I need a new bike, but I´m in a dilema on which too choose, because my rides involve 4 kinds of pavement: smooth cycle ways, cobblestone, ok city roads and rough city roads.

Was thinking just to keep doing what I have been doing till now, get a new MTB, a BTWIN rockrider 500(for those in the US, BTWIN is a brand sold in Europe that as nice groupset parts for the price) and fit it 26 slicks.

But then on the site saw they have some flat bar roadies: http://www.btwin.com/en/road-bikes/fitness-road-bikes/18701-triban-520-fb-road-bike-black-red-white.html

So I wonder... If that roadie was fitted with 700x32 slick tyres would it make it rideable on cooblestone/cracked pavement without the risk of damaging the wheels?

And maybe the most important, would it loose much speed compared with the original tyres(700x25) on the smooth roads? Would it be just about as fast as the "slicked" mtb?

And please, no need to tell me to get a city bike. From what I have seen, they are even heavier then MTBs, and in my prices budget I can get a Btwin MTB with Sramx4 or Acera. While urban ones only have the tourney.

  • If you want speed then why flat bars? This is asking about specific bikes. Voting to close as asking for product recommendations.
    – paparazzo
    Jan 27, 2016 at 7:41
  • Mr. Frisbee, From what I googled drop bars only give more 2 or 3km extra speed. Was showing those bikes just as a example. The basis of my question is how much speed difference of a bike with wide road wheels and road groupset to a MTB with slicks. Jan 27, 2016 at 23:26

3 Answers 3


I'd recommend a Cyclocross bike (also called CX). That's a robust road bike frame, configured to accept tyres up to about 40mm wide. You won't need 40mm unless you're doing proper off-roading, but a nice 30-35mm file tread such as a Specialized Trigger or Schwalbe Sammy Slick will run nicely on smooth pavement, will handle cobbles and bad pavement, and will also handle mild gravel/dirt.

I have a setup like that, and the thing that I love about it is that I can ride pretty much anywhere from road to gravel to bike paths to rail trails to single track (except for MTB trails with lots of rocks!).

Have fun.

  • 2
    came here to post the same answer, so here it is as a comment: I'm in the same situation road-wise and instead of 'true' road bikes you could look into cyclocross bikes instead. By default they usually come with somewhat wider tyres already (which also might have thicker rubber, which is imo the key to less or no flats) and their wheels/frames/forks are sturdier. And in any case due to less weight, bit better aerodynamics these bikes should still be faster than an MTB.
    – stijn
    Jan 27, 2016 at 8:47
  • 1
    Agree with this answer. Although there is another type of bike being touted by the manufacturers and this is a "gravel" bike something like the GT Grade. Quite how it differs from a CX bike - I am not sure. Also how rough your "city roads" are will dictate the kind of bike you need as a CX / Gravel or even some road bikes can cope with all the other surfaces you mention by virtue of fitting bigger volume tyres alone.
    – OraNob
    Jan 27, 2016 at 9:00
  • I agree but this is more an answer to this question bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/26065/… The current form of the question is more of a product recomendation
    – paparazzo
    Jan 27, 2016 at 15:30
  • @OraNob See the link my comment above. Gravel is very close to CX. Gravel is a little more straight line and holding a good speed. CX is a little more acceleration as that is the nature of the sport. But that can totally blur from brand to brand.
    – paparazzo
    Jan 27, 2016 at 15:34
  • 1
    Oh you say that now @Sergio, but when you are rushing to get home after work and running late, I think you'd enjoy being there 10% earlier. :-)
    – brendan
    Jan 28, 2016 at 1:09

We don't do product recommendations here. Generally speaking, a road bike will be faster than a MTB for the same rider.

That said, road bikes are less robust. I've popped road tyres on potholes that a rigid MTB would barely notice.

Tyre width won't change the frontal area of the bike by much if anything. Instead, the wider tyre allows use of a lower pressure which increases the rolling resistance (deformation of tyre on road surface)

Anecdotally, when I went from two old folding 23mm to wire bead 25mm slicks, my average speed improved.

Decent quality wheels (both rims and spokes) will help the most, as will having extra hand padding either in gloves or in two layers of bartape/good grips. Think of the pros on the cobblestone segments of the TDF - they use wider tyres, padding, and very few other changes.

For a commuter you will also need mudguards / fenders, and decent lights/reflectors. I'd also go with a vest and helmet. If you want to go geeky, one/two cameras and run some tracking software on a fancyphone.

Your good city roads and paths don't matter - any bike will be fine. The poor roads and cobbles - are they a significant portion of the route? Can you go alternate routes which may be better quality albeit longer?

