Why are MTB slower than road bikes and hybrid bikes? – GoMTBiking

Published by Praful N on

Everyone knows road bikes and hybrid bikes are faster than MTB. But what’s the reason?

Why are MTB slower than road bikes and hybrid bikes?

Mountain bikes are slower than hybrid bikes and road bikes because of their heavy frame, heavy tires, and highly equipped suspension system. Road bikes and hybrid bikes ride tends to be more of a speed and aerodynamic, whereas in mountain bikes it’s all about suspension and better gear ratio.

It’s all about riding inroads that’s why there is no much extra equipment need to really push road bikes or hybrid bikes in street.

In this article, I’ll discuss everything about why mountain bikes are slower than street bikes. Let’s dive in.

What’s the reason behind MTB slower than hybrid bikes and road bikes?

As I said in my intro, that mountain bikes tend to be more specialized because of the terrain which you ride. Whereas road bikes or hybrid bikes are not much into challenging roads. Most of the time they will be smoother unless it has some potholes. The main reason the required strength for a mountain bike to handle the jumps and bumps.

Let’s discuss in detail about reasons for making mountain bikes slower than commuter bikes.

  • The first reason would be that mountain bikes tend to be heavier compared to road bikes and hybrid bikes which is the main reason why you’ll struggle a bit to pedal on roads or pavements. If you make a road bike that has raced with a mountain bike on the road, it’s quite obvious that road bikes will easily bypass mountain bikes when it comes to speed.
  • Mountain bike tires are mainly designed to have better traction and grip which makes them have more rolling resistance compared to hybrid bikes and road bikes. They’re much wider and bigger which makes them have a better surface area resulting in better ground contact. This is why it’s a bit more effort to pedal on roads or pavements because of friction caused by thicker tires.
  • Talking about the grips and traction of mountain biking tires, they are designed to have knobs to their tires. That’s another reason which makes you pedal a lot and resulting in the slower speed of mountain bikes over road bikes and hybrid bikes.
  • Most of the mountain bikes have front and rear suspension which are mainly full suspension bikes. Even if your mountain bikes don’t have rear suspension which is called hardtail bikes, the higher suspension of mountain bikes makes it harder pedal because of less pedaling efficiency. This is mainly because these suspensions are mainly designed to handle the rough and bumpy terrains, but when used on smoother surfaces like roads they make your bike slower.
  • You might have seen road bikers ride in an aerodynamic position while hitting the roads. But when it comes to mountain biking, riders tend to be upright or attack position to handle the bikes in more speedy and rough terrains. But riding this position can make you slower on smoother surfaces like roads or pavements will make you slower because of more wind resistance.
  • Mountain bikers are more into riding rough edges and hitting challenging jumps. So for the bike to offer these challenging sharp edges, the tires are designed to have lower psi which means they will protect your tires and rim from getting scraped. But when it comes to riding on roads, they’re not useful and make you go because of the lower psi.
  • In most of the technical mountain biking cases, bikers tend to have a huge set of protective gear for themselves. Which mainly includes knee pads, elbow pads, goggles, shin guards, and baggy shorts whereas road bikers tend to have nothing more than thin quality spandex shorts.
  • Mountain biking needs a wide range of gear systems and that’s how they are designed using 1×11. Using these types of lightweight gear system can be beneficial for trails but not for roads. Road riding demands more speed and better acceleration.
  • Mountain biking frames, handlebars, and other parts tend to be heavier compared to a road bike or hybrid bike overall geometry. That’s another reason why mountain bikes are slower than hybrid bikes and road bikes.

These were some of the reasons why mountain bikes are slower. It’s mainly because of the overall heavier design which is designed for the rough ones.

How to make mountain bikes faster on pavements and roads

Whatever upgrade you make they’ll never become faster than road bikes. But there are some tweaks that you can make to fasten your MTB on roads or pavements.

Making tweaks in tires and tire selection can make your MTB faster

  • As you know mountain biking tires are designed to have more treads to offer better traction and grip to ride in challenging terrains. That makes it wider, thicker, and much slower on smoother surfaces like roads. So go with tires that have fewer treads and smaller knobs so it can be more effective in riding on roads.
  • As I said in my previous section, tire pressure plays a major role in the speed of mountain bikes. The typical mountain biking tires tend to have lower psi results in better traction and more contact to the ground. But on roads that can not be beneficial and results in higher rolling resistance. So make sure to have proper tire pressure setting set for the roads.
  • The last tip would be to decrease your bike’s tire weight by upgrading to tubeless tires. More riders are shifting towards this upgrade because they can also be beneficial for mountain biking.

Having less suspension system can speed your MTB on roads

In the era of a full-suspension bike, people don’t go much into a hardtail section because of the better suspension system. This makes the bike heavier and inefficient when it comes to riding roads.

