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Can I do a triathlon with a mountain bike?(16 posts)

Can I do a triathlon with a mountain bike?Hugh
Feb 6, 2002 2:44 PM
Hi, I'm currenly training for my first triathlon... don't want to dish the money right away for a road bike. Thinking of using my mtbike for this season at least. What should I do? I have a few idea, please share if you have more:

Tire - I saw some Ritchy 1" slicks for mtbikes. Any more suggestions? Haven't found any 1" mtbike tubes yet except Performance brand, kinda heavy, 180 g. Suggestions there?

Cassette - I'm just about to max out my gears, and I haven't started to ride hard yet on the road. Maybe a new cassette? What's the smallest gear set I can get? I currently have Shamano XT 34-12 (I think, 8 speed). Maybe the chainring?

Handlebars - What's the best attachement I can get for my bars to stretch me out? Not sure if there's room to mount anything ... have cyclotron and polar both mounted, with the shifters, my bar is very crowded already... ideas?
That's all I can think of... I'd appreciate any ideas.

Fork - Can I find a simple rigid road fork for my mountain bike? I currently have a manitou SXR fork, is cranking up the comp, rebound and preload enough?

Not if you want to winmr_spin
Feb 6, 2002 2:58 PM
I think you are crazy to compete on a mountain bike, but no one will stop you. Have fun.

But...there is almost no way you can get a good aero position or even get high enough gears to make a difference. And if you have a shock, forget it. That's 3-4 pounds of weight and a lot of energy lost.

There are triathlons that have a real mountain bike leg instead of a road course. I'd seek those out instead.
Not if you want to win - I'm not looking to winHugh
Feb 6, 2002 3:38 PM
Thank you. As I stated in the post, this is my first attempt. I'm looking to gain experience while doing the best I can.
Not if you want to win - I'm not looking to winmr_spin
Feb 6, 2002 4:12 PM
Forget winning--I don't think you'll have any fun, either. You are at too much of a disadvantage against real tri-bikes, and it may end up affecting your desire to compete. That means eventually, you'll quit. I don't know you, so maybe this isn't an issue. It's something to watch out for. Half the game is mental.

I did a Yahoo search for mountain bike triathlons and came up with a whole bunch. There's even a pro-series called XTerra.
Totally disagree. . .js5280
Feb 7, 2002 9:42 AM
Have to say I totally disagree w/ your statements. I'd venture to say the vast majority of triathletes could care less if they place or not. That's not to say they aren't competitive. They're out to beat their own personal records and/or have fun in the process. So you're telling this person that they shouldn't even try to compete because they can't win? Don't even try? Isn't that worse than quitting? I'd say your attitude is very much in a small minority and personally would find a very disappointing way to live my life. Winning isn't everything. However it does make a nice motivator for the rest of us, nothing better than knocking someone off their high-horse. . .
Totally disagree. . .mr_spin
Feb 7, 2002 10:44 AM
I know dozens and dozens of triathletes. In fact, most of the people I ride with are triathletes, so I have a pretty good perspective on how they operate. I don't have the knees to do them myself, so I stick to bikes.

True, few of them expect to win. But all of them expect to do well, and many of them try for PRs every time. I'd say at least half are trying to qualify for Hawaii Ironman, and most of them do.

My point was not that he should not compete. I was trying to point out that it is very de-motivating to feel that you are going backwards in a race. A triathlon is a huge challenge mentally and physically. If you are physically equal to your competitors, but your equipment puts you at a disadvantage, that will wear you down mentally. You will probably finish the race, but how long will you keep racing like that?

My suggestion was to seek a level playing field by trying mountain bike triathlons. There he is not at a disadvantage because of his equipment choice.

Like I said, I don't know this guy. But I know triathletes very well. There is a massive amount of training involved, almost to the point where it becomes a lifestyle rather than a hobby. Swim every morning, ride a couple times a week, run a couple times a week, long rides followed by long runs on weekends. No one works that hard just to have fun. Racing is serious, even if they know they can't win. When they want to have fun, these guys (actually, about half are women) party pretty hard.

