Compared to road bikes, mountain bikes are not the fastest two-wheel cycles. But does that mean that you cannot have a speedy MTB? Of course not, as I’ll show you how to make a mountain bike faster.
Below are hacks, tricks, and smart ways you can make your mountain bike faster.
1. Clean your MTB
2. Switch to slick tires
3. Properly inflate the bike’s tires
4. Switch to tubeless
5. Adjust the derailleur
6. Swap flat pedals for clipless
7. Grease the drivetrain
8. Replace the chain
9. Make yourself aerodynamic
10. Replace the cassette
Remember, before you can look at how to make your bike faster, you should first understand why it is slower in the first place.
I’ll highlight the most typical reasons and then take you through the solutions.
We’ll also look at a speed acceptable for mountain bikes. Let’s get into it, mountain biker!
Why Is My Mountain Bike Slow?
There are several probable reasons to explain why your mountain bike is slow.
It could be that:
- The tires are thick and heavier
- You are using the wrong pedals
- The drivetrain, wheels, and other components are dirty
- Your bike is less aerodynamic
- The tire pressure is below 25PSi
- The derailleur has mal-adjusted
I’m going to share with you how you can address each of the problems above. That should help you learn how to mountain bike faster.
What’s A Good Average Speed On A Mountain Bike?
Generally, a mountain bike’s speed depends on your riding trail, bike brand, and component quality.
On average, mountain bikes run at 10mph on single tracks, 8mph uphill, and 12mph downhill.
But as I had hinted, there are so many ways you can make a mountain bike faster and surpass these average speeds.
How Can I Speed Up My Mountain Bike? How To Make A Mountain Bike Faster
Below are smart ways to make your mountain bike speedier:
1. Clean your MTB
Let’s face it; mud and grime only clog the drivetrain and make the wheels heavy and less mobile. So, if you want to go faster, you’ve to get rid of the dirt after riding your MTB.
Not only does regular cleaning of your mountain bike makes it faster, but it also boosts the life and performance of its components.
2. Switch To Tubeless
The problem with most tubed tires is that they are more prone to punctures. Tubeless options solve that by providing you with a more puncture-proof tire.
But more importantly, tubeless tires are lightweight and suffer lower rolling resistance. As a result, they allow you to ride much faster, something you want as a mountain biker.
One great tubeless MTB tire worth getting is the Continental Mountain Bike Protection Tire (View on Amazon).
This folding tubeless MTB tire promises puncture-resistance, easy rolling, and off-road grip. It’s 30% more puncture-proof and 26% more fast-rolling than its predecessor.
3. Switch To Slick Tires
Most mountain bikes come with wider thick tires to absorb bumps and offer exceptional traction and stability. However, if there’s an area that these tires fall short, it has to be speed.
If you want more speed from your MTB, consider switching to slick tires. They’ll allow your mountain bike to go through the bumps much faster without sacrificing your comfort.
One such tire is the Kenda 163026 Big City Slick Tire.
This 26-inch MTB tire features durability-enhancing wire beads and a motorcycle tire-like pattern for maximum traction and speed. Not only are they perfect for MTBs, but road bikes and hybrids too.
4. Properly Inflate Your Tires
Since you are riding off-road, there is always the risk that your bike’s tires will be under-inflated at some point. Such tires won’t run smoothly or faster.
But still, watch out not to over-inflate the tires as that’ll only make them bounce off-road instead of moving smoothly.
So, consider working with a pressure level of about 25-35Psi for maximum speed and traction. The pressure level will give you a fast mountain bike on road.
5. Adjust the Derailleur
Generally, a mountain bike that allows you to shift smoothly delivers maximum power to the wheels. That eventually translates to better speed.
So, before you can go into details, first adjust your MTB derailleur. Use this guide to adjust your mountain bike’s front derailleur, especially the H and L limit screws.
It should help you reposition the front derailleur and start shifting smoothly and cycle faster.
6. Swap Flat Pedals for Clipless
Most mountain bikes come with flat pedals, which allow you to pedal efficiently but won’t offer you more powerful strokes.
If you want more powerful strokes to cover a longer distance in a short time, swap your flat pedals for clipless. Clipless pedals ensure there’s little pedaling as you make bike faster.
Besides, the pedals hold your feet in place for sufficient balance and maximum foot power.
You can try out the Time ATAC XC8 Bike Pedals (View on Amazon)
They are versatile to suit all MTBs and are easy to pedal.
7. Grease the Drivetrain
Your drivetrain shouldn’t suffer friction as the parts will wear out, making the bike slower and slower.
For that reason, consider lubricating the drivetrain as often as possible. Doing so will boost the life of your drivetrain parts and allow the drivetrain to work smoothly.
If the drivetrain is working efficiently, you can count on it to deliver more power to the wheels, improving your speed.
8. Replace the Chain
Even if you grease the drivetrain and the chain is worn out, you’ll be doing zero work. So, look for signs of wear and tear on the chain to replace it.
The problem with a worn-out drive chain is that it drops often, and you use a lot of time fixing it. Additionally, it doesn’t deliver power efficiently to the wheels. So, you use more effort to pedal.
That, in the long run, means sacrificing speed. So, save yourself from disappointment by getting the SRAM PC-830 6/7/8-Speed MTB Bike Chain.