Riding on roads doesn’t need any suspension, so make sure you take off the front and rear suspension on your mountain bikes while riding on roads.

You can also have a lockout for your suspension in MTB.

Upgrade your pedals from flat to clipless pedals

When it comes to road biking, most road bikes are mainly into flat pedals which is good for road biking. But to handle a bike like a mountain bike, clipless pedals can work great. They give you more room to put some pressure and consistent stroke to push your bikes.

It’s great for mountain biking. If you’re looking to shed some more pounds to make your mountain bike faster then there are some lightweight clipless pedals in the market. That could be the best option for your mountain bike.

Upgrade your handlebars to narrow ones and keep your saddle high

Having narrow handlebars compared to the typical mountain biking handlebars can work great for having a better position. This can make your bike go faster on roads as road biking needs a more aerodynamic position resulting in reduced wind resistance.

Also, adjust your saddle seat. Keep it higher than your mountain bike handlebar can make a huge impact on your pedaling efficiency. So make sure to have a proper seat adjustment before you ride. This gives you more room for your legs to have a perfect stroke on pedals.

Clean your mountain bike once in two weeks

This can look obvious but it’s the most underrated tip that any biking expert can give you. Whatever upgrade you do to make your mountain bike faster but if you’re not good at servicing your mountain bike from time to time then you’re missing a lot of hidden speed and efficiency that your mountain bike can possess.

If you’re a regular mountain biker who hits the terrains every week, then a lot of mud, dirt, and junk is going to be on your mountain bike. And just lubricating your mountain bike will not help your bike with removing all the dirt.

The drivetrain is more vulnerable to grime so make sure to clean it with hot water and soap. That’s it!! Make a weekly routine for this and you’ll be amazed at your performance on roads.

Overall try making it a little aerodynamic so you’ll have better speed and pedaling efficiency on roads. Remove all the unwanted extra protective gear which makes up the weight.

Read more: How to make your mountain bikes faster? 

How much slower is an MTB on the board compared to a road bike?

There is no perfect answer for this, but for an estimation mountain bike with knobby tires is 15-20% slower than road bikes on smoother or flatter surfaces like road or pavements with the same pedaling and efforts. 

Generally, if your road bike is at 16mph speed, then there might be a difference of 2-4mph speed for mountain bike and it also depends on how you ride. If you’re without the upgrade, then the mentioned above difference can be mandatory for you whereas if you’re with an upgraded mountain bike then yes mountain bike will have improved speed.

Can a MTB keep up with a road bike or hybrid after the upgrade?

But overall, even with the upgrades mountain bike is never going to overtake road bike when it comes to speed on roads or pavements. Because mountain bikes are heavy, you cannot completely convert a mountain bike to a road bike. This will ruin the geometry of the mountain bike. Road bikes are designed to fast and aerodynamic. They’re light and are not designed for heavy rough trails.

And also if you’re a mountain biker, you’ll struggle a bit with speed when it comes to road biking. A typical road biker will be faster than a mountain biker with a road bike because the riding style adopted by road bikers is all about endurance and speed.

To have good speed just make some upgrades mentioned above in this article and then you’re ready to go.

Read more: Can You Ride Mountain Bikes on Road or Pavement?( Everything you need to know) – GoMTBiking

Is MTB good for commuting in the streets or road to work?

  • Even if it’s an offroad mountain bike you can still use it for commuting and going to work. Mountain bikes are not that bad for commuting. Yes, there are bad compared to hybrid or commuter bikes but still, it can be very useful.
  • As you know mountain bikes are slower than road bikes or hybrid bikes, they can be great at the park, dirt roads, potholes, downstairs, and tiny obstacles that come in your way on street or road.

Are road bikes faster than MTB on trails?

No!! Road bikes are slower than mountain bikes on trails just because they’re not good at handling so much stress on their geometry. 

Road bikes are light and aerodynamic with skinny tires and less to no suspension which is great for roads or pavements, but when it comes to trails they don’t have any chance of competing with mountain bikes.

That’s why mountain bikes are much better than road bikes, they’re amazing when it comes to off-road or on road. They are versatile and can also work on roads. As you know, they are slower compared to road bikes on road but they can also be good at roads regardless of their speed.

My takeaway!!

Why are mountain bikes slow? Mountain bikes are slow because they’re heavy. They have thicker & wider tires, heavier frame, and geometry, and come with advanced suspension compared to road bikes or hybrid bikes.

You can make it faster by making some tweaks with tires and suspension. But when it comes to riding on trails mountain bikes are faster compared to a road bike or hybrid bike.

If you enjoyed reading his article about why are mountain bikes slower than road bikes, share it with your friends and colleagues. 

Keep riding😉

Related: Can I put road tires on mountain bikes (Everything you need to know) – GoMTBiking