I live in Japan, where bicycles are an amazing thing to use.

I was looking for a bike that had a place to put my backpack, as well as quick in the city but able to go over rough patches of pavement with no problem.

Originally I was thinking of getting a mountain bike, and adding a rack and road tires, but would this be the best?

  • When you say rough patches of pavement, what do you mean? A normal road bike can handle a wide range of conditions, including sand and gravel, and the occasional drop off and climb up curbs.
    – andy256
    Jan 28, 2015 at 0:25
  • 1
    Product recommendations get shut down. There are a many bikes designed for commuting (don't convert a mountain bike). Look for the term city, urban, and light touring. Look for lugs to mount a rear rack. Look for like 32mm - 35mm tires.
    – paparazzo
    Jan 28, 2015 at 0:31

2 Answers 2


I had this predicament several years ago when I decided to get back into cycling, but also use it as my main method of transport for commuting.

To cut a long story short, I opted for a Cyclocross bike (think of a road bike-come mountain bike). These offer wider tyres, often the knobbly variety, which makes them perfect for off-road riding. You can also get semi-slick tyres which are a best of both worlds. Cross bikes give you a road-like setup in terms of the drop handlebars, but often provide the ability to take panniers and mudguards (fenders). So, if you want similar speeds of a road bike but the versatility of a mountain bike (within reason), cyclocross bikes are hard to beat.

I originally toyed with the idea of a road bike, purely for the speed and with the hope of racing, but the ability to have panniers and mudguards sold it to me.


As you are stating that you want it to be going over rough pavement rather than off-road as I originally stated, slick tyres would be more than capable of this. Hybrid bikes are an option as mentioned in the other answer, but they may not be as quick a road-type setup. Saying that, the speed difference is probably negligible over short distances and it then becomes a matter of preference in terms of riding position. Hybrids offer the 'sitting up' position as found on mountain bikes, whereas a cross bike would be more bent over and using the drop handlebars as on a road bike.


You almost certainly do not want a "mountain bike".

A "mountain bike", for me, has:

  • quite thick tyres
  • lots of gears
  • potentially a thick/heavy frame

If you're riding round town, those thick tyres will just add friction to your ride. They made it harder to pedal, they make you slower, and you don't need them.

Unless it's very hilly where you live, you don't need 21 gears. You might need 7, tops. (I live in Melbourne, where it's very flat. I have 1 gear.)

You almost certainly don't want or need a thick, heavy frame. Same reason you don't want thick heavy tyres.

I'd look at some sort of hybrid: not super-skinny tyres like the racers use, but nothing with "knobbles". You only need knobbles if you're riding through mud. You won't be. A hybrid is more likely to be built with a basket/panniers in mind; they're designed for commuting.

And, don't worry too much about "rough road". Unless it's really rough, any decent modern frame will handle it. My single-speed with fairly skinny tyres handles anything I choose to ride over.

I see so many people with mountain bikes in the city and none of them look like they're having a good time! Google "hybrid bike", you'll get results for your city. Go and have a look around some shops, talk to the staff, take a few bikes out for a ride.

Good luck! And have fun. :-)

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