Should I get a road bike or gravel bike instead of a mountain bike

fasturtle

Active Member
Hi everyone. I have recently got back into riding. I currently have an old rigid mountain bike with 15 gears and 26 inch tyres. I have been increasing my distance and I do realize that being a bit overweight and starting from scratch I will be a bit slow. When I am out on my rides I see a lot of road bikes flying past. I tend to ride on gravel paths, roads and some trails. I like the fact that I feel I can go anywhere with my MTB. I don't ride MTB trails.
So here are my questions.
1. Is the position of a gravel/road bike better or worse for long rides?
2. Are drop bars better?
3. On a gravel bike will there be more punctures?
4. Will I be faster on a gravel/road bike at my current fitness level?
5. What is the gearing difference.

That is all I could think of. The way I like to ride at the moment is to see all the scenery. Be comfortable. But I would like to be faster. Any ideas would be great. I am not looking to buy anything at the moment so budget is not a limiter. I just would like to know what everyones experiences have been when going on long rides.
Thanks for all the suggestions.
 
If the current bike is basically ok, think about something easy like a tyre swap. Big knobbly tyres are harder work on smoother surfaces, so something with lighter tread will help a bit.
In practical terms, only more rifing makes you faster, but if your primary aim is to enjoy the scenery, well, you're already doing it right!
 

T4tomo

Guru
So here are my questions.
1. Is the position of a gravel/road bike better or worse for long rides? once you are are used to to it much better, as you are more aero dynamic, although at the moment whilst you are building up some core strength you might find the more upright MTB position comfier.
2. Are drop bars better? - define "better", they are different. there are more positions for your hands which makes for better comfort on a long ride
3. On a gravel bike will there be more punctures? the shape of the frame doesn't cause / prevent punctures. that is all to do with tyres, pressures and the surface you ride on.
4. Will I be faster on a gravel/road bike at my current fitness level? they will be lighter than a MTB (but not hugely lighter than a rigid MTB, its the suspension that generally mean MTB's are heavier) so you may go marginally quicker up hill, and the narrower tyres will roll better on the road bits. ultimately you will become faster when you get fitter and lose weight.
5. What is the gearing difference. in general terms MTB's are normally lower geared than road bikes, since they are designed for off road

I personally find that for mixed surface riding and nothing too extreme, then a drop bar bike with 35mm+ tyres, and no suspension, be that called a gravel / road adventure / touring etc bike is ideal, but a rigid MTB with flat bars (and perhaps bar ends for a choice of hand positions) and suitable tyres will achieve a very very similar result.

My advise is to ride a lot, ride further, get fitter, enjoy life:okay:
 
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Grant Fondo

Oswalds legs look strangely human?
Location
Cheshire
Hi ^_^
Quick speed fix would be slicks on your rigid MTB. I put Kojaks on mine and it flew, but its a light 90's Cannondale.
Next up gravel bike, better riding position, fast (32c slick tyres on mine but you can put 40c knobblies on it for rougher stuff) good on tracks and road.... been my go-to bike last 12 months.
Road bike, faster still, its about 1kg lighter than gravel, 28c tyres, better on hills for sure but not huge jump from gravel, and road only of course.
No punctures on gravel so far, really pleased with it.
592964
 

Cycleops

Legendary Member
Location
Accra, Ghana
If you’re going to be doing a significant amount of time on tarmac I’d say get a gravel/adventure bike. It’s going to feel quicker and more nimble than your MTB.
Everything else will feel familiar including the gearing, even the drop bars can treated as flat but will give more hand positions for longer rides. The lighter weight will help you a bit on climbs.
 
OP
fasturtle

fasturtle

Active Member
Thanks everyone. Great information. I have been leaning towards a gravel bike but with the things you guys have mentioned I might try modifying my MTB for now.
 

si_c

Guru
Location
Wirral
Thanks everyone. Great information. I have been leaning towards a gravel bike but with the things you guys have mentioned I might try modifying my MTB for now.
New tyres - 26" gravel oriented tyres will make it quicker on the tarmac and quieter too.

Get faster and fitter on the MTB and you'll find you go the same speed on a gravel/road bike for much less effort.
 
Rigid MTBs , esp 90s ones, are very versatile and spares and cheap and plentiful.
I would keep the MTB and get hold of a spare set of wheels (with a donor bike if needs be) and put slick narrower tyres with a higher ratio freewheel/cassette on one set and nobbly tyres with low ratio freewheel on another. Then just change them over to suit whatever ride your going to do.
 

Mo1959

Legendary Member
Be aware, no matter what bike you get, riders will always be flying by. There are some very fast / fit riders out there. Once you decouple your riding enjoyment from your speed from that of others, you’ll enter that joyous flow that cycling brings.
Yep........some machines out there! It's bad enough just comparing yourself to what you used to manage :sad: Enjoyment has to be key I think.
 

Ming the Merciless

There is no mercy
Location
Inside my skull
Yep........some machines out there! It's bad enough just comparing yourself to what you used to manage :sad: Enjoyment has to be key I think.
Yep I’m also on that downward curve of speed as I age. Luckily my enjoyment comes from the pure pleasure of riding. If I’m out for two hours of riding then that’s two hours of pleasure regardless of the speed.
 

fossyant

Ride It Like You Stole It!
Location
South Manchester
As others said, tyres make a big difference. I use my old rigid MTB mainly on paths, tarmac and canal towpaths. The big 2.4" tyres are hard work, but wouldn't fit under mudguards. I bought some cheap Decathlon MTB tryes which have a smaller tread (less knobbly) and they are better to ride all round on those conditions. I use my full suspension for proper MTB rides, and road bikes for road.

Then again, you might want an additional bike too. ;)
 
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