Q. I love mountain bikes but I never go on trails. I think road bikes are too delicate for my street and I never like going too fast. What should I do?
— Matt On-The-Fence, Pittsford, N.Y.
A. Hey there, Matt. You bring up an interesting question here. First off, good job for identifying the style of bike you like and identifying where you’ll be riding most often. That’s the first and most important step for picking the right bicycle.
You like mountain bikes, and there’s absolutely no problem with riding a mountain bike on the road. I do it all the time. And if you plan on riding on the street exclusively you might consider trading out the big knobby tires that come on most mountain bikes for a pair of smoother, low-profile road slicks or commuter tires. They range from about $15 to $30 per tire at your local bike shop and you can easily put them on yourself. You’ll get a smoother ride with better grip for the hard surfaces of your street. If you ever decide to go off-road, simply switch back to the knobby tires.
If you’re certain you’ll be sticking to the hard stuff forever than you might consider simply going with an urban commuter bicycle with a mountain bike-style frame like the Novara Buzz V Bike ($449; rei.com).
But if you want my bottom line advice, get a mountain bike with a pair of slicks, because as your skills improve on the street I bet you’ll wanna start ripping it up on the trails too.