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Gravel or Road Bikes on Singletrack?

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Gravel or Road Bikes on Singletrack?

Old 11-26-20, 02:44 PM
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Moisture
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Gravel or Road Bikes on Singletrack?

Anyone use a non MTB (drop bar or flat) on more technical singletrack trails? How do you fare with the shorter reach of a drop bar bike? Is the geometry still suitable, or would you be better off with an XC bike featuring a longer reach?

Any issues with rim durability etc if you are a heavier rider?

How you deal with the different gearing?
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Old 11-26-20, 05:10 PM
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I can ride my drop bar gravel bike or my drop bar mountain bike on some very technical singletracks but I just need to be a little more careful about picking lines. It's all about skill and technique.
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Old 11-26-20, 05:28 PM
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It’s doable. It’s not optimal, but it’s a fun challenge to be under-biked sometimes.
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Old 11-26-20, 06:00 PM
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I think you'd be much better off with a cheapo mtn bike on the singletrack.
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Old 11-26-20, 07:10 PM
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I took my Mercier on some crazy trails in southern Wisconsin. I used tubular wheels with tubular cyclocross tires. Inflated very low. Thats what got me thru some rough stuff... great tires. Kinda crazy, but I don't have a mountain bike. Never been on trails as rough as these. It was fun but a mountain bike would have been more fun.

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Old 11-26-20, 08:17 PM
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I think you’re a bit backwards on your geometry. Road bikes tend to have longer reach, and (modern) MTBs are more upright, with closer, wider bars. If you’re talking about NORBA style 26-er MTBs, they tend to be longer and lower; a lot like what you’d find on a modern endurance/ gravel road bike.

That said, I’ve ridden trails on road bikes before, still do, actually. Packed earth or cinder trails are no problem, especially with 28-32mm tires. Now, if it’s a loose or soft surface, you’re going to have to manage your traction carefully, since road slicks don’t have any tread. You need to be very, very smooth with control inputs, and active with balance and weight shifts to keep the bike pointing in the direction you want to go.

As far as being a big guy on a bike off road, you need to take care picking your line, and learn how to ‘ride light’ actively using your arms and legs to suspend your weight.

To answer the question, yeah, you can learn to ride off road on a road bike, but it’s going to be harder on you and your equipment to develop your skills than on a more suitable bike.
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Old 11-26-20, 08:29 PM
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So far I've only ridden some basic singletrack with my road bike, but felt super impressed with the way the bike handles it - mainly in terms of balance.

Very little tire clearance between the rear dropouts though.
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Old 11-26-20, 08:35 PM
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Okay Moisture, what's up? You writing a book? You need to start your posts with surveys. Lots of people will respond to one of them without leaving a comment.
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Old 11-26-20, 08:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Bigbus View Post
Okay Moisture, what's up? You writing a book? You need to start your posts with surveys. Lots of people will respond to one of them without leaving a comment.
Just trying to rouse some moisturizing conversation on here.

(Drip, drip)
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Old 11-26-20, 08:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
Just trying to rouse some moisturizing conversation on here.

(Drip, drip)
Are we that boring? hehe
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Old 11-26-20, 08:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Bigbus View Post
Are we that boring? hehe
Lol naw, just feel like we gotta spice up the humidity of the present topics on here a little.
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Old 11-27-20, 05:14 PM
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All my bikes get ridden on trails to some degree. I did a few miles of sandy horse trails on my last bike tour leaving camp the second morning. 32mm tires and bags does not make it ideal, that part was pretty rough actually, but it was a memorable part of the trip. I actually prefer drop bars on rigid mountain bikes. When you are in the drops with your elbows close to your sides it makes for a smoother ride.
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Old 11-27-20, 06:56 PM
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I do believe that some people's idea of a mtb trail and a bike riding trail are somewhat skewed. Where I take my mtb you would never take a bike with 32mm tires, unless you wanted to walk it alot. Them pizza cutters ain't going to cut it. Period. And I haven't seen a road bike yet with low enough gearing or enough traction on the rear to get serious. MUPs and hiking trails yeah. MTB trails, just ain't going to happen. My opinion and I'm entitled to it.
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Old 11-27-20, 07:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Bigbus View Post
Where I take my mtb you would never take a bike with 32mm tires, unless you wanted to walk it alot. Them pizza cutters ain't going to cut it. Period. And I haven't seen a road bike yet with low enough gearing or enough traction on the rear to get serious. MUPs and hiking trails yeah. MTB trails, just ain't going to happen. My opinion and I'm entitled to it.
"Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts." - Daniel Patrick Moynihan

