Sometimes you might want to do a bit of road biking, but you only have a mountain bike. You wonder if it can handle or even perform as well as a road bike with the heavy and rugged design.
In fact, you can completely ride your mountain bike on the road. However, there are many things affecting its performance. Among those factors, mountain bike type is one of the most crucial ones. For example, you can handle well on the urban street with hybrid bikes. Trail bikes also do great, but they will be a little bit harder to ride. In my opinion and experience, if you are looking for a mountain bike to ride on the road, XC bikes will be a good choice.
Can I Ride A Mountain Bike On The Street?
Nowadays, roads are not really as perfect as it was. You can come across obstacles, potholes full of water everywhere. With the rugged design, mountain bikes seem to be an ideal option to deal with those imperfections. You know, sometimes you can even do a nice jump on the street.
Mountain bikes are equipped with better gear that can deal with those shortcomings of bad roads today. They have a full suspension (as long as it is not a hardtail one) that will keep you on the road for an enjoyable ride. Therefore, you can completely ride a mountain bike on pavements or urban roads (see also: are mountain bikes good for urban riding?).
Going to work by mountain bike seems to be more appealing than driving a car for those who love riding. It not only satisfies your passion for cycling but also helps you to be healthier and protects the environment as well.
Is It Difficult To Ride A Mountain Bike On Smooth Pavement?
I have mentioned the reasons why you can ride a mountain bike on the road. But does that mean it doesn’t have any disadvantages? No, they do have. And here are some cons you might face when using your mountain bike as a road bike:
- Since the mountain bike tires are bigger than other bigger bike types, they will offer more rolling resistance. That means it will need slightly more energy to force the tires to move. Having said that, it doesn’t cause too much damage to the tire. If yes, you can still change the old tires with another one.
- All types of mountain bikes, including trail, hybrid, and XC, are heavier than road bikes to tackle presses of bumps and jumps. Their frames are also heavier to make sure they can deal with the stresses. However, the extra weight will make riding up hills a little bit more difficult.
- Mountain bikes have more powerful properties than road bikes don’t have, such as more robust suspension and brakes. And the full suspension of mountain bikes will make road riding smoother.
So, mountain biking can be a little bit heavier, making it relatively harder to ride on the road. Nevertheless, the excellent suspension makes riding on rough roads a lot easier, and you can deal with any terrain in no time.
Will Riding On The Road Damage Any Parts Of The Mountain Bike?
I would say no. Riding your mountain bike on urban roads will not damage anything on it. Having said that, there are several minor things you could consider.
The first thing you will face is worn and torn tires. Even though this is considered “taken for granted” for all bikes, it will be a little bit more serious for MTB bikes. As you know, mountain bikes have wider tires than most bike types, and their tires are typically designed for rough trails. So, when you ride it on other types of materials, such as concrete surfaces or sidewalks, they start to tear and wear faster. That means you might need to replace your tires more regularly than normal.
However, there is also good news for you, which is the lifespan of gears, brakes, and suspension. When you ride your mountain bike on rough trails, you usually pass through objects and brake hard. This will result in tear and wear on some parts, including shocks, brakes, tires, and gears. Nevertheless, the surface of city roads are much smoother. This will reduce the wear and tear rate. So, riding mountain bikes on urban roads will significantly increase the lifespan.
If you frequently ride your mountain bike on the road, it is important to be aware of potential damage to bike parts such as the tires. To avoid this, you must choose the right wheel size for your bike. To learn how to measure the size of a mountain bike wheel and choose the right size for your bike, check out this guide.
Benefits Of Riding Your Mountain Bike On The Road
You might or might not believe it, but you can get several benefits when riding your mountain bike on the city road. Some people even intentionally purchase this bike type for commuting.
In an ideal quarter or neighborhood, all the roads will be very smooth, and there will be fewer objects or obstacles to avoid. So, you can enjoy your ride better. Even when you encounter potholes, high curbs, rough and bumpy ledges, you can still easily deal with those obstacles with your MTB bike.
The wonderful features of MTB bikes that allow you to go over those objects are suspension and tires. Of course, you should avoid them by all means, but sometimes they will surprise you. The drivetrain system of mountain bikes allows you to accelerate faster. This makes it ideal for street riding, typically when you start riding once the traffic light turns green. What’s more, the brakes of mountain bikes are more powerful, allowing you to stop quickly. Hence, you can minimize the possibility of hitting a car or pedestrian on the road.
Even though mountain bikes are not designed for road riding, they work just great in some situations, as I mentioned.
