Set Up Your Mountain Bike For Commuting And Urban Riding

Set Up Your Mountain Bike For Commuting And Urban Riding


– I’ve just made a video for GMBN about using your urban commute, be that to college, to school,
to work, whatever it is, to best effect, essentially so you can get some more time on your mountain bike. Honing in some skills, getting that heart rate
up for fitness reasons, and of course just having some good fun. Now while I was making that video, it made me realize I had to
make a few changes to my bike to make it a bit more suitable for that. ‘Cause I don’t really have
another bike at the moment. This is my main bike so, riding a six inch travel 29er bike on urban terrain definitely
isn’t that much fun. So this is what I’ve
done to convert my bike to make it suitable for
a bit of urban thrashing. (intro sound effects) (light hearted music) So really to get my bike set up I’ve made quite a few adjustments. Now let’s start my looking at the tires. Upfront I run a Trail King
as my normal go to tire. I normally run this about
between 26 and 28 psi. At the moment, 50 psi, that is what I run when I’m riding to work, when
I’m doing my daily commute. And if I’m just doing any urban stuff which involves smashing
down flights of stairs. It is granted, you don’t
have as much traction it’s not as comfortable. However, it does mean that it is gonna help me preserve my rims a bit more, and it does roll significantly faster. Now out back I always tend to run a faster rolling tire anyway. Now the Mountain King tire is a great tire it does roll fast, however it
doesn’t have the Apex Casing that the Trail King does so
the casing’s a lot lighter which means smashing
down flights of stairs is not gonna do it much good. So I get them running at about 50 pounds. But on the inside, I’m
running one of these. Now I don’t run this on the front, I’m only running this on the rear. So this is the Nukeproof ARD system. So this is a rim insert,
there’s various different ones available on the market, there’s CushCore. Which really is a very specialist product because to just to fit
those and get them off if you need to get them
off, bit of a nightmare. So if you’re a serious downhill racer or maybe a serious endura racer perhaps CushCore might
be an option for you. But the Nukeproof ARD system
really does work well for me and a great value as
well, they come as a set in 27 and a half or in 29 inch. And they come with valve stems that are suitable for use with these. And they don’t absorb your tire sealant on the inside of your tire, so you put your regular amount in, to be fair I always put a
bit more than regular anyway. And it both helps the
tire stay on the rim, it’s helps protect the tire
side walls against pinching, which does happen when
you’re smashing down flights of stairs and stuff like that, and of course it gives
you a bit more support, and it protects the rim. It’s a win-win situation on every level. And they’re so light as well. Now my Nukeproof Mega290 of
course has 29 inch wheels. And it’s got 150mm of travel
via that Fox X2 Shock. Now the Fox X2 is clearly a very, very good, very capable shock. But it’s not exactly man’s best friend when you’re riding around town. Of course, this isn’t a town bike it’s not what it’s designed for. But you can still make it
work to your advantage. Now I tend to like about a third
of my available travel sag. I tend to prefer my tires firmer, and my suspension on the
slightly softer side, just to get a really
good feel on the bike. And this does allow it
because it’s very controlled, with the four way damping on there. So it’s got high and
low speed compression, and high and low speed rebound. And it also, in addition,
has a climb switch, which is separate, a separate circuit on that low speed compression. And it effectively gives it a platform so when you pedal it
doesn’t bob around too much. Now this is great, but I also don’t wanna
damage that feature. It’s a shim based system on the inside and if you run it, effectively
locked out like that, the same as with any shock,
if you run them like that on a permanent basis,
you’re basically gonna bend the shims on the inside
and it’s not gonna work the way it’s supposed to work. So what I like to do with my shock and the same with my fork,
which I’ll get to in a minute, for urban riding, is make a few changes. So firstly, I up the pressure in there, so again, normally I’m
running at about a 3rd sag, and I’m running less than
a quarter sag in here for my day to day riding, it’s only when it comes to weekends I make my changes, and I always refer back
to my base settings. This is why in our
suspension tutorial videos I always say once you
find your good setting, your base for all round
riding, make a note of it. Know your pressures, know your clicks, whether that’s from fully
open or from fully closed. That way, you can easily
return to it any time. Now, I’ve got low speed
compression wound fully in on the shock, I want this
to basically not move when I’m pedaling and sprinting through the traffic and
that, but I still want the shock to do its own thing. So I’m not gonna be really
using that climb switch unless I absolutely need to. Now of course there are some brutal hills and it does help that,
because your body weight shift is so extreme towards
the back of the bike, no matter what suspension
platform you have, sometimes it just really helps stand the bike up a bit better. But then also, I like to
increase the rebound on there. Now you might think that
low speed compression does all the work when you’re pedaling to avoid the bike wallowing
around, but actually slowing down the rebound
on the bike by doing the same adjustment with your
low speed rebound damping, you can do this on a single dial, but it works even better
