Mountain bikes are different from road bikes in so many ways, but the most conspicuous difference between them is their wheels sizes. Road bikes use slick tires while MTBs use knobbies. So, can you put road bike tires on a mountain bike?
You can put road bike tires on a mountain bike so long as your MTB rims can hold them. The 29er Mountain bikes use 700c tires as road bikes do. Their only difference is the width and limits your choices for road bikes tires that you can use on a mountain bike.
However, ordinary mountain bikes use 559mm (26”) tires, while road bikes use 622mm (700c) tires, which makes using standard road bike tires a challenge.
Why Put Road Bike Tires On A Mountain Bike?
Mountain bike tires are best suited for trail riding. So, what reasons or circumstances would make you want to put road bike tires on a mountain bike?
One of the main reasons is that you would want to use your MTB to run a few errands or for daily commuting purposes. In this case, the signature mountain bike knobby tires will be inefficient.
Notably, the high-volume low-pressure MTB tires have a big contact patch for better traction on the trails.
However, these aspects would make the bike have high rolling resistance on the roads. So if you have to ride for long distances, you need to get some street-friendly tires.
In addition, your mountain bike tires made for off-road riding would make steering the bike on the road a bit demanding. Also, MTB tires wear out fast on the pavement.
Again, mountain bikes tires are meant to act as shock absorbers to make riding over uneven ground comfortable. Unfortunately, this cushy feature of the tires absorbs some of your pedaling force while riding on the road.
If you are to take part in a road cycling challenge and the only bike at your disposal is a mountain bike, you can swap the tires to make it faster. Doing this would help you keep up with your buddies on road bikes.
Is It Bad To Put Thin Tires On A Mountain Bike
Thin tires aren’t bad on a mountain bike, especially if you intend to do most of your riding on hard surfaces such as asphalt roads.
Actually, a slim and firm tire won’t deform much, and it will have a small contact surface with the road. As a result, you have less friction and gain more speed.
All the same, there is a limitation on how slim the tire can be. Mostly, the least ideal width for an MTB bike is 1.25 inches. Therefore, a slick tire will perform well on a mountain bike rolling on asphalt.
All the same, narrow tires have their downsides as well.
Mainly, slim tires lack the shock-absorbing ability of the knobby mountain bike tire. So, if you happen to hit the trails with slick tires, you will most likely have an uncomfortable ride. You will feel the vibrations caused by almost every pebble on the tracks.
What Difference Will Road Bike Tires Make On Your Ride?
Putting road bike tires on your bike is ok, but do you know what difference they will bring to your ride? Let’s look at a few of them.
1. Shock Absorption
One of the main changes you will notice after putting road bike tires on a mountain bike is the reduced shock absorption.
Mountain bike tires carry large volumes of air at low pressure. As a result, the tires help in damping trail vibrations.
On the other hand, road bike tires use air at high pressure, which makes them hard. Therefore, these tires don’t absorb most of the vibrations from the trails. Instead, they transmit them to the rider’s body.
Therefore, if you put road bike tires on a mountain bike, you will most likely have a quite uncomfortable ride.
2. Better Maneuverability
One of the positive effects of using road tires on mountain bikes is that steering the bike gets easier. As a result, you can manage your way through tight bends without lots of difficulties.
Actually, road tires are narrower than mount bike tires. Therefore, they have a smaller contact patch on the ground.
This drastically reduces the effort required to steer the bicycle. In addition, the bike is easy to steer around tight corners since it becomes easy to maneuver.
3. More Speed Less Traction
The other notable difference that you realize after installing road tires on an MTB is the reduced traction. Wider tires have a better grip on the trails since they have a larger contact spot against the road.
On the other hand, you will have reduced grip on the trails with a slick road tire due to the reduced contact area.
At the same time, the bike will experience less rolling resistance on the road, which will make you ride faster on the road.
Therefore, to use your bike for commuting, you can go for slick road tires such as the Schwinn Replacement Bike Tire, which has shallow knobs that are ideal for use on pavement and light dirt.
Can You Put Road Bike Tires On A Mountain Bike?
So, can you put road bike tires on a mountain bike without any adverse effects?
Yes, you can install road tires on a mountain bike without any issues. All the same, you need to ensure that the tire you go for has the correct diameter for your bicycle.
Actually, the width of the tire comes second after diameter on the priority list.
Most MTBs use 26” tires, while others use 27.5-inch tires. At the same time, the 29ers use 700c tires, which happen to be the standard diameter for road bikes.
Therefore, before you buy a replacement, it would be wise to ascertain the rim size. Once you have your rim’s diameter, then you can go ahead and get road tires of the exact size.
The other issue to consider when choosing the ideal road tire for a touring bike is the tire width. Notably, road tires can be as narrow as 18” or less.
On the contrary, most MTB tires have widths that are 35mm and above.
However, choosing a 1.5” tire is advisable since it will fit on a mountain bike rim without leaving chances for possible tire blowouts.
How Do I Make My Mountain Bike More Road Friendly?
If a mountain bike is the only bicycle you have, you can also use it on the road with a few modifications. So, how do you make your bike road-friendly?
The primary modification that can help to make a mountain bike road-friendly is swapping the MTB knobby tires with slick ones. This will significantly help to reduce rolling resistance on the road.
The other significant change that you can make is locking out the suspension. By doing so, you maximize the force from every stroke of the pedal.
These are the two make changes that can make your mountain bike road-friendly if you intend to use it for commuting or running errands in town.
You can more details on this question for the article, “Can You Ride a Mountain Bike on Pavement?” that we had done earlier.
If you had been wondering whether you can put road bike tires on a mountain bike, now you have an answer. You can install road tires on your MTB without any major issues.
The only difference that you would likely experience is a change in ride quality.
Road bike tires are thinner than standard MTB tires, and they operate at high pressure. As a result, they aren’t good at damping road vibrations. As such, your ride on the trails will be rough and uncomfortable.
Finally, if you have to get slick tires, adhere to manufacturer specification on the least width your bike’s rim can fit.