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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've done all of my training since I started back in 2008 on mountain bikes. I typically train 85% on the road and 15% on the dirt. I know that there are advantages to training on the road such as increased endurance and ability to consistently pedal due to the nature of road riding. I would always air up my tires to about 50 psi and go from there. I recently have been talking to a few roadies I would run in to on the road and a few said the same thing, "I've never seen an xc mtb racer train without owning a road bike."

My question is, is there an advantage to training on the road on a road bike that can't be attained by training on the road on a mountain bike? Would the higher (harder) gear ratios strengthen my legs more?

Just some information: I train 4-5 days a week. 2 long rides typically around the 35-42 mile mark, 1 mountain bike ride of around 20 miles and 2 interval days (1 on the road and 1 on an indoor trainer).

Thanks in advance for the help!
 

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mnoutain bkie rdier
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Road bikes are nice because:
1. For fast road group rides (the A ride), it is very advantageous to be on a road bike.
2. Most people don't live near a trail head, so road biking is much more convenient.
3. Wearing down your fancy kevlar mtb tires on the road can get expensive.
4. Most coaches will want you to train with a PM with a road bike.
5. Yes, it is easier to keep 250W, for example, for 1 hour on a road ride vs trying to do so on most mtb courses. At least for me, my wattage is all over the map out here no matter what I "want" to do during my mtb rides. I have no option but to put out 400+W up some climbs sorta thing. There are no trails around here that I can keep 250W steady like I can on a road ride.

**You will get a lot of members telling you that an mtb with road tires is just fine too. They are correct for many reasons. You will need another wheelset with same: disc, disc spacing, cassette and can be bothersome switching out wheelsets for every ride.

**Be sure not to neglect your mtb mileage though. It is easy to start logging a ton of time on the road bike and think eveything is OK. Mtb fitness is NOT the same as road fitness. Similar...yes. The same....no.

.02
 

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Brant-C.
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If you're content on training on your MTB, then you don't need a road bike.

If you want to ride with roadies, then you need a road bike.

What cat are you racing and are you competitive?
 

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or get a CX bikes and start entering gravel grinders and training on that as well.

I bought a road bike and yes it is great for a number of things, but kinda wish I bought a CX bike as I started doing gravel ginders...and these are fun. I'll prob just get a dif wheelset for the mtb for that though.
 

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I do all my road training on a cx bike with 700x28 slicks. It's a good setup, I've even done some A rides with no issues. And it means I have a bike when cx season rolls around.
 

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I'm in the same situation so I'm also curious what others have to say about it...

...but for now I have a spinning bike in the basement and use a lightweight HT with fast rolling tires for the days I have to ride road.

One thing I'll add is that I've found using a mountain bike on the road doesn't really work for group rides. I did a couple very large organized group rides on hilly courses last weekend and I could keep an average pace with groups but I was constantly passing or being passed by the same people. Weight and higher volume tires hurt and help you in different ways.
 

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I bought a cheap demo CX bike this year. it came with contenental city rides (a skinny in between hybrid type think).

The biggest things I have noticed is I am alot more enthused to hop on the cx bike and ride. I dont have to worry about trail conditions ect. The constand effort was a weak point for my mtb. riding the road has improved this in a short amount of time.

I paid 650.00 for my entry cx bike, the way I see it, I will save that in 2 seasons easy, when I take into consideration that I will burn up that much money in chains/cassettes and tires On the mtb.

You dont NEED a road bike, but I have been happy with my decision and already have more time in the saddle in 2 months then I got in half a season last year.
 

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Yeah!
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Convenience with having two bikes, and more cost.

I see a lot of suggestions for multiple wheels, but so far I have just kept three sets of tires in the garage. 1.5" slicks for doing road hundreds, hardpack tires for about 90% of riding both on and off trail, and knobbies for hitting the trail in damp to flood.

Takes me about 10 minutes to swap out tires, not a big deal in my mind, YMMV.
 

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As mentioned by others if you want to jump into fast group rides get a road or CX bike. Otherwise there is no reason you cannot get proper training on road, dirt road, bike path, or trail on your mountain bike.
 

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I have a road bike, and I do a lot of what I call "Urban" riding which involves a lot of paved and concrete surfaces. And to be real with ya, I primarily ride my 29er HT with Race King 2.2 on these urban rides. A lot of this is I like the ability to go anywhere and handle anything on my 29er vs. road bike. The other thing is I've gotten pretty attached to my tubeless setup. And finally, I'm just super comfortable on my 29er.

I bought my 29er in the Spring of 2013 and since then I have racked up 2308 miles. 2000 of those miles are on that set of Race Kings and surprisingly the rear has held up pretty well. Yes the knobs are a bit shorter now (rear only) but riding this bike is more enjoyable imo. I've found the RKs to roll pretty fast when inflated in the high 30s, the rotational assembly is just heavier than my road bike's.

Now what I plan on doing is picking up a set of Stan's Crest wheelset and running either CX tires in which I know this combo would shave a lot of weight or RaceSport 2.0 Racekings. I primarily want to do this to keep my trail tires on the Arch Ex sharp, but it will also have the added benefit of reducing rotational weight and providing a setup for gravel grinders as well.

If you need the speed, lightness, and efficiency of a road bike then by all means. I do want to ride my road bike more often, I really did get too comfortable with my tubeless system on the 29er lol.

