Mountain bike with hybrid tires – is it a good idea?


Do you have a mountain bike? Have you started wondering about fitting hybrid or road tires to your MTB? Then it helps to look at the differences between the three cycles before attempting to make a change in the tires.

The hybrid does have similarities to the road bikes and MTB! But even with resemblance, will it make a difference to fit hybrid tires? Or, what bike tires will work to make your bicycle more road-friendly?

We want to help you find the perfect tire to use with your off-road and street riding! Here we will go through the differences between the two and answer some questions we think you may have on your mind.

Which is better?

The first question is what you want to achieve when you ride, and where do you plan to cycle? Do you want to be able to cycle challenging trails and on the road? Deciding between a cross or MTB all comes down to your preference and needs.

The hybrid bike has an aerodynamic frame and has a rim compared to disc brakes without suspension and a thinner tire.

Compared to the MTB, the cross bike works better for riding on dirt paths, gravel, and the road than rugged off-roading. Furthermore, some differences could impact your situation with tires being one of them.

Therefore, to answer the question, we need to look at these critical differences first before looking at the tires.

The difference in the Frame

The Cross bike frame is similar to a road bike compared to your MTB. The reason is that the bicycle does not have the same structure as the MTB to tackle even extreme conditions.

The frame has a lightweight and slimmer design compared to the mountain bikes; therefore, more aerodynamic and works well for road cycling.

When it comes to mountain bikes, it is less critical as it helps to have a lighter weight like traveling on the road. For this reason, the frame of the MTB bike offers more strength needed for rugged terrains and not road cycling.

Variation in Suspension

Using the cross bicycle, you do not expect it to travel the same trails and made to cycle on paved roads. For this reason, it does not have a suspension and has a lower tire pressure with a wider tire to handle the bumps for a comfortable ride.

Furthermore, adding a suspension adds weight and increases the cost of the bike as well. You may find some Cross bikes with a front suspension to help make it trail-worthy and lower quality with less travel to help keep the weight down.

The Brakes

The majority of cross bikes have rim brakes, but you can find it with disc brakes. The rim brake makes it lighter, cheaper, and easier to replace and ideal for road riding or short commutes, as most rides are flat. When it comes to mountain bikes, weight is not that much of a concern, and you get it with a disc brake. With the brakes, you get more stopping power compared to rim brakes that work better on off-trails than the road.

The Gearing

With your mountain bike, you take on different surfaces from flat, downhills, extreme climbs to steep hills. For this reason, your bicycle offers you a wide range of gearing like trails compared to road cycling. The cross bicycle has fewer gears with less weight to improve efficiency when cycling on flat roads and occasional hills. Sometimes you find the cycle with a single speed.

Fenders & Cargo Racks

Many cross bikes come with a fender and cargo rack as you use it for commuting. With the fender, it prevents your clothes from getting wet, and the cargo rack helps to keep a spare set of clothes to change into at work. The accessories you rarely find on a mountain bike but found an after-market add on.

The Handlebars

You can find the cross bicycle with flat, riser, or drop bars made for traveling on different surfaces and rarely found available in mountain bikes.

The Seat

Here the same applies to the seat as the hybrid has a more comfortable one, and you do not need padded shorts. However, for aggressive performance, you do not find it available in the MTB.

Now the important part—the tires:

Your mountain bike tires are big and burly with knobs for ultimate traction like on trails when dry or wet. However, when traveling on the street, these tires hold you back.

The reason is that the knobs and width of the tire add more friction on paved roads. The bike tires on the cross cycle have a thinner tire to reduce the rolling friction to cruise comfortably.

The tire is not as skinny as the road tires. Therefore, it still needs an extra width tire to handle the same terrain as mountain bikes. Even the tire pressure is different—the MTB tires pressure is in psi ranges between 20-35 while the cross is 40-70, and the road bike is 80-120.

Another difference is the size as the hybrid bike has 28-inch (700c tires) found on road bikes. You can find them equipped with 26-inch tires but very scares.

The majority of mountain bike tires range between 27.5 to 29-inches. Now to answer the question which tires will work on your MTB?

hybrid bike tires

Which Tires Can You Put on Your Mountain Bike?

You can put cross tires on your bike if the rim size has the same diameter. The essential thing is not to use a tire that is too thin as you may run into fitment issues. With a smoother tire, you get less rolling resistance to move faster without effort. Furthermore, the tires help prevent wear and tear like using your knobby trail tire on paved roads.

Regular tires

Yes, again, but the tire needs to be compatible with the rim enabling you to fit a road tire and needs the right cluster working the drive train. The MTB cluster offers a comprehensive and more extensive design. It helps to find a mountain bicycle cluster with a road rim and scares. The next steps to fit fat road tires as you will only replace the tire and not the rim, giving it a lower profile for riding on roads. Check out my post on whether you can put road tires on a mtb.

Thinner tires

Yes, you can, but you need to look at the minimum size of the rim. Furthermore, these tires come with drawbacks and are not as shock-absorbing when moving over obstacles. The tires do give better cycling on hard surfaces and lower the weight, and choosing the correct one depends on the terrain you plan to ride. You also get flexibility, and quick steering and treading play a significant role as well.

Speed considerations

Now which one is faster? The answer depends on the riding situation! If you ride on paved roads, the cross bicycle is the winner as it offers less rolling resistance for a better pedal stroke for traveling. The frame is lighter to increase rider efficiency.

Some bikes come with drop bars with high gear ratios to maintain a high speed. Vice versa, the MTB is a winner on off-road terrains as it has front/rear suspension to tackle obstacles. You have knobby tires for added grips and better gearing for steep climbs.

The cross bikes made for different riding as it falls between a mountain and road bike. You can use it for commuting, fitness, and occasional off-road riding. However, it cannot beat the mountain bike when it comes to trail riding.

When it comes to commuting, you can use your MTB fitted with the correct tires to travel on paved roads to make your trip a bit more comfortable.

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