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  • Doing some road riding: Can I start on an old Road Rat?
  • mrmoofo

    I am going to retire from full time work soon. My primary interest in two wheels is motorcycling and MTB- but fitness could be helped by hitting tarmac ocassionaly.
    I have to be honest and say it isn’t something I love – I do not want to buy a road bike as yet.
    I have an old Cotic Road Rat – Long large. Flat bared at the moment. Can I use this to ascertain whether spunking up money on a real road bile is worth it. Or is this so far away from modern road riding , it will give me a false picture?

    Could I convert a long large RR to drop bars – or is the length of the top tube an issue?

    Premier Icon molgrips

    You can ride on whatever you like, don’t over-think it. Of course it’s a bit more of a chore on a fat tyred enduro sled but on anything rigid with reasonably thin tyres it’s fine. You’ll be slower, but who cares?

    Converting flat barred bikes to drops though can be hit and miss. Top tubes tend to be shorter for bikes that are designed around drops. Having said that, my Kona Dew hybrid was great with drops on. It’s not a cheap conversion though, you need to buy quite a lot of parts some of which can be a bit of a bodge. The leverage ratio for brakes is different, so on my Dew which has canti bosses I had to get mini-V brakes (like Vs but shorter) which worked well but because they were short they fouled the mudgards, so I had to mod them with a heat gun. The other issue was that road bikes tend (or tended in the past pre-internal routing) to have threaded cable bosses to give you the adjustment for your gear cable, and road calipers have threaded cable stops too – this means you don’t have adjusters on your levers and shifters like MTBs do. I needed inline cable adjusters on the gears and I found threaded V-brake noodles for the brakes.

    I have a complete set of all this kit going spare if you are interested inc bar and Tiagra STI levers/shifters since I converted the Dew back to flats. It’s cheap and/or old but it might get you started.

    Premier Icon joebristol

    The reach on mtb type bikes is generally a longer than road bikes so you may find it’s too long. Maybe go and sit on some road bikes for the right size then compare the geometry to what you have and see how far out it is. You don’t really want a short stem with drop bars…

    Tbh though – companies like Planet X are punting out some road ish bikes so cheap I’d be tempted just to get one of those. They were knocking out road bikes with Sram Rival and a carbon frame for sub £1k a little while ago – or more commutery type things with 1x and discs for £600.

    Also a good point made above about the cost to convert to drops – by the time you have stem / bars / Sti shifters / compatible brakes it’s potentially going to cost quite a lot. Makes that Planet X option look even more appealing.

    I’m mostly into playing hockey and mtb – but it’s surprisingly addictive how fast you can go on a proper road bike / how they accelerate / how quick they react and turn. Given 3-4 hours to bike ride I’d almost always pick the mtb – but for a couple of hours riding out the front door I’d take the road bike and go find some hills to climb for fitness purposes or a flat route and go balls to the wall as hard as I can on the intensity of riding.

    Premier Icon oldnpastit

    A good frame and some nice wheels makes a huge difference to the level of enjoyment you get from it.

    Premier Icon vincienup

    Not a simple question.

    Breaking it into parts, if the RoadRat fits you with a flat bar, it’s unlikely to with a drop bar. A lot changes between the positions.

    Don’t know where you live, but tarmac isn’t the only way to slam miles in. There’s plenty of trails (not as in MTB) that would be considered ‘off-road’ by the road cycling fraternity but still would be plenty appropriate for a bike like a RoadRat with maybe knobbly 35’s. Look up stuff like the NCN (National Cycle Network). Where I am I can easily build 60-100 mile days on the TransPennine Trail with minimal road use for instance.

    You don’t necessarily need drops for road riding. Most actually ride on the hoods mostly now anyway which makes it even less straightforward. An upright body position is going to make you uncompetitive so probably stay away from Road clubs but if the existing bike fits and works, it’ll do the job just fine.

    Premier Icon jeffl

    Yep, use the roadrat to see if you like road cycling. Then if you do and want to, you can spend some cash on a traditional road bike.


    Ride it as is, see how you get on. Getting used to drops is a fairly long process, the drop bars themselves could put you off (although if you find yourself always trying to aero tuck on flats, it’s worth considering a swap).

