Mountain bikes and road bikes are two very different pieces of equipment.
A road bike is designed to skim over smooth asphalt streets and maneuver around the hustle and bustle of city life. Meanwhile, a mountain bike is constructed to withstand the wear and tear of mother nature and climb steep, unforgiving hills.
But what if you have a mountain bike you want to turn into a road bike? Is it worth it? Can it even be done?
Before you pop over to your local bike shop to buy an entirely different bike, here’s everything you need to know about turning your trusty mountain bike into a speedy road bike.
- Can a Mountain Bike Be Converted to a Road Bike?
- Perks of Turning a Mountain Bike Into a Road Bike
- How Do You Turn a Mountain Bike Into a Road Bike?
- Things to Keep in Mind
- In Conclusion
Can a Mountain Bike Be Converted to a Road Bike?
A mountain bike can absolutely be converted into a road bike.
They have a few similar elements, and you could even get away with using an unchanged mountain bike on streets for a short period of time.
There are a few things to keep in mind though before making the switch from mountain to road. Understanding the difference between the two types of bikes.
Mountain bikes are built to be ridden over unstable and unpredictable land. To keep the rider comfortable and stable, they are fitted with a significant amount of suspension. Hardtail mountain bikes only have front suspension, but others are fitted with suspension in the front and back.
This support is unnecessary when riding on road bikes, so it’s preferable that you start with a hardtail bike when converting one into a road bike.
The wheels are also significantly different on the two bikes.
Mountain bikes are thick, wide, and knobby. They aren’t meant to go fast, but rather are designed to bring you up tall inclines and send you back down them in a secure and steady manner.
Road bike tires, on the other hand, are thin and smooth.
They glide over the man-made streets and don’t need to worry about gripping because the surface is relatively flat. Steering with road bike tires is precise and easy.
Is it Okay to Convert MTB to Road Bike?
If done correctly, you can convert a mountain bike into a road bike without compromising the structural integrity of the original model.
However, you will never be able to truly turn a mountain bike into a road bike. The frame will always be a little heavier than it should be, and you’ll be left with far too many gears you don’t need.
Aesthetically, a road bike is a lot slimmer and modern looking. There are some attractive mountain bikes out there, but they will never look as thin and delicate as many road bikes on the market.
Some purists will argue you shouldn’t even try to convert the bikes, but the bottom line is you can get away with it and still have a reliable ride to speed around the city.
Perks of Turning a Mountain Bike Into a Road Bike
Here are a few reasons some people choose to turn their mountain bike into a road bike instead of purchasing a new frame and wheels.
This is the biggest draw of converting the bike.
Bicycle frames can be expensive — especially if you want a quality one that will last a long time. It’s a lot cheaper to replace elements of a bike, even if it takes more time, effort, and research to find the best parts for your bikes.
Biking isn’t always a budget-friendly activity. Finding ways to enjoy it that don’t break the bank is important, so we always recommend replacing parts rather than buying an entire new bike.
Depending on where you live (house, flat, etc.) storing an extra bike may not be possible. Storage is precious, especially in metropolitan areas, where lots of people take advantage of folding bikes they can hang up or stick in a small cupboard at the end of the day.
Storing an extra set of tires or wheels is a lot more manageable than finding space for an additional bicycle. Some brands even made tires lined with wire or steel so that you can fold them up without damaging them.
Mountain biking gets the rider into nature and lets them connect with the outside world.
Therefore, we think it’s important to respect the environment in other facets of life. Buying less and using what you already own is an easy way to minimize waste and respect nature.
An entirely new bike requires a lot of fuel, materials, and labor to produce. Whereas small bike parts don’t need as many resources.
Everything we buy will eventually end up in a landfill one way or another, so it’s best to be conscious about our purchases.
Teaches You About the Bike
A phenomenal way to learn about your bike is to convert it or upgrade it!
You’ll get to learn about the tires, what kind of traction you need, the best handlebars for you, and how to make the most out of what you already own!
Lots of people ride bikes, but not everyone understands them. After all, they are quite complicated machines.
By learning more about your bike, you’ll be able to appreciate it more. So get underneath the metaphorical hood and start learning how to turn your classic mountain bike into the road bike you need.
How Do You Turn a Mountain Bike Into a Road Bike?
1/ Adjusting the Tire Pressure
Mountain bike tires thrive at a lower pressure.
They’re meant to ride over pebbles and bumps without throwing the rider into the air constantly. Filling the tires up with more air is the easiest way to convert a mountain bike into a road bike.
Pumping up the tires to 40-50 psi is cheap, efficient, and easy.
You should always check what the max psi is before filling up your mountain bike tires. You don’t want to pop them!
2/ Changing the Tires/Wheels
There are a lot of affordable tires on the market that make switching your mountain bike tires out simple and budget-friendly. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that changing tires, especially if they’re tubeless, can be a messy process if you aren’t familiar with it.
Most riders don’t love dealing with sealants, so if you want to avoid resealing your tires a lot, you could opt for buying entirely new wheels. Then, you just have to unscrew the mountain bike wheels and pop the road ones on whenever you want to hit the streets.
You will need to have enough space to store them, though, so keep that in mind.
3/ Gear Changes
Mountain bikes have a lot of gears.
This makes it easy to tailor your pedaling to each hill or descent you come across. You don’t need as many gears on a road bike, so getting a different chainring is ideal if possible. A larger chainring will make going faster (and maintaining that speed) a lot easier.
You can talk to your local mechanic about this. Not all bikes are eligible for gear changes, but it doesn’t hurt to check!
Road bikes typically have lower handlebars, so you can lean forward more. This makes steering and general day-to-day city riding more manageable in the speedy winds.
If you can, lower your handlebars slightly. This should be as simple as lowering your bike seat, so you shouldn’t need to bring it to a shop.
If you’re really committed to converting your mountain bike into a road bike, you could throw on a different set of handlebars. A drop handlebar is ideal for road bikes.
Things to Keep in Mind
Converting a mountain bike into a road bike is entirely possible, but it does take some time and knowledge.
If you think you’re going to be switching from a mountain bike to a road bike often, it may be more convenient to have two separate bikes — or at least separate pairs of wheels.
Sometimes the best rides are the ones you weren’t even planning on doing.
We don’t want you to avoid riding because the thought of changing out the tires, adjusting the handlebars, and looking into changing the gears is too much to handle.
There are a lot of perks to changing up your bike to work on the streets better.
It’s a fun opportunity to learn more about your bike and what it needs to thrive. The tires will make the biggest difference, so if you’re going to change anything, change those.
You can technically ride mountain bike tires on streets but be prepared for them to wear out a lot quicker than they normally would. Some people don’t mind this, but it’s up to you.
Finally, if you can, see about getting your gears changed. It will make a world of difference.
Have you had any experience turning a mountain bike into a road bike? What would you do differently next time?
We’d love to know all about it in the comments below!