A mountain bike is specially designed to be ridden on uneven and rough terrain. It’s a popular style of bike that people don’t usually use on roads. If you’re wondering, can I use a mountain bike on the road, then the answer is yes.
You can ride a mountain bike on the road if you want. In fact, many people, interested in occasional off-roading adventures, like to have a mountain bike, instead of a regular road one. That’s because it provides them with an option to use the same bike for both city riding and off-roading.
The one-word answer to the question, can mountain bikes be used on roads is yes.
However, there are some other important considerations that you need to keep in mind about this topic and we’ll cover all of them in this article. So, continue reading to decide whether or not you should go with a mountain bike.
- Can Mountain Bikes Be Used on Road?
- Is It Bad to Ride an MTB on the Road?
- Is It Harder to Ride an MTB on the Road?
- Why Use an MTB on the Road?
- Benefits of Riding a Mountain Bike on Road
- Why Are Mountain Bikes Slow on the Road?
- Should You Use an MTB as Your Daily Commuter Bike?
- What Tires Are Best for a Mountain Bike on Road
- Things to Consider when Buying or Using Road Tires for an MTB
Can Mountain Bikes Be Used on Road?
Yes, MTBs (Mountain Bikes) can be used on roads to travel from one place to another.
It’s important to note that these bikes are designed for riding on bike trails and mountains.
While you can use them on roads, you’ll need to put in a bit more effort than riding a regular road bike. But as far as the possibility of riding a mountain bike on the road is concerned, you can do it and an MTB will get the job done.
Related: Commuting with an MTB
Is It Bad to Ride an MTB on the Road?
No, it’s not bad to ride an MTB bike on the road as it doesn’t damage the bike or put your safety at risk.
However, you might find the riding experience a bit more challenging. Mountain bikes are made to endure rough terrain and harsh off-road conditions.
They come with several features, such as suspension, thick tires, aggressive handlebars and seat height, that road bikes don’t have. These features allow them to handle the challenges of rough terrain but they become almost unnecessary on the road.
While it’s not bad to ride an MTB on the road, it won’t give you the best riding experience. You’ll need to put more effort and replace the MTB tires more frequently as they’ll wear out faster.
Suggested post: How much does a road bike weigh?
Is It Harder to Ride an MTB on the Road?
Yes, it is harder to ride an MTB on the road. That’s because mountain bikes have more weight and wider tires than regular road bikes, making it difficult to ride them on flat surfaces, like roads. The wider the tires, the more friction they’ll produce and you’ll experience greater resistance.
MTBs come with suspension that allows them to absorb the impacts of rough terrain and mountain bike trails. Road bikes don’t have suspension because they’re meant to be ridden on flat surfaces and don’t need to absorb impact.
Suspension not only increases the bike’s weight, but also affects the pedaling efficiency. As a result, you need to put more effort to ride the mountain bike. But it certainly doesn’t mean that the riding experience will be sluggish. It just won’t allow you to ride the bike at high speeds.
Find out how to convert an MTB into a fat bike.
Why Use an MTB on the Road?
There are several reasons why people use mountain bikes on the road.
Some people like the thickness of their tires, which makes them more stable than a regular road bike.
Another notable feature of MTBs that many people prefer, in terms of riding comfort, is that they allow you to have a more upright ride position.
Additionally, you also get better brakes in MTBs than on road bikes. Not only do they perform better in terms of safety by stopping the bike quickly but they can also inspire confidence.
However, the biggest reason why people use an MTB on roads is its versatility. It means that people interested in casual off-roading adventures can use the same mountain bike on roads and mountain bike trails.
It keeps them from spending money to buy a dedicated bike for off-roading.
So, if your main use case is to ride the bike on the road but you also want to take it on rough terrains and trails occasionally, you can go with a mountain bike. But you should go with a regular road bike if you don’t have any plans for off-roading.
Related: MTB vs Road bike helmet
Benefits of Riding a Mountain Bike on Road
While it’s a bit challenging to ride mountain bikes on the road, they come with their own set of advantages as well.
The overall riding experience of a mountain bike is much more comfortable than a road bike. An MTB comes with a built-in suspension system, specially designed for uncompromising and rough off-road trails.
Although it adds more weight to the bike, it allows for a much more stable and smoother ride, especially over bumps and potholes. You’ll also find it much easier to handle the MTB than a regular road bike while riding on a road with poor conditions.
The thicker tires of mountain bikes make them more stable as well. You won’t enjoy the quick acceleration with MTBs as they’re not designed for speed but you’ll feel much safer and more confident on the road.
Mountain bikes come with flat bars, unlike road bikes that typically have aerodynamic handlebars. Although it’s a matter of personal preference, most riders prefer the flat handlebar design over the aerodynamic one.
That’s because it feels more comfortable, allows for a quicker reaction time, and ensures easy maneuverability.
The flat bar design also allows you to stay in a more upright position while riding the bike. It can minimize the body fatigue you experience at the end of the day.
