Mountain bikes are cruisers of the woods but as soon as you land on the road they become boring these bikes are made for the woods to take a beating but they don’t perform so well on the roads which can be frustrating and the biggest problem you face when riding a mountain bike on the road is the speed they are really slow compared to the road bikes but there are several reasons for them to be slow like the bike weight, tires gearing and so and so forth.
Factors that make mountain bikes slow on roads :
There are two main factors that make a mountain bike slow on the road
- weight of a mountain bike
- Rolling resistance of Mtb tires on roads
While you can’t completely remove these problems but there are ways to reduce both the weight and Rolling resistance and its alot easier than you think.
There are lots of things that impact how fast or slow a bike is but the major one is weight while we cannot fight that problem there are ways to overcome even that but for a quick overview.
Here is a list of things that make mountain bikes slower on roads.
- nut bolts
- tires width
- tire pressure
Small changes that can have a big impact on your bikes speed :
Carbon is not the only answer to gaining speed either on road or trail there are a lot of things that you can do that can still make your bike much much faster on both, here are all the ways that you can make your bike faster.
Smaller tires :
Roads are different than trails if you were using bigger tires like 29ers on trails then you might want to switch a step-down let’s say 27.5 and if you were already using 27.5 then using a smaller tire can make a significant difference (I am talking about mountain bike tires).
Road and trails are two different things bigger tires on trails give you better rolling making them comfortable and easier to ride on trails and smaller ones give you better control over the bike you cut corners faster and your over-speed increases.
While in road biking tires size is not so important but the width of the tires mountain bike tires starts from 57mm to 127mm wide while road bike tires are 23mm to a max of 45mm width.
That’s one reason to use smaller tires but there’s also the fact that smaller tires have lesser weight say 27.5″ mtb tires weigh about 750 grams and an average road bike tire weighs around 430 grams.
So while the weight difference is huge but still if you get smaller tires you can cut down that weight difference much more and if you can find skinnier tires like cross-country bike tires you can go a lot faster on the roads.
Bigger chainrings :
You may or may not know that having a bigger chain ring makes you faster if you put on any chainring larger than 42t it should make you a lot faster you can also use 2 chain rings for both roads and trails.
You might also notice it on the single cog bikes as well they always tend to have a big chainring it’s there for the bike to be as comfortable as possible.
So how much faster will a bigger chain ring make you? A lot faster and if you follow my guide on tires above it should make you as fast as a road biker but of course, there are limits to it since both road bikes and mountain bikes are made for different sports.
But it will significantly close the gap to you achieving that speed on the road with a mountain bike there is also the weight issue but there are more steps you can take to close the gap even further.
Tire pressure :
Tire pressure is a big factor as well typically when riding the trails mountain bikes typically have a tire pressure of 30PSI while road bikes have a tire pressure of around 80-130 PSI. while you can pump around 50PSI max tire pressure in an Mtb.
it may not seem much but it does make a difference I should also mention that you should remain in a 30PSI tire pressure on the trails but on roads, you can go as high as 50Psi lesser tire pressure gives you more traction and a comfortable ride on trails but on roads, its the other way around you need a max tire pressure to reduce that rolling resistance as much as you can.
And if you combine higher tire pressure into the other things I mentioned above you would make a dent in speed as little as it may be it’s still a freeway.
Another thing that you can do to get even better results is.
locking suspension will increase your speed :
Locking the suspension will give you a little boost in speed as well and it will reduce the amount of effort you put in pedaling.
How? When the suspensions are on full and you pedal you will notice that as soon as you pedal suspension goes down even if there were no bumps in the ground so the energy that you were trying to put on the pedals to have a better stroke got distributed in the pedals and the suspension which could otherwise have been gone into the stroke that’s why road bikes don’t have suspensions.
It will not make a huge noticeable difference in your speed but if you combine all of the little tips above it will make a huge difference.
where is the suspension lock located and how you do it: If you don’t know what the suspension lock is or where its located, just look above the suspension there should be a dial and a knob you can put that to the least limit and that’s the lock same is for the rear suspension lock there you might see a knob or a ticking dial that you can dial down
Position on the bike :
Position on the bike really matters mountain bikers sit in an upright position and it really matters on trial because you constantly have to sit in that upright position for better balancing but on roads, it doesn’t really matter if you ever saw a road biker they are as close to the handlebar as they can be the reason for that is they try to be as aerodynamic as possible.
the more you are lean you are giving as much air to pass over you rather than becoming a wall in its way(Meaning in an upright position). The more the air that passes easily over you the less resistance you are creating for it and that in turn works for you to pick up speed.
