If you’re reading this article, we suppose you might have a mountain bike and want to do casual road biking, but you only got a Mountain Bike. The question here is, can you ride a mountain bike on normal roads and streets?
The answer is Yes, riding your mountain bike on the road is possible. While Mountain bikes’ purpose isn’t for the streets, you can easily ride them on the roads, but you will not feel the same as riding a road bicycle which is the ideal option for the streets.
Well, the answer is quite long and depends on person to person. That’s why for your ease, we’ve written an ultimate guide article:
This article mentions the benefits, drawbacks and anything related to Mountain Biking on the road.
So, let’s start with the basics:
What is a Mountain Bike?
A mountain bike, commonly known as MTB, is designed for riding on mountains, terrains, hills, off-road paths, muddy surfaces, etc.
Unlike regular road bikes, they’re entirely different from them. However, both causal road bikes and MTBs use a chain and pedals concept, but both are entirely different in terms of design language and features.
If you are a beginner in Mountain Biking or willing to start, we suggest you look at our Beginner’s Guide for Mountain Biking.
How are Mountain Bikes Different from Road Bicycles?
Mountain bikes are rugged; they use a hefty dual welded extra-strong weight, which increases the importance of the overall motorcycle because, during off-roading, you can’t compromise on the chassis.
The suspensions of the MTB bikes are also different from causal cycles. Causal bike suspension is designed according to the user’s comfort. Mountain bikes’ suspensions are prepared according to the off-roading paths and not the user’s convenience.
Their tires are much more expansive, grippy, and complicated than road bikes. This design of tires increases the friction, which eventually causes resistance during pedalling. So it would be best if you put more effort into pedalling than causal road bikes.
Are mountain bikes suitable for the street?
As the name suggests, a mountain bike is good only in mountains and off-road biking, so how can you say that a mountain bike will be a good choice for street riding? Of course, it’s a mountain bike. It’s supposed to run on mountains and off-road biking but not the best option for the streets.
However, it doesn’t mean you can’t use it on your streets and city roads. You can, and it’ll not affect the performance of your bike. But, an MTB would not give you a good biking experience on the roads if compared with a casual road bike.
Would you like to learn how?
Read the following section:
But still, you can use it on your streets without any problem.
Things that You’ll Notice While Riding a Mountain Bike on Streets
There are a few things that you’ll notice when riding a Mountain Bike on your local streets:
You’ll first notice high resistance when riding an MTB on the roads. It’s because MTB bikes use high-grade extra-wide tires, and if you studied physics, you might know that high surface area = high friction.
The same rule applies with MTB bikes; their tires are wide, which increases the surface area and large contact area with the road, hence more friction. This high friction causes resistance when pedalling and will require effort from your legs.
To be precise, a regular mountain bike’s tires are about 1 cm wider than traditional street bicycles, increasing the resistance by 32%. No, you can’t replace the tires with regular street bicycle tires.
Most street bike tires have a maximum of 24″; Mountain bikes use 26″ tires. Moreover, in MTB, the joint where you hook the tires are built according to 1 wider tire. The joint couldn’t be attached to regular street bicycle tires.
You can find more on Mountain bike resistance here
Off-road vehicles and mountain bikes must have extra rigidness and a more robust frame than regular road vehicles. For that reason, the manufacturer of mountain bikes uses double-layered metal frames and extra metal tubes to make the chassis more durable, rigid, and force absorbent.
These all things will, of course, add weight to the bicycle, which will consume more effort from your side. It’s because, mud or during off-roading, most of the time, bikers use their MTBs downhill. In that case, they don’t need to pedal due to gravity, so weight doesn’t matter when you use a Mountain Bike for its true purpose.
But, regular street cycling will consume much more effort than usual bicycles.
Resistance in Pedaling
In addition to the above factors, you’ll also notice resistance during the paddling of your bicycle. The pedalling mechanisms on MTB bikes are different from regular road bicycles.
MTB’s paddling system is designed for intense situations to absorb sudden impacts such as the impact of bounced back rock, high g-force, sudden movements, etc. For that reason, the manufacturers use double-layered chains.
