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Convert Mountain Bike

you will have gathered from the title that I'm a complete novice and I have yet to do my first triathlon. However, I've started my preparations and I now need to start getting my equipment sorted. I don't have much money to throw around and I wondered whether it was possible to put road wheels/tyres on my mountain bike until I can afford a road bike? Also, can anyone tell me the difference between a normal road bike and a triathlon bike?



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    husslerhussler Posts: 237
    Hey Martin,

    You can get some road tyres for your exsisting wheels on your mountain bike, ie just replacing the knobbly tyres for smoother ones. But as far as i know you cant put road bike wheels on a mountain bike. This will help greatly as a starting point before upgrading to a ride bike...hope this answers the first bit for you.

    Now for the differences between road and tri bikes.....

    You will notice the main differences just by looking at them both..

    1) Tri bikes have aero/tri bars with gear levers on the ends of the tri bars, this is so you dont disrupt the aero position the tri bikes put you in when using the tri bars to change gear.. road bikes have the curly handlebars, and the gear levers are integrated into the brake levers.

    2) The seat post angle is steeper on a tri bike and the top tube is generally shorter. This gives you a more aggressive riding position to get you as Aero as poss and deliver power and efficiency to the pedal stroke whilst in the 'Aero'.

    3) Tri bike frames are alot of the time shaped and curved slightly different than road bikes. This is to improve Aerodynamics etc

    At the moment i cant think of much else but im sure someone else could go into it alot deeper than i have...

    The MOST IMPORTANT thing to consider when buying a road or tri bike is the fit... Any bike shop should give you a fitting session when buying a bike and just make sure it is comfortable. Most shops even let you take them for a quick spin after they set it up for you.

    Avoid buying from Ebay unless you know what you are looking for exactly.

    Sizes Differ between Manufacturers so one might say a 54cm will fit and another might say a 56 or even 58cm will fit so always get fitted.

    Hope this helps

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    BARNYBARNY Posts: 157
    Hey Martin,,,

    Four things you can do on your mountain bike to make into a triathlon busting machine! :o)

    1) Wheels/tires - as hussler said, the easiest thing would just to whack some slick tires onto your exsisting wheels - but here some other things to think about:

    - Get inner tube with PRESTA valve - this lets you pump up much greater pressure i.e. 100psi than the normal MTB valve - this reduces your rolling resistance.

    - Tire width - You want to get as narrow a tire as posible to limit rolling resistance - road bike tires are 20mm wide ish - MTB tires are about 30mm wide - +50% more difficult!

    - Wheels - Obviously if you get narrower rims - you can put a narrower tires on it.

    2) Pedals - ON the cheap use cages so you can pull up as well as down with your or better still invest in some clip in pedals and shoes - good candance (all round stroke power) winn the race!

    3) Aerobar - No reason why you can whack some tri bars on your MTB so you can be more aero

    4) Gearing - MTB's ar eset up mainly for going up hills - putt some bigger cogs on!

    £100 later with all the above and it will be scary (for all of us that have paid £1000's on road bikes) how well you will keep up!

    Good luck

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    treefrogtreefrog Posts: 1,242
    Martin my advice is don't do it. It's slightly akin to saying I'll put a towbar on a Aston Martin DB7 to tow a heavy trailer and nt buy a 4x4! The money you will spend doing a decent conversion will buy a good second hand or even new (but last season) road/tri bike. Look at the back of 220 and of cycling weekly and you'll pick up an excellent bargain, or better still go to your local bike shop and ask - whilst they may not sell second hand directly they'll know someone who has bought a new bike and who is trying to sell his old bike. This way you have a mtb for x terra events and for when you want a good hack and a road/tri bike for triathlons. In saying all this I am aware that good cyclists have made conversions and whilst on their mtbs have beaten fancy road bikes but those guys would win even if they were on a butcher's bike
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    Hi Martin

    Treefrog has a point I think. It might be best for you to decide how much you are willing to spend. Even an inexpensive new bike (or a better second hand one) will be easier to push along in terms of weight and rolling resistance. Work out how much you would spend on a 'conversion' then see what kind of bike that would buy you. You won't regret having a lighter machine, (especially when you've started the run!), but it also depends how serious you are. Lots of people at the London Tri use mountain bikes, but your times will be slower.
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    Hi Martin,

    I am in much the same situation over upgrading or buying new. I got a hybrid (half road/half mountain) bike last winter with a plan to using it for training in the off season, then getting a road bike later. Due to injury I had to miss the entire season, so have stuck with the hybrid for the time being and will use it as a winter training bike working on the theory that after lugging all that weight around, when i jump on a road bike i will feel the difference.

    I stuck aero bars on the bike to get used to riding in the position, and it does help, but if you intend to get your moneys worth, then save up and buy a road bike. You can always keep the mountain bike for winter training.

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    BoycieBoycie Posts: 189
    Some good points made so far. I would stick to the mountain bike for now and change little more than the tires. This will be fine for winter training and your first race or two. If you haven't done a race yet there is no point in spending even £300 on a bike if you might decide you don't enjoy triathlons, although I think this is unlikely. I doubt you will be racing seriously until at least next May which gives you at least seven months to save up for a bike, then when the season starts proper you will have a shiny new bike. From experience I can tell you that once you've got the bug you will want to spend more on a bike for racing on so even if you buy a cheap bike now you'll want to upgrade before long.

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    For what it's worth, I was sort of in the same boat as those other folks when I bought a Specialized Sirrus to kick-start my triathlon performance about 3 years ago. I needed a decent city-commuter bike for day-to-day use and couldn't afford to buy a separate bike for triathlon training and racing. The Sirrus is a nice, fairly light hybrid that proved to be a good base on which to build a slightly lighter, faster bike. Of course, with hindsight, I know that I ended spending about as much as it would have cost me to buy a nice road bike on all the parts I upgraded, but at the time I couldn't afford to shell out all the money at once, so I had to do it dribs and drabs. I bought tri-bars and clipless pedals. I upgraded the wheels and tires (luckily, the Sirrus has 700cm, full racing size wheels). I bought a new seat and seat-post, then new derailleurs. I even bought a new front fork, carbon Racelight, with a new front brake to go with it. £50 here, £100 there, buying things when they were on special reduced sale offer. That's what I could afford. I probably could have spent my money more wisely and stretched it farther if I had waited 6 months to a year to save up and get a road bike. And, you can debate the merits of putting tri-bars on a hybrid frame or caliper brakes coupled with MTB brake levers. But, for me, for 2 years I had a light, responsive hybrid racing bike that I loved and rode and trained regularly on.

    Of course, I came to my senses last year and bought a tri-bike, so now the Sirrus is a lean, mean commuting machine (with no more tri-bars on it).
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