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Using mountainbike in a road race?

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Using mountainbike in a road race?

Old 09-05-20, 07:01 AM
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cubewheels
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Using mountainbike in a road race?

Preferrably, I would like a gravel bike. But I can't find anything in our region, used, new, or to assemble that I can afford. They are just so rare in this part of the world.

However, they are plenty of decent quality used hardtail and fully rigid MTB's here that I can afford. Some already fitted with hybrid road tires and road gear ratios. I already have strong core muscles and good flexibility after months of training to hammer in the aero position for more than two hours. I also have previous experience in modding a mountain bike for riding in the aero position without fit issues (simply by installing a flipped riser bar or flipped "M" bar). I can also make the handle bar narrower by sawing off the ends (doable in some handlebar designs) to further improve aero and to avoid problems in close quarter riding during the race. This simple mod would actually make the MTB look quite a bit like a gravel bike.

My question is, how many races allow it?? I'm planning to race with the setup until I can get my hands on a decent used gravel bike cheap enough for me.

I'm very light btw, 126 lbs atm (height is 5'8") and I'm training to maximize my power-to-weight ratio so a heavier bike wouldn't be a huge problem. I'm still losing weight as I train harder for next year. I already have a MTB I train with and it's 40 lbs! I train with it in aero, near TT position with elbows bent full time. But it may not be good enough for a race so I'm looking for a better bike eventually.

Somebody did win in a MTB in a road race!
https://www.bikeradar.com/news/mount...-his-hardtail/
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Old 09-05-20, 06:04 PM
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If you are in the USA...A MTB does not meet USA Cycling rules - the bars, brake levers protrude forward. That does not mean you wouldn't be allowed to use one because rules and what are enforced are different. The wording on a road bike is subject to some interpretation.
For UCI (not in scope of your question) it is very well defined and not allowed.

A Gravel bike meets both MTB and Road rules.

Two years ago at collegiate MTB Nationals in Missoula, MT the course was well suited for a cx bike. I inquired of the chief referee if that would be allowed (it should be) and that sent them into somewhat of a debate. It was, yea, kinda ... My kid chose to ride the MTB. A cx bike would have cut near a min on that coarse.
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Old 09-05-20, 07:49 PM
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If you intend to race in the Philippines then you need to ask whatever governing body makes the rules there. If they allow it then do it, you might have fun.
For what it's worth a local mountain bike expert used to ride with some of the road bike racers here on training rides using a light hardtail. He had a great spin and could hang on the shorter rides.
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Old 09-05-20, 08:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Doge View Post
If you are in the USA...A MTB does not meet USA Cycling rules - the bars, brake levers protrude forward. That does not mean you wouldn't be allowed to use one because rules and what are enforced are different. The wording on a road bike is subject to some interpretation.
For UCI (not in scope of your question) it is very well defined and not allowed.

A Gravel bike meets both MTB and Road rules.

Two years ago at collegiate MTB Nationals in Missoula, MT the course was well suited for a cx bike. I inquired of the chief referee if that would be allowed (it should be) and that sent them into somewhat of a debate. It was, yea, kinda ... My kid chose to ride the MTB. A cx bike would have cut near a min on that coarse.
Good to know, thanks! I'll be replacing the straight bar with flipped cruiser bar to preserve fit and so that I don't have to replace the hoods and shifters - the bars and brake levers will no longer protrude forwards. The flipped cruiser bar will resemble a dropbar but with the grips closer to the rider (as compared to a dropbar) to help preserve fit with longer MTB frames. I'm planning to have a 29er MTB to best approximate a gravel bike.

The roads are really bad in this part of the world. Quite bumpy and damaged from years of neglect / poor repair quality. This is one strong reason I'm looking for a gravel bike simply to fit wide road tires so I can just hammer through the rough sections without worries.

