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My wife and I are attempting to get into regular cycling. We both have some older, cheap MTBs that are probably > 10 yrs old. Mine is a Trek 930 Singletrack while hers is a Diamond Back "something or other". They have been used really very little and, with a little cleanup, are in pretty good shape believe it or not. Our use together will consist mostly of recreational rides with the kids (trailer and tag-along) on the neighborhood streets, paved trails where available and a wide dirt trail by the river nearby.

However, I am interested in riding mine for "training" purposes on the road. I can't afford (read: can't convince my wife to allow me to purchase) a decent road bike (yet). I don't necessarily disagree with her reasoning. I am not interested in racing (for the time being), I just want to get some good exercise and want to be as comfortable as possible on the road. It could turn into something more, but I have to achieve a certain level first. I am looking to get away from running (knees aren't going to hold up long-term I'm afraid) so the bike is the next best option.

In light of all this, I have a few questions that I'd like to get some opinions on if you will:

1) Tires for my wife: For both of us, I'd really like to get a new set of tires (to ditch the knobbies). I seriously doubt she will EVER ride anything more than a hard pack / dirt trail. Her riding would be 100% recreational/casual with maybe a 75/25 split between paved roads/trails and dirt (lt. trail). I have been looking at the posts on the Maxxis Holy Rollers and have also been looking at some of the semi-slicks/hybrids from Conti (T&C, Travel Contact) among others. Am I headed in the right direction? For me, if I get her new tires, it's an easier decision than the one for my bike. Looking mainly for comfort for her. BTW, she's not complaining, I am just thinking about what might be best.

2) Tires for me: I suppose I could absolutely go with the same model as my wife although I would guess I would want to err a little on the slick side if my riding will work out as I hope to. If I were to actually go on a real trail ride (probably a rare occasion), I could stick the knobbies back on. Basically, I need a good, versatile tire that will be smooth on the pavement for training and as much speed as I can get yet still allow for a leisurely ride down at the river (hard pack/ dirt) with the kids.

3) If you didn't assume it already, we both have cheap, stock canti brakes. On my wife's bike, the spring tension adjustment collars (plastic) snapped in half on both front and rear. Her brakes (Shimano Altus) should be replaced. I can either a) order her some new cantis (easiest), b) order her some new V-brakes/levers (hardest #1) or c) order me some new V-brakes/levers and put my cantis on her bike (hardest #2). I've read some threads all over the place about making the conversion. I am tempted to stick with cantis all-around on these bikes. Any advice? The shifters do not appear to be integrated with the brake levers FWIW.

4) Down the road: Any other mods I can make to my bike to make my training rides better or more comfortable?

5) Other advice is absolutely welcome.

I appreciate any advice you can provide. I realize that my bike in particular is a heavy load to lug around for what I want out of it, but I am looking more for a good combination of budget/speed/comfort rather than all-out speed, i.e. a road bike.

Thanks
 

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You should be able to find some semi slick tires for your bikes but remember that if you go to a skinnier tire you may have to replace the tubes - assuming the knobbies are 26X2.1 and the semi slicks might be 26X1.5 - and replacing the canti brakes should be cheap and easy to do - lots of those laying around, but if you upgrade to V brakes remember that you will need new brake levers as the ones that work on your cantis wont work on the V brakes. and while you are doing all that you might as well replace the brake and gear cables as they are probably the original ones and to top it off on a 10 year old bike that has been sitting up I would grease the headset and the BB because that grease is probably dust by now ... hope this helps
 

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Josey, these are very good questions and I am very interested in what some of the more experienced folks have to say, especially in regard to the tires.

Right now my older bike has a hybrid up front and a knobbie on the back - not exactly ideal.
 

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Holy Rollers are nice, as are the Kenda K-Rad's. I run the Kenda Kwests on my commuter wheelset, and they've held up nicely for several hundred fast-rolling miles of urban and path use, but they are a little too slick for anything beyond a rail trail.

Cantilever brakes work well, and can be had cheaply if you're trying to work on a budget. V-brakes are nice, but unless you're looking to get into steeper, more technical terrain, I can't imagine you'd need the extra stopping power.
 

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mountain bikes are actually pretty fun to ride on the road especially if you are using slick/semi-slick tires. there are a number of tires available for road/gravel trail use, most of these type of tires are pretty cheap (usually under $30). the continental town and country tires are good, they are cheap and last a long time. if you want a smooth rolling tire that would still be decent for off-road use maybe look into the Kenda Kozmik or WTB Nanoraptor.

as for brakes these would be better than what you got now http://www.blueskycycling.com/product5045_31_-Tektro-Quartz-MT-14-Brakes-and-Levers-Kit.htm.
 

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Don't mean to piggy-back here, but since I have similar questions thought I'd ask here rather than a new post...

If I were to go to a 1.5" or 1.75" slick/semi-slick tire, would you then need to buy a certain size tube to go with it? I think I bought a 1-3/8" tube from Wal-Mart to replace a blown tube, is that acceptable for what I need or should I go with a 1.5"-2.0" tube from Performace Bike?

Man this feels like a dumb question.
 

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You'll want to run the smaller tube. Get one with the size range for the tire size you choose.

Smaller tubes can expand, to a degree...but larger tubes cant constrict without folding or bunching up. That said, you don't want to run a 1.25 tube in a 2.1 tire....it will stretch a bit too thin, and be more prone to punctures and pinch flats.
 
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