Road bike vs Mountain bike | Key Differences, Similarities and Pros Cons

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Biking is a phenomenal sport, as well as a very healthy hobby to some. Of course, there are different ways you can enjoy it. We’re here to discuss Road bike vs mountain bike, along with all the benefits, precautions, and potential disadvantages of each type.


Road Bike VS Mountain Bike

Although it might not be common knowledge, road bikes and mountain bikes are two almost completely different terms. Apart from being used in different settings, there are differences between them in terms of design, intended use, comfort, and speed. Let's start with the key differences on road bike vs mountain bike.


Road bikes are commonly made of particularly light materials, such as aluminium for example. The wheels are usually thinner than those that mountain bikes come outfitted with, and the handlebars are almost by default curved so that the rider gets in such a position where he (or she) resists the wind the most.

Mountain bikes, on another hand, are generally made of extremely robust materials, mainly due to the fact that they’re intended for rough terrain use. The wheels are particularly wide and big so as to allow the bike to traverse harsh terrains more easily.


In terms of design, Mountain bikes are undoubtedly more durable. Even though there are exceptions in both categories, Mountain bikes are also larger, although a good example of an exception in this category would be cross country road bikes used for travelling exhibitions such as Tour De France, for example.

Taking all of these factors in consideration objectively, mountain bikes are superior in terms of design.

Intended Use

The next bout relates to versatility. The intended use of a road bike is, obviously, on the road, whereas mountain bikes aren’t exactly built for mountains alone. Namely, mountain bikes are suited for all-terrain purposes, whereas road bikes are meant for the pavement exclusively.

It’s quite easy to see the logic behind the aforementioned statement. Road bikes, being inferiorly durable, wouldn’t be able to handle a great portion of the outdoor biking. On another hand, mountain bikes can be used on both concrete and ground in almost the same fashion. In conclusion, mountain bikes are also more versatile.


Although this is not a rule, there’s a difference in terms of comfort-ability between mountain bikes ad road bikes. The big portion of it relies on the sheer design of the bike type in question. Mountain bikes are slightly more comfortable to ride due to the fact that the frame and fork absorb all the hits instead of the rider’s body.

On top of that, mountain bikes have a superior suspension as well. Simply due to the fact that most road bikes are designed for higher speeds, they usually force the rider in uncomfortable positions. The discomfort is mainly felt across the neck and wrists, although road bikes with particularly high seats can cause discomfort on the spine area as well.

Top Speed

The ‘top speed’ sphere is where road bikes excel the most. Road bikes have a superior gear range and are specifically designed to achieve the highest speeds possible. The thin framework and bikes, lightweight construction, and the type of handlebars usually outfitted to these bikes are to ‘blame’.

There’s an obvious reason why mountain bikes have a low gear range – nobody wants to pace across rocks and uneven terrain.


5 Reasons Why Mountain Bike Is Better Than Road Bike

There are way more than five reasons why mountain biking is better than road bike. However, we’ll point out the five most notable ones for adding for details on road bike vs mountain bike.

Riding a Mountain Bike is ‘healthier’

Although both types of biking are healthy, Mountain biking is significantly healthier. The reason why that is so is quite simple. Mountain biking happens in nature, whereas road biking happens on concrete. Biking in nature leaves out the carbon emissions from cars, and on the opposite end, the flora actually promotes healthier breathing.

There’s nothing better than a gust of cool mountain air upon your face just before you’re about to hit the pedal.

Speaking from an aesthetical point of view, there are other reasons why mountain biking is healthier. Observing the wildlife has soothing effects on our psyche. Riding your bike on the road can only have negative influences in this respect. Keeping both eyes open at all times for oncoming drivers can not only be frustrating, but nerve wrecking as well.

Better Workout

If you’ve caught onto biking to improve your health, mountain biking is way better than plain road biking. Imagine it this way – what burns you out more, doing regular, or inclined push-ups? Pedaling uphill does wonders for your cardio, and controlling the bike downhill simply adds more dynamic to the exercise.

It is true that road biking has its own benefits in this respect too. Spinning the pedals for long periods of time at a sustain rate does improve cardio, true. However, you only activate a single muscle group this way.

Mountain biking is good for the heart, spine, and every possible leg and arm muscle, which is what makes it a bit different from the other type.


Different kind of suspension and tires

Mountain and road bikes are obviously used for cycling on a different type of terrain, so it’s only obvious that they’re built differently. Mountain bikes are outfitted with a different kind of suspension that allows them to withstand such rough terrains.

The fact is that manufacturers of road bikes focus on providing stability to the bike, whereas brands that build mountain bikes need to think of many other factors. The tires, as well as the frame of a mountain bike need to survive rocks, piles of leaves, tough branches, holes and such.
On another hand, regardless of how many bikes you compare, mountain bikes are by default more durable altogether.