Tighter clothes :
Another thing that you might have noticed about road bikers is that they always wear tighter clothes it’s not because they feel comfortable in those clothes its because they are trying to minimize the airbrushing at them and making them slow.
While on the other hand if you see mountain bikers they usually wear baggy clothes for lots of air passage well they do it because they go a lot less slow on the trails and they don’t need to pick up that kind of a speed except if they are in the race and you will always notice mountain bike racers wearing clothes similar to road bikers it’s just for the reason that tighter clothes are best for aerodynamics.
if you think all of this is not enough then having some carbon parts on your bike can give you a boost for the best.
clipless pedals :
most people avoid clipless pedals in mountain biking but they are fairly useful when riding on the road while you may think what difference they would make, clipless are great because unlike the flat pedals they help you reduce the effort you put in while pedaling in turns allows you to put a lot more effort in pedaling while improving your overall efficiency without making you much tired.
Adding carbon parts to the bike :
If you still think you are lagging behind then instead of buying a new carbon bike that might not be affordable for you at the moment but you can make little changes that can have a very big impact on your riding.
This might seem oblivious to some of you guys but really adding some carbon parts to your bike can have a huge difference.
Here are the carbon parts that you can add to your bike :
- Nut and bolts
- seat post
All of these things you can easily add to your bike easily over time i wouldn’t get everything in the basket right away but if you buy these parts step by step it will turn out to be much easier for you, these parts will shave off 2 to 3kg of excess weight off of your bike and it will perform way better than it was before.
keeping your bike maintained :
keeping your bike maintained is one of the things ignored by many, cleaning your bike not only increases your bike’s performance but also helps it last longer and more desirable to ride.
It also helps you reduce the extra weight you are carrying on your bike without you even knowing about it. Giving your bike a quick wash is not that tiring and not so much time-consuming and if you are doing it every 2 to 3 days it kind of just becomes your habit and slowly you don’t see it as a burden and fact end up caring for your bike more and noticing little details that you may have otherwise ignored.
Oiling your Cassettes and chain :
After washing your bike remember to oil it, it will save your bike from rusting and it will feel much smoother while you might be wondering what it has to do with the speed of your bike, it will increase the speed of your bike while allowing you to pedal much more efficiently on the roads. A Cassete helps the chain roll much faster on the caste which in the end helps you out and with the added benefit of your bike remaining in the perfect condition of always remaining ready to take out.
And if you had really not gone do all of these things there are always quick fixes.
Quick fix for making your mountain bike faster on the road:
A quick fix is not always cheap you know what I am going at (carbon) Carbon fiber is a sure quickest fix if you want to see rapid results, but not all of you guys can afford it neither can I, we will get to how you can make small changes that can have a huge effect a little further in the article so stick with me to the end.
I know what you might be thinking “Another article teaching me the advantages of Carbon” Well we may accept it or not carbon frames do get the job done here’s how much weight you shed with a complete carbon bike.
|Bike Parts||Aluminium Average weight||Carbon Average weight|
|Fame||1815 Grams/4 pounds||1400 Grams/3 pounds|
|Wheels||1700 Grams/3.7 pounds||1450 Grams/3 pounds|
|Crank sets||600 Grams/1.33 pounds||445 Grams/ 0.98 Pounds|
|handlebars||290 Grams /0.63 pounds||120 Grams /0.264 pounds|
|Seat Post||350 Grams / 0.77 pounds||230 Grams / 0.51 pounds|
But nobody said that carbon is the only you can go faster on the roads there are things that can improve your bike’s speed on roadway more without spending much money, but before we move on here’s a quick overview of what makes road bikes faster.
Well you might now think what’s better and lighter than carbon is titanium and although we don’t see many of those frames in the market there are still titanium parts made for Mtb and other bike disciplines the biggest reason we don’t see titanium bikes would be its price they are a lot more expensive even compared to carbon.