Riding your mountain bike on the road

I often get asked by cyclists if it is ok to ride a mountain bike on the road? In this crazy time of COVID-19 many cyclists are avoiding public transport and using their bicycles to commute. If all you have is a mountain bike, is it ok to take to the tar or should you make some changes to you mountain bike?

Well the answer is simple. You can ride a mountain bike on the tar without doing any damage to the bicycle. Your biggest concern is the accelerated wearing of your chunky tyres.

Is it bad for my mountain bike tyres if I ride on the road?

Yes it is. Riding your mountain bike tyres on the road will cause your tyres to wear off faster than they on the trail. So, if you are using your mountain bike on the road for a long period of time, I suggest you invest in a pair of city slickers and keep your nobly tyres for when you are back on the trails.

Riding your mountain-on-the-road-mtb

Does this mean I should I keep another set of tyres specifically for road riding?

You really do not HAVE to. Changing back and forth between two sets of tyres will be a mission especially if you are running a tubeless setup. This is unless you have 2 wheelsets that you can easily swop between.

Is it harder to ride a mountain bike on the road?

Oh yes! If you are using your mountain bike to commute or for fitness it is not relevant. But if you are trying to keep up with the roadies you will be working harder for a couple of reasons: tyres, gearing, suspension, and weight. As I have already said enough about the tyres, let's start with the gearing:

  • Gearing on a mountain bike is usually smaller to cater for short steep climbs. A road bike has larger chainrings, as hills on the road are longer and more gradual. All this means is that you might run out of gears if you start pushing hard on the straights or down a hill. Once again, if you have two wheelsets, you can have two different cassettes.
  • The suspension on your Mtb is made to absorb any bumps and knocks on the trail but on the road it is unnecessary. Your suspension only adds extra weight and absorbs part of your pedal power. I suggest locking out your suspension or pumping it slightly harder than you would for trail riding.
  • Mountain bike frames are typically heavier than road bikes, they are built to be strong and are fitted with heavier components. This extra weight takes a bit more energy to propel forward.

My advice

If a second bicycle is not in your budget, pump your suspension and tyres a bit harder, adjust your riding position, and ride your mountain bike on the road. Purchasing tyres more regularly is still cheaper than a second bike or wheelset.


Silverback Bikes Communications Manager

Riding your mountain bike on the road

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