For instance, there’s only one chain used in standard bikes, but in MTB bikes, two chains are used to make the pedalling system rigid and more robust. That’s why you might feel harder when pedalling an MTB on a regular road.
If you can bear these situations, then go ahead, and make your MTB, your daily go-to bicycle.
Is It Bad To Use A Mountain Bike On The Road?
Note that mountain bikes use special tires, which are only suitable for muddy, sandy, and off-road areas. Their surface area is large as compared to regular bike tires. That large surface area increases the friction, reducing the lifespan of the MTB tires if you use them on a plain concrete surface such as an asphalt road.
In off-road areas, there’s sand, mud, and other uneven low friction surfaces, which doesn’t reduce the lifespan of MTB tires, but in asphalt concrete roads, the case is different. Only the tires in MTB will wear and tear faster when riding an MTB bike on the street.
Other than that, riding an MTB on the street is fine!
How Much Slower Is A Mountain Bike On The Road?
Mountain bike doesn’t come with an engine. The rider is the one who powers the machine. So, it all depends on how powerful the rider is. In terms of the will, does an MTB bike make you slower? Yes, it does.
Considering the structure of a mountain bike, it might add resistance to your overall riding experience. So, technically, yes, it’s going to make you slower. You’ll need to put more effort into running the bike than a regular street bike, eventually making you tired and slowing you down.
Benefits of Riding Mountain bike on Streets
With those above disadvantages, there are some benefits of riding an MTB on the streets, some of which we’ve mentioned below:
Overall Better Grip
MTB bikes are designed to offer you a better grip on the surface, which helps off-roading. If you look technically at the MTB, you’ll notice that the MTB has a shallow centre of gravity. Also, it keeps the centre of gravity as close to the road as possible.
This low centre of gravity in an MTB increases your grip during bicycling, providing better handling and controls.
Durable and Longer Lifespan
An MTB bike will always have a better built-quality and strong chassis than regular street bikes. Mountain bikes’ goal is to be tough and rough. Therefore, manufacturers dedicatedly design it to absorb sudden and robust impacts.
On the other hand, a regular street bike isn’t meant to be tough and rough. There are very high chances that the bicycle’s frame might get cracked or broken, or the tire’s rim may get bent if it faces a sudden impact.
No wonder a mountain bike will offer extra strength, and it’s not easy to break; even an MTB bike can easily survive a typical accident. Therefore, go ahead with a mountain bike if you need quality and strongness.
A mountain bike does and doesn’t offer better ergonomics than a street bicycle. It’s all dependent on your definition of ergonomics. Some users feel that MTB provides better ergonomics, and some say that MTB doesn’t offer good ergonomics.
Let’s split it:
- In terms of pedalling, a mountain bike isn’t good. It’ll consume more effort from your side. Therefore, in terms of peddling, it’s not a good thing.
- If we talk about the mountain bike seats, it’s good. MTB uses high-quality nylon and cotton-made seats which offer incredibly soft cushioning. Moreover, the overall shape of the seat is designed to provide extra comfortability on longer rides.
- In terms of suspensions and shocks, MTB takes the edge. Most MTBs offer adjustable suspensions that you can adjust according to your choice. You can make them harder off-road, or you can make them soft on usual rides.
- In terms of posture, MTBs might not be a good choice. They are designed to make you lean forward when riding. Making the centre of gravity equal and lower for better grip during off-road is essential. But, it might hurt your back on longer rides.
We’ve mentioned the detailed ergonomics of a mountain bike. It’s up to you now what bicycle is better for you. You can either use your MTB or purchase a dedicated street bike for riding a bicycle on the street.
If you got a mountain bike but didn’t know how to use it on your streets, we hope this article helped you find all the essential information you need. We’ve written an ultimate guide on everything you need to know about riding a bicycle on the streets. Contact us if you have other questions, and share this article with your friends.
Feel free to check out our relevant blog post on Hybrid bikes for Touring.