Bike building: Transmission, MTB or road bike?

Photo by joschz

I’ve found myself a mission: To build the ultimate commuting machine.

First of all, I’m not a toddler. I’m a gargantuan, nearly two meters and over a hundred kilos of flabby bits biking power, so I’ll need a frame that’ll be big enough and provide me with enough confidence to drive down a hill going 55 kilometers per hour to that dreaded curve in the end of the hill.

I’m currently driving around 700 to 1200 kilometers per month, which is about 30-50 hours so I spent about a week works worth riding a bike. Most of it will be road biking, but there are some foresty parts with deadly gravel laid out by the non-biking workers of city maintenance. The bike will have many important parts and quite a few irrelevant parts. The frame I already spoke about in my earlier post and I’ll talk about caliper vs. disc brakes in a later post (not to mention wheels and tyres, cranks and pedals, other stuff like fenders and racks etc.)

You’ll have to remember that I’m not a wizard in bike parts, so I need your help.

Road bikes naturally have road bike gears: Ultegras, 105s and so on – Mountain bikes and most cyclocross bikes seem to have MTB gears in the form of different Deores etc. The explanation always seem to be, that road bike gears are lighter and MTB gears are stronger – but are they really? Are there are clear differences in gearing themselves, which will last longer – and most importantly, why will they last longer?

Juha Jokila, Mynämäki, Finland biking on his 6-speed Tunturi Retki

The last road bike I had was a Finnish made Tunturi Retki Super (that means Super Touring in Finnish), which had 6 gears with a single front chain ring, so it was easy going and had all the gears I needed. Before and after that it’s always been mountain bikes and later on hybrids once they started arriving. Due to my larger-than-normal frame I’ve never ridden a modern road bike, since it feels like they’re made light enough for smack addicts to carry away in the night.

So far, I’ve been happy with mountain bike gears, would I benefit from road bike gears comparing like Shimano 105s versus Deore XTs?

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By Markus Sandelin

Markus is a bike commuter gadget freak who is learning the ropes of the bike world, you can find him all around the web - but you can start with his twitter at @banton.