/ Taking a road bike on non-tarmac paths? advice!?

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elliot.baker 16 Jul 2018

I'm a relatively seasoned MTB'r and I want to give road biking a go, I'm contemplating buying one of the cheap Carrera bikes from Halfords which are all discounted today, like these two:

https://www.halfords.com/cycling/bikes/road-bikes/carrera-virtuoso-road-bike-51-54cm-frames

https://www.halfords.com/cycling/bikes/road-bikes/carrera-zelos-mens-road-bike-51-54cm-frames

(I'm not sure what the difference is, the more expensive one has Shimano Claris gears?)

My question is: could you easily just change the tyres to something a tiny bit more robust than the basic narrow ones they come with and ride one of these on a smooth ish / gravel type dirt path - like what's round Carsington and places like that? Or are you limited by the rims or something?

My plan was to buy one of these ultra cheap ones ride if for a year and see if I love it; sell it and buy a real decent bike and if not sell it anyway and I've basically had a years riding for like £150 or something...

Any advice welcome! 

PaulW 16 Jul 2018
In reply to elliot.baker:

They are not MTB's but will be fine on gravel paths. Wider/tougher tyres is a good idea, the main limiting factor is the space between the tyre and frame/forks.

An ultra cheap bike will feel like it is cheap so won't give you quite the same experience, in much the same way a cheap MTB would not be as nice to ride.

Casa Alfredino 16 Jul 2018
In reply to elliot.baker:

You will be limited by tyre clearance amd brake caliper clearance. But you will most likely be able to put a 30mm tyre in there, maybe bigger but that would take experimentation. If you want bigger tyres, why no spend a bit more cash and go for a CX Boardman? Good bikes and will allow you 35mm tyres with knobbles, a less aggressive position and the ability to actually go offroad. If your plan is not to be a racing snake on the road they ar more versatile and a lot more fun IMO that road bikes especailly if you are an MTBer...

jungle 16 Jul 2018
In reply to elliot.baker:

There is a non-tarmac path shortcut to my work (approx 200m long), it seems that every time I go that way I end up with a puncture!

If you put wider tyres on thin rims (not sure how far you can go with this), it will make the bike 'roll' a bit when cornering at speed, but will probably be better suited if you decide to go off road. 

Maybe consider going with a cyclocross bike which have wider rims to fit tyres at about 35c. I don't think they are cheap though

elliot.baker 16 Jul 2018
In reply to Casa Alfredino:

Thanks for the advice... well the thing is I've looked through the Halfords website and today they are doing an additional 10% off the bikes - the first one that comes with Sora is a Boardman that costs £450 (so £405 with discount) whereas the Carrera Virtuoso is £260 (so £234 with discount) - which is really quite a difference for me, it's practically double the cost to get one step up gears. I just thought for that price (£234) I couldn't go wrong. They service it for free after 6 months too! 

I'm not a shill by the way haha!

Rigid Raider 16 Jul 2018
In reply to elliot.baker:

Those bikes come with a 25mm width tyre, which will beat you up on gravelly paths especially with a budget frame and forks.  You may be able to fit a 28mm tyre but it won't make much difference to the ride.  If you want to try road cycling, buy one of those or a Triban from Decathlon to get a feel for it; you will quickly realise that you go thrillingly fast on a road bike and your flappy old mountain bike kit is an irritant so then you'll be wanting to buy snug-fitting lycra kit and then you'll be wanting a lighter bike and then new shoes.... and so on ad infinitum!  Having converted to the road after 21 years on mountain bikes I still love the speed along with the ability to cruise up hills attacking them rather than dropping several gears and plodding up. 

If at a later stage you feel the need to ride forest tracks and gravel paths, consider buying a gravel bike, which is the right tool for the job as it is built for greater comfort.

 

 

 

 

elliot.baker 16 Jul 2018
In reply to Rigid Raider:

Yeah I think I just find appealing the idea of covering a lot more distance without having the constant stop start of unridable terrain and huge rocks (to go up!).

Obvs I'll have the constant terror of being hit by a car instead but you can't win them all.

