Background: I have spent most of my time riding mountain bikes but I have recently started riding road sometimes too. I really like the position the road bike puts you in and the fact that you have multiple different hand positions. So I want to start riding my road bike more.
I have a retro steel Norco road bike. (Although I am interested in answers regarding aluminum road bikes too).
I am curious how much I need to baby my road bike.
- Can I drop off curbs on my road bike?
- What about logging roads and trails are they fair game? Can I do some drops?
- When I add a rack to my road bike how much gear can I put on it before I do damage to the bike?
I am not interested in whether it is a good idea to ride a road bike down a muddy bumpy trail. What I am asking is will I hurt my bike? Even though my bike was second hand and cost me less than $100 I have a strong relationship with it.
Recognizing Problems: I know that I may damage my wheels doing more agressive riding. It is pretty easy to eye-ball wheels to see if they are ridable. Is this true for the frame as well? If I do structural damage to the frame would it be obvious?
Cross: I think that cyclocross bikes are designed for the kind of riding that I am describing. Is there any difference between my retro road bike and a cyclocross bike?
Question: How cautious do I need to be to avoid damaging my road bike?