Can I Ride my Mountain Bike on Pavement?

Most bike enthusiasts would love to have a bike that can be used across multiple surfaces. Unfortunately, different bikes are made for different activities and type of terrain. The bike makers focus their energies on making each bike a super performer for the set goal. 

In light of this, there are bikes made for road bikers, others are made for the pavement, and others are made for racing, among other roles. This is why you should carefully consider the type of biking activities you intend to engage in before you head off to the bike shop.

In this post, we will seek to answer the various questions you may have in mind in relation to riding your bike on the pavement. Let’s dive in.

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 on-road (paved road or otherwise), while road bikes are designed primarily for riding on pavement.

If you primarily want a bike to use on pavement only, then a road bike would be the better choice for you. Else, if you will need to venture off beyond pavements and into bike trails, vertical movements, or simply taking your bike off road (think mountain biking), a mountain bike would be your best bet.

What Do Mountain Bike Tires Use?

Road bike tires use slick tires, which offer the best wear and response and are used in competition. Mountain bike tires, on the other hand, usually use a softer compound rubber, but we still recommend racing tire casing in case of severe punctures.

Can I Ride My Mountain Bike on Pavement?

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 is like a car trying to drive in the snow. It’s not swift without special gear, an enormous amount of skill, and a fair bit of luck. You need to make a few changes and adjustments to it to improve performance and endurance, more like making it a hybrid bike.

With the help of a bike shop mechanic, a few things you could do to make it easier to ride your MTB on pavement include taking the pedals off, replacing them with flat platform pedals. These pedals are feather-weight, offer low-resistance racing, and keep your feet attached throughout, making it easier to ride on pavement.

You can also use a chainring guard that covers the cranks while also making your tires easier to ride on.

If you’re going to trek up a steep slope or navigate some tricky terrain, you’ll want your bike to be as light and efficient as possible.

With platform pedals, you add less weight than normal pedals with equally impressive performance benefits all for an investment that will pay for itself many times over in lower back pain relief alone.

Some Reasons Why People Ride A Mountain Bike on The Pavement

Some bike riders choose to ride a mountain bike on the pavement instead of going on the bike trails because they love the freedom and thrill of hitting jumps and conquering steep climbs.

Other bike riders want to feel like they’re ripping along deep powder runs without worrying about inhaling rock chips in their wheels.

And of course, there are those who absolutely must take their bike off-road for the 15-mile ride in every season because it’s just too darned cold to do anything else.

Whatever the reason you have for trying out your mountain bike on pavement, make sure you are aware of the pros and cons of doing it.

Be well prepared for the costs that may result from the regular use of your bike on pavement. Both from issues that can occur with your gear as well as the items that you can purchase to install on your bike to make it more ready for the pavement.

Does Pavement Ruin Mountain Bike Tires?

Can I Ride my Mountain Bike on Pavement

Pavement is hard on most tires and can cause damage. The impact of hitting the ground over and over again causes tiny cracks to develop in the sidewall, reducing their strength and increasing the risk of more serious punctures.

If you ride on pavement frequently, we recommend a reinforced tire casing like Kenda’s Supertuff, or Schwalbe’s Marathon Supreme. They feature puncture protection rubber layers surrounding an air-filled chamber that reduces damage from impacts without adding weight or sacrificing performance.

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

You can comfortably ride your mountain bike on pavement as long as you either have special, puncture-resistant tires or avoid pavement all together by choosing a hardtail mountain bike.

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.

How Do I Keep My Mountain Bikes From Sticking on Road Tires?

When mountain bikes run flat tires, it’s usually due to hitting a hidden rock or pothole. To prevent that, you’ll need to add some sort of frame protection like Kenda’s Kontact or Schwalbe’s Mountain Lion Mantis. These devices are lightweight, inexpensive, and very effective at preventing flat tires, but we do recommend that you check periodically in case one develops.

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

It would take roughly 2 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 3 months. 

How Can I Outfit My Mountain Bike for Riding on the Road?

The best way to outfit your mountain bike for road biking is to install all-purpose clipless pedals and a set of fat tires. This way, you will be able to reduce rolling resistance and enjoy the MTB on the road without much risk of damaging your tires.

Are Hardtail Mountain Bikes Good for Pavement?

Hardtail mountain bikes are excellent for pavement. The suspension is already built into the frame, and since you can lean them over a greater degree than a full-suspension bike, they’re more agile and responsive as well.

Should I Ride on the Road or in the Mountains?

Mountain Bike on Road

A lot of mountain bikers prefer riding on pavement for several reasons: it’s safer, there are more courses available, and the competition is more intense. 

There are several disadvantages to riding a mountain bike on the roads. Gravel roads, dirt trails, and fire roads have a different sort of terrain than pavement, with obstacles like rocks and loose gravel. Not to mention the big stuff: potholes, branches, animals, etc.

These hazards are either unpredictable or impossible for you to avoid even if you are going slowly. Unlike on the trail where you ride around objects rather than over or through them, when riding off-road on the pavement you will need to pedal around or through anything in your way.

The bottom line is that you are the master of your own thrill. If you love quiet, smooth rides, the pavement/road is your best option. However, if you love nature and a good challenge, then mountain biking is your thing. It all worth it.

So, Are Mountain Bikes Good for Pavement?

As discussed above, it’s clear that mountain bikes aren’t meant for pavement 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 the same tires as with street biking, but they won’t last nearly as long, so plan on replacing them often.

Photo of author
Written By Robert Gibbons
From riding to school since the age of 13, attending BMX races and events with his dad to himself conquering 50+ trails across the globe. For Rob, his Giant Stance 29 2 2020 is the friend that makes everything better. He is also a proud member of the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA).

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