Last Updated on October 7, 2022
Mountain biking is all about riding your bike in the mountains and enjoying the great outdoors.
But that doesn’t happen all the time.
More and more people are now using their mountain bikes on the road. Either because they think it’s cool, safer, or they just want to be more practical.
Whichever the case is, we can’t deny the fact that mountain bike tires wear faster on the road!
This article will answer that question, and provide more background information on why this happens.
What happens when you ride your mountain bike on the road?
Faster tire wear
Mountain bike tires are specifically made for off-road use. This means that these kinds of tires have softer compounds and materials so that they can adapt to the varying terrains of the mountains.
Mountain bike tires are softer compared to road tires because this improves grip. And the grip is very important for trail riding because this lowers the chances of you slipping or sliding off your bike and eventually crashing.
Using these tires on paved roads will just speed up deterioration and lead to faster tire wear because the pavement is harder than off-road trails and grounds.
Cement and asphalt even have very sharp and jagged sides. And their composition is very hard and compact that they will slowly shed off the rubber material found in tires especially if they are in low PSI.
This is an obvious fact. Mountain biking is not that fun when you’re riding out on roads or paved highways. Mountain bikes are meant for the mountains.
That’s why they’re called mountain bikes in the first place, right? Ride around town and you’ll quickly notice that it’s just too boring. There are no features where you can skid your tires or jump on some rocks or large tree roots.
You simply just move your legs and pedal your way to your destination. And doing just that for a couple of minutes or even hours in the end. Although some might find this fun and fulfilling especially if you’re a road cyclist.
That’s not the same if you’re a mountain biker. These two types of bikers are different. Road cyclists base their biking satisfaction on the distance covered and endurance level, specifically their cardiovascular strength.
On the other hand, mountain biking is more about enjoying nature in its rawest form and going to places you can’t go to with a regular car.
Mountain biking on the road is just not as fun and enjoyable as riding in the mountains.
Higher chance of getting hit by a car
That might sound like too much. But statistics prove that the most common kind of biker that experiences car accidents are road cyclists. Using your mountain bike on highways will just put you in danger of these accidents because you are literally just inches away from hitting cars.
Yes, there might be designated bicycle lanes. But you still can’t assure that a rogue car with a driver who is under the influence won’t hit you. There is always that risk. And it’s best you know that risk for you to avoid getting in such trouble.
Why mountain bike tires wear faster on the road?
Designed for off-road use
Mountain bike tires are made for trail and off-road use. These don’t work well on paved roads even if they are very smooth or stable. Mountain biking tires have softer compounds that work well on low PSI settings.
This gives them the grip needed to ride through gnarly terrain with ease without sliding or crashing. Ride a mountain bike on the road and you’ll notice that your bicycle isn’t anymore as stable compared to if you were to use it offroad.
Mountain biking tires also have aggressive tread patterns. These tread patterns are the spikes seen on the outermost layer of the tires. They are responsible for providing a maneuverable and stable ride while allowing enough grip.
Run these on the road and you’ll just hear a loud noise coming from your wheels. The tire surface isn’t just that smooth, which then leads to higher friction. And having high levels of friction will just cause the rubber to shred faster and wear down.
Paved roads are harder compared to off-road trails. Their surface distribution is also flat and linear. This means that the softer mountain bike tires are going to go through regular friction.
And note that these tires have spiked treads which make it harder for you to easily roll over the road. This harder surface then shreds more rubber from the tires faster than if it was to roll over the softer and less even soil on off-road trails.
Braking means slowing your bike down, right? So, what happens if you brake? Well, your pulled brake levers are going to send mineral oil to your brake calipers that are connected to your brake rotors.
When mineral oil arrives in the calipers, the calipers then clip in and latch onto the rotor and stop it from turning. This then also stops the wheels and tires from turning. An abrupt stop will then drag the tires from the hard pavement, thereby shedding some rubber.
What are the advantages of riding a mountain bike on the road?
You go faster because the roads are even. Unlike mountain bike trails which feature different kinds of obstacles like technical root sections, huge slabs of rocks, and unexpected drops. Biking on roads is basically just pedaling until you reach your destination.
Cheap mode of transportation
You can ride your bike whenever you like and you don’t have to ride a bus or taxi and pay for commuting. You also don’t have to spend money on gasoline. Yes, biking on roads is a practical and environmentally friendly way of traveling
Mountain bike tires wear faster on the road because they are not made for the hard and compacted asphalt and cement highways.
More friction happens between the aggressive treads pattern and the softer rubber material of mountain bike tires. This causes them to wear faster than if you were to just keep on riding in the mountains.