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I have an old Marin Bobcat Trail MTB with 26" wheels. I want to make a road bike out of it, and don't want to spend a bunch of money. I just want to be able to go fast and coast for awhile, so I don't have to crunch around on my Talus 29er.

I'm also ~230lbs and 6'6". I used to blow tires like crazy on that bike. Am I going to be struggling with that same issue with the tiny road tires??

I'd love to post pictures of the transformation. I just need pointers on how to RE-USE what I have on the bike, minus buying new a wheelset.

Thanks all!

  • If you are "blowing tires like crazy", it's worth investigating why this happens. Unless it's punctures from road debris (glass, wire, nails), thin tires can only make this worse. If your tire pressure is too low and you hit a curb or a rock, you can get a pinch flat -- the tube gets pinched between the tire and the rim. – Nik Apr 10 '15 at 23:03
  • Get some slick tires, but don't get very thin tires. I recommend tires around 40mm wide. Here is a good article that explains that thinner tires are not always "faster": janheine.wordpress.com/2014/01/01/tires-how-wide-is-too-wide – Nik Apr 10 '15 at 23:05
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    possible duplicate of MTB Conversion For Lighter Commuting – Vorac Sep 29 '15 at 10:00
  • I'm 6ft and at times been 230~240lbs. Never had a issue blowing tires on my mountain commuter (OEM 26x2.1 or Cont. Touring Plus 26x1.75). – BPugh Sep 29 '15 at 16:09
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There really isn't much required to make a MTB into a formidable city bike.

The obvious thing is to change tires. But I wouldn't actually recommend to go for something skinny just something not knobby. Skinny tires offer very little advantage but absorb a lot less of the bumps encountered in city driving which makes them less comfortable and put the wheels under more stress. Just find some nice (semi-)slick tires and you should be good to go (I just posted my preference in another answer and would feel like over-advertising if I mentioned my personally preferred make and model ;-)).

You may think about adding bar ends which offer an extra position for your hands which is quite comfortable on longer rides.

Most other things are personal preference or at least depend on how you're actually going to use the bike. Depending on your speeds you might want to look into larger chain rings for more top end and, since you're a tall guy, possibly longer crank arms.

Other things to think about: lights (hub dynamo vs battery), racks, mud guards, lock.

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Much heavier people ride various kinds of MTBs that have been reconfigured for riding on the road, and do not experience regular tire problems (blowouts, punctures). You seem to be suggesting that your weight and size is the cause of the tire problems, but that is not consistent with my experience.

As suggested by other respondents, you want some good quality slicks or semi-slicks on this bike to improve rolling resistance. You can run some of them at higher pressures than you might run a knobby tire, which also helps.

Before you install new tires, be sure that your rim tape/rim strip is not the source of your "blowouts." In other words, once rim tape gets tired, and the adhesive doesn't work as well as it used to, the tape can shift around under the tube, exposing the spoke holes, causing flats. Similarly, if you have an incorrectly sized (too narrow) rim strip, you can have the same problem. Bottom line, be sure your rim tape or rim strip is not uncovering the spoke holes.

You did not mention what width of tire you're running on the Marin, but on BikePedia it shows the bike is typically spec'd with something around 26" by 2" so any decent tire around that size should be good.

Schwalbe Marathon Plus can be hard to mount, and they can be "tall" for a given size, but they are about as low-maintenance and puncture resistant as you can get. There are a few different SMP tires available for 26" rims:

Marathon Plus, 50-559, Black-Reflex, Wire
Marathon Plus Tour, 50-559, Reflex, Wired
Marathon Plus, 47-559, Black-Reflex, Wire
Marathon Plus Tour, 47-559, Reflex, Wired

That is what I would suggest, along with some decent-quality tubes.

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