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I'm a casual cycler, for recreation.

I have a carerra kraken, MTB with front suspension and wide tyres. I use this for forrest trails and local back roads cycling (normally do a 15mile or 30 mile route once a month, all road with several inclines)

What benefits would a road bike give me for countryside cycling? I've never actually used one and wondering what I would "get" out of investing in one

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2  
If your current tires (tyres) are very rough/knobby you can get a lot out of putting road slicks on your rims (or have another wheelset to swap out) –  Tim Oct 4 '10 at 20:23
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Elsey - By "countryside cycling", do you mean road riding or road riding with trails mixed in? –  Neil Fein Oct 5 '10 at 3:07

4 Answers 4

up vote 9 down vote accepted

I think a road bike gives you better efficiency so you can go further with less energy and do it quicker. This is because they are:

  • Lighter - Less mass to get up to speed and keep moving.
  • More rigid - less flex, so the bike itself absorbs less pedal energy, meaning when you pedal, more of that energy is used to propel you forwards.
  • Less suspension, as suspension on a mountain bike works by moving oil/air around, and that warms up - you're providing the energy to warm the suspension up instead of moving forwards.
  • Have higher gears, so you can go further for one revolution of the pedals.
  • Have thinner tires - For less contact and friction with the road that would slow you down.
  • Have higher pressure tires - So they squish less and don't use up energy.
  • Get you in a more aerodynamic position so you incur less wind resistance. But, this might mean you feel less comfortable.

You might get:

  • Fun from choosing one and getting bling'ed up with a new shiny bike you can show off and take pride in.
  • The buzz/addiction for cycling more and wanting to go on longer rides.
  • The ability to keep up with other road cyclists who you can be buddies with, especially if you join a cycling club.
  • Fitter because you cycle more so you live longer.
  • A strange desire to wear lycra which will show off your body better and may attract the opposite sex, and you might end up with a better sex life.
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Aside from increased speed on pavement, the main comfort-oriented benefit to a road bike is drop handlebars. You get a ton of places to put your hands, at the cost of slightly decreased control.

You can help make your mountain bike more comfortable by adding bar ends (see the second picture on that link) to your flat bars and try that for a while.

Another option, it an expensive one, is to get a recumbent bicycle. These are the ultimate in comfortable cycling. They are quite expensive, but you cycle in a normal, chair-like saddle. Despite having a reputation for not climbing hills as well, recumbent are fast. Very, very fast.

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As a recumbent rider for over 20 years I have to upvote this (though I have to point out that whilst my bike might be fast sadly I'm not...). –  Murph Oct 5 '10 at 14:01

For casual cycling I don’t see the benefit of a road bike if you already have a mountain bike you like.

If you wish to go a bit faster on roads you could change your tyres, also replacing you suspension forks with normal forks could be an option. Your suspension fork may have some way to “lock out” the suspension if you are lackey.

If I was only cycling one a month, I would rather than have one well look after bike then two bikes.

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I am a mountain biker, and sometimes take the mountain bike for a longish road ride. What becomes clear is that the mountain bike's geometry is not designed for comfortable riding for more than a few hours straight.

After 20 miles or so my back starts to hurt and I desperately wish I could lean down and do that "resting on the handle bars" pose that you see road riders doing. (I've tried, and it doesn't really work on a mountain bike ;) )

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If a road rider is resting on the bars, that's a bad thing and it leads to hand pain. Unfortunately. –  Neil Fein Oct 5 '10 at 3:08

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