if you can just do it on the low speed. If you crank that up, you’ll
find the bike barely moves. You’ll still move when you start hitting bumps and steps and doing stuff but it really does stand
the bike up nicely. Now unlike the rear shock,
which requires a bit more work, forks don’t tend to, because
it depends if you have dial or if you have a lock
out or anything like that on your fork. Now quite often, you
might have something like the older CTD, the Climb Trail Decent. If you got Fox or if you got Rocks, you got the three way clicker on the top. If you’ve got that, running
on the mid setting on trail, and then adjusting your
low speed compression all the way in will really
make a big difference. You’ll make it feel similar
to what I’ve described with that rear shock,
but unfortunately for me, well, not unfortunately,
I’ve got the better FOX fork, it’s actually got that
grip2 dampener in it, but it does mean it doesn’t
have the three position dial. Instead I get a low speed
and a high speed compression dial on the top, and you guessed it, that low speed one gets cranked right up. I don’t actually change
the pressure in the fork, I only do this in the shock out back. Because I really find that
making that adjustment and a little bit higher speed as well does calm the fork right down. Don’t get me wrong, it’s
nothing to do how I run this off road, off road, I
like it really sensitive, operating nice and fast,
but in an urban environment, I like it a bit slower, less reactive, I want it to just be
silently doing it’s thing. And as you can see, I’ve
not used that much travel, despite smashing down one
of those flights of stairs. Now usually when it
comes to winter riding, I like to switch over to
flat pedals as much as I can because it does make things a bit easier and a lot more fun, but for urban riding, I’m commuting to work, I just wanna get the job done. So for any where I wanna pedal and sprint, I’m gonna default to clips, it is what I ride in most of the time and it makes perfect sense, it also means I can take advantage of the big, waterproof,
reflective winter boots that I’ve got. They’re absolutely fantastic
for riding to work, the do the job in off
road conditions obviously, and they’ve got loads of
reflective stuff on there so it just makes for a good,
solid combination there. Now urban riding obviously can make your bike make some horrible noises when that chain’s slapping
around all over the place. Especially when running
your suspension firmer and less reactive and running
your tires a lot firmer. It does mean you’re gonna
notice chain slap more. Now chain slap might be annoying but also, it does take out
chunks of paint from your frame so make sure you’ve got
a nice rubber coated chain stake protector
on there like this one. Now what also will help you out, if you can get something on the back of the sink stay there where the chain actually strikes when it’s fully loose. You will lose a lot of paint there if you don’t have that protected, and of course it is rattly,
it does get annoying if you haven’t got anything there. Now something I like to
recommend people to use is that Scotch Mastik Tape. I think its 2228, I’ve
used it in a lot of videos on GMBN and GMBN Tech,
it’s not the cheapest stuff out there but it does
work fantastically well. And it’s really serious, heavy duty rubber that sticks straight on,
so you can trim it to size and stick it anywhere. Quite discreet, you don’t
even know it’s there, but it means I’m not gonna get any chain slap, I’m not gonna get the chain
taking off any chunks of paint. And also there is an additional benefit to silencing your bike. Now, in the video that
I just made for GMBN, I go out through the back
of a lot of housing estates, down alley ways, flights of stairs, the sort of stuff that
some people might frown on. It’s great fun, and of
course I would never ride too fast in an area where
there’s likely to be people. Always make sure the
coast is clear, however. Sometimes people don’t
like you being there, and if your bike is a
little bit on the quiet side you can get away with that
cheeky run through there without anyone even knowing. And the final thing, this is common sense, if you’re riding in an urban environment, get yourself some
lights, at the very least get yourself some basic LED lights, front and rear on the bike
there, so you can be seen. And you can charge them
at your desk at work, or at school, or wherever you are, it won’t be a problem charging them, and most modern ones you get now, you can plug in via USB,
so you can go straight into your computer or anything
like that, it’s no issues. There’s no excuses for not
having some lights for safety. And if you insist on wearing dark clothes, make sure that some of it has
some reflective panels on, because you might think
that you can be seen but a lot of the time
motorists won’t see you. So don’t take the chance. Well there you go,
that’s the changes I made to my completely inappropriate bike for urban riding, and do you know what? It goes pretty flippin’
well, I can even challenge a few roadies out there,
so I’d love to see if you make any
modifications to your bikes to make them more suitable
for this sort of stuff. And don’t forget, if you
do do this sort of riding, send some clips in to the Dirt Shed Show and I’m sure Martin and the guys would love to see that stuff. Now for another urban related
video, click down here if you wanna see what I
did to Chris Smith’s bike to set it up for Gibbing. That’s also a really cool
video that’s gonna drop any time now on GMBN, so
keep an eye out for that one. And of course, if you love what we do here at GMBN Tech, give us a huge thumbs up and click that subscribe button.

