Daily Commuting Tip: Commutify your Mountain Bike
Mountain bikes are the 4x4s of cycling. However, unlike their 4 wheeled off-road brethren, mountain bikes make excellent and appropriate urban commuters. If you've already got an MTB we've got a few easy modifications from your standard spec that'll make your bike much more fit-for-purpose. And if you're in the market for an MTB but want it to be more of an all rounder, we've also got a few killer features to look out for.
Fit some puncture proof commuting tyres
There are a whole host of smooth treaded, Kevlar belted, puncture resistant tyres out there that will fit your mountain bike. Smooth tyres roll so much better than the OEM knobbly tyres on your MTB. Which means a smoother, easier ride. You'll also have more grip on the corners (MTB tyres tend to squirm when cornering on tarmac). Schwalbe's Marathon or Big Apple are great choices, as are Continental's Contact range, plus many others. Some tyres are available with reflective sidewalls and dynamo tracks on the sidewall.
Fit a set of full length mudguards
This will be easy on a bike with mudguard eyelets on the frame and fork, but still bodgeable for those bikes without. Full mudguards will keep you and your bike clean and dry. If your bike hasn't got mudguard eyelets, you can use a combination of P-clips and zip ties to secure the guards in place or alternatively, buy a Crud Catcher style guard, which is specifically designed for MTB use. You won't get as effective protection from water and grime, but it will be better than nothing.
Fit a rack
Again, much easier on a bike with the necessary hardware on the frame. However there are various products on the market that will fit bikes without eyelets, or bikes with rear disc brakes, which can sometimes interfere with rack fitting. Full suspension bikes can pose problems in this regard - but there are seatpost mounted racks that will allow you to rack up your full susser.
Fit some lights
If you intend to use your bike on the trails at the weekend, you'll want lights (and other attachments) that can be easily and quickly removed. Otherwise, fit-and-forget, battery-free induction lights (like the Reelight system) are your best bet.
Fit flat pedals
When we say flat pedals we mean pedals without a clip-in mechanism. This way you'll be able to wear your normal footwear.
If you're really serious, retrofit a rigid fork
This will mean easy fitting of mudguards, lighter weight and lower maintenance, saving your posh suspension fork for when you really need it.
If you're in the market for a new MTB...
... but you want to use it for the daily commute too:
- Look for rack and mudguard mounts
- If you're buying a disc brake equipped bike, make sure the brake doesn't get in the way of the rack and mudguard mounts
- Buy a hardtail - rear suspension will get in the way of mudguard and rack mounting options and will be a overkill on the road.
- If you can get a bike with a lockout fork - this will allow you to run ‘rigid' on the street but open the fork up when you're on the trails.
- Consider a rigid (i.e. no suspension front or rear) MTB. Hard to find in a high quality bike these days but they're still out there.