The Old Man Mountain line looks like the best made for the bucks. The stock crankset and gearing are OK for city commuting. Saddle (you didn't ask, but I'm strongly opinionated) a honey gold Brooks B17, which, with the lugged steel frame, Nitto bar, and fenders allow me to fantasize I'm riding a Rivendell, for way less $$$. Have fun!....
 

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Festina Lente'
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Wait, will 650c's fit (approximately) into a MTB frame? I have an extra set i built up for no specific reason...

I got the suspension fork... probably just stick with it for now.

I do believe it has mounts for panniers, and such on the rear, since its a low end MTB... Ill have to futz around with it and see.

Thanks for the info yall
 

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Doggity said:
Do it...I think converted hardtails make the best commuters. The Nimbi are good; I went even wider. I'm using Armadillo Crossroads, which are 2" wide. I'll gladly take the slight increase in rolling resistance for the way increased absorption of shock from buckling pavement, expansion joints, dirt roads, etc. Besides, I'm a Clyesdale. I'm using a vintage Trek, so I ditched the wretched stock stem and bars for a Nashbar comfort quill, and Nitto Dove bars (Albatross bar would probably be better, if you like wider). Fenders...SKS. Way better than Planet Bike. Rack...still deciding. The Old Man Mountain line looks like the best made for the bucks. The stock crankset and gearing are OK for city commuting. Saddle (you didn't ask, but I'm strongly opinionated) a honey gold Brooks B17, which, with the lugged steel frame, Nitto bar, and fenders allow me to fantasize I'm riding a Rivendell, for way less $$$. Have fun!....
I use the 80 psi 26x2.0 Pythons. Very FAST... tons better than trans world city (26x1.75?)and their low psi. I miss the python gold elites 26x2.0.
 

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26 x1.5 pasela TG tires work great and are cheap... they've got enough traction to work in light mud, but roll fast enough on pavement... Plus they've got tan sidewalls, if yer into that sort of thing.

Fenders: I just got a set of these- http://www.velo-orange.com/veorze5265fe.html - they're designed for 650b tires but work fine for 26" wheels, as long as you don't mind a LOT of clearance under your fenders- come winter I'll be able to mount my studded tires under them without adjusting the fender line... I like that they're as cheap as plastic fenders, not much harder to install and they're LONG.

Panniers- I love my arkels. as MB1 said, anything's waterproof if you put it in a trash bag. I'll add that things that are supposed to be waterproof will eventually fail, and usually at the worst possible moment, so you end up sticking everything inside a trash bag anyway...
 

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LCI #1853
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BentChainring said:
Hey all,

I am thinking about making my hardtail MTB (pecalized Hardrock) into a dedicated commuter.

Any thoughts on fitment of parts to MTB's vs Road frames? any other suggestions? Just looking to get some input... my commute is a flat 3-5 miles, pretty simple.
Definitely the slick tires if your commute route is mostly paved. Kevlar belted is good, whatever you can find that's pretty well puncture-proof.

One of the most important things to add is a rear rack so that you can carry stuff and put the weight on the bike and not your back. Hardrocks and Rockhoppers usually have the braze-ons and threaded holes where you can bolt on a regular rack. Check around and find one that you really like, since this is really your most important add-on.

Fenders are good ... may be a little difficulty in fitting them on a FS or front-suspended bike. I've found they occasionally loosen and rattle, so keep a sharp eye on preventive maintenance there...

A bell, for those pesky pedestrians.

Lots of lights and reflectors. Consider some of those little reflective commuter ankle bands, TireFlys, and a reflective vest. You want to look like a rolling Christmas tree when you're out after dark or before daylight.
 

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uber-stupid said:
I think 26" and 650c are closely related enough that they'd work. I'll have to double check, but I think I'm running 650's on my mountain disc wheelset.

+1 on the brooks saddle! Those things rule.
Yeah, but 650b is a whole different size...
 

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Sounds like a lot of complicated options for a 3-5 mile commute. Leave the 26" tires on there and pickup some 26x1.5" slicks. Knobbies have a lot of rolling resistance and they sound annoying on pavement too! Plus they don't corner well on pavement either.