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  1. I think an enduro 29er is never going to feel great for urban riding. An most people who have to pay hard earned cash for their enduro rigs will think twice before trashing them around town. Just saying.

  2. For longer commutes I slap a set of slim wheels in my fully rigid fat bike frame. If it's shorter distance or bad roads I keep the fat tires.
    My trail bike seems to have gotten pushed to the side by the fattie…

  3. Great vid , inspiring as just got a 2019 rockhopper for commuting around the city
    So much fun zooming thru the traffic jams with a stupid grin on my face!

  4. New to your channel here, cool video. I do mostly urban riding for now. I have a hybrid trek ds-1 which I enjoy. Want to get into trail riding so I’ll need an actual mountain bike. Any recommendations are welcomed 🙂

  5. 50 psi is at or already above the maximum allowed pressure for these DT Swiss wheels with MTB tires: https://dycteyr72g97f.cloudfront.net/uploads/WXD10000000866S/MAN_WXD10000000866S_WEB_ZZ_001.pdf

  6. Great video, just cleaned up my old Giant MTB and put some hybrid tyres on to be my commuter bike 👍 🚴🏼‍♀️🚴🏼‍♀️

  7. Nah my full sus stays clean and locked in my apartment when I'm not riding on dirt. You risk damaging components and putting excessive wear on tires, paint, bearings, rotors, and pads especially in the winter with salt and grime all over the road. I don't have time to keep my bike clean after every commute so all of my expendable parts would get shit kicked in the winter. I dont want to have to replace my chain, cassette, chaining, pads, etc more than I already do.

    Get yourself a cheap bike and turn it into a "gravel" bike. Still let's you rip dirt and have fun, but is far better suited to commuting and is okay to get filthy or stolen. And full fenders make so much difference when its wet. A bike like this could be had for under $300 which is as much as the maintenance cost you'd rack up each winter riding your expensive trail bike as a commuter. In addition to the maintenance you have to do during the season. No thank you.

  8. Smashing down flights of stairs… Really good for Smashing down flights of stairs… When you are… Smashing down flights of stairs… Ideql for Smashing down flights of stairs… Which is the problem with Smashing down flights of stairs…

  9. I commute on my 2018 Trek Roscoe, it's mostly stock except for the added Bontrager rear rack and bag. I also added a headlight and taillight. I pump the tires way up and it rolls pretty nice on the streets. I lock out the front shock for road use. It's fun to be able to take shortcuts pretty much where ever I want.

  10. No! You need a spare bike. I think a low spec rigid MTB with same wheel size and discs brakes is better as a commuter bike. So, is a spare bike too, maybe if a friend needs one to go a trail with you or your best bike have problems. Or you can swap wheels or tires (or stem, handlebar, etc) if needed. A 3×8, suntour fork, cheap aluminun, mechanical disc is enough for city.

