The Alpine Bicycle Club

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Converting a Road Bike into an All-Rounder
Some road bikes probably can't be easily converted for mixed terrain use. Ultra lightweight racing bikes are probably too fragile. Clearances only allow for narrow racing tires.

But many road bikes can be modified for rough riding. Touring, sport touring and cyclocross bikes are probably the easiest to upgrade. Below is a partial list of mixed terrain upgrades worth considering:

  • Exchange narrow racing style tires for wider tires if your bike has the clearance. With the popularity of cyclocross and touring many tire tread styles are now available in 30-40mm widths.
  • Super light wheels may need replacement for more sturdy, but still light options.
  • Lower your gearing. With a road double you'll be suffering in alpine terrain, expecially mixed surfaces. At the least consider a compact double or lower small chain ring. If you're willing to experiment and possibly change deuraillers consider changing to a triple chainring with a mountain bike granny gear. Also consider a cassette with larger gears.
  • Racing oriented road bikes often have the handlebars lower than the seat. For longer distance travel in comfort, consider raising the handlebars above the seat. This may require a taller stem, new fork steerer tube and cables.
  • Ditch the road clipless pedals. Switching to mountain bike spd pedals with compatible shoes (that you can actually walk in) is a better option for mixed terrain travel. Also consider old fashioned toe clips or power grips which allow the use of hiking shoes and trail runners.

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