Mountain bikes are built for off-road trails, right? Well, not always. Some mountain bikers like to take their rigs on the street, too. So is a mountain bike good for street riding? Let’s take a look.
Mountain biking and street biking have different purposes, so it’s natural to wonder if a mountain bike is good for street riding.
Street bikes are designed for speed and maneuverability in urban areas, while mountain bikes are built to handle off-road terrain.
However, there are some similarities between the two types of bikes, and with a few modifications, a mountain bike can be used for street riding. If you’re interested in doing this type of riding, here’s what you need to know.
First, let’s define what we mean by “street.” We’re talking about riding on roads and paved trails. Dirt and gravel paths don’t count.
Difference Between Street Bikes and Mountain Bikes
A mountain bike is not necessarily better than road bikes for street riding, but it may be more suitable specifically because of the geometry.
Traditional old-school road bikes are designed to steer quickly, so they have “narrow” handlebars (drop bars) and short wheelbases (distance between rear wheel contact patch and front wheel contact patch). These things make them handle quickly and well in close quarters. However, that same quickness makes control more difficult at high speeds, since the bike is so easy to turn.
Traditional mountain bikes have “wide” bars (flat or riser bars) and longer wheelbases for better stability at higher speeds. This means they are slow to steer and may not be appropriate for tight and winding streets. However, they may be better suited than road bikes for high speeds on rough roads and trails.
Mountain bikes with “dropped” cross-country handlebars (also called “riser bars”) strike a balance between these two extremes. The dropped bars are lower than flat or riser bars, and the wheelbase is between that of road and mountain bikes. So they may offer most of the benefits of both types while minimizing their shortcomings.
Whether you choose a road bike, mountain bike, or something in between (such as a “hybrid” or “commuter”), make sure it fits you. A bike that doesn’t fit you will be a poor performer no matter what the designers intended.
Best Mountain Bike For Road Riding
The first thing you need to know is that a mountain bike can’t just be taken off-road and used for street riding. You’ll need a specific type of bike, something that’s designed for both terrains.
The best choice is a cross-country mountain bike, which has speed and agility in common with street bikes.
Other types of mountain bikes include downhill and freeride, which are designed to ride down steep hill at fast speeds. These types aren’t suitable for riding on the street, so you should avoid them if you want a bike that’s good for both terrains.
Luckily, you don’t have to break the bank to buy a good mountain bike that you can use for street riding. There are plenty of affordable options out there, so take your time when shopping around and find a good deal.
How to Modify Your Mountain Bike for Street Riding
To make sure your mountain bike is street safe, you’ll need to take a few steps.
First, it’s important to replace the off-road tires with street-friendly ones. This will give you better traction and stability while increasing your speed on paved roads.
Mountain bikes often come with knobby and thick tires, which are designed for grip and durability off-road, but these types of tires aren’t fast and could make the bike difficult to handle on street surfaces.
Next, you’ll need to make sure your brakes are in good shape. Mountain bikes normally use rear mechanical or hydraulic disc brakes, which adjust for speed and impact when riding off-road. On the street, however, you want a bike with front and rear disc brakes, which lose less power for better stopping.
Some commons mods that can improve a mountain bike’s performance on the street include adding slick tyres, replacing suspension with a rigid frame, and installing a fixed gear system.
Also, riders might want to consider raising the handlebars to give them more control over the bike and make steering easier, and installing disc brakes for better stopping power. Ultimately, it’s up to the individual rider to decide which modifications work best for them and their riding style.
If you’re new to mountain biking, it’s important to remember to use caution when riding on paved roads. The wider tires can make it difficult to control the bike at high speeds, and the suspension system can cause the bike to bounce excessively as you ride. You may have to adjust your riding style or tire pressure to compensate for the added traction of the tires when riding on paved surfaces.
Bottom Line: Is a Mountain Bike Good for Street Riding?
If you’re interested in street biking, a mountain bike is a good place to start. Not only is it cost-effective and easy to find, but with the right modifications, it can be used on pavement as well as dirt roads and hillsides. If you’re worried about safety and performance, you should look for a mountain bike that’s designed for cross-country riding. With the right bike and the right parts, you’ll be able to enjoy street biking at any time, rain or shine.
This being said, there are inherent limitations in terms of speed and performance on a MTB relative to a street bike. There is a reason why most roads have a speed limit of 50 km/h or higher. The average MTB will not be able to keep up that kind of speed on the same terrain, which can make it somewhat dangerous for street riding, especially when you take into account the fact that cars do tend to travel at these speeds on said roads.