I can definitely afford to buy a used road bike and there's plenty of used road bike's here. But they would be prone to damage in these roads, worse at racing speeds. It's also more difficult / more dangerous to train with road bike, in the city streets. You are challenged with both very tight traffic conditions and plenty of road surface hazards that can seriously damage a road bike or even cause a serious accident (but not with an MTB or gravel bike that can simply roll ever these hazards without any problem)

Last edited by cubewheels; 09-05-20 at 08:28 PM.
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Old 09-05-20, 09:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Doge View Post
If you are in the USA...A MTB does not meet USA Cycling rules - the bars, brake levers protrude forward. That does not mean you wouldn't be allowed to use one because rules and what are enforced are different. The wording on a road bike is subject to some interpretation.
For UCI (not in scope of your question) it is very well defined and not allowed.
.
What do you mean by the bars and levers protrude forward? Road bars and levers protrude further out then a MTBs.
I've also seen plenty of hybrids show up at road races and they typically have the same handlebar/brake lever set up.

To the OP, as was mentioned already the biggest thing for you to find out is your own country's rules from the governing body. USA cycling seems to allow a lot of leniency while if the race is UCI sanctioned they have a lot of stupid onerous rules that serve no good purpose and they wouldn't allow this. But I've raced cross and gravel on a old MTB with drop bars installed and a shorter stem to adapt the reach for the longer MTB top tube. With older MTBs this can be quite easy as 7,8,9 and early 10 speed were mostly interchangeable for installing road shifters and such. With something newer adapting it can be harder. But ask and find out and have fun.
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Old 09-05-20, 09:20 PM
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Originally Posted by big john View Post
If you intend to race in the Philippines then you need to ask whatever governing body makes the rules there. If they allow it then do it, you might have fun.
For what it's worth a local mountain bike expert used to ride with some of the road bike racers here on training rides using a light hardtail. He had a great spin and could hang on the shorter rides.
I've checked some local races, they do ban MTB

It's nearly impossible to find a road bike here that can fit 38 mm wide tires. Quite ironic for a country with very rough roads from many years of neglect and poor repair work.
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Old 09-05-20, 10:14 PM
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Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post
I've checked some local races, they do ban MTB

It's nearly impossible to find a road bike here that can fit 38 mm wide tires. Quite ironic for a country with very rough roads from many years of neglect and poor repair work.
What if you put drop bars on the mtb? If you can find an old touring bike they take big tires.
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Old 09-06-20, 12:33 AM
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Originally Posted by big john View Post
What if you put drop bars on the mtb? If you can find an old touring bike they take big tires.
29ers here only come with suspension forks and top tube angled sharply upward, might be difficult to disguise as road bike! Yes, I've been looking at touring bikes too. The good ones are all taken for now Most of them come with straightbars.

Here's a road bike I found locally that can fit the widest tires yet (700c x 32mm). Priced at $364 b-new with Sora RD, FD, and Brifters. May or may not be in stock anymore.

BRAND NEW PINEWOOD PRESCOTT KING (700C) 2020 ROAD BIKE - Lj Bikes

My maximum budget plus mods I need to get only goes to $500. I already have a road bike / TT seat which I use for daily training, on-bike accessories, apparel, etc. What I would likely spend on the bike are pedals and new set of tires.
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Old 09-07-20, 08:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Russ Roth View Post
What do you mean by the bars and levers protrude forward? ....
Better go to the country where you want to race website for cycling and read their rules, Most are some sort of derivative of the UCI rules, and almost every country (or region) has officials apply those rules there way. N California and S California apply rules differently.

See page 58:1.3.007 and following https://www.uci.org/docs/default-source/rules-and-regulations/part-i-general-organisation/1-gen-20200612-e.pd

That "equal footing" principle leaves a lot for the official to do if they think the equipment gives an unfair advantage. Again, it is going to be country based, then region, then that official, or group that determine what you can do.
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Old 09-10-20, 01:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Doge View Post
That "equal footing" principle leaves a lot for the official to do if they think the equipment gives an unfair advantage. Again, it is going to be country based, then region, then that official, or group that determine what you can do.
I might be getting a road bike eventually. I found a few that fits 32mm wide tires - if that's good enough for gravel use with a 125 lbs rider.

Racing routes are over much better quality roads. However, my training routes are semi-gravel and quite bumpy and damaged in many sections requiring wide tires to be ridden safely at high speed. At least 40mm wide tires would be ideal.

