Can You Ride A Mountain Bike On The Road? (Answered)

Yes, you can ride a mountain bike on the road. Many people like to have a mountain bike instead of a road bike or hybrid because they like the option of being able to ride off-road should they choose.

We look into the pros and cons of riding a mountain bike on the road. Plus, walk you through everything you need to know to help you decide whether you should get a road bike or a mountain bike.

What are Mountain Bikes Good for?

Mountain bikes are good for riding off-road – however, many people ride them on road. This is essentially what they are designed for, after all. There are different types of mountain bikes for different kinds of riding, but they all pretty much fall under the banner of being built for off-road cycling.

Is It Bad To Ride A Mountain Bike On The Road?

It isn’t inherently bad to ride a mountain bike on the road. However, there are factors that can make some mountain bikes more challenging for road cycling. 


The tires on a mountain bike are designed specifically for riding on a certain type of terrain. They are wider and knobbly for better grip on the type of trails that they are If they are used on a different surface – such as road – they will wear out at a much faster rate, meaning that they have to be replaced sooner. These can be switched with smoother tires which will also allow you to go faster with less effort. 

See our mountain bike tire pressure calculator here.

Seat and handlebar height

For riding a mountain bike on trails, the seat and handlebar height are set to be more aggressive – allowing for better handling. When riding on the road a more relaxed setup is preferable. The more aggressive setup will not really be suitable just for general road cycling.

See our saddle height calculator here.


The suspension on mountain bikes is set up to absorb the impact of the mountain bike trails. By stiffening the suspension for riding on roads the riding will become a bit easier. Some bikes have the ability to lock the suspension completely for riding on flat terrains, such as roads, and this will also make things a lot easier. 

Why are Mountain Bikes so Slow on The Road?

Mountain bikes are designed for riding on trails, rather than on the road, and that makes them slower than road bike which is obviously designed to go fast on roads. There are a number of specific reasons that can be used to explain why a mountain bike is slower on a road.

Weight: Mountain bikes weigh a lot more than road bikes and this makes them slower to pedal.

Tires: The wider, knobbly tires found on mountain bikes provide great grip when cycling on mountain bike trails. However, this also makes them slower when cycling on a road. The tires also have lower pressure.

Gear ratio: The gear ratio on mountain bikes is set up for riding mountain trails. It is therefore not optimized for riding on roads.

Body position: Mountain bike riders’ position on the bike is less aerodynamic than road bikers. Mountain bikes at much more upright

Suspension: The suspension on mountain bikes slows down riding and makes the bikes less efficient to pedal on.

Are Mountain Bikes Good for Everyday Use?

Mountain bikes can be good for everyday use but it largely depends on the bike and on what kind of use it will be getting. There is a huge variety in the different types of bikes and it’s good to look at each individual type of bike to decide whether or not they are good for riding on roads.

What are Hardtail Mountain Bikes Good for?

Hardtail bikes are bikes that do not have rear suspension. They are a rougher ride than full suspension bikes meaning that they can struggle on some trails, although some cyclists prefer the feel of hardtail bikes. They are good for jumps, cross country, and road riding. They are usually lighter and more efficient for pedaling which means that they are better on roads than some other kinds of mountain bikes. 

Also see: What Is A Hardtail Mountain Bike? (Why You Should Ride One)

What Are Full Suspension Mountain Bikes Good For?

Full suspension bikes are good for riding mountain bike trails. The combination of both front and rear suspension means that they give a smoother ride on rough off-road terrain and can handle rocks and roots a lot better. The suspension is wasted on-road riding and can be a hindrance due to the added weight and the fact that the suspension makes pedaling less efficient. Some bikes have lockout options on their suspension which makes them better for road riding, although there’s not much that can be done about the weight.

What Is The Average Weight Of A Mountain Bike?

The average weight varies depending on the discipline, ranging from around 26 pounds (12kg) all the way up to 40+ pounds. (20kg+)

Hardtails: Without the extra weight of the rear suspension, hardtail bikes average about 26 to 28 pounds.

Cross country bikes: Cross country bikes are among the lightest on the market, due to advances in technology making them almost as light as road bikes. At the extreme end of this, there have been bikes built that weigh less than 15 pounds. However, this is far from the norm and the average cross country bike weighs about 26 to 28 pounds.

All-mountain bikes: All mountain bikes have to be versatile enough to ride anything on the mountain. This means that they have full suspension, which adds to their weight. They weigh, on average, about 30 pounds.

Downhill bikes: Downhill bikes have to be able to handle anything the mountain throws at them. This translates to extra weight due to the full suspension and the frames needing to be strong enough to handle the rougher riding. They average about 35 pounds but can go all the way up to 40 pounds

See our full article here: How Much Do Mountain Bikes Weigh? (Does It Matter?)

Why Should I Get a Road Bike For Riding On Road?

Some people prefer mountain bikes for road riding because they’re more stable due to the fatter tires, and for some, the more upright ride position can be more comfortable to ride. Also, many mountain bikes come with better brakes than road bikes which can also inspire confidence.

Which Mountain Bikes Are Good For Riding On The Road?

When deciding whether or not to buy a mountain bike for everyday use, it’s important to decide exactly what you will be using the bike for. For example, a big full-suspension downhill bike is not going to be good for riding around town or doing your daily commute. However, there are other mountain bikes that would be more suitable for both on and off-road.

The best type of mountain bike for the road will be a cross-country hard trail, fitted with slick tires for the road.

Some examples of cross-country hardtails are :

Mondraker Podium RR Carbon

mountain bike for the road

Cannondale F-Si World Cup Hi-MOD

mtb hardtrail for the road


Some people prefer mountain bikes over road bikes they can be more comfortable to ride and are more versatile. However, riding a mountain bike on the road will not be as fast as a road bike. So the question is do you prefer comfort or speed?

Peter Ballin

Pedro is the primary writer on the site. He’s raced downhill and enduro at a high level, spannered at mountain bike world cups, and also written a book called Mountain Bike Maintenance. He’s appeared in both print & online major media publications across the Uk, France, and Japan (and even appeared on French Television). He’s made his living from bikes in various forms, from mountain bike guiding in France and Spain, Trail building in New Zealand and Canada, and working as a bike mechanic in the French Alps for many years. Pedro loves a good adventure and is often settling random challenges like riding down Mount Fuji, swimming across Lake Geneva, and hitchhiking across America.