I still want a CX bike though... dammit I shoulda bought a CX bike.

The major downside to the road bike vs. the CX bike is that I just cannot get the larger CX tires on my road bike which would be for the gravel grinders :(.
 

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I also want to add that:

What I like about my road bike is that does push me to ride harder than I normally would on my mtb on pavement...a lot harder (maybe it is because I know I will get better results than on the MTB). And since the rotational is so much lighter, pushing really hard for extended periods is kind of a different work out. So in the end it's kind of a neat training tool.
 

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Endurance Junkie
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It's a heck of a lot more fun going 22mph on the road than slogging along on a mtb with the same amount of effort. Maybe since I do most of my riding on the road bike, but I despise riding more than a mile on the mtb on the road - it just feels so slow and inefficient. But if it's just for training I would seriously consider a cx bike like some others have said. It will give you the versatility to ride off road and race cx (which is a blast) and is close to road geometry and can run normal road tires.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Wow, thanks guys for the great advice.

I hope I'm going to cover all the questions that you guys want me to answer but please let me know if I missed something.

1. I am racing Cat 2. I was Cat 2 after my first race in 2009. Back then I was usually on the podium or at least top 5 in the Norcal circuit. I stopped riding for a while because of entering college in the fall of 2010 and getting a new girlfriend so my fitness suffered. After coming back, I still raced Cat 2 and after a few months of training I regained basically the same kind of podium positions but this time in the 19-24 age bracket.

2. I've been riding since 2008 and racing since 2009 so I wouldn't consider myself a new cyclist(?)

3. I am trying to improve my fitness and my power output. My breathing never seems to suffer during races but my legs could use a few more watts.

4. To be honest I am not interested in getting a cyclocross bike because I have no interest in racing cx. However, I am definitely interested in doing my first road race in 2015.

5. I work too far away from home to make biking practical..

6. In terms of wheel setup, I have two sets of wheels both with complete setups. My training wheelset is an AlexRims Stout SL wheelset with Slime sealent tubes, Sworks The Captain front and regular Fast Trak rear. My racing wheelset is a DTSwiss/Specialized 420 wheelset with a tubeless setup and Sworks Fast Traks front and rear. I air up the training wheelset to train on the road and leave the tubeless setup pretty soft to prevent any tire damage due to overinflation.

7. Lastly, I live within a 5-10 minute ride from great trails and the roads near where I live vary from 25-35 mile loops with farm roads to 45 mile loops with some red lights along the way. There are a lot of sustained 10-12% and even steeper climbs near here.


Basically from what I'm hearing, I don't need a road bike because training on the road on my mtb is fine, just slower and less fun. I don't do many group rides with the club I'm in so I don't think I will need one for that reason. I personally don't mind the slower pace because it still seems pretty fast to me and I'm comfortable in the position.

I guess my remaining question is, will training on a road bike on the road instead of a mountain bike on the road strengthen my legs due to the heavier gears? I apologize if this has already been answered. Just looking for something super straightforward!
 

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I say get a road bike. You said you were interested in doing some road racing next year so you'll definitely need one for that, and I don't believe you could replicate training for road racing on a mtb very well either.

I do think you would run out of gears training with a mtb on the road fairly often and I think pushing the big gears at high speed would be beneficial for mountain bike racing, it is for sure in road racing. Plus a road bike is more fun on the road IMO.

I know you said you had no interest in group rides but if your goal is to improve your fitness for mtb racing you might want to rethink that. They can be great fun as well.
 

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mnoutain bkie rdier
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"I guess my remaining question is, will training on a road bike on the road instead of a mountain bike on the road strengthen my legs due to the heavier gears? I apologize if this has already been answered. Just looking for something super straightforward!"

Yes and no. Many coaches like C. Carmichael will want you to focus on building power via higher cadence (100+ rpm) efforts anyhow. I think you will be OK with your gearing if you believe in this philosophy also. No, this is not the only way to gain strength...that is for sure. It does work and I can attest to it though.

On my road bike, I have been doing a lot of higher cadence efforts (annoying as heck at first) that I would most likely not get spun out on even on my mtb on the road.

If you are running a 1X, then just swap out the front chainring for something bigger.

.02
 

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You don't need a road bike but if you live someplace where there is decent road riding it can make training a lot more fun.

Right because of an injury my wife is restricted to training on road on her mountain bike, which unfortunately means I am joining her for these rides, on my mountain bike. Long road rides on a mountain bike really suck. Maybe if I didn't know how much better a road bike was to ride I wouldn't mind so much.
 

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I guess my remaining question is, will training on a road bike on the road instead of a mountain bike on the road strengthen my legs due to the heavier gears? I apologize if this has already been answered. Just looking for something super straightforward!
I don't think so. Power is equal to Torque X rpm and you can use gears on either bike to get that combo you need. The only issue is when you have long shallow downhills you may get "geared out" on MTB gears. For training purposes, it's good to do a wide range of RPM anyway. There seems to be benefit.

With a road bike though, another negative is different crank lengths (usually), different shoes, and different crank Q-factor (Most times). So that gives you another chance maybe for injuries.
 

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With a road bike though, another negative is different crank lengths (usually), different shoes, and different crank Q-factor (Most times). So that gives you another chance maybe for injuries.
I've never heard of this before?

Just curious as I ride both.
 
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