We have lots of stock of road bikes with 23mm tires. Ironically, in this country with very poor quality roads. Perhaps, why nobody buys them. Commuters on these road bikes are often slower than MTB commuters which is very ironic. Obviously they didn't want to damage their wheels going fast over bumpy road sections.

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Old 09-10-20, 06:56 AM
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https://nyvelocity.com/articles/inte...son-vasquez-2/

Wilson You, everyone knows Dan. You know, from NY Velocity. Anyway, yes I did start racing on a Mt. Bike with slick tires. Won a few races in the 5s and 4s and after much complaining from the “roadies” I had to get a road bike which was given to me by Michael Brower from The Sony Music team back then. (1992)

Brower <sic> (Brauer) is who my son works for. Our team has evolved over the years from Sony to Brauer Racing.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Brauer
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Old 09-10-20, 08:39 PM
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Originally Posted by gsteinb View Post
https://nyvelocity.com/articles/inte...son-vasquez-2/

Wilson You, everyone knows Dan. You know, from NY Velocity. Anyway, yes I did start racing on a Mt. Bike with slick tires. Won a few races in the 5s and 4s and after much complaining from the “roadies” I had to get a road bike which was given to me by Michael Brower from The Sony Music team back then. (1992)

Brower <sic> (Brauer) is who my son works for. Our team has evolved over the years from Sony to Brauer Racing.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Brauer
Impressive! I see it's about bruised ego they won't allow MTB in racing.

I've been getting the picture recently when I pass serious roadies. I'm usually ahead of roadies if there's plenty of hills. My MTB is heavy, 40 lbs but I've adapted to it quite well, and I'm only 125 lbs in weight which gives me a significant advantage in climbing. When I pass roadies, they will desperately try to chase and pass me but end up burning out.

It seems they're relying a lot on their bike and $$ to get faster but until you are PRO, rider fitness will matter a lot more than the bike. And I think "mtb roadies" might posses higher level of fitness being quite adapted to their heavier and draggier bikes.
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Old 09-11-20, 11:58 AM
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hmmm Don't take some long ago anecdote as support! Having crashed quite a number of times in pile ups I'd be pleased to never get speared by a mountain bike bar. Track bikes should be used for racing track. Road bikes for racing on the road. Mountain bikes for off road stuff.
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Old 09-11-20, 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post
...And I think "mtb roadies" might posses higher level of fitness being quite adapted to their heavier and draggier bikes.
You most likely just passed me on a fancy bike I borrowed from my kid. A racing roadie is just as fit in competitive regions.
The more competitive, the closer ability. In many regions the road riders, MTB riders and cx riders are the same people on different bikes because it is seasonal. Track folks may be single discipline, but many do several.

The difference between a MTB and road bike would be too much in the same competitive race. Few riding racing bikes, race. People like racing bikes, sports cars, pro tennis rackets, golf clubs etc. etc. How fit those folks are has little to do with how fit the real racers are.
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Old 09-11-20, 10:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Doge View Post
The difference between a MTB and road bike would be too much in the same competitive race. Few riding racing bikes, race. People like racing bikes, sports cars, pro tennis rackets, golf clubs etc. etc. How fit those folks are has little to do with how fit the real racers are.
This is why I've been leaning towards road bike options lately. Don't want to take those chances! I'm starting with amateur races.

The local races don't really like MTBs and it would be hard to disguise them as road bikes. The groupset alone is a dead give-away.

I found a new road bike with 32c slick tires already on it and looks like it can fit up to 40c tires. I weigh 124 lbs and most tire pressure tables recommend around 50 psi on the rear and 38 psi front wheel. Looks good enough for going fast over cobblestone quality roads I train on.

