Are Mountain Bikes Good for Commuting?

Mountain bikes are made for mountains. That’s why they’re called mountain bikes in the first place!

But that doesn’t mean they can only be used on those terrains. In fact, they are the most versatile kind of bicycle because they can be ridden anywhere you want. And that includes paved roads and highways which are common for commuting.

But are mountain bikes nice for commuting? Or will they just drag you down and make commuting even more difficult? That’s what we’ll talk about in this article.

Here, we’ll discuss if mountain bikes make great commuter bikes, factors affecting your mountain biking on paved roads, and many more.

Can you use mountain bikes for commuting?

Yes, you can use a mountain bike for commuting. These bikes are very capable of going through any terrain, even those that are seemingly impassable.

Although there are many drawbacks to this, they can still be used as a decent commuting service. That’s if you value comfort over anything else. Commuting means you go through different road conditions, right?

That includes poor street conditions, humps, and even dirt trails. If that’s the case, then a mountain bike does a great job with those things.

Compared to other bikes such as road bicycles, mountain bikes provide the rider with a comfortable upright riding position and a suspension that absorbs all the bumps on the roads. They’re also built with very sturdy materials that are durable and work in any weather condition.

Advantages of using a mountain bike for commuting

There are many benefits you can get if you use a mountain bike for commuting. That’s why many people choose mountain bikes like commuter bikes even if they’re not built for it.

Here are some of the biggest advantages:

Comfort

The best thing about riding a mountain bike for commuting is you get a very comfortable ride. Mountain bikes are highly capable bicycles for off roads, rough terrains, gravel paths, and rugged terrain. This means that they’ll do way better on the roads because most areas are paved and aren’t that brutal compared to downhill trails and riding long distances.

Mountain bikes also have suspension systems that absorb all the bumps you’ll go through, along with tires that have strong rolling resistance. Full-suspension bikes are the best when it comes to comfort because they have two shocks. One is located at the front and is called the fork.

You’ll also find a rear shock at the back of the bike connected to the moving linkages. Shock travel differs depending on the kind of mountain bike. Enduro bikes have 170 mm to 180 mm of travel up front and 160 mm travel at the rear suspension.

Meanwhile, trail bikes have 150 mm to 160 mm travel forks and 140 mm to 150 mm travel shock.

Cross-country hardtail Mtb or CX bikes have the shortest amount of travel as they have around 100 mm to 120 mm travel up front and 80 mm to 100 mm travel at the rear.

The more travel the fork has, the better they are in absorbing bumps and vibrations. But the bike becomes heavier if its suspension has more travel.

Capability

Another nice thing about using mountain bikes is that they are very much capable of going through anything when commuting. You don’t have to worry if there is a pavement section that is damaged because you can easily glide through it.

You also don’t have to stop or slow down if you are approaching a street hump or bump because your suspension is just going to absorb the vibration. You can even ride downstairs with your bike, so you don’t have to walk it down! That’s if you have the skills, though.

Safety

Mountain bikes provide utmost safety and ride quality for riders who use them for commuting because they absorb most of the vibrations of the road.

You don’t feel the speed bumps that much because the suspension absorbs all of them. These bikes also have a frame that has an upright geometry. This means you don’t have to slouch that much when riding. You just have to maintain an upright position.

Disadvantages of using a mountain bike for commuting

Disadvantages of using a mountain bike for commuting

Just like any other thing, mountain bikes used for commuting also have their own drawbacks. Here they are:

Speed

One of the biggest disadvantages to commuting on a mountain bike is the speed. Mountain bikes are slow on the roads, compared to cyclocross bikes, road bikes, or proper commuter bikes like folding bikes.

They have knobby tires which are made for rough terrain trails, rough roads, and muddy soil. No doubt you can use them on paved surfaces.

But they’re heavier because of their chunky and wider tires structure. To give you a perspective, city bikes have slick tyres and narrow tires that have a width of around 1.5 mm to 1.8 mm. Compare that to the thinnest mountain bike tire that has a width of around 2.2 mm, which is way thicker than that of a city bike tire.

Weight

Most mountain bikes, especially electric bikes, are heavy compared to regular bike or gravel bikes made for paved roads. This is because they have a more solid and durable frame that can withstand a lot of beating.

Trail and enduro bikes weigh around 13 kgs. to 16 kgs., while cross-country bikes usually weigh between 9 kgs. to 12 kgs., depending on their frame material.

Carbon frames are lighter than aluminum frames. Then compare that to the lighter bike commuters like gravel bikes, cross bikes, or cyclocross bikes that just weigh around 5 kgs. to 10 kgs.

Bike weight will surely affect your speed and maneuverability. A heavier bike is slower and harder to maneuver around tight alleyways.

Is using a mountain bike for commuting a good idea?

Yes, but not entirely a perfect idea. Mountain bikes are all-terrain vehicles that are meant for fun riding which means they can literally be ridden anywhere.

And that includes paved roads. It’s a decent idea, but not really a great one because they’re not really made for urban riding. If you want a proper commuting bike, then better get a road bike or a mini velo.

These bikes are specifically designed for urban commuting. They’re more maneuverable, more compact, faster, and lighter. They’re even cheaper compared to mountain bikes!

Conclusion

You can use a mountain bike for commuting because they do fairly well especially that they’re all-terrain vehicles. But that doesn’t mean they will do great.

They’re heavier and slower on the roads because they’re built for the mountain trails. If you want to make the most out of your mountain bike. Then use it in the mountains and shred the trails while enjoying Mother Nature!

Then get a proper commuter bike that doesn’t have any suspension so you can get to your urban destination faster and more hassle-free. It might not be that comfortable, but that’s the reality of commuting using bikes.

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AUTHOR
Jomar Teves
A writer by day, a tech enthusiast by night, and a mountain biker at the weekends. After four years in business school and working for multinational clients, Jomar believes he can improve the world through his writings. Jomar has six years of experience as a writer and has a degree in entrepreneurial marketing. Some of his works have been published on Blokt, Clutch Points, and iTech.