  • Sorry if I made this look like asking to choose a specific brand/model. Good thing you mentioned the wheel quality. Did another search and seems that poep Jan 27, 2016 at 23:02
  • @SergioTomasso Brands mean little these days, its qualities that you're seeking which really matter. As a recovering fattie, I know wheels and seatposts are my weak points so I tend to overdo those areas.
    – Criggie
    Jan 27, 2016 at 23:11
  • Sorry if I made this look like asking to choose a specific brand/model. Nice you mentioned wheel quality, googled more and seems that to make those bikes cheaper then cut the quality in other parts. Turns out the stock wheels are not that good and many people upgrade them. That would be another budget increase. Unfortunatly there is no way to change the route, Already doing the smoothest way I can, going on cicleways and better paved avenues. Is about 40% of cobbles and cracked roads. You ever tried 28mm tyres? Some people write they are good on cobblestone. Thanks for helping. Jan 27, 2016 at 23:12

The roadie will probably be faster. The mountain bike will not even be a mountain bike.

At your price range:

  1. Tyre rolling resistance, both bikes will probably have crappy tyres, it is likely, but not certain, that the road bike will have less rolling resistance.
  2. Weight of the bike, the MTB will be at least 3 kilos heavier, this is a plus on descents, irrelevant on flats, bad on ascents. Rotating weight will hinder acceleration.
  3. Aerodynamics, the faster you go the more important this is, that road bike appears to be reasonably aerodynamic and will put you in a more aerodynamic position than most mountain bikes.
  4. Wheel size, the 26inch wheels roll worse on everything, even if you get the mountain bike, try to avoid 26inch wheels for your purposes.

Damaging the wheels from cobbles and cracked pavement is not very likely, however it is not so uncommon for new wheels to need to be trued again after bedding in over 300km or so. I know several people who ride 28mm in Moscow on cheap road bikes, lots of nasty roads there, only ever heard complaints about sore buttocks, not broken wheels.

Please note that "higher pressure = less rolling resistance" is a simplistic generalisation which, despite having general truth to it, is ultimately false for road bikes and a very flawed way of thinking for mountain bikes on actual mountain bike terrain.

Depending on their construction the 32mm tryres might be FASTER than your 25mm, or if you have hard rubber with puncture resistant layers etc then both the 32 and 25mm could conceivably roll worse than tubeless 2.25inch Racing Ralph evo MTB tyres being run at 35psi, let alone an expensive MTB semi slick run at a high pressure: http://www.bicyclerollingresistance.com/mtb-reviews/continental-speed-king-ii-racesport-2015

Take a look at the comparison of these 32 to 47mm tyres to see something rather unexpected also: http://www.bicyclerollingresistance.com/specials/schwalbe-marathon-32-37-40-47

The take away lesson should be that most people cannot tell much about rolling resistance without actually measuring it, in an appropriate setting, furthermore, most simplistic assumptions about rolling resistance are likely to be invalid in the real world (elements of these measured tests included) as has been repeatedly shown in recent years.

P.S. I would never recommend an urban bike to anyone ever, I would also never recommend a mountain bike under around 700euros (buy second hand if you can't afford 700euros!) as it simply will not be an actual mountain bike, even 700euros is really border line for an actual mountain bike, but there are some appearing at that price range, you just have to wade through all the trash to find them.

  • Your recommendation of never buying a mountain bike for under 700euros cannot be substantiated as this depends on too many variables.
    – OraNob
    Jan 27, 2016 at 8:51
  • 2
    I actually said "I could never recommend a bike under 700", not that "I would recommend never buying a mountain bike under 700". There is a significant difference between those two statements, the first one expresses that I would not give my recommendation to an action, while the second (which I did not say) actually gives a recommendation not to do something.
    – user20209
    Jan 27, 2016 at 9:16
  • Besides the wheel and tyre size. Won't the road groupset make the biggest speed difference? Thanks for the help Jan 27, 2016 at 23:22
  • A road groupset itself wont make you faster, but it will mean there are harder gears. If you really exert yourself, you can push those harder gears, and travel quicker, that's only because on the road bike you have narrow, high pressure tyres and better aerodynamics.
    – brendan
    Jan 28, 2016 at 1:12
  • Ahhh... I thought road groupsets where about making the wheels spin faster with less effort then in the MTBs. So it's basically having to push harder. I presume the group parts like the rest of a road bike are lighter but still resistent, making even the lower groupsets more expensive then their MTB counterparts. Jan 29, 2016 at 2:48

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