Riding a Mountain Bike on Pavement: The Basics

Mountain bikes are meant for the mountains.

That’s why they’re called mountain bikes in the first place!

But even if this is their original purpose. There are still many who use these on paved roads. We can’t blame them, though. They just want to make the most out of their bikes and use them in different places!

But is riding a mountain bike on pavement a good idea? Or does it damage your bike and ruin the fun in mountain biking?

Those are the things we’ll talk about in this article. We’ll also talk about the pros and cons of riding mountain bikes on roads. As well as provide some tips so you can enjoy your bike more.

Can you ride a mountain bike on the road?

Of course, you can. Mountain bikes are all-terrain bicycles that can run in different places, whether it be pavement or off roads.

Yes, you can ride these on the roads. But it’s not as fun as using road bikes because these are meant for pavement.

They designed mountain bikes for downhill and uphill inclines because these are normal for mountains. They also have an upright geometry which makes it awkward to use it on roads.

However, there is a growing number of cyclists who prefer mountain bikes on roads. They don’t have to worry if some potholes or bumps can throw them off their road bikes that have thin tires. They can also go anywhere they want because their bikes can traverse through any terrain.

Advantages of Riding a Mountain Bike on the Road

Comfort

One of the best things about mountain bikes on paved roads is their superior comfort. They are designed to go over rocks, roots, and uneven surfaces. You don’t absorb all the vibrations from the ground because your bike does it all for you.

There are 2 main types of mountain bikes:

  • Hardtail
  • Full-suspension

Hardtail mountain bikes don’t have any suspension at the back. These are common in less aggressive cross-country bikes. They’re also lighter and go faster on paved roads.

Get a hardtail bike if you plan to ride your mountain bike on paved roads. You also don’t get a lot of bobs which helps you maintain momentum.

Meanwhile, full-suspension bikes are your best bet if you prioritize comfort over anything else. Just remember that these are heavier and less maneuverable.

They’re also called full-sus bikes because they have two suspension systems. The first is at the front and is called a fork. While the other is at the back and is called a rear shock.

Capability

Mountain bikes are capable wherever you ride them. They can traverse trails you think aren’t impassable. They can even go through small streams if you have the skills. What more if you ride them on paved roads which have very smooth surfaces?

Sometimes paved roads have potholes or slight bumps, right? This problem has caused injuries to many road cyclists. And their bikes can’t handle these small barriers which are why they fall off.

You don’t have to worry about any of these when you’re on a mountain bike. Mountain bikes can take a lot of beating on the gnarliest of trails.

This means that you can do anything you like to it on the roads. You can even jump off entire stairways on your mountain bike and land safely. Just make sure you have downhill skills and experience.

Safety

Mountain bikes absorb vibrations from the ground. This means your ride will be less shaky and you’re less likely to lose balance. These are a splendid choice if you prefer safety because they are very stable on smooth surfaces.

Just make sure that the tire pressure is hard. We recommend you put around 35 to 45 PSI on both tires if you’ll ride on pavement.

This provides traction and ensures you won’t slide off because of the soft tires. There’s also a lower chance of punctures because of the firm sidewalls.

Cons of Riding Mountain Bikes on Pavement

Speed

Speed is the biggest disadvantage if you ride a mountain bike on pavement. Mountain bikes have bulky frames.

They are designed to handle lots of stress from off-road trails which is why they are very solid. This is the reason they need to be heavier and wider than road bikes.

You can’t go faster than road bikes if you’re on a mountain bike and pavement. Expect to reach a maximum of 30 to 45 KPH when riding a mountain bike on roads. This is much lower compared to the 50 to even 70 KPH speed limit of road bikes!

Weight

Mountain bikes are heavier than road bikes. This means they are sluggish on the roads. The average weight of a cross-country bike (XC) is 8 to 10 kgs.

Meanwhile, enduro and trail bikes are 11 to 15 kgs. Downhill bikes are the heaviest because they weigh around 16 kgs to 20 kgs or even more! Compare that to the very light 3 to 6 kgs. The average weight of road bikes.

Maneuverability

Mountain bikes aren’t very maneuverable on paved roads because of their wide handlebars. They’re perfect for trail riding. But they’re just overkill on highways. Practice extra caution if you ride a mountain bike on paved roads.

One of the most common issues is when the tip of your handlebar hits street posts or moving vehicles. Mountain bike handlebars are usually 700 to 800 mm wide.

This is much wider compared to the 300 mm to 500 mm width of road bikes. Narrower handlebars are more responsive than wider ones because you can easily turn them around.

Fun factor

And last but not least is the fun factor! The trails are the natural habitat for mountain bikes. You just can’t expect to have fun riding your mountain bike on paved roads!

The roads are boring because all you get are dust and smoke. Not to mention moving vehicles that hurl past you in 3 to 5-inch gaps. Just stick to the trails if you have a mountain bike. Not only is it safer. But it’s also more fun! Use a road bike if you want to ride on paved roads.

How to Make the Most Out of Your Mountain Bike

Cycling competition,rides a bike on asphalt road.

Ride in the trails

Ride your mountain bike in the trails to try out its full potential. They are designed to take a lot of beating from the gnarliest trails. Hit some jumps and drops and shred through the nearest local trail.

Your bike will surely be happy and say thank you if they can talk! Riding it in the trails also helps you connect with nature. It can relax your mind and improve your breathing because you only breathe clean air.

Learn new skills

Mountain biking isn’t just about cycling and pedaling. It’s also about balance and coordination. You need to be in sync with your bike.

Learn how to jump your bike or hit drops on your local trail. You should also know how to ride through technical sections no matter how gnarly they get.

Conquer your fear

Mountain biking isn’t for the faint-hearted. Be brave enough to ride through steep trail sections. You might crash or hit some trees. Or maybe get a scratch on your elbows and knees. It might hurt, but that’s part of mountain biking! Experience the true essence of mountain biking with no fear.

Get a nice bike!

You can’t enjoy the trails if your bike is damaged or feels clunky. Get a nice bike and don’t be afraid to shell out some good cash. Mountain biking is downright expensive.

But the price is worth it. Nothing beats the feeling of going down enduro trails in full hype. Or climbing hills on a breathtaking view. Nukeproof, Santa Cruz, Specialized, and Norco are some of the top mountain bike brands you can choose from.

Conclusion

Riding a mountain bike on pavement is very common these days, especially that it’s the most practical thing to do. Mountain bikes are versatile bicycles because you can ride them everywhere.

They might be slow and heavy on the roads. But that’s alright if comfort and safety are your key priorities.

However, we recommend that you just use them on the trails. Not only is this more fun. But it’s also more convenient in the long run. Get another road bike if you think you’ll be on the roads more often.

There’s nothing wrong with riding a mountain bike on pavement. It’s just that this isn’t what they’re designed for.

Related:

11 Best Mountain Bike Tires for Road and Trail

Best Mountain Bike Tires for Road Use

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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.