Is It a Good Idea to Install Road Tires on a Mountain Bike?

This article will explain everything you need to know about putting road tires on mountain bikes so that they are fit for normal road use.
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Last updatedLast updated: April 23, 2022
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Mountain bikes are specifically made for navigating off-road terrains and trails that involve lots of dirt, uneven surfaces, and narrow uphill trails. This is why it often seems out of place for a biker to use a mountain bike on normal road terrains. But what happens when you want to use your MTB to go to work, run errands or simply cruise through the streets? Can you put road tires on mountain bike? 

The simple answer is yes. According to Forbes Trusted Source 1 Million Bike Commuters Are Attracting Retailers' Attention Nearly 1 million people are commuting to work on bikes in America and these smart startups are happy to ride along with the trend. www.forbes.com , almost 1 million Americans are commuting to work daily. If you’re thinking of joining them, we’ve compiled a simple guide into how you can transform your mountain bike for normal road use. Keep reading to find out how!

How to convert a mountain bike into a road bike

As a biking enthusiast, riding mountain bikes on normal roads is probably not at the top of your list. However, MTBs are not only more affordable but also provide you with a safer alternative for cruising through the streets. You just have to put road tires on the bike, and you’re good to go.  

Mountain bikes and road bikes have very different designs, so before you put on the road tires, you need to make some adjustments. This means reducing the elements that make the mountain bike the best option for riding in off-road conditions, including suspension, gearing, wheels, and handlebars. 

Suspension

Riding in offroad conditions can be brutal for your body which is why mountain bikes have suspensions. They absorb most of the impact from the uneven road surfaces, which would otherwise be soaked up by your body and sometimes even throw you off your bike. This then reduces the fatigue you experience while on the trail, allowing you to ride faster and for longer without experiencing a lot of discomfort. 

While the suspension is important and amazing when it comes to offroad conditions, it’s unnecessary when you’re riding on normal roads. The easiest solution to this is using a lockout if you have one. If you don’t, you should stiffen your suspension by increasing its air pressure. This will not only allow for a more comfortable ride but also reduces the amount of bobbling you experience when you stand to sprint and climb uphill. 

If you’re thinking of making a more seasonal or permanent change on your mountain bike, you should use a rigid fork. It will make the bike stiffer and lighter, allowing for a comfortable road riding experience. 

Wheels

Is It a Good Idea to Install Road Tires on a Mountain Bike?
The main aim of mountain bike tires and wheels is to provide as much traction as possible while riding on rough trails. They are meant to grip the terrain commonly found in off-road biking conditions to prevent your bike from bouncing off objects. These tires, however, make it difficult to ride on normal roads, which is why you should replace them with slick tires. 

They reduce the amount of energy needed to pedal your bike and allow you to take corners with ease. Making the change to slick tires is often pricey, but it’s worth every dollar you spend on it. You could also set the PSI on your mountain bike to around 40-50, as this will help your wheels roll faster. 

Most professional bikers install slick tires on their offroad wheels or mount them on their spare wheels. This makes the change easy and reduces the amount of time you’ll take changing the tires. Having a second set of wheels for normal riding conditions is especially important if you plan on doing a lot of road training. Don’t forget to re-equip your emergency tool kit so that it’s appropriate for the new tires. 

Gearing

The gearing on a mountain bike is designed to allow for slow speeds and steep terrains. However, when you’re riding on normal roads, you need to spin faster and at high speeds, which is why you need to change the gearing.

The easiest way is by getting a different set of wheels. This way, you’ll be in a position to use different cassettes, which will in turn help with your mountain bike gearing. Road bike cassettes usually have more gears than mountain bikes that are in close range. This allows you to use small increments to adjust your rhythm. 

The good news is that most modern mountain bikes come with a single chainring which makes it easier for you to change it into a larger one. This then allows you to ride at high speeds while on the road with ease. If you’re unsure of the best gearing options for your mountain bike, you should consult a mechanic. 

You should, however, note that making gearing changes isn’t a necessity, but it does make road training a lot easier. 

Handlebars

When you’re riding your mountain bike on rough trails, the seat and handlebars are usually set higher, as this allows you to optimize your body movements and take corners with ease. 

For road riding, you need to slightly lower the handlebars and seats to a more relaxed position as this will allow you to see the road ahead. Make sure that these position changes are comfortable for aerodynamics. Lowering the handlebars also impacts your saddle and hands pressure, and you lunge forward. 

How to choose the right road tires for an MTB

The type of road tires you choose for your mountain bike highly determines your level of comfort, ease of riding, and speed. Some of the factors that should impact your purchasing decision include;

1. Tire Width

Narrow tires are highly aerodynamic, while wider tires have better control and traction. They’re also more comfortable and allow you to ride on low pressure without getting a pinch flat. For standard road use, you should go for tires with a width of 23mm, 25mm, 28mm, or 32mm.

2. Type of Tire

Is It a Good Idea to Install Road Tires on a Mountain Bike?
There are 3 main types of tires: tubular, tubeless, or clincher. Tubular tires allow for comfortable rides and are lightweight, which is why they are mainly used for racing. They’re also very expensive. 

Tubeless tires, on the other hand, are a relatively new addition to road bikes and have a low risk of pinch flats since they use liquid sealant instead of tubes. . They’re also comfortable due to low tire pressure and are easy to maintain. 

Clincher tires are more ‘traditional’ and have a tube on the inside that’s easy to replace if you get a flat tire. According to multiple reviews, the AR-PRO Shock Proof and Explosion Proof Road Bike Inner Tubes are among the best in the market. They dont require bulky tools and are easy to install, shockproof and explosion-proof. 

3. Tire Tread

If you plan on riding on smooth surfaces such as concrete or asphalt, you should go for smooth tires because they offer a better grip. This is because they offer a large contact area between the tire and the ground.  While you could go for treaded tires, they’re thicker and heavier and are only suitable for rough roads, especially those with gravel. 

If you plan on riding on rough roads, experts recommend that you go for Continental Tour Ride 26″ x 1.75 Bike Tyres. They come as a pair, have a maximum PSI of 58, and have puncture protection. You can also use them on various surfaces. 

Final thoughts

Converting your mountain bike for regular road use doesn’t have to be difficult. You just have to put a road tire on a mountain bike. The above changes are easy and can make the transition swift. You simply adjust the suspension, wheel gearing, and handlebars. Most of these changes can easily be done at the comfort of your home, but if you’re unsure of how to go about it, consult professional advice. CNN Trusted Source Bike injuries are increasing among adults - CNN Riding a bike as an adult, it’s just like … well, riding a bike, right? But for all its fitness benefits and trendiness among commuters, older cyclists are part of a big increase in injuries while biking. edition.cnn.com also reports that bike injuries are on the rise, so exercise caution while you’re on the road.

References

1.
1 Million Bike Commuters Are Attracting Retailers' Attention
Nearly 1 million people are commuting to work on bikes in America and these smart startups are happy to ride along with the trend.
2.
Bike injuries are increasing among adults - CNN
Riding a bike as an adult, it’s just like … well, riding a bike, right? But for all its fitness benefits and trendiness among commuters, older cyclists are part of a big increase in injuries while biking.
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