Can I Put Road Tires On a Mountain Bike?

In the fierce biking crowd, there are two main types of cyclists – those who are mountain bikers and those who are road bikers. What happens when you fall in between the two and enjoy the sturdiness of a mountain bike but prefer biking on the road?

Can I put road tires on a mountain bike? There are mountain bike road tires that are designed to be used on mountain bikes. These tires help transform your mountain bike into a road-friendly ride. If you are looking to turn your mountain bike into more of a road bike, these are the tires you’ll want to use.

Read on to learn more about the differences between road bikes and mountain bikes and what you’ll need to do in order to make your mountain bike more road-friendly.

Can I Put Road Tires On a Mountain Bike?

Mountain bike road tires come in a few different types. It’s important to keep in mind what kind of road biking you plan to do before you purchase mountain bike road tires for your mountain bike.

Before you start shopping, know exactly the questions you have and what kind of riding you anticipate doing. This will help you make an informed decision in your buying process.

What to look for in mountain bike road tires:

  • Fit
  • Tread
  • Professional assistance

The most important thing to do when looking for road tires to put on a mountain bike is to get the right fit or size tires. The easiest way to do this is by going into your local bike shop with your bike and talking to someone there about what you want to do.

They may try to sell you a bike but as long as you are able to explain why you want the mountain bike retrofitted for road cycling, they should be good at helping you out.

They can answer all your questions about the type of tires that will work best for your specific situation.

Plus, they may also be able to help you make additional adjustments that are explained in the section on how to adjust your mountain bike for the road.

Another important thing to look at will be the tread of the tire. You can get mountain bike road tires that are very smooth with no tread.

Or you can get tires that have more treads but are designed to move smoother over a flat, open road. If you anticipate some gravel or uneven paths, it may be better to go with tires with a little more tread just to help you keep your stability over these areas.

Again, talking to a professional at a bike shop can help you make sure you are getting the right tires for your bike.

Can I Ride My Mountain Bike On The Road?

While many people do ride their mountain bike on the road, it is not an ideal situation. Traditional mountain bike tires are not designed for road use, they are designed for rough mountain terrain.

A traditional mountain bike without any alterations can be used on the road, but beware of why it may be more difficult than a road bike.

Differences between mountain and road bikes include:

  • Weight
  • Frames
  • Seat position
  • Wheel size
  • Suspension
  • Traditional tires

The weight tends to be a big difference between mountain bikes and road bikes. Mountain bikes tend to have beefier frames and are typically made out of heavier materials such as aluminum.

The aluminum holds up better in rough terrain and in crashes. The frames also tend to be slimmer, meaning less of the metal needs to be used.

Plus, road bikes also tend to be made out of lighter material such as carbon. You’ll have to work twice as hard in a mountain bike when you ride it on the road.

The frame of a mountain bike is designed to assist you in climbing and keep you stable no matter the rough or loose terrain. The frame of a road bike is built with aerodynamics in mind and is great for speed.

Cyclists sit differently on a road bike and a mountain bike. The mountain bike is set more upright whereas the road bike has a more “over the handlebars” posture.

This seating position is set up to help the rider get the specific type of power they need in order to ride their specific bike.

A mountain bike is set up to help you power through rough terrain while making the ride as comfortable as possible for you.

A road bike is best used for smooth paths and paved roads. The seat position helps the biker propel forward with as little effort as possible while gaining speed.

While a mountain bike and road bike can have the same size wheels, road bikes typically have larger wheels. A larger sized wheel means you have to pedal fewer times to go a longer distance.

For mountain bikes, it’s typically not about speed but about powering over rough terrain. A smaller, wider wheel allows someone to navigate over rocks and uneven paths with better control.

Mountain bikes are built with suspension to help keep your ride as smooth as possible over the bumps and hills. This helps take the jarring off you and puts it on the frame of your bike. Many road bikes do not have suspension, although some of the newer, higher-end models are starting the include suspension.

The jury is still out on whether suspension on road bikes is actually helpful or just an expensive gimmick. For the most part, road bikes are traveling on paths that are very smooth and there is not a need for suspension. Racing road bikes tend to have just the bare minimum needed on it so it is light and fast.

The traditional tires on a road bike and mountain bike are another way in which the two differ greatly. Mountain bike tires are wide and use treads for traction. This helps them move forward in sandy or loose terrain.

Mountain bike tires allow for the rider to successfully navigate in less-than-ideal riding situations such as sand or gravel. A road biker has skinny, smooth tires. These tires allow the biker to move fast along the smooth surface, limiting the amount of friction between the ground and the wheels.

How To Adjust Your Mountain Bike For The Road

There are many reasons why people convert their mountain bike for the road. A mountain bike is less expensive and has a sturdier frame than many road bikes.

With just a few easy adjustments, you can make your mountain bike ride more like a road bike.

Here are some of the adjustments you can make to your mountain bike:

  • Suspension
  • Tires and wheels
  • Gearing
  • Position changes
Mountain Bike Shoes

Since the mountain bike is built for rough terrain, the suspension is key to a comfortable ride. But when you’re riding on the road, suspension is really unnecessary. There are a few ways you can adjust the suspension on your mountain bike to make it more closely resemble a road bike.

The first, and easiest is by using the suspension lockout. This is a device on your suspension that locks up your suspension when you are riding on smooth surfaces or going up hills. This helps improve the efficiency of your pedaling.

If a lockout is not something your bike has, then you can look at adding air pressure to the suspension to stiffen it up.

Mountain bike tires can be pumped up to 40-50 PSI so the tires roll easier on the hard, even surface. Make sure to check what PSI your tires can be pumped to before inflating.

Many bikers will purchase a second set of wheels set up for road biking. These wheels will have 1.5-inch slick tires that more closely resemble road bike tires. These tires are still wider than traditional road bike tires but they have less of the treads that slow bikers down.

No matter which way you decide to go, you’ll need to make sure that you have extra tire tubes with you in case you need to replace one on the go.

The gearing systems are set up differently on mountain bikes and road bikes. Road bikes have smaller adjustments between gears while mountain bikes are geared for steep climbs or slower speeds because of the terrain.

If you pick up a second set up wheels for your converted bike, you can easily put on gears that are closer to a road bike. This will allow you to ride faster and smoother like a road bike.

Road bikes tend to have handlebars that sit lower down than a mountain bike. If you plan on doing a lot of road riding, this may be a change you want to make.

If you plan on switching back and forth, this may not be worth the hassle every time you change between off-roading and roading. Make sure this change is comfortable as it may take a bit of time to get used to it.

No matter what bike you ride, it’s important to find one that you feel comfortable riding and one that fits the type of activities you like doing.

Mike Rausa

I'm a 42 year old married father of 3 that fell in love with mountain biking late in life. Mountain biking quickly became my go to fitness activity. I created this blog to help beginners to advanced riders with tips and strategies to improve your riding experience. More About Me...

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