Should You Buy Road Tires For Mountain Bike?

Should You Buy Road Tires For Mountain Bike?

You’ve already got a mountain bike (MTB), but you’d love to be able to cycle on the road. While you might not think you can or should transform your mountain bike into a road bike, it is possible! 

Why would you want to use an MTB on the road? A mountain bike is strong, durable, and therefore can feel safer to ride than a road bike.

But, there are some important things you should know if you want to start using your MTB for your daily commute.

With that in mind, let’s see how to transform a mountain bike into a road bike. We’ll start by looking at how differently road and mountain bikes are designed. 


What Are The Differences Between Road And Mountain Bikes? 

What Are The Differences Between Road And Mountain Bikes?

Before we look at how you can use road tires on your mountain bike, let’s see what the differences are between road and mountain bikes.

These bikes are built for completely different cycling styles

Road bikes

  • These bikes are meant for speed and they are built to be light so that they’re easy to control, such as when you’re cycling through traffic. Since they’re lighter in weight, this also enables them to move faster.
  • Road bikes make you hunch a bit over the handlebars. This aggressive cycling stance gives you more power as it makes the most of your leg speed.
  • Road bike components are easy to look after and maintain. 
  • They are meant for use with thin tires, which is useful in that they reduce friction.

Mountain bikes

  • These bikes have tougher, more durable frames that can tolerate harsh conditions. They’re built to be rugged! 
  • Mountain bikes are focused on offering traction. This is essential for handling a variety of difficult and uneven outdoor terrain.
  • These bikes have extra suspension and usually make use of thicker tires. This is recommended because of how they provide greater grip. 
  • Mountain bikes are more difficult to pedal and they are slower on terrain such as pavements, but they make you ride in an upright position which can feel a bit more comfortable. 

Can You Turn A MTB Into A Road Bike? 

Can You Turn A MTB Into A Road Bike?

If you already own a mountain bike and you’d like to use it for your daily commute, there are things you can do to turn it into a road bike. Here are some tips to help you get started.

  • Reduce your gears: You don’t need the variety of gears that are available on your mountain bike, so you can fit a smaller range cassette on your bike. This will reduce the weight of the bike and make your ride smoother when you cycle on the road.
  • Make the handlebars narrow: You should try to make the MTB more aerodynamic so it’s more of a road bike. There are ways to do this. Start by installing narrower handlebars on the bike. You should also have a longer stem. 
  • Consider installing a rearview mirror: This is essential to keep you safe when you hit the road, especially if you’re going to be cycling every day and encountering lots of traffic. It will make you feel so much safer to get out there.
  • Replace your suspension fork: Make it a rigid one as this will help to make the bike lighter and therefore easier to control on the road. That said, if you want to go off the beaten path now and again you should leave your suspension fork intact.
  • Reconsider your pedals: Road bike pedals can be clipless or flat. If you’re going to be cycling on the road every day or for long distances at a time, clipless pedals are great because you essentially clip into the pedals and this keeps your feet secure while giving you greater power and control. However, if you’re cycling over short distances or at a leisurely pace, then it’s worth sticking to flat pedals as these make it easy for you to leap off your bike and walk around whenever you want. It’s worth noting that SPD is the standard clipless system for MTBs because it’s so user-friendly, tough, and can tolerate dirt without getting damaged. You might therefore consider it if you want to take your MTB on the road and off the beaten path. The debate between flat and clipless pedals for road bikes is an interesting one. To find out which one is best for you, and to get some product recommendations, read our guide, “Best Road Bike Pedals: Flat And Clipless Pedals To Buy.” 

Can You Use Road Tires On Your Mountain Bike? 

Can You Use Road Tires On Your Mountain Bike?

While mountain bikes tend to have thicker tires than what you’ll find on road bikes, that doesn’t matter much. By making a few simple tweaks to your road tires, you can use your mountain bike on the road much more comfortably.