What Are Mountain Bike Options Good For Riding On Pavement?
In fact, you can completely use any mountain bike type for road riding, but changing some gear can make your riding more enjoyable.
The first apparent thing to change is tires, which make a huge difference in your road riding experience. Bike Tires are usually intended for low-traction races but are not capable of off-road resistance. Nevertheless, if you are about to go out on an all-roadway race, you can consider changing your tires.
The second thing to consider is the suspension. As you might know, road bikes have almost no suspension as vertical movement on the suspension will remove forward momentum. However, you can completely lock out suspension travel if your mountain bike features a suspension lockout system. This way, your MTB bike will work as a road bike (because it doesn’t have a suspension). Ideally, you can lock out the back suspension and leave 3-4 inches of front suspension travel. By doing this, you can significantly reduce shocks when you go over potholes.
What Tires Are Ideal For A Mountain Bike To Ride On the Road?
Wide knobby tires are considered one of the best things for mountain bikes. They help you ride effortlessly on muddy and rough trails. However, they offer lots of rolling resistance when you ride them on pavements, which cause faster wear and tear.
So, the best way is to purchase an additional set of tires and wheels. Ideally, you can get tires that are as similar to mountain bike road tires as possible. This way, you can change between two tires to reduce damage level. If you are going off-roads, use the trail tires for better traction. On the other hand, throw on the tires that are more simple for road riding when you’re about to commute.
What Mountain Bike Should I Pick To Ride on The Road
In my opinion and experience, the all-around mountain bike you should get for road riding is a cross-country MTB bike. It works great for not only dirt and muddy roads, ordinary jumps, normal trails but also sidewalk or pavement. Ideally, you can choose an XC MTB bike with a back suspension lockout (to reduce shocks on smooth roads). And don’t forget to buy an extra pair of road tires and wheels.
Some people might wonder if there are any type of electric bikes for road riding. Then, the answer is yes. There are several good models to use on the street. However, most riders find it not fun to control their ride, typically when taking jumps or turns.
What are the Main Differences Between a Road Bike and a Mountain Bike?
Below are some key differences between a mountain bike and a road bike. Take a look at it to understand more about these two great bikes.
Road bikes are typically designed to give you fast speed on the road. They are more aerodynamic and lightweight than mountain bikes. Their tires are also thinner and smoother to minimize rolling resistance and boost speed. There are some differences in frame geometry compared to mountain bikes, such as handlebar position.
Mountain bikes, on the other hand, are particularly created for off-roads. Since this is a harsh condition, MTB bikes need to be strong, heavyweight, and wide knobby tires to deal with those things in the woods or mountains.
If you’re unsure what type of bike to ride, it’s important to know the main differences between road bikes and mountain bikes. Mountain bikes are designed for rough and uneven terrain with wider tires and suspension, while road bikes have thinner tires, drop handlebars, and are built for speed on smoother surfaces. You can learn more about different bike types and choose the perfect bike with Hood MWR’s bike type comparison guide.
Quick Tips For Riding on the Road With Your Mountain Bike
Before starting to ride your mountain bike on the pavement, take a look at the following tips.
Always follow the traffic rules: Just because you can jump off the curb with your MTB bike, it doesn’t mean that you can and should do it. Make sure you follow the road regulations and respect other riders to avoid unwanted accidents.
Consider making minor modifications: If you intend to ride your mountain bike on the road most of the time, you can consider changing some things for a better experience. And one of the most important parts you should change for a more enjoyable road ride is tires. You can refer to the previous part for more details.
There is no need to be concerned about what people around you think. Lots of people worry about what other cyclists will think when their mountain bikes have some “weird” changes. If you have to or want to ride your mountain bike for daily commuting, just go ahead and ride yours.
However, if you just ride your MTB bike to a shopping mall or store on the city street, you might not need to modify or change any parts on your mountain bike.
All in all, you can absolutely ride your mountain bike on city streets, and they can even perform better in some situations.
But you need to remember to be really careful when riding your MTB bike on the road. Even though rough trails are not a big problem for you, you might encounter lots of unexpected situations on the street, such as cars or pedestrians. Be precautious and equipped with all safety gear when you are riding on the road.
Have a look at this simple checklist before you pound the pavement with your MTB bike.
- Ensure that your MTB bike is properly set up for suitable riding and no chance of injuries.
- Always check your tires regularly
- Prepare a high-quality helmet
- Get yourself suitable clothing such as knee and elbow pads, glasses, etc.