Siward 16 Jul 2018
In reply to elliot.baker:

I rode on the dam path at Carsington at the weekend (beautiful, 8am and deserted) on my road bike. 25mm tubeless tyres. It was fine but for prolonged riding in that surface, which was pretty good hard packed gravel, I'd want something a bit chunkier. Perhaps you want a gravel bike  

Rigid Raider 16 Jul 2018
In reply to elliot.baker:

I rode my summer hooligan bike about a mile down a ballast-covered farm track on Saturday to get access to a cafe and although it coped OK on 23mm tyres it wasn't a comfortable experience and with the pressures at around 100 psi it bounced around a lot and I heard rocks hitting the rims and frame a couple of times, so it's not something I like to do, especially not at speed. A gravel bike or a CX bike would have fatter softer tyres but you wouldn't get quite as much speed on tarmac and I don't think CX bikes make very good road bikes because they are only designed for one hour of all-out effort. A good road bike needs to fit you well because you will be on it for a couple of hours at a time or longer.

nutme 16 Jul 2018

I ride a lot on cyclo cross bike and love gravel.

Main problem with road bike is clearance as mentioned by folks above. But even if you will get lucky to fit 30mm tire you will find it stuck as soon as it will get muddy. British mud is amazingly sticky and road bike caliper brakes get stuck instantly. Choices are to use V brakes with bigger clearance or disk brakes.

Casa Alfredino 16 Jul 2018
In reply to elliot.baker:

Sure - it's a sure fire way to have a bike for a year. But you said you wanted to rideon gravel tracks. 25mm + gravel on a cheap bike and it really will only last you a year!

cb294 16 Jul 2018
In reply to elliot.bake

In that range you should be able to get a used cyclocross bike. Even it is a few years old it is definitely going to last longer than a supermarket rubbish road bike that is going to fall apart after one season even without going off tarmac.

CB

ChrisJD 16 Jul 2018
In reply to cb294:

Looking on Ebay completed listings, Sub-£300 is a bit sparse for 2nd hand x-bikes, so it may take some patience to get a good enough 2nd hand one local to the OP (usually collection only).

thepodge 16 Jul 2018

By the time you've bought new tyres you'll be much closer to getting this and enjoying it much more...

https://www.halfords.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductMobileDisplay?catalogId=10151&langId=-1&categoryId=353104&productId=1378415&storeId=10001

elliot.baker 16 Jul 2018
In reply to thepodge:

hi thanks for taking the time to find that bike and posting it - but I would just question what the extra £200 is getting you ? Disc brakes (but only cable), but the same gears (Claris)? Other than that is it just the geometry, tyres and tyre clearance that makes it an adventure bike rather than a pure road one...?

 

Cheers

thepodge 16 Jul 2018
In reply to elliot.baker:

Basically yes, better geo and better materials is what you're getting. Despite their aspirational name I think adventure bikes are far more suited to the everyday road rider than road bikes. 

TobyA 16 Jul 2018
In reply to elliot.baker:

How tall are you? And how desperate are you for bike? I'm in the process of getting a cycle to work voucher and buying a new bike, once I have I'm going to sell my Boardman CX - it's a medium (fits me perfectly and I'm just a smidge under 5'10"). I think I'm going to ask 125 quid for it. It's a brilliant gravel/CX/do everything bike. I see you are Derbyshire based, as I am, so we can't be that far apart if you are interested.

1
cb294 17 Jul 2018
In reply to ChrisJD:

I had a look before posting, and there were some bikes available for buying immediately around £200. Certainly not what I would look for (and I just bought a used cyclocross bike), but still better than a crappo supermarket bike.

CB

elliot.baker 17 Jul 2018
In reply to TobyA:

I'm just a smidge under 6'

elliot.baker 17 Jul 2018
In reply to cb294:

What makes it crap?

I'd be concerned on ebay that buying a branded bike one 'league' above a supermarket (as you put it) bike - that has a year or more on the clock, that regardless of if it had better equipment on it, it would be more likely to break in the next year than a really cheap bike!

Especially since when I've been on Evans and elsewhere the bikes pushing £450 still only have Claris gears.