  • Road tires for mountain bikes should be 1.5-inch slick tires if you’re going to be on the road all the time, as these will be able to fit your wheels and give you a much smoother ride in the city.
  • However, if you want to cycle on trails or on gravel sometimes, a semi-slick tire is your best bet to give you the best of both worlds.
  • You need to consider that road tires need to be inflated to a pressure that’s around 50 PSI or higher, whereas trail tires need to be below 35 PSI. This is why using road tires can feel less smooth on a mountain bike. A road tire usually has small knobs with smooth centers on them to reduce its rolling resistance. This, along with their higher levels of pressure, decreases their contact area so that you get less traction.
  • You need to think about width. A road tire will also be smaller than an MTB tire because it’s focused on helping you to achieve a faster and lighter experience on the road. When you want to increase your speed on a mountain bike to make it more of a road bike, very narrow tires as thin as 28mm can accommodate the rims on your MTB. But, it’s good to bear in mind that while these will give you more speed, they won’t allow you to ride off a curb as easily as you’d be able to with a road bike.

Wait – Is It Worth Changing Your MTB Into A Road Bike?

Wait - Is It Worth Changing Your MTB Into A Road Bike?

As you know, mountain bike tires will come in a variety of sizes but you can’t just put any narrow tire on your MTB.

You have to opt for a tire size that’s as similar to the tire that was previously on your bike, otherwise, other elements of the bike will be changed, such as its clearance and how you can handle it.

While it’s good to make sure the rims will fit the new tire, you should also check that the tires don’t make contact with the frames or brakes. Yes, your tires need to be compatible with your brakes!

To start making use of roadie tires on your mountain bike, it’s important to note that replacing your bike’s tires with narrower ones might require you use a different tube.

But, it’s good to bear in mind that you won’t always have to change your bike’s inner tubes as these can accommodate a range of tire widths.

If the width of the tire is not changing much with the use of the new tires, then you can get away with using the same tube.

If you’re going to install a much narrower tire on your bike, the bottom line is that you’ll also have to change the tubes so that they fit properly.

Now, before you go ahead and replace your MTB tires with those meant for a road bike, understand that you won’t be able to do it by simply removing the tires the way you change your bike’s tires when they’re deflated.

The brake mounts also have to fit, and this might be tricky if they’re in different sizes. If you’re not sure about how to ensure this, or you’re not 100-percent confident with replacing the tires, consult your local bike shop for tips and advice

There are clearly many things to consider when it comes to turning your mountain bike into a road bike.

These might not feel worth it for you to do, but it is an exciting project. Make sure you test out the bike after any changes that you make to see how they’re working before you take the bike on your daily commute.

Can You Use Your MTB On The Road?

Can You Use Your MTB On The Road?

If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed at the idea of changing your MTB so that it can become more like a road bike, you might wonder if you can simply go ahead and use your MTB on the road as is without making any changes to it.

A bike is a bike, right? So you should be able to use it in the same way. But, there’s no going around the issue that different types of bikes will be best suited for different riding styles and terrains.

If you want to use your MTB on the road once in a while, it shouldn’t be a problem for you or your bike.

But, if you want to use your bike daily, or for long distances on a regular basis, you might want to consider either changing some of your bike’s characteristics so that it is more like a road bike or purchasing a road bike.

This is because of the following points:

  • Mountain bikes are built to be wider and they have more rolling resistance. The result? You have to put in more energy to make the tires move if you’re using the bike on a smooth surface.
  • Mountain bikes are heavier, whereas road bikes are lighter. This makes them less easy to control in road conditions. In addition, what contributes to the heaviness of a mountain bike is that it has heavier brakes and suspension. Over time, this can make cycling less comfortable.

The above points can make cycling on a mountain bike in the city a difficult and stressful experience if you do it regularly.

This is why it’s in your best interest to switch some MTB components for those found in a road bike, as we discussed earlier in this article, or to simply purchase a road bike.

Related Questions

Do you need to change your MTB rims when installing road tires on it?

You probably won’t have to change your bike’s rims because rims are meant to be compatible with many different tire widths. 

Do MTBs perform well when cycling uphill?

Although they’re heavier, MTBs are ruggedly designed to work well when you pedal down steep hills or up rough terrain. 


If you have a mountain bike but you want to be able to cycle on the road, you can turn your mountain bike into a road bike.

In this article, we’ve shown you how to achieve that, from the MTB components you should change to what to know when installing road tires on your mountain bike. 

Is it worth it? It’s really up to you to make that decision, as you’d have to make some important changes to your mountain bike if you want to take it out on the road.

The changes can also end up being costly, which might make you think it’s more worth it to purchase a road bike instead, especially if you want to use your bike every day.


Last Updated on May 29, 2023 by Danijel Cakalic

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