When I was first interested in commuting all I had was a mountain bike & I decided to take it for a spin & see if it can be an effective commute. After a day of commuting with a mountain bike, I found my answer.
Mountain bikes can definitely be used to commute its geometry features an upright position which makes for a comfortable riding position for commuting. Although mountain bikes are quite heavy & have large knobby tires, replacing the tread tires with slick tires will definitely enhance your mountain bikes performance as a commuter.
Mountain bikes are definitely usable and effective as commuters although with any bike there are its pros & cons. But you can definitely make slight modifications to your bike in order for it to suit your needs as a commuter. Based on how long is your commute distance, types of roads you encounter, will you be riding uphill? answering these questions will allow you to know what modifications you might want to consider in order to get the most out of your commutes.
Advantages & Disadvantages Of Commuting With a Mountain Bike
As with anything mountain bikes does come with its advantages & disadvantages for commuting purposes. Firstly it’s important to note mountain bikes are definitely effective for commuting, its geometry allows for a more upright position which is much more comfortable for commuting. Mountain bikes also allow you to ride on any type of terrain meaning you will be able to take different routes & possibly find shortcuts. This also allows you to ride on rough road conditions without issues allowing you to ride over of potholes, unpaved areas, or bad road conditions in general. A mountain bike also allows you to maneuver quite efficiently due to the combination of the handlebars, the riding position as well as the overall stability of the bike.
There are a few Disadvantages of commuting with a mountain bike. Firstly mountain bikes are heavier & less aerodynamic than road bikes meaning it may require more effort to reach similar speeds to a road bike.
Here’s a full list of advantages & disadvantages of commuting with a mountain bike.
- Comfortable upright riding position
- You can ride on almost any terrain meaning you have more routing options, & will be able to take shortcuts.
- Can ride on rough roads, over potholes, unpaved areas…etc
- Wide handlebars provide easy maneuverability in tight situations.
- Weight more
- Less Aerodynamic
- Increased drag due to the wider tires
- Riding on pavement frequently can wear out tire tread much faster
- Might have to produce more effort compared to a road bike
Should You Make Modifications To Your Mountain Bike?
Whether or not you should modify your bike is completely dependent on the road conditions you ride on & the distance of commute.
Modifying your mountain bike will allow you to increase your overall average speed more efficiently. The biggest factors limiting your speed are tire rolling resistance & aerodynamics.
The most effective modification to make is to replace your wide knobby tires with narrow slick tires. This is a good option for most riders, changing your tires is going to allow you to roll much faster, take some weight off the bike as well as significantly reduce tire rolling resistance.
Although you may want to consider semi-slick tires if you find your self going off-road for part of your commute.
This is the only real modification you should consider as it offers the most benefits & we aren’t trying to convert the mountain bike into a road bike we just want it to be as effective as possible for commuting & this will do the job.
Best Types Of Bikes For Commuting
Firstly here are some things you need to consider in order to pick the right perfectly suited for your own commute.
● Riding Distance: How far is your commute to work?
● Terrain: What type of terrain will you be riding on?
● Riding Position: Would you rather have a more comfortable riding position but lose some speed or have more speed but lose comfort?
● Gearing: Would you rather have a simple single speed bike or does your commute require you to hhave multople gears?
With that in mind lets look at the top types of bikes for commuting.
Hybrid bikes are the most popular option for commuting. It’s a mixture of road bike & mountain bikes and is perfect for commuting due to the comfortable upright riding position as well as its gearing. Hybrid bikes gearing is perfect for commuting providing you with enough gears to commute faster as well as having low gear for going uphill nice & easy.
Gravel bikes are another good option for commuting it offers a wide gear range allowing you to cycle to work efficiently, it also comes with wide tires capable in riding on a wide variety of terrain allowing you to take different routes to work rather than just stick on the road.
Road bikes are lightweight & aerodynamic making it the fastest option available for commuting. Although it does come with some tradeoffs firstly road bikes aren’t as comfortable due to its geometry. Rather than being in an upright comfortable riding position, you will be in a slightly forward-leaning position due to its aerodynamic geometry. Also maneuvering around with a road bike at lower speed is quite challenging especially in heavy traffic.
With mountain bikes, you’re able to ride over a different variety of terrain allowing you to take different routes, find short cuts & comfortably ride on rough road conditions. Wider tires & lower air pressure make for a smooth ride. Mountain bikes are also great for beginners mainly due to the flat handlebars making it simpler & it easier to maneuver.
Commuting with a mountain bike can be as good as commuting with a road bike, it’s mainly dependant on your commute distance as well as the type of road you ride in. Depending on your conditions it may actually be more beneficial to commute on a road bike due to its versatility it allows you more routing options. This allows you to commute much faster by riding on & off-road, finding shortcuts shouldn’t be a problem with a mountain bike as it can handle almost any kind of terrain.
It’s important to note that a road bike is going to be lighter & more aerodynamic but this may not be of any use to you if you can commute much faster by going off-road for part of your commute and going on rough terrain. So as you can see it definitely depends on your commute, the route you take, the road conditions, as well as the distance. We hope this article helped answer your question. Thanks for reading & have a safe & enjoyable ride!