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I have a low end steel MTB, which is heavy by itself, and I also a heavy man weighting in at 100kg, and on my MTB I have knobby dirt tires.

As you can imagine, riding on the road any faster than 20km/h is a pain. I would be satisfied if I could cruise at 30km/h easily, which I can't now. I'm finding comfort in 20km/h.

What do I need? Road tires? Loose weight? Get more fit?

I was thinking on purchasing a set of Schwalbe Marathon tires, in 26x1.75 size for my MTB to potentially lower the rolling resistance and go faster.

Currently I have Kenda tires, made for the dirt in the 26x2.10 size. These tires also sound horrible, making a lot of noise on the pavement.

How could I increase the speed of my bike?

Also, at what pressure should I inflate my current Kenda tires to potentially go faster? I currently have them at around 60PSI.

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    Buy smooth tires, get fitter, inflate tires properly. – Batman Jun 15 '17 at 21:58
  • Would a 1.75 tire roll better than a 1.95? – Gala Jun 15 '17 at 22:01
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    Few (and far fewer people than claim it) can maintain 30km/h on a MTB on road. Above 20km/h aerodynamics starts to play a bigger and bigger part of the equation. – mattnz Jun 15 '17 at 23:01
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    And, as Paparazzi points out, shocks are a big energy sink. If you have them lock them out somehow. – Daniel R Hicks Jun 15 '17 at 23:46
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    @Batman it's quite hard work to sustain that in an upright position -- over a nice flat 10km stretch I would average about 27km/h on the hybrid compared to 34km/h on the tourer -- and the tourer probably has higher rolling resistance (marathon mondial vs.marathon plus). – Chris H Jun 16 '17 at 11:27
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Free stuff - start with your bike fit. Make sure your saddle height is high enough, but not so high your hips wiggle while pedalling.

Check brakes for rub - adjust brakes or true wheel if required.

Carry less stuff - wear fewer clothes when riding. Roadies tend to avoid big flapping jackets, and their clothes are more close-fitting.

Carry the right stuff - Water and some fuel is useful. A small thing like a lolly or a square of chocolate or a gel per hour of riding works for me for up to 3 hour rides, after that I need a more solid snack like a muesli bar or bliss balls.

Lock out any suspension on the road. Bobbing along slowly saps your power. If there is no lockout, then some bikes have tuneable suspension, so you can make them more firmer and loose less power. Downside is you still have to drag the useless suspension parts around with you, as excess weight.

Technique - look closely at others and see if you can observe differences between your technique and theirs.

Ride straight, but defensively - I see a lot of slower riders wiggling in and out of parked cars in the stationary lane. Turning reduces your forward speed, and ducking in between cars for a few metres is dangerous. So take a position on the road and ride in a straight line. Wear high vis colours and so on, but be perceptive to your surroundings in front and behind. I found the faster I go the further away from the kerb/curb I want to be. Be a door's width from parked cars. Ride with lights, even DRLs in the daytime.

Then a service - clean/lube your chain, clean your cassette, check wheel and BB axles for play/wobble. If you can do this yourself its free, otherwise its a service cost at the LBS.


Next options cost money, sorry.

New commuter tyres is your first and easiest gain. Inflate towards the higher end of the pressure range. Store your old tyres in case you want to take the bike on something offroad and gnarly someday.


Long term free things:

Carry less weight - Develop and implement a weight loss plan. I started at 105 kilos and have dropped to 95 over two years. This has certainly helped. However a lot of the weight loss has been offset with muscle mass.

Ride more/train more - Developing both fast and slow twitch muscle fibres will help with your raw burst power and your endurance respectively. This is not an overnight process, but better legs will totally help you go faster for longer.

Ride with others - Some of my best times have been gained while in pursuit of other riders. Organised rides help keep the motivation up, and show you routes or methods that could help you. Plus draughting/drafting can be a good 30% saving on your power input.


After that, you can look at getting more aerodynamic, but at some point you have to stop spending money to "put makeup on the swine" and start saving for a road bike.

As motivation, consider a lot of lighter road bikes have a maximum rider weight of 90 or 95 kilos, so consider setting this as a target weight before buying a new bike.

  • What tire width do you reccomend? – Gala Jun 16 '17 at 3:48
  • @gala -its hard to guess but based on Schwalbe's chart slowtwitch.com/images/glinks/articles/WhatWeNoticed/… then your 2.1" (53mm) tyre is probably on a rim with width of 21 to 29mm. If its 21mm then you could drop to a 32mm tyre safely. Note, its mostly about getting a smoother tread pattern, and the narrower tyre is about reducing weight and rotational weight. – Criggie Jun 16 '17 at 4:09
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A road tire but not a Schwalbe Marathon. It is ballistic tire but it is heavy with a harsh ride. I have it on one of my bikes and I notice the weight. There are a lot of puncture resistant tires out there for less weight that still give good puncture resistance.

I think you could drop down to like a 1.5 but that is not much different from 1.75.

Run the tires at max psi.

If you have shock a fixed fork will be faster.

  • What do you mean by "ballistic tire"? Kevlar-lined? – David Richerby Jun 16 '17 at 10:54

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