Sometimes the only bike that you own is a mountain bike and you don’t really see the need to purchase a whole new bike just to do a bit of riding on a regular road. But perhaps the question of if you should be doing this or not is bothering you and you want to find out how much this really matters.
While you can use a mountain bike on a regular road, there are a few differences between these and road bikes. Road bikes are designed to be much more efficient when traveling on roads and to therefore cost you less energy. If you don’t mind spending a bit more energy and perhaps a bit more time on the road, then feel free to use your mountain bike.
However, just as I mentioned that there are some differences between the two different kinds of bikes, there are also a few things that you can do to make your mountain bike do better on the roads. While even with these changes your mountain bike will still be a mountain bike, they will at least cut back on some of the disadvantages of biking on roads with a mountain bike. Keep in mind how different mountain biking and road biking are, and how this also affects the design of the bike itself in many ways.
A Few Things That You Can Change On Your Mountain Bike To Make It Better On The Road
While there are a number of different things that you can change on your mountain bike, some of these changes are only ones that you should make if you do not plan to use your bike for mountain biking anymore and you plan to solely stick to riding on roads with it. This is because sometimes these steps can be far too hard undue once you have made the change.
One of the first things that you can change on your mountain bike is the suspensions. Mountain bikes are nearly always equipped with at least one of these, if not two suspensions in the dual suspension bikes. While suspensions are absolutely necessary for traveling over the rough terrain of cross country trails, when you are on the road these same suspensions become worse than useless.
In fact, since you are not using them, the weight of your suspensions are only making your bike heavier and therefore making you have to pedal harder than you would otherwise have to do. For this reason, if it is possible, you should try to get rid of the suspensions on your mountain bike, or at the very least to get rid of your back suspension. But there is also another reason why your suspensions are bad for riding on the roads.
This is because when you stand up on your bike pedals in order to do some power pedaling your suspensions will absorb some of the power that you are expending. If you cannot remove your suspensions to get rid of them entirely, then the next best thing that you should do is to use the lockout feature on them if your suspensions are able to do that.
A lockout is something that usually comes in the form of a small switch on the top of the suspension and which can be used to make the suspension practically rigid so that it is not affecting your ride at all. If the suspension on your mountain bike does not have this feature, then you should increase the air pressure in it and change whatever settings that it has in order to make it as rigid as you can.
While you do not have to do this in the front tire as much if you know that there will be a number of potholes in your route that you will want cushioned a bit, you should at least make the suspension rigid in the back if you are going to be biking on the road a lot.
Another, much simpler change that you can make in order to make you mountain bike be better equipped for the road is to increase the amount of air in the tires. For mountain biking it is far better to have a low psi in order to have better grip among other things. However, when you are on the road it is actually the opposite and having a higher tire pressure to keep your tires stiffer is much better for your forward momentum in particular.
Your tire pressure is something that can be easily changed back and forth if you want to do both mountain and road biking by simply letting some air out and putting it back in as you need it. Another feature about your tires that you can easily change to make your mountain bike better for the road is the tire tread, which is also different on a mountain bike than it is on a road bike.
Mountain bike tires come with thick tread that has a great amount of traction. This only means that there is more friction between the tire when you are riding your bike on the road though, so it is much better to switch out the tire and replace it with a slick tire that will be smoother and faster on the road.
Even though the mountain bike tires have thicker tread, the hard asphalt of a road will wear this out more quickly than it will wear through the tires that are specifically made to be on the hard pavement. Though your tires are not quite as easy to change out as the air pressure, some mountain bikers who also do road biking on a regular basis have come up with a simple solution.
This solution is to simply have two sets of wheels. One set of wheels has a lower psi and tires that have a good, thick mountain biking tread, while the other set of wheels has a higher psi and slick tires for use on the roads. Instead of having to take the time to change the psi and change out the tires on a wheel, all they have to do is to change out the wheel which is fairly quick and easy to do.
Another change that you can make that is fairly simple is to buy a new set of handlebars. Since you do not need handlebars that are nearly so wide or so high on the road as you do when mountain biking, the new ones that you get should be narrow and short. This will give you much better aerodynamics for the road, but will also cut down on your weight to help you be faster.
If you do not wish to purchase a new set of handlebars, however, most mountain biking handlebars can be cut down to be narrower and can also be put at a lower setting. While this is better in terms of aerodynamics, most people who switch over from mountain biking find that the lower, narrower bars can be quite uncomfortable at first, and it is also actually something that puts more strain on your wrists and arms. That being said, whether or not you want to change the handlebars at all is entirely up to you.
Finally, another change that you can make to your mountain bike to make it better equipped to be ridden on the road is to add more to the gearing system or to switch this out entirely. The gears of mountain bikes are designed to have a lot of range to them, this way they can have a setting for those really steep hills as well as one for when you are going downhill.
However, for road biking you do not need this wide of a range, and instead it is far better to have gears that are closer together for more gradual changes in your speed. This is something that is usually not too difficult to change over and that you can enjoy having on your converted mountain bike.