  11. Ringing bell is optional in the UK? Some countries its illegal to ride without one. And reflector to the front can be a must too, according to law.

  12. It's funny how most people just getting into cycling for urban riding tend to look for a bike with as much suspension as possible for comfort reasons where as an experienced rider tries to get rid of it because it only slows him down. That's an interesting misconception about suspension because in cars it's purpose really is comfort but in mountain biking it is stability and traction – the complete opposite in cars where if you want to go fast you want a stiff car. Correct me if I'm wrong though, that's my understanding so far.

  13. Doddy, i begin to make my xc hardtail into a cross between a dirt jump and street trials. And i had turn the fork to real soft

  14. Do you notice any increased tyre wear when riding almost exclusively on hard surfaces? After commuting on my steel road bike for years , I recently bought a new dual-sus 29er with 2.4" tyres (although not a particularly soft compound) and have been commuting on it almost exclusively. But i'm concerned that i'll wear through the centre knobs too quickly. On my old 26" hard tail years ago I used to swap to narrow slicks regularly because I used tubes, but with the new bike i'm running tubeless which means that changing tyres regularly is a pain. I guess the only other option is to get another wheelset and tyres, which isn't cheap.

  15. Good to see you mentioning being careful and observant on the stairs for other people, but come on guys it is against the law to ride bikes on the pavement and at the speeds you were doing in the video you could kill a child. not good bro.

  16. Thank you subtitles. You should ask your local bike shop for a "Nukeprook ARD system" rim insert.

  17. My question is that. Do I too have to follow the cyclist rule of always being on a road when I'm riding a MTB when theres barely any trails in my area?

    Like a situation would be that theres a bike lane. Would I have to use that bike lane on a mtb? Knobbies are tough as it is.

    I find myself riding on the side walk and would briefly go on the road again to pass by people walking on the sidewalk. And then back on the sidewalk. Is this a normal thing to do?

  18. my mtb to commuter conversion was… hybrid cranks 26-36-48 and a suitable bottom bracket, an oversize jocky wheel system for the chain wrap capacity in the deraleur, and a big ulock.

  19. I stopped doing 50psi a few years ago though, kept slipping in wet weather.
    Now pump it to 40 every week.
    I feel like getting street tires as well since there's a race coming up that's full urban.

  20. I got a factory surplus 1990s steel MTB frame & fork for £35 off ebay about 10 years ago, put big chainrings and small sprockets, slick tyres, & have the saddle as high as a road bike. No suspension! It's the most fun urban bike possible, I can overtake roadies easily when I feel fit and then have some fun on loose dusty footpaths, hop up kerbs and take random shortcuts without ever worrying if the rims will get damaged. X3 shifting and derailleurs so shifting is quick. Deore v-brakes, which are good enough for the job. Plus the flat bars mean I'm always heads up in traffic, which is arguably the most important thing to be aware of when riding on city streets. I can't descend stairs as quick as the vid tho ha.

    It's way more fun than any hybrid /"urban commute" bike and cost about 1/3 of what you pay for a brand new one. I still want one of those Whyte commuter bikes tho, they look well good

  21. i have a nukeproof scout 275 with 160mm fork and i ride it everywhere. i just pump up the tires to 60psi.

  22. I use semi slick tyres with side knob and harshy middle part because the road isn't good enough here in Indonesia.

  23. I have two bike..an actual comuting bike and then a mountain bike..but I use the mountain bike to get to work and back..making jumps here and there..😂

  24. I'm about to buy a Fat Bike for Commuting and urban riding. Any thoughts? I'm kinda a big guy myself so i think a Fat Bike would be a good choice.

  25. I think it is a good way to get more familiar with the bike and just more practice but in the long run, get a cheap hybrid bike. Faster, lighter, more comfortable, cheap, no unnecessary wear & tear and no risk having a $3,000 mountain bike stolen. No need to carry 5-8 pounds of locks. Anybody can strip the bike in seconds with a little multi-tool. I would be paranoid in locking it up for more than 5 minutes. I have a Gary Fisher mountain bike with hybrid tires and rack and thought it was like a hybrid but it doesn't compare to my hybrid bike in performance on the roads.