Don't go with hard sided panniers...they're heavier and they don't like to be stuffed. Most panniers will come with some sort of rain cover. Fenders are a very good idea, but your options will be limited if you're using a suspension fork. There are still plenty of options out there though...you just might not get full coverage on the front.

Commuters need to be cheap, reliable, and nearly bomb proof. Mountain bikes make a great commuter! 26" tires are very easy to find at any bike shop...even at most Targets and Walmarts. 650B tires and tubes can be difficult to locate even at some bike shops.

I used to have an older Trek 820 rigid that I commuted on for a while. I now use my cross bike since it's "more fun" however it violates the cheap rule a little bit...

Jared
 

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Who needs a map?
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All I did was throw a rear rack and soft panniers (Novarra brand) on my old mtb and call it my commuting bike. The panniers have rain covers built in to a pocket on the top than you can pull out over the bags - not perfect, but will keep most of the rain out. Pack your stuff in plastic if you are really worried.

The rack stays on full time. I probably get a few double takes when I actually take it on a trail, but I don't notice the weight difference and it acts something like a fender.

Two major points of advice: (1) Get slick tires. I am too lazy/cheap to swap tires and I pay for it in extra energy expended running knobbies on my commute. I set my wife's mtb up with slicks because she mainly rides on the road and it really makes a difference. (2) Get panniers that are easily detachable and have handles. I just grab the bags off the bike if I have to lock it up outside. If you pack all your clothes etc on one side, you can take that whole bag in to the bathroom to get cleaned up. Pack the other side with spare tubes, pump, bike tools, etc.

//When around non-bikers, refer to "panniers" as "saddle bags". Otherwise they start asking why you wear women's underwear.
 

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Failboat Captian
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I agree with Jared. For a commute that short, just stick with the 26" wheels and the narrowest slicks you can fit on the rims. I used to commute 7.25 miles on a '93 Raleigh MT400, RS Q10 elastomer fork (stop laughing!) (it's my grocery getter and trailer hauling bike now). I have Conti Town & Country tires on it. They handle everything well, but are sort of pricey (although I've never gotten a flat and can't see any wear at all on them, and I commuted on them for 2+ years).
 

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Festina Lente'
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11,512 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks for all the info yall.

I decided to just run over to REI with my gift card and see what I could do. I picked up the Topeak Disc Rack. I didnt realize that I needed a special rack due to the disc tabs, but I lucked out (it was the only one they had!). Also the Topeak MTX rack which slides on/off on a rail system (kinda cool), and has stow able panniers in each side pocket.

Rack went on very easily. Locktite on all the fasteners. Bag slips into place and locks in the front. Last night I packed this bag with a 12 pack of coors light, couple bag o food, camera, phone, etc (heavy so I made my friend haul it ;-) ).

I stuck with the 26" tires. Yes its a short commute, but I enjoy riding to the store and such. Picked up a set of the 26x1.5 Continental Sport Contact slicks. Good reviews, and were relatively cheap ($30 ea).

All in all, i dropped $170 on the conversion of a $350 mtb I already owned. I am happy so far. Now lets get riding.

nK
 

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Sounds like you've got yourself all set with a nice bike!

Better late than never I guess...

Due to former injuries I can't really MTB anymore, so decided to turn my old training bike into a commuting/bike path/cruiser type bike.

Started with a 98 Trek 7000


Added Geax Roadster Tires


and a WTB Speed V Saddle


rode it like that for a while until I tore up my ankle last fall.

This weekend I buttoned up the Instigator Fork swap


It looks a little funky since the fork will fit a 29" mtb wheel but it rides great and is very responsive without being twitchy, and I can easily top out the gears on flat land without much effort. Nice, comfy commuter that still has some light trail capabilities. The saddle is leaps and bounds better than the old one. The tires work well enough even in deep loose sandy dirt to get through without getting covered, and offer a lot less rolling resistance than the knobbies.

I need to take some updates photos but didnt get a chance this afternoon.
 
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