The New NickB 17 Jul 2018
In reply to elliot.baker:

> What makes it crap?

> Especially since when I've been on Evans and elsewhere the bikes pushing £450 still only have Claris gears.

I have not ridden either bike, but my concern with having Claris on a sub £300 bike is that all the budget has gone on the groupset. It might be a real bargain, it may also be a piece of junk with a better groupset on it. To be honest the Voodoo bike doesn't look great to me either, its heavy, 2.1kg heavier than a Boardman CX that retails at £50 more. For your budget, I'd be looking at second hand, but I understand your concerns around this.

 

GrahamD 17 Jul 2018
In reply to elliot.baker:

There is nothing 'only' about Claris.  Its a perfectly adequate groupset.

cb294 17 Jul 2018
In reply to elliot.baker:

The New NickB pretty much summed up my doubts: Get a cheap bike with a more upmarket, branded groupset (typically this will include only the derailleurs and brakes, but not, say, hubs or cassettes), and the manufacturer will have cut their costs elsewhere. Most likely this will be in parts that are less outwardly visible but can make a huge difference for both performance and longevity of the bike (hub bearings, spokes, rims, tires, fork, seat post, ...).

The weight and build quality of the frame can also differ massively, but every now and then there are some good and cheap frames out there, so keep your eyes open and compare carefully. 

With the given budget, though, I would aim at a formerly expensive but maybe five to eight year old bike. For reference, I just bought a one and a half year old cyclocross bike at less than a third of the original price, and with much better specs than I would have been willing to pay for in a new bike. The price will of course not continue to drop at that rate, but bottom out at some age point, and I would aim just above that.

CB

elliot.baker 17 Jul 2018
In reply to GrahamD:

Yeah I’m sure it is, I meant only as in “only the same gears as the bike £200 cheaper” but as cb294 has pointed out the additional cost is likely spent elsewhere making a more well rounded product. 

Jon Greengrass 18 Jul 2018
In reply to elliot.baker:

Don't worry you won't break a cheap bike, it might break you though.

My experience of buying a cheap road bike new for £250 6years ago.

this one https://www.rutlandcycling.com/109215/products/viking-roma-road-bike.aspx

Saddle was horrific, gave me saddle sores after 30 minutes and had to be replaced

Riding position was terrible which was down to the old fashioned handlebars with enormous reach, drop and a shape which coupled with STI levers mean I can only reach the brakes with the reach adjust all the way in.

Tyres labelled 23c measure up more like 18mm! and when pumped up hard enough not get a puncture transmit every tiny road chipping into vibration up through the frame.

The 16 speed non-group shimano STI gears have been flawless not as smooth as the XT on my mountain bike but still working perfect.

The brakes are worse than useless, I bought the bike for a 20 mile each way commute along flat roads. Then one day a driver pulled out of a side road, I pulled on the brakes nothing happened, I pulled harder couldn't even lock the back wheel. I slid across the rear of the vehicle as it pulled out onto the main road, luckily I was in hurt. I stopped riding the bike outdoors after that and is has been permanently fixed to my turbo trainer ever since.

To make the bikr usable and safe to ride on the road I'd be looking at the following "upgrades"

new saddle £30

new brake calipers £30

pair of new tyres £30

new handlebars £30

Total cost of bike £370

If I'd spent £370 originally I probably would have got a bike that was better in every way.

 

 

subtle 18 Jul 2018
In reply to elliot.baker:

Look on eBay, or Facebook pages near you, or preferably local cycle clubs and buy a second hand CX bike - they will generally be well maintained and looked after and will be something  around your budget - they will do gravel paths, have decent wheels and let you change tyres for pure road biking to see if it appeals - no need to buy cheap new when you could get decent second hand 

Rigid Raider 19 Jul 2018
In reply to elliot.baker:

But again, be aware that CX bikes are not built for long rides IMO. They are built for balls-out racing for an hour.

1
GrahamD 19 Jul 2018
In reply to Rigid Raider:

The vast majority of riders on 'dirt' cycle paths do it on cheapy road bikes.  At least round Cambridge they do.  Expensive looking bikes have the life expectancy of a chocolate fire guard - they get nicked.


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