Ask the Gear Guy

Mountain bike or road bike?


bike-200x148Q. I love mountain bikes but I never go on trails. I think road bikes are too delicate for my street and I never like going too fast. What should I do?
– Matt On-The-Fence, Pittsford, N.Y.

A. Hey there, Matt. You bring up an interesting question here. First off, good job for identifying the style of bike you like and identifying where you’ll be riding most often. That’s the first and most important step for picking the right bicycle.

You like mountain bikes, and there’s absolutely no problem with riding a mountain bike on the road. I do it all the time. And if you plan on riding on the street exclusively you might consider trading out the big knobby tires that come on most mountain bikes for a pair of smoother, low-profile road slicks or commuter tires. They range from about $15 to $30 per tire at your local bike shop and you can easily put them on yourself. You’ll get a smoother ride with better grip for the hard surfaces of your street. If you ever decide to go off-road, simply switch back to the knobby tires.

If you’re certain you’ll be sticking to the hard stuff forever than you might consider simply going with an urban commuter bicycle with a mountain bike-style frame like the Novara Buzz V Bike ($449; rei.com).

But if you want my bottom line advice, get a mountain bike with a pair of slicks, because as your skills improve on the street I bet you’ll wanna start ripping it up on the trails too.

Comments about “Mountain bike or road bike?”

  1. moron racer says:

    cyclo cross is the way to go

  2. Os says:

    Mountain bike is more affordable …

  3. dice says:

    cyclo-cross all the way

  4. hmm says:

    how about a cyclo-cross bike?

  5. Killer mk wrath says:

    I would get a hybrid bike with narrow but knobby tire that way you can go anywhere

  6. Nuetralist says:

    Get a road bike, or a hybrid. if you like going off road non majorly get the hybrid. if you are riding for exercise/enjoyment get a road bike.

  7. Anonymous says:

    mountain bike is more affordable than road bike, but that dosen’t mean road bike is less ,, it’s need a flat street like ( highway )

  8. lizardman says:

    we did a high adventure bike trip in oklahoma. One of our guys was on a schwinn 7 speed cruiser that he bought at Target. He had no problem keeping up. There’s also the cool factor. Schwinn, Electra and Sun all make models worth checking out.

    • no says:

      Don’t waste your time with cheap bikes, go to a reputable bike store and tell them what you want. A cheap schwinn will last less than a year while a properly maintained quality bike can last decades.

  9. mikey says:

    i currently am struggling to decide what kind of bike to buy. i cycle to work which is 33 miles round trip and although it is all road, its bloody hilly. hybrid? road? or mountain?

  10. Bob says:

    Ya, i like mountain bikes two

  11. YoMAMa says:

    I live in AZ and trails are everywhere as whell as road so i stick to mountain bikes because cactus and rock and dirt is EVERYWHERE!

  12. free style 2000 says:

    Answering the first question: If you like to go off jumps in the street, or rip the trail, a freestyle mountain bike is for you. A freestyle is a full suspension bike that is lite and manuverable, and you can always switch out the knobby tires for more street worthy tires. My ride is a 2009 Giant Yukon FX full suspension mtn bike($850)

    • hardrockproaddict says:

      I would not recommend a full suspension bike in the case of the OP. They do have some great and fun benefits but they require more work and a lot of energy is lost. When I used to try using mine on the road I used to tighten the shock as much as possible to improve riding in on the road, but I was really just trying to get it to be like an ordinary bike with just front suspension.

  13. Mountain BMXer says:

    I ride a Specialized RockHopper, and i have some super knobby tires on it but i never go on ther trails!! i like to ride it off a little ramp. what should i do? stick with my mountain bike or get a BMX bike?

  14. Biker Pro says:

    If you live in an area that is flat (ex. The Midwest), buy a road bike because there really is no areas that are good for mountain biking and you will be able to travel faster and farther. On the other hand, if you live in a mountain region (ex. The Rockies or Appalachian), buy a mountain bike because it is a mountainous area.

  15. wossup says:

    i like road bikes but everyones got a different opinion

  16. #1 says:

    Im like Matt too!

  17. ape says:

    do both ..thats what i do

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