    As others have said check the top tube length but you can probably get away with a shorter stem with drops, and you tend to want to be a bit more stretched out on road. Fit is very important on road though, as you don’t move about anything like as much as off road.

    That said, if I liked MTB and motorcycling and found myself with more time, I’d probably just ride more MTB and motorcycle more. But road riding is a great way to cover big distances under your own steam. Maybe consider just cycling to visit friends/go shopping on the roadrat, which will enhance smugness and give you a small fitness boost?

    Sure you could use it on the roads, but just be aware that the upright position will mean you have to expend more power for the same speed compared to a drop bar road bike, due to more aero drag on the flat/downhill and I suspect considerably more bike weight to fight against gravity on the climbs. Consequently, you will get more knackered in a shorter amount of time.

    Premier Icon BadlyWiredDog

    Edit: In a nut-shell what riding a Road Rat on the road will tell is whether you can cope with traffic and if you find road riding in the general sense involving. It won’t tell you much about how a road bike actually feels.

    But basically, yes, sort of. I used to have a Road Rat which I ran in multiple different configurations – flat-bars, drops, 1×9, singlespeed etc. It won’t be as light and aero as a proper road bike. You’l need to tweak the stem length if you fit drops etc.

    Arguably rather than thinking about a pure road bike, you might be better off with a gravel thing that’s versatile enough to run road tyres or cross tyres. Way more pleasant on broken back road tarmac than a pukka road bike. Great on straightforward off-road tracks. Arguably a more refined version of a Road Rat in fact.

    If you’re really wondering about a pure road bike, why not see if you can borrow / hire / demo one for a few hours. It’ll tell you everything you need to know, though it’ll feel a bit foreign after mtbs and a Road Rat, particularly if you’re not used to drops.


    You can definitely road ride on a Roadrat – the clue’s kinda in the name…! 😉 (pretty sure Cy originally designed it as a “roadbike for people who don’t like roadbikes”). My missus has one of the original ones and has done 10’s of 000’s of road miles on it.

    As others have said, its unlikely that a conversion to drops will “just work”, but one thing I’ve tried successfully on my Soda gravel/hybrid effort is to put a pair of bar ends inboard of the grips to give an approximate “on the hoods” position with your elbows tucked in. A chunk more aero and another hand position or 2 which is useful on bigger rides.

    Then some fast tyres and you’re there!

    Your Road Rat looks like a gig wheeled posh version of what I’m using on the roads at the mo,which is my 16 year old 26er -and I’m having fun on that so I reckon your’s will be good.

    Premier Icon howsyourdad1

    of course you can! use the flat bar and just give it a go.

    Yes definitely, and then if you’re still thinking you’re not sure either way there are loads of cheap road bikes for sale for a couple of hundred quid that you could try and then either keep/upgrade/replace or sell on and lose very little if you decide its’ not for you. Exactly what I did – bought a Triban 300 for £90 and when I sold it about 6 months later got my money back including the extra I’d spent on new cables etc – so going cheapish can be pretty much a no-lose situation.

    Premier Icon stumpy01

    I used to have a second set of wheels with slicks fitted (Schwalbe City Jet 1.5s) for road riding.

    It was perfectly fine.

    You feel a bit draggy in headwinds, but you could always stick a longer stem on & some narrower bars to achieve something a bit more ‘aero’….? Doubt it would make much difference to you.

    A road bike will be faster, but using your roadrat on the road will give you a good enough idea if you want to get something a bit more specific.

    Premier Icon wobbliscott

    I’ve got a mk1 roadrat which I switched to drops with a short stem (so the longer framed geometry). I Use it for commuting, pub rides and knocking about on. Rides absolutely fine as a road bike and as quick as a ‘proper’ road bike on decent tyres and pressures. Wouldn’t want to go too far on it, say over 40 miles, but under 40 miles it’s perfectly fine and a great thing to use to get you out and started.

    Crack on I’d say.

    Premier Icon kelvin

    Short high rise stem, shallow drop bars… crack on!


    You can definitely road ride on a Roadrat – the clue’s kinda in the name…! 😉 (pretty sure Cy originally designed it as a “roadbike for people who don’t like roadbikes”). My missus has one of the original ones and has done 10’s of 000’s of road miles on it.