By all means, race triathlons on a mountain bike. No one will care, least of all, myself. If nothing else, you'll get a taste of how hard it is and how hard you have to train. Make sure you are mentally prepared to deal with the result. And get a road bike as soon as you can.
Feb 7, 2002 11:25 AM
Okay, I can see arguing against doing a Ironman on a MTB but I'd imagine this person is going to try a sprint distance first. I think a MTB, particularly w/ some minor changes like slick tires, is fine. If tri's are what you really want to compete in after doing a few, then make the investment. Your statements kind of came off as elitist and demoralizing IMO. Also it sounds like you do hang out w/ the competitive triathletes where the will is win is extremely high, I think that's necessary to compete at those levels. However most people, the middle-of-pack, are there to have fun, set new PRs, reap the benefits of training, and experience the reward of finishing. I think that should be encouraged. No hard feelings, I understand where you're coming from.
you'll be fineColnagoFE
Feb 6, 2002 2:59 PM
If this is your first tri you most likely aren't gonna place anyway. If you get serious though you'll want a road bike or tri bike.
re: Can I do a triathlon with a mountain bike?Eric16
Feb 6, 2002 3:34 PM
Yeah, you probably won't be competitive on a mountain bike but if you just want to DO a triathalon no-one will stop you from using a mountain bike. Around the time of the big triathalon in our area we always get people bringing their hybrids into the shop to get them tuned up for the "race."

If you want to improve your chances there are a few things you can do though. The big things are #1: definitly get slicks, it would just be stupid to race on the road with knobby tires. #2: your current cassette probably already has an 11 as the smallest cog. You won't find anything smaller than that so look for a bigger chainring (you should be able to find a 46 that fits your crankset and a 46x11 gearing should be ok). #3: As far as your position goes there's not much you can do if you can't attach anything to your bars. Either move your HR monitor and computer out of the way or deal with a less-than-aero position. #4: If you want to spend the money you can buy a rigid fork but this is supposed to be SAVING you $$$ right? I'd just pump up my fork.

Hope this helps and good luck!
Borrow road bike: that's what my sister-in-law does. (nm)mja
Feb 6, 2002 3:38 PM
MOOCHER, is that you??(nm)
Feb 7, 2002 1:45 PM
re: few ideascyclopathic
Feb 6, 2002 4:22 PM
first XT 8sp is 11-30 not 12-34. XTR 8sp is 12-32.

If you don't wanna invest into road bike yet get slicks and aerobars (you can always move aerobars to road bike later)
If your cass has 11t cog your gearing should suffice I would not bother with bigger chainring. if you have 12t get 11t cass or just 11t cog and lockring.

I doubt you find yourself spinning out of gears if you do Nashbar sells 48t in compact good luck
what part of the country do you live in?quadzilla1
Feb 6, 2002 6:00 PM
You didn't say where you lived. I'm sure some of us have some extra beater road bikes we wouldn't mind loaning someone.
what part of the country do you live in?Hugh
Feb 6, 2002 7:26 PM
I live in the bay-area, CA... anyone got a bike? That would be great! Email if you want,

oops, wrong side of country..quadzilla1
Feb 7, 2002 11:57 AM
sorry, I live outside Philadelphia. I certainly could have helped you though. I say slap on some 1" slicks & an aero bar. I ride my dual susp. MTB to work that way. Heavy, yes, but I can ride over pretty much anything in the dark without getting hurt! I have michelin city tires on it which can take up to 80 psi. Look for something with a high psi rating.
Sure you can.muncher
Feb 7, 2002 2:47 AM
I did my first couple on a MTB.

Slicks up hard (don't worry about weight - it's not an overall issue).

50ish top ring, 11 smallest cog (12 would be fine).

Hard forks (or hard as they go if you have suspension).

Flipped the stem for more aero drop.

Rose in a kind of "praying" aero position, holding the centre of the bars. Just jabbed the Rapid Fires as and when - not a prob.

Didn't win, but I wasn't going to anyway. Did beat a lot of road bikes in though. The courses were faily flat, and the extra 5 LBS or so didn't really make a lot of difference with the hard slicks. Got some funny looks at the start, but none of the roadies said anything at the end...

Go for it - concerntrate on the engine.