Moutain bikes are perfect for rough terrains. They are optimized to handle the grit and strain that comes with these environments. Sometimes, though, you might want to take your bike out on the road and enjoy a smooth, stress-free ride.
So, can you ride a mountain bike on the road? Well, yes, you can. However, although your mountain bike will get the job done, it won’t do it as effectively as a road bike would. This is because the terrain a mountain bike is designed for is completely different from the road.
This article takes a look at some of the things you need to consider before you decide to make the transition, along with everything you need to know to make using your MTB on the road more efficient.
Is It Hard to Ride a Mountain Bike on the Road?
Using your mountain bike on the road is not difficult. However, it depends on the type of mountain bike that you own. For example, if you had a downhill MTB, then riding uphill would prove challenging.
Riding on the road is different and it all comes down to the terrain. Roads are smooth for the most part, but there’ll also be potholes, curbs, and stormwater drains that you will have to learn to avoid.
Is It Bad to Ride a Mountain Bike on the Road?
A mountain bike is able to withstand the pressure exerted by any terrain you choose to ride on. However, there are a few drawbacks that come with riding mountain bikes on the road.
Mountain bikes are heavier than road bikes. They have more parts, like the suspension system, which is not included in road bikes. As a result, more energy is needed to move and speed up.
As you ride your MTB on the road, you will notice a reduction in the traction. This is because of the design on mountain bike tires. The rubber knobs made to grip the rough terrain but they make it harder for the wheel to grip the surface of the road. For this reason, you should take extra care when negotiating a bend.
Is a Mountain Bike Good for Street Riding?
Once you get the hang of riding your mountain bike in an urban setting, it can be a lot more fun than using a regular bike. There are a few pros that come with riding your mountain bike on the street.
Mountain bikes offer a degree of comfort that you wouldn’t get with road bikes. While riding on an MTB, you maintain an upright posture, unlike the more aggressive one used with road bikes.
Using a mountain bike on the street is a good idea thanks to the versatility of an MTB. Most streets have rough roads, potholes, and curbs. Using your mountain bike can help you maneuver these obstacles using bike skills like drops.
Although the weight of the mountain bike is a disadvantage when it comes to speed, it gives a boost to the bike’s stability. Whether you are on your daily commute or on a recreational ride, a mountain bike will give you extra confidence compared to road and hybrid bikes.
How Fast Can a Mountain Bike Go on the Road?
If you are riding in a group where other riders have road bikes, the chances that you will stay within the tight-knit are lower if you have a mountain bike. A mountain bike can go at an average of 32 miles per hour. This is when you ride it on a flat road. Some of the factors that can affect this rate are the rider’s strength, skill, and the riding form.
In a downhill road setting, a mountain bike can go at an average of 44 miles per hour. The most significant factor in the speed of your bike as you descend is the steepness of the slope. Also, the more obstacles on the road, the slower you will have to ride. In addition, if the road has many turns, you will have to slow down to compensate for the reduced traction offered by mountain bike tires.
How Far Can You Mountain Bike in a Day?
On flat terrain, an average rider will go about 60 miles in a day. However, if you are new to the terrain, you shouldn’t go for long distances. Consider slicing this distance by half. 20 to 30 miles for a first-time is a great distance. A reason for this is that you are not used to the terrain, and you might be unprepared for accidents or obstacles on the route.
Can You Ride a Mountain Bike on the Road without a Helmet?
In some areas, cyclists are required by law to always wear a helmet. Wearing a helmet is a safe practice that you should take up whether or not the law demands it.
In an urban setting, there are more chances for an accident to happen than on your normal MTB trail. There are motorists, motorcyclists, pedestrians, skateboarders, joggers, and other cyclists sharing the road with you. Some road users pay little attention to bikes and if you are hit by a car, having your helmet on your head would be in your best interests.
There are a few things you need to remember as you use your helmet to ensure you get the most protection out of it:
Handle your helmet with care. Tossing it around will cause microfractures on the helmet which will weaken it in the long run and it won’t protect you as efficiently when the need to arises.
Replace your helmet after every five years if you haven’t had any accidents with it or after you get into an accident, even if it is a minor accident. This will ensure that the helmet is capable of keeping you safe in the event of a crash.
Can You Ride a Mountain Bike on the Road without Changing Tires?
You can use your MTB tires on the road, but you won’t move as effectively as you would wit road bike tires. This is because mountain bike tires have features designed for the rough terrain.
For example, the knobs on your MTB tires were designed to give you maximum traction as you ride on the rough terrain. They might not be as useful on the road as they will prevent the tire from gripping the road well. Riding on the road will wear the knobs down and the tires won’t work efficiently when you decide to ride on rough terrain.
Also, the tires on a mountain bike are wider than the ones on a road bike and this makes them heavier. When used on tarmac, this extra weight will slow you down.
When riding on a bike trail, the tires are usually pumped up to low pressure. To reduce the rolling resistance you should pump up the tire pressure to almost maximum. Although this will make them roll better, you will hear a strange and irritating humming sound.
The best way to avoid these problems would be to get a new set of roadworthy tires.
Will Riding on the Road Damage Anything on the Bike?
Most of the bike’s components will remain unaffected when you choose to ride your mountain bike on the road.
However, parts like the tires will suffer from your decision. As previously mentioned, MTB tires have knobs for traction. Riding on the road will cause the knobs on the tire to wear out faster and you might have to replace your tires sooner than you need to.
Riding on the road also reduces the damage on your bike. By riding on rough terrain, you tend to brake more and avoid more obstacles. This leads to wear on your brakes, derailleur, and the suspension system. On the other hand, roads are smoother and you don’t have to use these parts as much when riding.
What Should You Change if You Want to Ride Your Bike Primarily on the Road?
There are a few things you will need to change so that your mountain bike performs optimally on the road and ensure that you are comfortable during your ride.
Mountain bike tires are wider and thicker than road bikes. This in addition to the knobs makes the tires less than perfect for road riding. You should consider replacing the tires with the narrower and slicker mountain bike tires. You will also need to make some changes in pressure. Road bikes need more pressure to increase rolling resistance.
Mountain bikes have a front and rear suspension system that provides cushioning from the bumps on the bike trail. While riding on the road, you don’t need a lot of shock absorption. You can adjust the front suspension fork to be stiffer or switch it out for a rigid steel fork and take out the rear suspension fork for rigidity and to reduce the weight of your bike.
Handlebars and saddle
Some mountain bikes are designed to help you adapt a more athletic and aggressive posture. This is usually to lower your center of gravity and reduce air resistance.
Now that you have decided to ride on the road, you can get a different saddle and set of handlebars that can help you maintain a more comfortable stance.
Mountain bikes have low gears to help you through the rough terrain slowly. Swapping this gear out for one with evenly spaced low and high gears would be in your best interests. You can try out different cassette ratios to get the perfect gears for you. By doing this, you will be able to maintain a more constant rhythm as you ride.
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