There are a few reasons you might want to install road tires on a mountain bike: it makes the bike versatile and gives you more opportunities to use it.
Alternatively, they might be the only kinds of tires you have lying around.
You can get away with putting road tires on a mountain bike if you plan on using your mountain bike for road cycling. However, you should always use mountain bike tires when riding through hilly trails.
If you plan on using road tires, there are a few things you will need to adjust before cycling to the store.
Road Tires vs Mountain Bikes Tires
Let’s break down the difference between the two types of tires.
The first thing you’ll notice is how much larger mountain bike tires are. They are significantly thicker and have a wider diameter.
You want thick tires for mountain biking, so you can ride over bits of loose ground and wobbly pebbles while staying comfortable and stable. Conversely, riding on the road is very smooth with little or no texture.
Another big difference between the two is the tire pressure.
Mountain bikes thrive at a lower air pressure, which helps them roll over difficult terrain. Cycling through mountain trails with high-pressure tires would be uncomfortable and very bumpy.
Finally, the texture of the tires is different.
Road bike tires are incredibly smooth, while mountain bike tires are very knobbly, so they can grip different surfaces and keep the rider moving along.
How Much Difference Do Road Tires Make on a Mountain Bike?
Switching out your mountain bike tires for road tires will make cycling on cement and flat surfaces significantly easier. You’ll be able to roll over flat surfaces quicker and have a better time going faster speeds.
Some mountain bikers like to bring a set of road tires with them during a trip, so they can use their bikes around the city or town they are visiting when they aren’t hitting the trails.
If you try to ride in a residential area with mountain bike tires, you’ll quickly realize it’s not working very well. While very stable, the wheels move slowly and have nothing to grip while rolling along with the asphalt.
Road tires take all that awkwardness away.
Road tires will make you move faster, but that mainly has to do with their high pressure. People have opted for—and succeeded with—increasing the tire pressure of their mountain bikes when riding on streets.
If you try to ride road bike tires on a mountain bike trail, you’ll miss a lot of the traction you need to feel secure in your ride.
How to Install Road Tires on a Mountain Bike?
There are a handful of things you’ll need to check before popping different tires on a mountain bike.
Firstly, you need to make sure the new tires are going to fit onto your wheels. Mountain bike tires are notoriously thick, so the new tires should be 1 ½ inch thick to accommodate the wheel.
The diameter of the wheel also has to be the same. Be sure to double-check all of this, so you don’t get stuck with a pair of tires that don’t fit.
Some riders opt for getting an entirely different pair of wheels for their road tires. You can do this, just be prepared to change them when the time comes to switch over.
It’s also important to consider the handlebar height.
While you will still be using a mountain bike, you can adjust it to fit road cycling requirements. Road bikes have lower handlebars, which makes them aerodynamic.
You should also be prepared to have a different experience changing gears.
Mountain bike gears are designed to accommodate slower speeds (like gently working up a tall mountain or rolling down a steep hill), while road bikes are meant to go faster.
Once you’re in the gear you want to be in and are going at the appropriate speed, you will need to continue to pedal vigorously to maintain that speed.
Changing the Tires
Here’s how to easily take mountain bike tires off and put new ones on—we’ll walk you through how to do this with tubeless tires, since those are very popular.
Taking off a tire:
- Flip the bike down so that its wheels are facing upward.
- Switch to the smallest gear
- If you have one, open and remove the quick release at the center of the wheel. Simply unscrew normally if you don’t have that option.
- Loosen the nuts with a wrench, if needed.
- Detach the brake cables, if needed.
- Remove the entire wheel from the frame and deflate it completely.
- Break the bead from the rim by pressing the tire towards the center of the rim.
- Remove the tire from the wheel
Putting a tubeless road tire on:
- Fit the road tire onto the wheel, making sure it’s secure.
- Inflate the tire to the appropriate pressure.
- Add the sealant to the tire through the valve core.
- Inflate the tire again.
- Shake or roll the wheel to evenly distribute the sealant.
Can You Put 700c Tires on a Mountain Bike?
Yes, you can! Mountain bikes with 2.6 and 27-inch bikes work great with 700c tires, and 29-inch mountain bikes already use them.
You will have a good riding experience on a mountain bike with 700c tires.
Normally, there isn’t much room for flexibility when it comes to tires and bikes.
You wouldn’t want to ride a BMX with mountain bike tires or go mountain biking with BMX tires. However, when it comes to fitting a mountain bike with road tires, it works out pretty well.
We highly recommend doing this if you don’t want to spend money on buying a road bike. It’s a great way to get two bikes for the price of one.
Just make sure you know how to change a tire or a wheel, so you don’t bother your mechanic each time you want to switch over!
What’s your experience been with using road tires on a mountain bike? We’d love to know in the comments below.