Can I Ride my Mountain Bike on Pavement?

Most bike enthusiasts would love to have a bike that can be used across multiple surfaces, but different bikes are made for different activities and types of terrain. We are often asked if it is possible to use a mountain bike on the road?

The short answer is yes, but it does come with a few challenges. In this article, we’re going to tell you all about using a mountain bike on the road and if it’s for you.

What is the Difference Between a Road Bike and a Mountain Bike?

To start with, let’s clear out the difference between a mountain bike and a road bike. Mountain bikes are good for riding off-road, while road bikes are designed primarily for riding on roads. If you primarily want a bike to use on the road only, then a road bike would be the better choice for you. 

If you need to venture off beyond roads and into bike trails, mountains, gravel, or simply just looking for something very comfortable that can hit a pothole easily, then a mountain bike would be your best bet. 

What Do Mountain Bike Tires Use?

Mountain bike tires, unlike a road bike, are large and knobbly and made for handling loose terrain and having a maximum grip. They are not ideal for the road, and all this extra grip does turn into a huge amount of lag when riding.

Can I Ride My Mountain Bike on Pavement?

The short answer to whether you can ride your basic mountain bike on the pavement is Yes. However, a mountain bike on the pavement isn’t very efficient. You would benefit by making a few changes and adjustments to improve performance and endurance, making it more like a hybrid bike.

Modifications for a Mountain Bike on the Road

You can make many different modifications to improve your experience when riding a mountain bike on the road. Here’s what we would recommend to make it a much more enjoyable ride.

Smaller Slick Tires

This will make it much easier to ride on the road. You will be able to go much faster, and you will require less effort to get the bike moving forward.

Locking out the Suspension

A lot of mountain bikes now have the ability to lock the suspension. I would highly advise doing this so that you don’t lose valuable energy in your arms.

Run higher Tire Pressure

Running a higher tire pressure will really help when riding on the road. It will create less drag and just help the bike roll along better.

Some Reasons Why People Ride A Mountain Bike on The Pavement

Some bike riders choose to ride a mountain bike on the road instead of going on the bike trails because it offers a huge amount of comfort, and also, it means that on their weekends, they have the option of hitting the trails. You also get people who prefer flat bars to typical road drop bars, and for people with less mobility, it’s much easier to ride a mountain bike than a road bike.

Does Pavement Ruin Mountain Bike Tires

Typically riding mountain bike tires on the road won’t cause you any issues. It will cause them to wear unevenly though, and you will find yourself with a smooth patch down the center on your tires after lots of road miles. They will feel very laggy, but you will get an excellent grip and a huge amount of comfort.

Want to Ride Your MTB on Pavement? How Far Can You Comfortably Go?

There’s no doubt in saying the work will be much harder on a mountain bike. This is because they are not designed for the road. They are heavier than a road bike, and with the large tires and suspension, you will find the bike to be quite challenging to ride very long distances. You can go very far, but you will just have to work harder.

Road Race Riding with a Mountain Bike?

You can ride your mountain bike in a road race, but it won’t be ideal. Many of the courses will be on pavement, but you’ll have to exert more effort than the others because your tires are going to stick, and you won’t be able to maneuver as quickly.

For How Long Can My Mountain Bike Tires Last on Pavement?

It would take roughly two years for a reserved rider to need a new set of MTB tires. However, if you are this biker who has to be on the road on a daily basis, you will need to replace those tires in about three months. It depends on the tires though, and how far you are traveling.

Are Hardtail Mountain Bikes Good for Pavement?

Hardtails are the lightest form of the mountain bike. They will be much better on the road than any full suspension bikes as they are light and nimble. They won’t be as good as a road bike but will be ok.

Should I Ride on the Road or in the Mountains?

A lot of cyclists prefer riding on the road for several reasons. There are a lot of roads everywhere. It’s easy to build up your fitness and much harder to get lost than in the wilderness. It does come with the danger of other road users such as lorries and cars though, and many people take to off-road bikes purely just to avoid this.

Riding off-road, you are completely away from cars and typically see very few other people. You do run the risk of more challenging terrain. There’s a lot more to crash into, the descents are steeper, and the terrain is loose and much rougher. It’s a lot more fun though.

It really comes down to what you enjoy more. You might prefer being in the cities riding on roads, or you might like to be in a quiet forest. It’s a completely personal preference.

So, Are Mountain Bikes Good for Pavement?

As discussed above, it’s clear that mountain bikes aren’t meant for roads at all, but you can still use them for it if you want to. However, you can make some of the few suggested tweaks to your mountain bike with the help of a bike shop mechanic, turning it into a hybrid road bike to make it a decent ride for the pavement rides. It’s recommended to use smaller tires and lock out the suspension.

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Written By Robbie Ferri
My name is Robbie Ferri, I’m an Ultra Endurance cyclist from the UK. I have been lucky enough to have cycled all over the world. With some amazing world record attempts, bikepacking races, and many miles under my belt I couldn’t think of anywhere I’d rather be than on my bike.

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