I did get across local pros training and I've actually been able to pass them on long climbs in my usual MTB while they're in their road bike. It's not steep climb so either MTB or road bike would have the right gear ratios for the climb. It seems I'm really strong in climbing with my little weight. Haven't really tested my sustained speeds in the flats, few in my route and largely punctuated by controlled intersections and my MTB don't have the gear ratios for maximum sprinting speeds. Hope to have a good luck in getting a road bike that can fit >32mm wide tires on it.
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Old 09-11-20, 10:29 PM
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Originally Posted by gsteinb View Post
hmmm Don't take some long ago anecdote as support! Having crashed quite a number of times in pile ups I'd be pleased to never get speared by a mountain bike bar. Track bikes should be used for racing track. Road bikes for racing on the road. Mountain bikes for off road stuff.
I intend to use dropbar on an MTB if I'm going to use one in road racing. That for aero and safety. I would get a new hardtail 29er MTB in that case, one with short top tube so a drop bar won't ruin the fit.

But now I'm slowly leaning to making a compromise with a road bike that already has 32mm tires on it and need to worry about modding it for the race. I suppose that is going to be good enough for high speed training over a cobblestone - like road quality and occassionally take it for a ride in gravel roads. With 124 lbs weight, perhaps, it will be survivable enough!

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Old 09-11-20, 11:11 PM
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Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post
I intend to use dropbar on an MTB...
Then it is not a MTB. You will increase winning chances with lighter wheels and narrower tyres.
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Old 09-12-20, 12:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Doge View Post
Then it is not a MTB. You will increase winning chances with lighter wheels and narrower tyres.
Seriously??

Because I'll be saving a huge deal of $$ with MTB to gravel bike conversion than buying a gravel bike.

My planned conversion items if I go with 29er MTB:
- straightbar to dropbar
- 50t chainring for the biggest ring
- Possibly removing the mid and granny ring and also FD + shifter(perhaps, the 36t cassette cog will be good enough for steeper climbs with 50t chainring). or keep the FD as chain guide (only removing the shifter and cable).
- Swapping the suspension fork for rigid fork, however, this could alter the bike's geometry and could kill ground clearance for the pedals. How bad are suspension forks for aero?
- Putting 700c x 35mm slick tires on the wheels. The MTB in question has 27mm wide rims, would such 29'er wheel able to fit 700c x 35mm tires?

Ofc, if I just went with the road bike that has 32mm wide slick tires, would have saved me a lot of work with modding. It's only slightly more expensive than the MTB to gravel bike conversion. However, the gravel bike conversion would also give me the gravel bike versatility I needed to take the same bike for gravel / off road use and training in bad roads without worries.
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Old 09-12-20, 09:28 AM
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Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post
Seriously??

Because I'll be saving a huge deal of $$ with MTB to gravel bike conversion than buying a gravel bike.

My planned conversion items if I go with 29er MTB:
- straightbar to dropbar
- 50t chainring for the biggest ring
- Possibly removing the mid and granny ring and also FD + shifter(perhaps, the 36t cassette cog will be good enough for steeper climbs with 50t chainring). or keep the FD as chain guide (only removing the shifter and cable).
- Swapping the suspension fork for rigid fork, however, this could alter the bike's geometry and could kill ground clearance for the pedals. How bad are suspension forks for aero?
- Putting 700c x 35mm slick tires on the wheels. The MTB in question has 27mm wide rims, would such 29'er wheel able to fit 700c x 35mm tires?

Ofc, if I just went with the road bike that has 32mm wide slick tires, would have saved me a lot of work with modding. It's only slightly more expensive than the MTB to gravel bike conversion. However, the gravel bike conversion would also give me the gravel bike versatility I needed to take the same bike for gravel / off road use and training in bad roads without worries.
The UCI rule link I posted earlier defines a road racing bike. It should be the most strict definition. If you meet that, you should meet any country definition.
Your country's racing rules are likely not as picky.
Tyres - when you exceed 33mm you exceed mass start limits, which is why there are many 33 to be bought and few 34,35. Cross and gravel bikes are just configurations of a road bike. A MTB rear suspension my also DQ it, as it has to be a double diamond (see rules).
Shocks have been ridden in "road races". George Hincapie and Greg Lemond both used them.
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Old 09-12-20, 07:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Doge View Post
The UCI rule link I posted earlier defines a road racing bike. It should be the most strict definition. If you meet that, you should meet any country definition.
Your country's racing rules are likely not as picky.
Tyres - when you exceed 33mm you exceed mass start limits, which is why there are many 33 to be bought and few 34,35. Cross and gravel bikes are just configurations of a road bike. A MTB rear suspension my also DQ it, as it has to be a double diamond (see rules).
Shocks have been ridden in "road races". George Hincapie and Greg Lemond both used them.
I'll have to look at it more closely. MTB is definitely going to be hardtail. I'm actually trying to avoid suspension to maximize pedaling efficiency so I'm also considering hybrid / tour bikes.