    This sounds about right, whereas a gravel bike is an off road bike for people who don’t like MTBs. I mix with roadies a fair bit and they often seem to be thinking of trying off road via the route of a gravel bike, without maybe realizing how much more limiting it is compared to even an XC hardtail if you don’t have good off road skills.

    Premier Icon edhornby

    Yes, first thing to do is get out and start riding 🙂 if you find the flat bars are uncomfy for road rides you could get a set of bars with a pronounced sweep (like planetXs) which means you don’t have to mess around changing shifters, brake pull compatibility issues etc.

    Premier Icon richardkennerley

    I started doing more road riding on a genesis croix de fer. Didn’t like it much to begin with, found the different position and the ride very harsh. Started to enjoy it more gradually, the big things being how much easier nipping out for a quick ride was and a perception that I was doing more exercise!

    Eventually swapped the frame for a planet x full Monty sl which was a cheap conversion to do. The difference was unbelievable,so much quicker and more comfortable, a relative pleasure to ride and now I actually enjoy going out on it! I imagine a more dedicated road bike, complete package would-be even more enjoyable.

    So yeah, see how you get on, but don’t rule road riding out coz a quick frame swap could make all thedifference!


    As others have said just try it out to see if you actually like riding for a long time on tarmac with traffic, no particular technical challenges etc,.

    Flat bars can be less comfortable to some but the speed difference is negligible (around 1mph at most in my testing)

    When I set out for a road ride I get distracted by the first gravel road and just ride on that instead…

    Premier Icon molgrips

    Narrower flat/swept back bar and a lower stem might also be good. I slammed a longer stem, old-school 580mm flat bars and bar ends on my Dew for a while as well (it’s been through a lot!) and it was pretty good on roads too.


    I do most of my road riding on a converted aluminum Kona. It’s 26er running 1.5 slicks, singlespeeded to 42/16, has PaceRC31s and OnOne Marybars.

    I love riding it.

    My brother lent me his road bike, I don’t like riding it. Not because of drops, skinny tyres and gears, I just find it a bit boring.


    Thanks all,
    TBH , I was expected to get humiliated in the usual STW fashion – so thanks for the advice.
    I am kind of with Keva on this – I have done some road riding – I just find it dull / to close to traffic/ nearly dying etc – but as the group I ride with also road ride, I thought I might have to adapt rather than be a Luddite.
    In all honesty, i would rather ride off road for fitness but the last month or so has seen the S Downs turn into a sometimes muddy, sometimes glassy chalked hell hole – will some very wet bits!

    The answer is to go out and see what happens on the RR – it is on skinny 700s , 1×10, and flat barred.
    The other issue – at might ripe old age, head down, arse in the air buggers my neck up !

    Premier Icon funkmasterp

    I do plenty road miles on a Stooge Speedball with plus sized tyres and massive bars. Not massively slower than I was on a Day One or Escapade. Definitely slower, but not by as much as I thought.

    Roadrat will be fine to see if you like mixing with other road users. If you like it buy a cheap secondhand road bike to see how you fair with drops / positioning. I like drops, but prefer the more relaxed position offered by most gravel bikes when compared to a pure road machine.

    Premier Icon StefMcDef

    I branched out from mountain biking with a Road Rat about eight years ago and set a bunch of Strava PBs I’ve never been able to beat since, despite riding a succession of increasingly well-specced and up to the minute road bikes. I guess that’s getting old for ya.

    I had it set up with a very slightly back swept flat bar and some Ergon bar end grips
    Ergon grips on it.

    Possibly the bike I most regret selling on.


    If you’re around the South Downs you’ll also have loads of great lanes to explore and some rideable byways and bridleways that you can piece together for longer rides. That might be more enjoyable than busier roads.
    I wouldn’t bother swapping for drop bars on the rat. Put the money towards a basic gravel bike if you get into it.

    The only thing I’d say is that, for me, a proper road bike is the only way I really enjoy road riding.

    In my experience, a gravel bike is almost as fast as a 25mm tyred road bike, and a rigid 29er can also be surprisingly quick on the roads. But at some point, speed aside, things get so much more stable it’s just not as much fun. Like riding an Enduro bike on a blue trail centre loop.

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