Can You Ride Mountain Bike on the Road

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Last Updated on February 8, 2022

Whether it’s for work or just pure leisure, there comes a time when you fancy taking a bike ride when all you have is a road bike. And then the question pops up: can you ride your mountain bike on the road? While there are no hard and fast rules about the subject, the simple answer is that you can indeed ride your mountain bike on the road.

Mountain bikes are less expensive, feel safer on the road compared to the slick road bikes, and are more durable. If you only own a mountain bike, then you can comfortably convert it for use as a road bike. Mountain bikes were built to offer riders a more aggressive kind of mobility. This enables them to handle the different kinds of surfaces and lumps. 


What Makes a Mountain Bike Suited to Roads?

With bumps, potholes, and all kinds of obstacles, our roads are far from being perfect. But mountain bikes are suited to deal with the imperfections much better.

The bikes usually sport a full suspension that ensures you have a fun and enjoyable ride. You can even use your mountain bike on pavements and dirt roads. This makes it a no-brainer to ride your bike on roads, which are smoother than most dirt roads and pavements.

Even if you want to use your bike for commuting, you will find that it gives you a better option than sitting for hours in traffic. It gives you the benefit of exercise as a byproduct.

Therefore, one major benefit of opting for a mountain bike when you want to take a road trip is that it gives a decent ride to deal with curbs and other things. If you want, you can even grab that neat jump on the way.

Another reason is if you only have a cross-country bike and you want to go for road biking, it is usually much better to use one bike as opposed to purchasing a second bike and mtb helmet. It is also advised to have your best cycling camera on your mtb when you are cycling on the road.

What are the different mountain bike options for riding on the road?

Although it is possible to take your mountain bike under $2000 for road biking, you won’t do this without making some changes or buying certain equipment to make your ride more pleasant.

Tires are the first obvious thing. The tires make a massive difference. Road tires are designed for low-resistance racing. However, they do not have off-road traction. But if you intend to venture out for an all-pavement racing, you are better off with road tires.

Another thing you have to look at is the suspension. The way road bikes are designed is that they have nearly zero suspension travel. This is since vertical movements exerted on shocks remove forward momentum.

In case your mountain bike contains a suspension lockout, it is a good idea to lock out suspension riding. This will make your bike to behave as if it doesn’t have suspension just like a road bike. I would encourage you to lock out the back suspension completely just in the case of a Hardtail bike.

By leaving 3 to 4 inches of suspension travel just in the front part, you allow your bike to absorb any surface irregularity, for instance, potholes. 

What is the best mountain bike for road use?

The answer to this question is to choose an all-rounder that can handle different trails, dirt roads, pavements, and normal jumps. An XC bike that sports a rear suspension lockout is the best option.

It should also come with an additional set of wheels complete with road tires. But if you trail-ride, you had better leave it as-is. But if you intend to go on dirt roads, hit its rear suspension to make your bike be like a Hardtail. If road biking, don’t tamper with the lockout setting. 

Is Riding a Mountain Bike On The Road Hard?

The answer is no. However, the kind of mountain bike you have will always affect how easy or hard it is. For instance, if you have a fantastic purpose-built mountain bike, you will find it more challenging to ride than, say, a hybrid. However, it should be okay.

You will also have to contend with dodging cars, storm water drains, and potholes among other things. But it doesn’t hurt to add some skill to your riding.

How hard is riding a Mountain Bike on the Road?

While there are many advantages of taking your mountain bike for road biking, there are also certain drawbacks that come with it. Here are some of the issues you need to know even as you try to convert your mountain bike into a road bike.

Mountain bikes have wider tires, which mean greater rolling resistance. This implies you will need to use more energy in pushing the tires. Note also that you can be armed with two sets of tires and wheels and switch them if the need arises.

All mountain bikes, whether it is the trail, hybrid, or XC bike, tend to be heavier when you have to deal with the stresses of bumps and jumps. Since mountain bikes are generally designed to deal with greater stress on the frame, these frames are created heavier and also sturdier. But the downside of this is that the additional weight makes it more difficult when you are climbing.

Mountain bikes are created with more robust features compared with road bikes. For instance, they have beefier brakes and more robust suspension. Just like before, the additional weight makes it more challenging to climb hills. But a full suspension bike has the advantage of riding very smoothly.

As you can see, the fact that mountain bikes are sturdier means they have more weight, and this can make biking somewhat harder. But, this extra suspension translates to a smoother ride over the pavements. It makes riding much better and enables your bike to deal with any terrain.


The long and short of this article is that you can ride your mountain bike perfectly well on the road. The fact it is designed to handle more bumps and lumps in tough terrains makes it handle roads surfaces more smoothly.

You will be able to cruise on roads much better even if it has a few potholes and bumps. However, the mountain bike is built to be sturdier which makes it heavier. This will affect you when you are going uphill. But this is not a major problem.

Harold Whitford

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About the Author

My name is Harold Whitford, a husband, father, and avid cyclist with a Bachelor’s degree in Sports Management from the University of Delaware. Having been in the industry for more than 15 years, I have a number of the road race and national time trial championships in my bag.

  • I wouldn’t definitely have to say YES! This is absolutely a professional opinion sinc I road my Navarro Portal from Monterey CA to Asheville NC via WA and FL on an over 7000 mile mnt bike journey. I actually road interstate 25 from Billings MT to Albuquerque NM on one stretch.

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