New answers tagged off-road
On Youtube there are two-wheel 'bents on serious trails. I have two 'bents. I ride off-road, slightly bumpy, on both. I think the one with 20inch wheels is more comfortable off-road than the 29inch one. The 20inch one has mountain-bike suspension at both ends. That helps a lot. Lots of 'bents have that.
I'm in similar situation. My solution (since my entire trip is 20 miles one way and only 3 miles are forest trail) is to bear the bumpiness (with stock carbonfork) by putting 700x 35 tires on Trek 7.5 FX which is a road bike biased hybrid. If you go with smaller wheels it gets bumpier. If you go with wider tires than you suffer on pavement. And yes, as the ...
I would lean toward getting a bike that handles offroad really well. You can always ride and offroad bike on the road but it is more difficult to ride a onroad bike offroad.
Another suggestion would be a bike from the emerging "gravel" or "adventure" categories. Typically they are comfortable road bikes with clearance for larger tires, meant to be used on a wide variety of road surfaces, both paved and unpaved.
Get a lighter mountain bike. You can then get some hybrid tyres if you want better rolling on the road, but you will still be able to do proper mountain biking if you wish.
Alternatively you could use a hybrid bicycle. 29" wheels with slightly knobby tyres, upright handlebar and some come with a front suspension, though I would select one without.
Check out cyclocross style bicycle. It does well on the road and light trails. You can put touring tires on it. wiki Cyclo-cross
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