It's starting to seem like the road bike I saw with 32mm wheels is becoming the best option. Ironically, the front fork fitted on it looks like it will be able to fit up to 45mm wide tires with ample clearance (including in the downtube). I'm thinking of fitting 40 mm tires front and the stock 32mm rear for training. The rims seem 27mm wide and can definitely take 40 mm wide tires. There's plenty of gaps and cracks in my training route and I dread getting the front wheel caught in these gaps at high speed!
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Old 09-13-20, 12:04 PM
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Yes, buying a road bike for road bike racing, even a lower cost one will likely perform better than a MTB conversion. The 32mm tyres will be a compromise. They typically ride 27/28mm in Paris/Roubaix. In road races the majority of those winning are on 23 or 25. Just because you can race on 32mm does not mean it is faster.
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Old 09-13-20, 09:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Doge View Post
Yes, buying a road bike for road bike racing, even a lower cost one will likely perform better than a MTB conversion. The 32mm tyres will be a compromise. They typically ride 27/28mm in Paris/Roubaix. In road races the majority of those winning are on 23 or 25. Just because you can race on 32mm does not mean it is faster.
The rims on the road bike I'm looking is probably between 27 to 30mm wide. Probably won't fit 23 or 25mm tires.

Yeah, 32mm is a compromise for both training and racing use. We do have many road sections as bad as Paris/Roubaix with plenty of huge potholes and large cracks. I'll be using 32mm slick tires in any case, even if gravel sections are expected.

Training safety is #1 consideration for wide tires (to avoid falling into wide gaps in the city roads such as from sewer covers, relief joints, etc). Secondary consideration is improved traction over rough sections and improved reliability / durability. It may also have some advantage from reduced rolling resistance (in situations where aero is less important like uphills and presence of tailwind).

Anyway, in the pictures of UCI races here, ALL of them use 23-25mm tires! So I'm beginning to wonder if they will allow 32mm tires at all.
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Old 09-14-20, 08:27 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post
...
Anyway, in the pictures of UCI races here, ALL of them use 23-25mm tires! So I'm beginning to wonder if they will allow 32mm tires at all.
This is from memory, but the limit is 33 and it is in there some place. That is brought up in cyclo-cross where a "standard" mass start bicycle is setup for cx. You could ride a cx bike in a RR or a road bike in a cx race.
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Old 09-14-20, 08:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Doge View Post
This is from memory, but the limit is 33 and it is in there some place. That is brought up in cyclo-cross where a "standard" mass start bicycle is setup for cx. You could ride a cx bike in a RR or a road bike in a cx race.
I've been looking around and the 33mm limit only exist in CX race. I can't find such limitation in RR (and I hope there isn't!).

That means I can use 45mm wide tires if the road bike frame fits 45mm tires. NOT that I would use 45mm tires in a race, maybe in training.

I think it might be best to just stick with the same tire for both training and racing with the 32mm wide tires. For sure there'll be significant differences in handling between the 32mm and 40mm tires, something that can ruin my performance in the race if I barely trained with 32mm tires.

Nobody seems to race with 32c tires here. I'll probably get laughed at but I have no choice, the roads around me are not friendly to 23 or 25c tires for high speed training.

Last edited by cubewheels; 09-14-20 at 08:23 PM.
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Old 09-15-20, 01:47 PM
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Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post
Nobody seems to race with 32c tires here. I'll probably get laughed at but I have no choice, the roads around me are not friendly to 23 or 25c tires for high speed training.
If your fast enough they'll stop laughing.
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