If you own and ride a mountain bike, you may decide at some point to ride the bike around residential areas or in town, leaving you with a choice to make – do I buy a road bike, or can I add road tires to my mountain bike?
You can put road tires on a mountain bike without any real issues, but you will need to consider the wheels’ size and width, as mountain bikes use wider tires than road bikes. Adding road tires to your mountain bike makes for easy riding in town over flatter, faster surfaces.
Adding road tires to your mountain bike won’t require mechanical adjustments if you buy the right tires. Still, you will have to adjust to a different ride experience, so let’s saddle up and learn more about how you can do this conversion properly.
Why Add Road Tires To A Mountain Bike
If you have recently moved from the country to the city and your mountain bike has come with you, you will soon figure out that riding the mountain bike on the smooth, flat asphalt and concrete of the urban jungle is, well, somewhat tedious.
This is because the tread on the mountain bike tires is designed to create grip and traction on gravel, sand, and stones, so while the bike and wheels will be stable while riding, you won’t be going very fast, no matter how hard you pedal.
Of course, you can buy a road bike for the town and keep the mountain bike for trail riding, but not everyone can afford that, so the cheaper and easier option is to add road tires to your mountain bike.
What To Consider When Adding Road Tires To A Mountain Bike
Remember that because you are not changing wheels and only changing tires, you don’t have to worry about brake caliper clearances and frame clearances, so that makes this conversion that much simpler.
The first aspect to look at is the tire width and thickness. Mountain bike wheels and tires are thicker than road bike tires, so you need to buy tires that have the same thickness as your mountain bike wheels, or they will not fit well or at all.
You would need to fit road tires that are 1,5″ thick so they can hold onto the wheel, and the extra thickness will also assist with absorbing the shock as they do on the mountain bike. Thicker road tires on your mountain bike will also help if you hit some rough stuff on the roads, like stones or other debris.
Also, make sure that the tire diameter of the road tires you buy is the right size for the wheel. You can find the mountain bike tire specs on the tire itself and then match those to the spec of the road tires you are considering.
These are important factors when switching tires as you don’t want to spend money only to find that they don’t fit when you try and put them on, so take the time and ensure you get these two specifications right.
Road Tires On A Mountain Bike – Handle Bars And Gear Changes
It’s worth remembering, too, that road bike handlebars are lower to make them more aerodynamic, so you may want to adjust your bars a little lower to simulate the road environment and reduce the drag while riding.
Another element to consider is the gear changes while riding, and this is because road bikes are faster than mountain bikes, so changing gears at high speed is not something you would do on a mountain bike on the trail.
With road bikes, you need to maintain your speed to change gears, so with road tires on your mountain bike; you will need to pedal a little more vigorously than you may be used to keep the gear changes smooth
Changing Your Mountain Bike Tires For Road Tires
Once your new road tires have arrived and been unboxed, it’s time to fit them, and the easiest way to do get this done is to take the wheels off the mountain bike.
So, you will need to place your MTB upside down and cycle into the smallest gear. If you have quick-release wheels, then use that to get your wheel off or unscrew them as normal if you don’t. If you need to loosen the nuts or detach brake cables, do that.
Take the wheel out of the frame and deflate it completely, then remove the tire by breaking the bead from the rim and pressing it toward the center of the rim, and then remove the tire.
Now you can fit the road tire to the rim and then inflate it to the correct pressure. It’s always a good idea to add the tire sealant to the tire through the core of the valve, and once done, inflate the tire again and roll or shake the wheel to ensure the sealant is properly distributed.
Keep Your Road Tires On The Road
It’s important to remember that when putting road tires on a mountain bike, you need to ride the bike on the surface that the tires are made for, and just because you have a mountain bike frame does not mean you can go off-road.
Road tires are not designed for the shock, impact, and rough texture of trail riding, so if you don’t want to damage your road tires, keep the bike on the smooth and use the mountain bike tires if you get the desire to take your bike back on the trail.
Also, remember that you will get no traction with road tires if you go off-road, which can be inherently dangerous for you and the bike.
Adding road tires to your mountain bike is as easy as checking the size and width of your existing tires and buying the same spec road bike tires, fitting them, inflating them, and hitting the road! Since you don’t need any other adjustments, you can be up and running in no time.
The suspension system on the mountain bike will make the ride pretty smooth, making riding on the road superbly comfortable and riding down the road; you may wonder why more people don’t do this with their mountain bikes!