Mountain biking and road biking are two different cycling disciplines. They might both be in the same sport, but they have a lot of differences. Most of which have been the cause of debates between the two sides.
One of the most common questions people ask is if road biking is better than mountain biking, and vice versa.
The truth is, there is no specific answer to that as each person has their own opinion. There are also many factors that come into play. Rider preference, riding style, the reason for biking, location, and many others, being some of the most usual reasons.
But is road biking really better than mountain biking?
This article dives deep into that question as it discusses the two cycling disciplines including their own pros, cons, and exact definitions.
What is mountain biking?
Mountain biking is a sport where you use a bicycle that is designed for off-road. It’s all about riding your bike in the mountains and going through rough trails and singletracks as much as possible.
Mountain bikes have a solid build and an efficient suspension system to make them capable of traversing seemingly impassable trails. There are also two main types of mountain bikes. These are the hardtails and the full-suspension bikes.
Hardtails only have a fork suspension while a full-suspension mountain bike has a fork suspension and rear shock. There are also three kinds of mountain bikes depending on the discipline. These are cross-country, trail and enduro, and downhill.
A cross-country mountain bike is lighter and made for climbing. Trail and enduro bikes can do both uphills and downhills. Meanwhile, downhill bikes are specifically made for downhill trails as they have large dual-crown forks.
What is road biking?
Road biking is basically using a bicycle on the road. It’s all about traversing long routes on the pavement as much as possible.
Road cyclists usually go from one town or city to another which usually spans hundreds of miles, along with cars.
These riders place a lot of importance on endurance, fitness, and duration, which makes them very conscious about their weight.
Road cyclists want to be as thin as possible so they can go faster on the roads and make their overall weight lighter. Even if that means compromising their body aesthetics and appearance.
What makes mountain biking more fun?
Jumps and drops
Mountain biking is way more exciting than road biking. You can jump on rocks and roots or you can drop along with your bike on small cliffs. It’s all about getting that adrenaline rush when you’re riding out on the trails.
Nothing beats the feeling of conquering these obstacles and getting that air time without hurting yourself. There might be some risk involved. But that’s totally worth it because you feel more confident than ever about yourself. Just make sure you maintain the right riding position and power riding position on brought terrain with your bike because you are on rough terrain and uneven terrain.
You don’t need to plan out where you are going, what time you should arrive at your destination, or what you intend to do.
You can just ride your mountain bike and head to the mountains and go where the trails lead you. You can even camp out once you’re exhausted after a climb. You can’t do that when you’re road cycling because roadies are very particular on set schedules, locations, and statistics.
Roadies are very serious and competitive when cycling. Although this doesn’t include everyone, most of them are. Go on a group road ride and you’ll notice that these guys don’t even talk when riding.
They are very focused on keeping up with their speed and heart rate while achieving new record highs. Compare that to mountain bikers who just want to have fun, have a chit-chat with friends after a mountain bike downhill lap, and then drink beer afterward to replenish the lost fluids.
Climbing uphill sucks. It might sound biased. But that’s a fact. You exert more energy and spend more time as your body works very hard to bring you to the top of that hill, only to find out that you’re just a third on your way up.
What’s worse is if you do that on a hot summer’s day at noon. You end up like a barbecued steak afterward. No pun intended, though.
Compare that to mountain biking, specifically enduro and downhill, and you’ll have fun shredding through downhill trails. It might seem scary, but the adrenaline thumping through your veins is what makes mountain biking an exciting sport.
Road Cycling vs Mountain Biking
The main difference between road cycling and mountain biking is the health factor. Many agree that road cycling is healthier than mountain biking because you get to exercise your cardiovascular health.
You also become more health-conscious because you maintain a diet that’s mostly made up of vegetables, fruits, and protein, instead of the fatty carbs from pork bellies or beef steaks.
However, saying that roadies are healthier than mountain bikers just because of these isn’t accurate. You see, roadies are very particular about losing weight. This makes them very thin.
And instead of being fit, they look like people who don’t eat properly. They also breathe lots of dust and smoke because they ride their bikes in urban environments along with cars and trucks. They inhale a lot of pollution.
Meanwhile, mountain bikers are in the mountains where there is fresh and clean air. They can get rid of stress just by looking at the green scenic views that Mother Nature has to offer.
You usually can’t have the luxury of seeing these majestic nature views if you are on a road bike in urban cities. Road bikes are all about staying focused on reaching one destination instead of enjoying the journey.
Mountain bikers also have more muscles and have a more toned body because they need to have enough mass without having to be fat so they can maneuver rough mountain bike trails easily and safely.
Road biking is generally safer than mountain bike riding because you don’t fall off your bike as often. You just pedal your way down flat and smooth paved roads. That’s true, but not entirely. You see, crashing on asphalt with road bikes is way more dangerous than if you were to fall off soft soil.
Asphalt roads are very hard and you can get nasty scrapes. Not to mention that roadies have to deal with cars running at 50 to 100 miles per hour just inches from them.
You are more likely to fall off your bike in the trails. But the crashes aren’t as bad as on the road with road bikes. Ground trails are usually soft and you wear proper safety equipment like a full-face helmet, goggles, gloves, and kneepads.
So, yes, mountain biking is safer than road cycling.
If you want to lose weight then it’s best that you go road cycling so you can burn more fat and cover longer distances. But if you want to just have fun, inhale the fresh air, and stay fit and healthy, then mountain biking is for you.
A mountain bike is an all-terrain vehicle. They can be used in the mountains with very rough trails. But they also do well on paved roads. In terms of practicality, it’s best that you get a mountain bike instead of a road bike because you can ride anywhere you like.
Road biking is not better than mountain biking.
Many might find this offensive, but that’s what it is. Everyone has their own opinion. And if you were to ask us, or specifically me, I should say that mountain biking is way more superior to road biking.
It’s safer, healthier, more fun, and more practical. Not to mention the fact that you look cool because you don’t have to wear those awkward spandex outfits that make you look like a ballerina of some sort.
Furthermore, our opinions are based on facts and years of experience riding both a mountain bike and a road bike.
But it’s still up to you. Better try both road biking and mountain biking to see for yourself which one is really better.