Generally, road bikes are more expensive than mountain bikes because they’re made with extremely lightweight and high-quality materials such as carbon fiber. So, a mountain bike will save you some money, which will come in handy if you’re on a budget.
Important Note: Not all mountain bikes are cheaper than road bikes. It can vary from brand to brand and model to model. There are road bike models available in the market that are cheaper than some mountain bikes.
While all types of cycling involve physical effort and have positive effects on your body shape, you need to put more force to ride an MTB on the road, as compared to a road bike. It improves the strength of your core and leg muscles and makes them stronger.
Riding an MTB on the road can also come in handy if you’re trying to shed a few pounds. According to the Harvard Medical School, riding a bike for about 30 minutes at moderate speed can help you burn 300 calories.
Even if you’re not trying to lose weight, riding a mountain bike on the road will help you maintain a healthy physical weight.
Related post: Road bike vs MTB
Why Are Mountain Bikes Slow on the Road?
The following are some factors that make mountain bikes slower on the road.
The biggest factor that makes mountain bikes slower on the road is their weight. They have additional components, like suspension, that road bikes don’t have, which makes them heavier. The heavier the bike, the more pedaling power it’ll need to achieve faster speeds.
Mountain bikes have wider tires with lumps to ensure grip on rough terrains and mountain bike trails. The wider the tires of a bike, the more friction they’ll produce because of the greater surface area touching the road. As a result, you’ll experience higher resistance while pedaling and it’ll make the bike slower.
Road bikes come with a transmission system or gear ratio that’s built to offer the best performance in terms of speed. Whereas, mountain bikes come with a transmission system that allows the rider to climb up steep hills easily. It means that mountain bikes aren’t optimized for roads, especially when it comes to speed.
As mentioned above, mountain bikes keep the rider in a more upright riding position, which is less aerodynamic than road bikes. The upright position increases the air resistance, making it difficult for the rider to ride the bike at a high speed.
Should You Use an MTB as Your Daily Commuter Bike?
The answer to this question depends on your personal preferences. If you like off-roading, don’t mind the slower speed, and can put more pedaling force to ride the bike, you can use an MTB as your daily commute bike.
But if you want your bike to be speedy and light, and you don’t have any off-roading plans, you should stick to a road bike.
A mountain bike will allow you to soak up bumps and potholes on the road with relative ease. It’ll also have a lower tire pressure that will provide you with a softer landing. If you’re planning to use an MTB as your daily commuter bike, keep the following factors in mind.
- You’ll need to clean your mountain bike more frequently than a regular road bike if you take it to mountain trails. That’s because it’ll collect grit and dust and they’ll also get mixed with the lubricant. Keeping a bike in such a condition will accelerate the wear and tear process.
- A mountain bike will take up more space. It’s probably the most important factor to consider if you need to use public transport with your bike. In such a scenario, you’ll find it cumbersome to move or carry your bike.
- The wider tires will make more noise on the road and they’ll also wear faster than a road bike. So, you’ll need to replace your MTB tires more frequently.
What Tires Are Best for a Mountain Bike on Road
Bike tires that are designed for roads and flat surfaces are smooth and they come with minimal grip. The surface area of these tires is small, allowing them to roll faster.
Whereas the MTB bikes are wider and knobby, and they have a more rolling resistance, making the bike slower and harder to ride. If you want to use a mountain bike for riding on the road as well as off-roading, consider buying an extra pair of mtb road tires and wheels.
It’ll allow you to use the newly bought tires and wheels to ride on roads and switch to the original ones whenever you need to go for an off-roading adventure. Here are a couple of factors that you should keep in mind while buying and using road tires for your MTB.
Things to Consider when Buying or Using Road Tires for an MTB
TPI (Threads Per Inch)
The number of threads per inch is one of the most important factors to consider while buying road tires for an MTB. MTB tires that are made for trails usually have 60 TPI, which slows down the bike on roads.
So, you’ll need to buy tires that come with a thread pattern with a higher number of TPI. Ideally, it should be 120 threads per inch for a mountain bike that you intend to ride on the road. Not only will such tires be lighter but they’ll also allow you to ride the bike at a higher speed.
Mountain bike tires have a lot of traction that helps you deal with steep hills and rough terrain. But you don’t want the same level of traction when you’re riding the bike on roads.
That’s because it’ll have a lot of rolling resistance to slow you down. In order to reduce the rolling resistance, you’ll need to go with tires that come with symmetrical and faster-rolling tire tread patterns.
It’s also important to check the pressure of your road tires for MTB. Most tires installed in mountain bikes are rated for 25 to 50 PSI. Whereas, road bikes have tire pressure between 80 and 120 PSI.
The higher the tire pressure the lower the rolling resistance. So, you’ll need to adjust the tire pressure accordingly.
A mountain bike is more versatile than a regular road bike. You can use it to meet your daily commuting needs and take it to mountain bike trails for off-roading adventures.
While an MTB is heavier, rides slower, and requires you to put more force, it comes with its own set of advantages, making it a worthwhile purchase for a commuting mountain biker.