  26. Nothing better than cruising past some roadie all kitted up in lycra on your crusty old mtb. Then watch them get all riled up and power past you again. Then repeat until they either dissappear or get tired

  27. Very nice! I've got Fox shocks and DT Swiss rims on my Cannondale Prophet. Great to be back in the mountain bike world. So much more fun that riding a road bike on the road only.

  28. I commuted with my mtb for 10 years when I lived in NYC. I bought a complete second wheel set and put 1.75" Conti road tires on them. Used the slicks for commuting and swapped out the set with the knobbies for weekend riding.

  29. Going to buy a trek x caliber 9 next week purely for riding along country roads long rides along scenic routes on county roads. Should I stick with tubes or go tubeless. Will occasionally take it along sums trails along the way.

  30. With crap roads, I restored my 1998 Gary Fisher mountain bike. I am running a 1 x 9 drivetrain, 34T in the front, coupled with an11-34 9-speed cassette in the back. A rear rack, a pair of 26 x 2" slicks, and a pair of Ortlieb front panniers have made a decent commuter.

  31. Here in Mexico the roads are very shitty, pretty much of the streets are very bumpy with a lot of potholes and bumpers. Mountain bikes are the best options to ride in those roads, even for commuting you will feel like a rocky road but with a lot of car traffic.
    Grabbing the car is huge deal breaker though.

  32. If i'm walking up on a ramp of stairs and all the sudden a bike comes flying down full speed, i'll clothesline the bastard. In all seriousness doesn't look like you can avoid anyone unfortunate enough to be around the corner of those stairs… may be fun.. but looks like a total dick move…just sayin

  33. If there's one thing I like about commuting on an MTB is riding downhill on a road and hearing the tires roar like crazy

  34. ( 8:47 ) If someone doesn't like you riding down some steps in a public area; that's no concern of yours and you're just projecting your own moral anxiety. (this is commonly referred to as Paranoia) The same goes for pointing a camera at any thing/one when in a public place.
    If someone attempts to stop you doing so, then they're the ones creating a public order offence.
    Be knowledgeable but also be polite! 🤘😊 On that note .. get a high vis vest that says "Polite" you'll know why…

  35. I think you missed upsizing the front chain ring. A l-o-n-g time ago (17 years) my only bike was a Giant XTC, which I raced and commutes on. Commute was high pressure (100psi) slicks, off roads was baggy knobblies. With a triple chain ring I had a tip end that was fine for quick commutes. Return to MTB after long stint as a roadie, and running out of gears at modest speed cracks me. If I were to commute on the Anthem, with its 1×12, I would have to upsize that front ring substantially. Rarely need the super low crawling pace gearing on a commute, which I have done for years where the lowest gear was a 39×23. Just a thought.

  36. Is there a place to learn all the biking jargon, I've only just started biking, bought a cheap mountain bike to ride to work, had my chain already pop off twice, and sadly a lot of this stuff on your bike looks expensive and I'm an underpaid bus driver so I'm a long way off of getting the same kind of gadgets and such… but understanding what you're saying would be a helpful step of progression. What I did understand was helpful, so thanks for the video.

  37. Here in our country, roads appear like trails. All these bumps, humps and pot holes will make you feel conscious on your riding. Thats why most commuters here ride an xc bike as a standard

  38. i converted my old alloy hard tail it was a 3x by setup so i ripped off the front shifter and locked the derailuer into the big rig then got some conti sport contacts , boom street slayer

  39. What a surprise,another £10000 bike needed,how about a video for normal people that don't have thousands to spend every week doddy? , Same old gmbn bullshit

  40. I also ONLY have a mtb for everyday riding. Trek procaliber 9.6. I threw on some 35c gravel kings and a 20 minute swap to a rigid carbon fork and I have an awesome lightweight, fast, commuter, urban, gravel and/or road beast. And I'm guessing until you remove the tire foam and set the 2 shocks back to normal, my swaps wouldn't take much longer if at all.

  41. Can anyone help me get set up with picking out the right bike and gear? I weigh about 250lbs and I don’t know what would be good for me, I do like the idea of full suspension because I think as I lose weight I will end up taking the bike on more serious trails here in Colorado but I haven’t been on a bike in nearly 15 years

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