Katy Trail Home  The Katy Trail and Rock Island Trail Rock Island Trail Home

Trail condition...what bike to ride?

Go to Forum
Jason from Huntsville, AL on 8/1/2005 12:54:14 PM:
My dad, brother, and I are going to be riding the Katy Trail in October. We will be doing the entire trail out and back in 8 days, so basically 450 miles or so. We have never been to the trail and are torn on whether or not to ride our road bikes or mountain bikes. We will have a full load on our bikes and are concerned about the packed limestone type trail. For those who have ridden long distances on the trail, what would you recommend? We could probably get 700 x 30c tires on our road bikes that would help a little. The mountain bikes are so much heavier but would probably offer a more comfortable ride. I ride a Fuji Finest AL road bike and it is not very forgiving on bumpy surfaces. Any info or help would be greatly appreciated as we try and decide what bikes to take on the trip. Thanks a million...really looking forward to the ride!

TM from Gunnison, CO on 8/2/2005 5:23:03 PM:
We used our road bikes with some fatter tires and it worked quite well, personally being both a mountain and road biker, couldn't imagine using a Mt bike - the joy of this trail being flat a pretty smooth is being able to motor along when you feel like it - I tires we used were tires one might use on a cross bike - 700c x 35 Contenential 'City Grips' - you'll see a mix of both kind of bikes but even some of the hybrids - mt bike looking rigs - will have 700c wheel set - you just get further with each pedal stroke - so - personally the idea of using a mt bike on what I (and most riders from the middle of the CO rockies) consider a flat trail would make it more boring than it already threatens to be!

See how fat and knobby a tire you can fit on your road bike and have a blast - TM

Dale Nimmo from Springfield, MO on 8/5/2005 2:59:35 PM:
I just finished a round trip on the KATY using a LeMonde road bike with 700 x 28. Had zero trouble with the bike. Carried rear packs of about 50lbs. Here's what I'd suggest....
The trail itself for the most part is hard pack, BUT, be careful!!! there are places particularly near dirt road crossings and such that are treacherous. The gravel is loose, coarse and sometimes deep enough to cause slippage. There are also 'fissures' (for lack of a better word) in the trail at times due to the natural movement of a packed trail, but also I think due to the extreme dryness. These fissures or cracks are EXTREMELY hazardous to just about any bike but more so for the 28 size tire. I was very very lucky. I only 'kissed' KATY one time and now i have a matching scar on my left shoulder to go with my existing right shoulder mark.
Due to the extreme heat I would recommend waiting if you can. But if you have to go be forewarned. CARRY WATER. A few of the T.H.'s do not have a water source and many of the services are closed for the summer do to the lack of activity. The trail is GREAT for the fall and spring seasons but you're basically on your own for the summer.
Now don't get me wrong....I LOVED the trail. Just be sure you carry a tire patch kit and perhaps an emergency first aid kit. You probably already do. I'm the only nutcase who would forget such things!
Feel free to email me anytime. Oh, one more thing...due to the slow traffic, they are 'maintaining' the trail....cutting branches, mowing, spraying, etc etc. sometimes the excess debris can be frustrating to manuver around and the leftover twigs and branches could cause a possible flat tire just as easily as a misplaced sharp rock.
I had a BLAST...hope you do too

savage24 from KC MO on 8/5/2005 11:55:13 PM:
Jason, Being on the trail for 8 days in October, you will experience a lot of different weather conditions. I rode 4 days in Oct. 2000. It rained and was cool (60-65 degrees) the first day, then the weather got better each day after. Some freinds rode in Oct. 2001 and it was cold and rainy all week. The fall colors can be beautiful (usually at their peak the 2nd-3rd week, though it varies some from year to year), but be prepared for temps ranging from (at least) low 40's to mid 70's. Here is some October weather info for Jefferson City, MO:

Alex on 8/6/2005 3:18:43 PM:
I rode the trail for the first time two weeks ago and loved it. My experience, though limited, would totally support what you've been told in the previous posts. I rode a Fuji Cross with 700 x 32 tires and thought they were about perfect for the trail. I would not want to ride a mountain bike, but I prefer a road bike set-up to begin with. I don't think you'll have any trouble at all with a tire that is 28-32. Have a blast!

MLH from Overland Park on 8/10/2005 12:39:26 PM:
I have two Cannondales: an '05 Road Warrior 1000 lightweight hybrid and a '99 F900 hardtail MTB. I would put in a plug for using the MTB on the Katy. Use Continental Travelcontact 1.75 x 26 (measure 44mm),inflate to 55# and make certain your saddle is right for your anatomy. You may mount a rear rack as I have done and I have also found that a carbon fiber seatpost helps to reduce vibration (and some weight) although $$$. Also, gel handgrips, such as Specialized BG's help to reduce hand numbness. I don't find the set-up to be slow or difficult at all as I cruise along at about 15mph usually. Perhaps others wouldn't use their own MTB's of they are quite heavy but for lighter bikes such as Cannondales, Treks etc., I think the combination is more ideal for comfort, fewer punctures, less concern regarding rain, ruts, loose gravel etc.

Jason from Huntsville, AL on 8/30/2005 11:35:43 AM:
Thanks for all the great info! I have decided to ride my road bike and go with probably 700 x 32CC tires. Thanks again!

Mark of the Dalton Boys from Austin, TX/Columbia, MO. on 9/1/2005 2:30:54 PM:
When I did the KATY I took my hard-tail MTB, put large (26X1.95) city slickers on it, hooked up the BoB YaK and amazingly never got close to being bored, but then again I never signed on for anything other than a cruise. The bike I left at home was my Litespeed road bike because I didn't want pug surface up in my drivetrain. Regards......Mark of the Dalton Boys (Couldn't resist Webmeister please forgive).