It’s perfect for 6-speed, 7-speed, and 8-speed MTB drivetrains.
9. Make Yourself Aerodynamic
Riding against the headwind is never easy. You have to contend with the wind drag, and that slows you down. You, however, can cut through wind drag if you become aerodynamic.
You can learn how to make your bike go faster doing the following:
- Swapping your MTB’s flat handlebars for drop bars
- Getting an aero cycling helmet
- Lowering your head when cycling
- Wearing close-fitting clothes (avoiding loose ones)
- Bending your elbows and forearm when cycling
10. Replace the Cassette
Even after replacing the drive chain and greasing the drivetrain, you may not make bicycle faster if the cassette is worn out.
So, check for out-of-shape and worn out sprocket teeth. Such signs indicate that it’s time to change your MTB’s cassette.
And when it comes to the perfect replacement, you cannot go wrong with the Shimano HG 400 9-Speed Cassette.
The cassette is corrosion-resistant and robust to meet the durability requirements of the modern mountain bike.
Since you now know how to make a mountain bike faster, you can turn your slow MTB into the speediest mountain bike ever.
Identify the hacks that work for you and implement them. Hopefully, they’ll help you boost your MTB’s speed almost immediately.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I increase my mountain bike speed?
Boosting your mountain bike speed can be achieved through various techniques, both functional and performance-oriented. One primary way is by improving your pedaling efficiency. It’s all about finding the right balance between effort and speed. You can do this by maintaining a consistent pedalling speed known as the ‘cadence’. Next, try to ensure your bike’s weight is optimized. Lighter bikes are generally faster, so try eliminating unnecessary weight if possible. This could mean swapping to lighter components or simply not carrying extra gear.
Also, increasing your endurance and stamina is crucial. This is directly related to the amount of power you can output over long durations. From personal experience, incorporating endurance training exercises, such as long steady rides or high-intensity interval training (HIIT), into your workout routine can go a long way to helping you maintain or increase speed on long trail rides. Additionally, learning to implement proper gear shifting techniques is essential for maintaining momentum and preventing rapid deceleration during rides.
In my early biking days, I realized just how much of an impact fine-tuning my bike's mechanics had on my riding speed. A well-maintained bike translates to less friction and increased speed. Regular maintenance of your drivetrain components and keeping the tires well inflated to the right pressure is key. Lastly, improving your bike handling skills through regular practice will allow you to navigate through various terrains more swiftly. Remember increasing your mountain bike speed often comes down to a combination of improved fitness, riding techniques, and a well-maintained bike.
What is the easiest trick to do on a mountain bike?
Learning tricks adds an exciting element to mountain biking and boosts your bike handling skills. As a beginner, the first trick I tackled was the “wheelie”. It’s a fundamental trick where you lift the front wheel off the ground and ride on the back wheel for a short distance. As a bonus, it’s not only one of the simplest tricks to learn but also incredibly useful in handling difficult terrain.
To perform a wheelie, you need to place your stronger foot on the front pedal and push hard while pulling the handlebars up. At the same time, lean back to shift your weight to the back wheel. It may take a few attempts to find the balance, but the key is to stay persistent.
Apart from being fun, practicing the wheelie regularly improved my bike control skills, giving me more confidence to tackle steeper, challenging trails. Despite its simplicity, always remember to wear your helmet and bike pads for safety. If you're new to mountain biking, starting with the wheelie can be an excellent way to boost your bike control skills and condidence.
How can I make my bike faster for free?
Making your bike faster doesn’t always require an expensive upgrade or new components. There are a few tweaks and maintenance steps you can perform at no cost that can enhance your bike’s speed. First and foremost, ensure your tires are properly inflated. It might surprise you, but having under-inflated tires can greatly impact your bike’s speed. Properly inflated tires cause less friction with the road, allowing for faster, smoother rides.
Next, clean and lubricate your chain frequently. A clean, well-lubricated chain reduces friction and enhances the efficiency of your power transmission, helping you go faster. I recall in my early days of biking, neglecting chain maintenance cost me valuable speed during races.
One overlooked practice by most riders is properly setting the bike's saddle height. Adjust to the optimal height where your foot just barely reaches the pedal at its lowest point. This allows for full leg extension and optimal power transfer, definitely a useful hack I have used over the years to ride faster.
Finally, work on your biking posture. A more aerodynamic riding posture reduces air resistance, which in turn can increase your speed. But, make sure any modifications are comfortable, allowing you to ride longer without fatigue. From my experience, proper bike maintenance, correct saddle setting, and efficient riding postures can significantly improve your bike's speed for free.
What is the easiest trick on a bike?
For beginners, the “track stand” could be one of the easiest tricks to learn on a bike. This trick involves balancing upright on your bike while stationary. It’s not only easy to learn but also very practical – it can help you stay steady at traffic lights or between downhill runs without dismounting.
To perform a track stand, you usually start with your dominant foot forward, slightly turn the bike's front wheel to the side, and balance by shifting your weight as needed. Track stands are easier to master on a slight incline, where the bike can roll back slightly to assist in maintaining balance.
When I began cycling competitively, practicing the track stand regularly improved my balance and bike handling skills during races. Remember, while practicing, it's crucial to wear protective gear to prevent injuries from accidental falls. So, if you're a beginner looking for an easy but practical trick to start with, the track stand is a great choice.