On top of that, one of the main distinctions between a road and a mountain bike is the tires they come outfitted with. The tires of a mountain bike are bigger and thicker, allowing for easy passage over numerous and various obstacles without losing stability. The tires of a road bike are generally smaller and are not suited for all-terrain riding.

Different Design And Weight

There’s a very good reason why road bikes are specifically built to be lighter – speed. The lighter the bike is, the greater the speeds you’ll be able to achieve. The frame is lighter, but so are the tires. Speaking of which, road bike tires are usually ‘pumped up’ with additional pressure in order to decrease the rolling resistance.

The handlebars are also significantly different on road bikes and are usually called drop handlebars. The main purpose of such a design is to put the rider in such a position where he (or she) can resist the oncoming wind more easily, thus reducing the speed loss to a bare minimum.
Mountain bikes need the extra weight, or better said – the materials used are heavier so as to provide a boost to durability of the construction. A mountain biker, when riding on rough terrain, hits the ground, rocks, and other obstacles with his (or her) full body weight. Road bikes would simply crash into pieces in such a case.

Additionally, mountain bikes usually have regular or slightly curved handlebars (depending on the rider’s preference). Mountain bikers could care less about speed, but what they do need is complete control over their bikes, especially when rushing downhill or climbing uphill.

All things considered, it’s safe to conclude that Mountain bikes are made of different types of material as well. While road bikes feature aluminium frames in most cases, mountain bikes are built of hard steel.


Video Guide: Road Bike Vs Mountain Bike | Which Is Harder?

Pros and cons of Road and Mountain Biking

Like we’ve mentioned, both types of biking come with their own (different) sets of advantages and disadvantages.

Road Biking Pros

  • Road bikes are quicker and lighter - Road bikes are specifically designed to be lighter, more rigid, have less suspension, thinner tires, and higher gear levels. This means that you’ll be able to travel to one spot quicker in comparison to using a mountain bike.
  • Great for building stamina - Though it is true that Mountain biking activates more muscle groups, road biking is actually awesome for building stamina. Riding a bike at sustained speeds for long periods of time is an excellent cardio exercise.
  • Commuting - Certain people use bikes as cross-city mode of transport, thus road biking is great for commuting. It actually blends the cost effectiveness and workout elements in one.
  • Competitive and amateur riding - One of the greatest things about road biking is that people often organize ‘competitive tournaments’. It’s pretty great – certain roads are shut down and various props and obstacles are added at various spots. The players then compete who can finish the course in the shortest time.
  • Navigate urban areas quicker in comparison to using a car/metro - A good example of bike’s convenience is China. People there almost exclusively use bikes as means of transport. Simply due to the fact that there are too many people.


Road Biking cons

  • Feels a bit less comfortable - Road bikes are also designed to sit the rider in a sort of a more aerodynamic setup, incurring a drastically lower amount of wind resistance. However, this is what makes them slightly less comfortable to ride.
  • Generally more dangerous to ride - Simply due to the fact that you’re on the road, you risk your very neck. We’ve briefly mentioned the risks of road biking, and they mostly revolve around unobservant car drivers who could hurt (or even kill) you despite how careful you are.
  • Weather dependent riding style - While mountain biking, you could care less if it rains or snows. You can simply decide to ride a bit, enjoy the scenery for a while, and chill afterward. With road biking the situation is not exactly the same.

Mountain Biking pros

  • Fresh air - Being exposed to fresh air as opposed to toxic fumes from cars is simply the biggest pro of mountain biking.
  • More options - You can ‘customize’ your mountain biking experience more easily than your road biking. You can turn it into a casual ride through the woods, a picnic, hike, even a party.
  • Safer - The worst thing that could possibly happen to you is that you fall from your bike on the ground. It will still be less painful than burning your skin on the concrete.
  • Always a different experience - Roads all look the same, whereas the great outdoors offers many different landscapes for you to explore.
  • You don’t need to rely on anything - You are your own boss. You don’t need to pay attention to the drivers, or pretty much anyone else.


Mountain Biking Cons

  • Solitude - The big trees and vast landscapes can make you feel very isolated and disconnected initially.
  • Bikes get worn more easily - Due to rough terrain, mountain bikes typically get worn out more easily.
  • Expensive gear - You simply can’t go out mountain biking on a cheap bike. If it breaks down on you, you don’t want to walk back to your home.

Final Words

It’s difficult to say whether an objective answer to the ‘road bike vs mountain bike’ issue exists. Each of these biking categories are different, so it’s up to you to decide which one suits you better. The fact is, though, that you could use a mountain bike on a paved road, but you most certainly couldn’t use a road bike for mountain biking.

Generally speaking, road bikes are faster and typically better for commuting and similar activities. Mountain bikes, on another hand are different in a way that they’re more durable, and they’re tailor-made for all-terrain cycling.

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