Indian Cyclists Network

I looked all over for this info and i could not find enough info so here goes:

I have been riding long distances on a mountain bike (giant revel 1) for the past 6 months. I generally go for around 80km rides quite often. And it involves lot of climbing and stretches of bad roads due to the heavy monsoon.  I have read up on various places and they all say for my passion for long distance and fast riding I should go for a road bike. But all these articles arent written by those residing in India and they cannot understand the road conditions here. But I see a lot of you here own road bikes so I want to ask you guys about your experiences as I am considering buying a second bike for long distance riding and touring. My concerns are:

1) Do road tires provide enough grip on muddy road sections? Do I have to slow down a lot before entering such a section? And how is the grip in wet conditions especially at high speeds at curves?

2) What if land into a pothole at high speed? How easily do the rims bend?

Since I am considering a second bike as a road and I already have a mountain bike. I think having both will complement my interests of both exploration of trails and my passion for efficiency and speed.

All road bikers here please share your experiences, thoughts and ideas. I hope this discussion helps people decide if they need a mountain or road bike keeping in mind the road conditions in our mother land.

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This whole "our roads are bad" argument is a crock.  

If you are planning on banging your bike into large potholes at 30-35kph, then perhaps you should consider an MTB.   However, few people ride like that.    If you are moderately careful with your bike, then you can ride on all sorts of crappy roads without any problems.    You don't have to baby the wheels, just don't monster them over the potholes.

To put it in perspective:  I am 82kg, and my road bike has carbon wheels which I ride with 700x23 tires (the ultra-skinny ones).   Never had a problem with rim damage.  

Check out footage of Paris-Roubaix on Youtube - the Classics guys hammer over those cobblestones at 45-50kmph on ultra-light carbon wheels, and dont suffer any damage.   In comparison, you riding sensibly on Indian roads are not going to damage your wheels.   

You can also improve the life of the wheels by getting more robust wheels with a higher spoke count - e.g., 32 spokes or even 36 spokes on the rear, if you want.  

As for muddy sections,  a lot depends on how muddy.   If you are talking ankle-deep mud, then it is a bit harder on 700x23s.    What you need is fatter tires - e.g., 700x30 or 700x32 knobbies.    Google some cyclocross videos, and see what sort of conditions those guys ride their bikes in.

Grip in wet is perfectly fine - make sure you ride with proper technique and the wheels will provide more than ample grip, enough that your brain will tell you to slow down before the bike reaches its limits.

For what you describe, consider a cyclocross bike.   They can take thicker tires than a race-specific bike, so you can ride it over crappy roads, mud, slush, trails, and pretty much anything you want.   And if you want to race, simply put skinny tires on it and you have a race machine.

Thanks a lot Vandit, i have few more questions. What factors make road bikes faster?, is it the weight advantage, the thinner wheels or its inherent design like power transfer and seating position? Which of these matter the most?

The biggest factor is improved aerodynamics - a drop-barred bike lets you get lower, and so you present a lower profile to the wind than a MTB, where you are sitting upright.

Also, road bikes are designed with stiffness and responsiveness in mind - there is no suspension to soak up the energy, there is no pedal bob due to rear suspension, the short chain stays mean less power less in the drive train.

Lastly, the wheels - thin tires pumped up to higher pressures roll faster.

Weight advantage, even though it is a factor, is probably the least important factor.

+1 to all that Vandit has written. I've been riding a CX bike in Mumbai, including during the worst Monsoon months, and the bike has handled it all without any problems. And Mumbai doesn't have potholes, the roads here have craters. I've got CX specific 30mm tires. The Carbon fork had held up exceptionally well too.

Riding such roads just requires you to improve your bike handling skills. For eg, Lightening the bike as you ride over obstacles - reducing load on handlebar and then the rear end as the bike moves over a pothole helps a lot. Some of the better riders can in fact bunny hop over obstacles, cleats and all.

Good point that carbon is strong enough.

I will add that if the OP wants to go touring, a steel bike might be a better idea, however.   Handles loads better.

How much heavier will a steel bike be over an aluminium one, if i am willing to spend around 25k (hope that is enough for moneys worth)?

Depends on the type of bike.   A cross steel bike may be 1.5-2.5kg heavier.  A steel touring bike may be 3-4kg heavier.   

Re price:  25k isn't really enough for a road bike, to be honest.   Good road bikes start in the Rs  35-40k range and it is worth spending a little more to get more standardized parts, better shifting, better wheels, etc.   However, maybe KHS has an option closer to that price range, I am not sure. 

road bikes do pose a slight problem on the terrain we ride in....some of the bumps are difficult to escape while riding in traffic.... 

the cemented road have gaps between them which can pose problems if gaps are big or ure not carefull.....

the water drains are parrallel to roads and not horizontal...so if road are not well lit...there is a risk of the bike getting into one of these drains...

.....but all this over rides the joy of riding a road bike :)

There is one more thing called peace of mind to be considered. I at least feel safe, while riding such roads, on a bike with wide tyres preferably knobby ones. While riding some times you have to travel wholly using the side strip. This part is never repaired and always has real craters and big stones jutting out  and what not.(Shil phata to Mohpada road) or any highway shoulder is a prime example. 

The most dangerous part of road for a skinny is oil stained, sand or scree covered curves. More than the pot holes they pose greater danger. As many of our roads are in perpetual state of repair these conditions are omnipresent. Also the practice of dumping building material on the road side presents similar scenario at many places. 

So just be cautious where ever you face such a road while riding any class of bike.

The fact is, there is a lot more to bikes than the simple "MTB vs road" split that we're used to - i.e., there are more choices than (a) MTB with suspension and knobbiest and (b) aggressive road racer with 700x23s.

For what it is worth - 700x23s can go over a lot of road conditions, including gravel, dirt.    But you aren't limited to riding only skinnies.

You can get road bikes which take thicker tires as well -32s or even 35s.   Any cyclocross or touring bike will handle all of that.    You can get similar geometry/lightweight frame but with flat bars (hybrids).

700x32s are more than ample to go pretty much anywhere you will want to cycle, other than dedicated technical MTB tracks.

So to sum up:  pretty much none of the people who've been riding these roads on road bikes have had any problems.  

Only people who've NOT ridden road bikes feel that they are not capable of handling this terrain.

I found a GT GTR 2011 for 28K. Is the bike fine? Or is it better if i put in some more money? (not gonna be easy though)

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