Can You Ride A Mountain Bike On The Road?

There’s no denying that mountain bikes are great bikes. They look great, they’ll get you from A to B without issue, and they’re a heck of a lot of fun to ride. Owning one, then, makes sense. But a lot of people buy mountain bikes for all the reasons above, and then stop and think after the purchase: With a name like ‘mountain bike’, is this suitable for the road?

You can ride mountain bikes on the road, they won’t get damaged. They’re not designed for paved roads, so you won’t see the best of them. That’s because mountain bikes are specifically designed for off-roading, exploring nature on rough terrain. 

Mountain bikes can be used on the road though, so throughout today’s post, we’ll talk some more about that, before suggesting some ways you can actually make your mountain bike better suited for the road. Ready to find out more? Then let’s get started!

Riding Your Mountain Bike On The Road

As we’ve already talked about, you can absolutely ride your mountain bike on the road, and there won’t be any repercussions for doing so. But you will need to accept that you’re using a tool that wasn’t designed for the job. 

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Think of it like this: could you use a flat head screwdriver to drive in a screw with a phillips head? 

Sure, you could, but a philips head screwdriver was designed to do it, and so a phillips head screwdriver would do it better. That’s kind of the issue with your mountain bike on the road – it’s a flat head screwdriver driving in a phillips head screw – it can do it, but it isn’t going to be the best at it.

Pros And Cons Of Riding A Mountain Bike On Paved Roads

Still, if you’re going to do it, then you should be prepared. And despite what we’ve just said, there are even some pros when it comes to using mountain bikes on paved roads. 

So, to give you the full picture so you can make your own mind up, here are the key pros and cons to consider:

Pros Of Riding Mountain Bikes On Paved Roads

  • Mountain bikes are durable, strong bikes – potholes definitely won’t be an issue for these bikes
  • Front suspension – most mountain bikes usually have either front or full suspension, which usually means a far smoother ride
  • Access to alternative routes – by using a mountain bike on the road, you can also take shortcuts off-road where necessary, and your mountain bike will be able to handle it all
  • One bike for everything – can use your mountain bike on the roads in the week, and off-road for some thrilling exercise at the weekend, without needing to buy a second bike which will make it much cheaper in the long run

Cons Of Riding Mountain Bikes On Paved Roads

  • Not designed to do so – it’s not as efficient as bikes designed to ride on roads such as fitness or road bikes
  • Heavier bikes – these bikes have suspensions and bigger brakes that road bikes don’t have. This adds weight, making hill climbs and riding is general harder
  • Wide handlebar – can too wide for narrow passages
  • Thicker tires – Thicker tires add more weight, and they’re also less well suited for paved roads. They have greater rolling resistance, making them more difficult to ride on the road compared to other bikes better suited to it (i.e. road bikes)

As you can see, there are a number of pros and cons to riding your mountain bike on paved roads, but it all really boils down to one key question: Are mountain bikes best for the road? No, they are not. But they do shine in other ways.

What Are Mountain Bikes Best At?

If mountain bikes aren’t the best for the road, then what are they best for? 

Well, as the name suggests, they were designed to accompany us up mountains. So, off-roading is what these bikes are best for. 

The thicker tires make for a more comfortable ride on rough terrain, the heavier weight is necessary when completing jumps on off-road tracks, and the suspensions are perfect for dealing with whatever bumps you face along the way.

Basically, a mountain bike is set up to be the best at off-roading, so when you bring them on the road, they lose some of their shine because you don’t get to see them at their best. 

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However, it’s possible to make a few modifications to your mountain bike to make it better suited to being on the road. 

Making Mountain Bikes Better On The Road

To finish, here are two things you can do right now, to make your mountain bike better suited to paved roads so you can enjoy your rides a little more:

  1. Change to thinner tires
  2. Mount a rack for carrying your things, and a fender for rainy days

Of course, wheel size will determine how thin your tires can be, but you should still be able to find thinner tires than the ones that are currently on your mountain bike that still suit your wheel size. This is important, because thinner tires are better on paved roads, and it’ll also mean less effort from you when riding.

And second, the rack and fender are just practical additions that make sense if you use your mountain bike throughout the week. 

You won’t care about staying dry or dirt free at your weekend off-roading trail, but you might on a busy paved road on your way to work. So, make these quick changes, and your mountain bike will work better on the road.

Final thoughts

Overall, a mountain bike isn’t the best bike for the job when it comes to riding on paved roads. But they’ll still get the job done. Just make these two simple changes above, and you’ll notice a much more comfortable ride, too. After all, why buy two bikes for your two needs, when you can just make a few changes to the mountain bike you already have?

Sam Benkoczy

Hi, I'm Sam. I own and maintain 6 e-bikes, 15 regular bikes (road bikes, folding bikes, hybrid bikes, city bikes among others). I learned about bikes from my local bike mechanic as well as from bike maintenance courses. I love being out there in the saddle, and using my bike as a practical means of transportation. You can also find me on my YouTube channel at Say hi to me at

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