Can I Use a Mountain Bike on the Road?


The short answer is yes. You can cycle your MTB on any road.

However, it depends on the type of mountain bike and tire sizes you have on. If you have a cross country cycle, then yes, it will handle any highway. On the other hand, if you have a trail bike, it takes a bit more to use it on the street in town.

There are certain things to consider, and we are going to look at the essential factors to make your bike roadworthy.

So why ride your bicycle on the street?

Well, today’s streets are not perfect, you can find loads of obstacles in the way on surfaces, and one of them is potholes.

For MTB riders, it is easy to deal with the modern highway with imperfections, and with some modifications, it becomes one of the best bikes for road riding.

The bicycle has a full suspension compared to road bikes, that is, if you do not have a hardtail MTB. With the cycle, you can enjoy a long ride on dirt trails, pavements without any barriers and do mountain biking.

Therefore, an MTB commute sounds appealing compared to sitting in your car, waiting for the traffic to move. You can enjoy the fresh air, take short cuts, and get exercise at the same time.

When your bike is on a pavement, you can enjoy a decent ride when dealing with curbs and can even take a jump or two along the way.

Another reason is if you ride a mountain bike (XC type) and it is the only one you have, it is an ideal bicycle for using on streets.

How difficult is it to ride on a roadway?

Now that you have seen the benefits of using your MTB on the street, are there any drawbacks? Unfortunately, yes, there are some disadvantages when using your MTB on the highway. Here are some of them:

  • The MTB has broader wheels with more rolling resistance. Therefore, it takes more energy to work those tires and more comfortable to switch them out if desired.
  • Whether you have a hybrid, cross-country, or trail bike, it is heavier to deal with when taking bumps or jumps. The bike deals with more stress on the frame as it has a more massive construction. Therefore, you get added weight making it harder to climb hills.
  • The bikes have a beefier brake and more robust than road models as it has a suspension fork. With the added weight, it makes climbing those hills harder. However, with the suspension, the rides are smoother.

For all of these reasons, mountain bikes have a sturdier build, but it does add weight, making it harder to ride. On the other hand, the full-suspension helps to ride over pavements smoother and handles any terrain as well.

 

cycling on a road

On road and off-road riding choices

A fact is you can ride most mountain bikes on the street, but you will need to switch out some parts to make it more pleasant.

The first thing is the tires that we will address in another section. Your wheels make a huge difference as steer tires have a low-resistance made for racing and offer no traction for off-road riding.

Therefore, if you plan to take your MTB on the street, use road tires that are similar to those of road bikes. The next thing is to dial in your suspension, as road bikes have no suspension travel.

The reason is that the vertical movement on the shocks removes the forward momentum. If you have a bike with suspension lockout, you can block the suspension travel to work as a regular bike without suspension.

We recommend locking out the rear suspension entirely to work as hardtail mountain bikes by leaving up to four inches of suspension travel on the front-end to help absorb the irregularity of potholes.

What tires work best for pavement riding?

While the mountain bikes knobby tires work perfectly for trail riding, it is a different scenario when the bike on the pavement. These tires provide more rolling-resistance and can wear out fast.

Therefore, invest in a set of extra wheels for your bicycle to get closer to the roadway and switch them out as required. For this reason, when hitting trails, use your bike tires for traction and on the street swap them out for a smooth pavement ride.

What type works best on highways?

For road and trail riding, you need an all-around mountain bike that can do dirt roads, decent trails, and an average jump when moving over pavements.

We recommend the XC mountain bike that has a rear suspension lockout, and you can get yourself added wheels to swap out for road rides.

However, if you do trail riding, you can leave the bike as is, but when hitting dirt roads hit that rear suspension lockout to make it work as a hardtail bike.

When riding highways, you can leave your lockout set and place road tires on instead.

What is the difference between a road bike and mountain bike?

You can use your mountain bike on-road and off-road and depends on the type of trails it can handle. For example, if you have XC bikes, you can ride it on dirt roads, paved roads for regular use, and mild highways.

On the other hand, the trail bike offers the rider the ability to travel on mild to wild roads. The bike’s tires made for traction use in less ideal conditions but come at a price to create rolling resistance.

However, for off-road use, it is not such a big issue and is highly recommended. Now the bike you use on the road only as it offers a smooth ride.

You can use them on pavements and can quickly notice this in the tires used. The wheels on the bike have a thinner design that is smooth with low rolling resistance.

The road bike tires lack traction, and you cannot use them on trails. While the majority of streets in cities and towns are smooth for riding, you do get some highways with obstacles in the way.

The road can have a rough section, potholes, or broken pavement.

The obvious answer is that it is more desirable to use your mountain bike on roads. For instance, you are traveling next to a car, and you hit potholes in your way what will you do?

Would you bounce off it and start losing control or prefer that your bike absorb it with the suspension? We know that we would rather ride our bike to help absorb it instead of having muscle aches putting ourselves in danger when controlling the bike.

You can buy different mountain bikes, and to find the correct one needs to provide you with balance, utility, and the same abilities as well.

Furthermore, just as excellent the XC bikes, the hardtail bike also offers exceptional power on like the road bike.

However, you will feel all the imperfections on the tarmac, similar to the road bike. For this reason, the full-suspension mountain bikes can handle the hits making it able for you not to feel them on bad highways.

Final thoughts

So to complete the question, if you can use a mountain bike on the street, yes, you can and works just as well as a road bike.

However, when on the highway, you have other dangers to face, such as vehicles.

Make sure you take all the precautions by wearing your safety gear when on or off the road. Therefore, check that your bike has the right setup to ride safely and correctly without being injured in the process.

Please make sure your bike is fitted with the right tires and check both your sets regularly to make sure they are in tip-top condition.

Wear your quality safety bike helmet and ensure that you have the proper bike clothing from glasses to your kneepads on. Take your backpack with to keep the essential gear in to handle broken cables and flats.

Always be prepared no matter where you plan to ride on-road or off-road and have fun with your riding style.

Sources:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/13/well/move/mountain-biking-cycling-ebike-fitness-health-electronic-assist.html

https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1988-04-24-8803120810-story.html

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