This is a question we get asked a lot, so we thought we would post this article to answer it. There are some major differences between road bikes and mountain bikes, but also some similarities. If you are looking to get into cycling, you may be wondering what the difference is between a road bike and a mountain bike. Both bike types have their pros and cons, and both are great for their intended uses. Here are some of the main differences you should know about before you buy.
Road bikes are designed to be light, stable, and fast. They are usually known for being used for commuting to work. As well as in road cycling races. They have handlebars and special rims for the tires that don’t impede steering. A road bike can also have fenders and front and rear lights, which the majority of commuters choose to add in order to be visible while on roads and walkways. Road bikes, like mountain bikes, both have a frame with separate wheels, but road bikes are generally better suited for racing than mountain bikes.
See our road bike recommendations here - Best Road Bikes.
Mountain bikes are designed for racing off road. They are usually built with a much stronger frame as well as more suspension features. Mountain bikes come in 3 main types. Rigid mountain bikes are those that rely on the tires for any and all shock absorption. They have no suspension components whatsoever and are therefore far easier and cheaper to maintain. Ride quality can be lower than other mountain bikes. Especially if you go into very rough terrain.
Hardtail mountain bikes are the most common of the 3 types. They have the same design as the rigid bikes at the rear. However they are equipped with a front suspension system. This means that the rider is somewhat protected from major shocks. The front of the bike is usually where impact occurs first. The suspension is able to absorb some of this impact. Rather than it travel through the frame to the rider via the frame, handlebars, pedals and saddle.
Lastly, the full suspension mountain bikes are those that not only have a suspension unit at the front of the bike. But they also have one mounted at the rear. Usually directly below the saddle. This adds further protection to the rider and means that shocks through the frame do not travel through the saddle to the riders body. Instead the rear suspension allows the saddle to almost float. Away from the frame and impact force.
See our mountain bike recommendations here - Best Mountain Bikes buyers guide.
Road bikes usually have a rigid frame, while the frame of a mountain bike is typically flexible and can sometimes have suspension systems installed. They are usually more expensive than mountain bikes, especially when you start climbing the price ranges to the premium models. Road bikes also generally come with lighter weight components, making them a better choice for novice cyclists and those who want to travel longer distances. Mountain bikes, on the other hand, usually are heavier and more components that help to improve their handling and ride quality. Especially considering they are designed to go off road.
Mountain bikes have wider treaded tires and have a higher maintenance requirement. This is because they often have to deal with tougher terrain and conditions. They have treaded tires and tread pads, which help them maintain grip on harder surfaces. Mountain bikes will usually have larger, heavier more durable frames. This is again due to the difficult terrains mountain bikes are used on. Road bikes are designed to be lightweight, fast and nimble. With the intention of gliding over slick surfaces and eating up the miles. Mountain bikes climb hills, jump over obstacles and crash through water and dirt.
This is not always the case, but it is often the case with mountain bikes. The most expensive road bikes start at around $2,500 – $3,000. The most expensive mountain bikes generally start at around $1,500, but can cost more than $4,000. It should be noted that there are some cases where you can find cheaper mountain bikes. You can find bikes with discounted materials and components, or bikes that are less expensive if you don’t mind a used bike. Road bikes are typically lighter than mountain bikes. They also have a larger and sturdier frame. Road bikes also typically have more comfort in the seating position. Meaning they are easier to ride for long periods of time, making them the choice of many pros.
Road bikes are usually faster than mountain bikes, because of their lightweight frames. They are designed to cover long journeys quickly and efficiently. That means that the entire bike design is built for speed. So if you're looking for a bike that will cover long distances then a road bike is far more appropriate. With that said, if the terrain is tough, regardless of distance, you may need a mountain bike.
Riding on the road is easier and faster than off road, but that’s not the only reason people ride road bikes. Although it can be hard to get into road biking if you have never done it before, it can actually be very addictive. Road biking is normally considered a fast-paced, pedal-intensive form of exercise, it actually has some significant advantages for endurance athletes. Cyclists typically travel a faster pace on the road, because it’s less technical and more forgiving. Many large cities now have bike trails, and you can use them to travel the city, sometimes far faster than a car, bus or taxi.
Road bikes are for traveling It’s common knowledge that road bikes are lighter than mountain bikes. Especially the more expensive models. Expensive road bikes are made with lighter materials. Whereas expensive mountain bikes usually are equipped with more features. This leads expensive mountain bikes to get heavier and expensive road bikes to get lighter. You will also find that riding a road bike is more comfortable and easy because they are designed for long distance travelling. You can also find that road bikes tend to be more efficient to ride. This is because of the smaller amount of weight you are hauling on the bike. Road bikes also have the advantages of being much faster than mountain bikes. They may not be as suitable for different types of journeys. But what they are designed for, they do really well.
Mountain bikes are fun. They offer you the best of both worlds. You can travel on roads while still maintaining the ability to ditch the tarmac and head onto the dirt paths. Despite the idealistic view that roads are smooth and continuous. The reality is that many roads are riddled with potholes, bumps and debris. With that in mind, mountain bikes can offer a distinct advantage over road bikes, even when on roads. Overall, they are the more dynamic choice.
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