People have been riding drop bar bikes with pinner tires on MTB trails for decades.Can they be ridden on every MTB trail? Obviously not. Can they be ridden on most of them? Of course. Are they the most fun option? It depends on the MTB trail and how much of a challenge you're up for.
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Old 11-27-20, 07:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Bigbus View Post
I do believe that some people's idea of a mtb trail and a bike riding trail are somewhat skewed. Where I take my mtb you would never take a bike with 32mm tires, unless you wanted to walk it alot. Them pizza cutters ain't going to cut it. Period. And I haven't seen a road bike yet with low enough gearing or enough traction on the rear to get serious. MUPs and hiking trails yeah. MTB trails, just ain't going to happen. My opinion and I'm entitled to it.
My gravel bike has 45mm tires and my rigid forked MTB has 2.35 inch wide tires, both bikes have drop bars and I can ride them through some serious terrain.
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Old 11-27-20, 08:10 PM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
My gravel bike has 45mm tires and my rigid forked MTB has 2.35 inch wide tires, both bikes have drop bars and I can ride them through some serious terrain.
My "gravel bike" is a carbon "adventure" bike that accepts up to 700x40 tires. I ride it on pavement, mostly. My rigid mtb is a 29+ bike, and it excells at gravel road riding, but is a slug on pavement. Neither bike has drop bars.
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Old 11-27-20, 08:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Moisture View Post
Anyone use a non MTB (drop bar or flat) on more technical singletrack trails? How do you fare with the shorter reach of a drop bar bike? Is the geometry still suitable, or would you be better off with an XC bike featuring a longer reach?

Any issues with rim durability etc if you are a heavier rider?

How you deal with the different gearing?
Who says that drop bar bikes have shorter reach?

You know, there is a search feature here on bf. Someone started a thread with almost exactly the same title just a couple weeks ago.
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Old 11-27-20, 08:41 PM
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Obviously, a gravel bike will fare better on rough terrain than road bike.

Skinny wheel of a road bike is a recipe for pinch flats even ruining your rims. Doesn't t matter if you're light or heavy. Although a heavy rider will have worse chances of damaging the bike more if anything wrong happens.

Road bikes are only good enough if the model can fit at least 35mm wide tires. Endurance road bikes with disc brakes will sometimes fit up to 38mm wide tires.
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Old 11-27-20, 09:01 PM
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When choosing a bike for a given terrain, tires and gearing make a much bigger difference than geometry.

Lots of bikes can "do it all," but none can do it all well.
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Old 11-27-20, 09:53 PM
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I recall when "MTB:" bikes were upright rigids with flat bars ...... What we might now call "rigid hybrids." 1.6" tires, canti brakes .... riding off-road was about skill and technique. Speeds were a Lot slower over rough stuff, and a lot of the stuff people ride nowadays on serious MTBs .... those old rigid bikes just wouldn't work.

People claim all kinds of things ... but if people could go just as fast and over just as tough terrain as they ride now on full-squish MTBs, on rigid bikes, they would. They don't. Ergo, they can't.
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Old 11-27-20, 10:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post

People claim all kinds of things ... but if people could go just as fast and over just as tough terrain as they ride now on full-squish MTBs, on rigid bikes, they would.
I haven’t seen anyone claim that they can go just as fast and over just as tough terrain that they ride now on FS bikes, with their rigid bikes.

Where did you read that?

Last edited by HD3andMe; 11-28-20 at 12:08 AM.
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Old 11-28-20, 04:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post

People claim all kinds of things ... but if people could go just as fast and over just as tough terrain as they ride now on full-squish MTBs, on rigid bikes, they would. They don't. Ergo, they can't.
When I claim something I mean it....I can ride my rigid mountain bike over 95% of the terrain that most people ride on their suspension mountain bikes. The only difference is that I need to go slower and be more careful about picking a good line. I can't just bomb through rock gardens at high speed but I can still ride through them at a lower speed. When I go mountain biking I don't really care about speed, I am not racing against anybody, I am there to have fun and do something challenging.
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Old 11-28-20, 09:07 AM
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I think what the OP is trying to do is to “Columbus” the origins of the MTB.
Those of us who started riding off road decades ago have learned what works, and broken what didn’t; and like HD3andMe and wolfchild we’ve built up the skills on bikes that can make the most of it.

I don’t know what Moisture considers a technical trail, but if he’s decided he’s going to learn on an old beater road bike; he’s either going to get pretty good, crash a lot or break a lot of gear. Maybe all three.
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Old 11-28-20, 09:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
I recall when "MTB:" bikes were upright rigids with flat bars ...... What we might now call "rigid hybrids." 1.6" tires, canti brakes .... riding off-road was about skill and technique. Speeds were a Lot slower over rough stuff, and a lot of the stuff people ride nowadays on serious MTBs .... those old rigid bikes just wouldn't work.

People claim all kinds of things ... but if people could go just as fast and over just as tough terrain as they ride now on full-squish MTBs, on rigid bikes, they would. They don't. Ergo, they can't.
who has claimed they can ride just as fast on rigid as suspension? i havent seen it.
what I have seen is many posters say 'I do, but its more difficult' in a multitude of different ways.


Edited to add- looks like I'm piling on as this same observation was made by another poster. Didn't see that before I posted.
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Old 11-28-20, 09:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Ironfish653 View Post
I think what the OP is trying to do is to “Columbus” the origins of the MTB.
Those of us who started riding off road decades ago have learned what works, and broken what didn’t; and like HD3andMe and wolfchild we’ve built up the skills on bikes that can make the most of it.

I don’t know what Moisture considers a technical trail, but if he’s decided he’s going to learn on an old beater road bike; he’s either going to get pretty good, crash a lot or break a lot of gear. Maybe all three.
Moist's first bike was an ill-fitting 90s GT mtb that he had slicks on, and he would ride a couple hours to a trailhead with a knobby wheel strapped to his back. He would then swap rear wheels, dominate in the woods, then swap back to a slick tire for the couple hour ride home.

He mentioned all this in another thread. So when it comes to cycling, he either has some serious skill, or doesn't know any better.
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