Can You Put Road Tires on a Mountain Bike?

When deciding whether to put road tires on your mountain bike, you should keep certain factors in mind, such as the difference between a mountain bike and road bike design and tire width. If you want to get the most exceptional performance possible out of a mountain bike with street tires, then thin tires, a lockout fork, and higher tire pressure are the best way to go. 

Is It a Good Idea to Put Road Tires on a Mountain Bike?

Whether or not it’s a good idea to use road tires on a mountain bike depends on where you’re riding.

If you’re interested in putting road tires on your mountain bike because you want to ride on the road, then road tires will work for your mountain bike. Your mountain bike will just require a few adjustments to make the ride more comfortable. 

If you want to put road tires on your mountain bike to ride on challenging terrain, then you are risking your safety. 

Mountain bike tires are larger and have more tread to help you keep traction on rugged terrain. Road bikes have slick tires that can easily cause falls if you are not on asphalt or concrete. 

Converting your mountain bike for road use by putting on road tires is a good idea because mountain bikes have a range of advantages that road bikes don’t have. For instance, mountain bikes perform better in a broader range of road conditions, are cheaper, more durable, and safer. 

Why Put Road Bike Tires on a Mountain Bike?

The main reason that you would want to put road bike wheels on a mountain bike is to increase your mountain bike’s efficiency when road riding. 

A mountain bike tire is broad with a lot of tire tread and a thicker tire sidewall. 

These features are optimized for rugged terrain so that mountain bikers can navigate easily. But, they make mountain bike tires inefficient for road riding. 

A smaller tire width on road tires means less surface area on the road, which leads to less friction and increased speed. These factors enable road riders to glide more easily on asphalt surfaces. 

Wide tires, conversely, are better for rough ground to maintain traction. So, for the best performance on smooth surfaces, thin road tires are preferable. 

Similarly, the tire tread on mountain bikes does not do well for road training. The smooth tires found on road tires are better for long rides on smooth roads because they give you more momentum with less effort. 

Finally, the thinner sidewalls on road wheels allow less rolling resistance, making your drive more comfortable. The problem with thin side walls is that they are more susceptible to flats and will cause more damage and wear to your bike if you are not riding on smooth surfaces. 

Considerations for Putting Road Bike Tires on a Mountain Bike

When swapping a mountain bike tire for a road bike wheel, you should consider adjusting certain aspects of your bike and tires to make your drive more comfortable. 

Suspension

Mountain bikes feature suspension while road bikes do not. The mountain bike frame requires a suspension system so it can absorb the shock and vibrations of riding on rough terrains. 

The suspension, in turn, reduces pedal efficiency, which means you’ll need more energy to propel your bike. 

When using a mountain bike on the road, investing in a lockout fork is a good idea. A lockout fork is a switch that goes on top of the right stanchion of your mountain bike’s suspension. 

You can use this to lock out your suspension so that the mountain bike will glide easier when rolling on flat asphalt or going uphill. 

Tire Pressure

Road tires tend to have more air pressure than mountain bikes so that they move faster. 

When switching your mountain bike tires out for road wheels, you should increase the air pressure. Mountain bikes tend to have an air pressure below 35 psi, while road tires are often above 50 psi. 

Just be sure you check the maximum psi for your tires before pumping them. 

You should also be aware that more pressure means that you will have reduced traction on rougher terrains. So, when cross-country cycling, ensure that you decrease tire pressure to prevent falls. 

Even people with excellent cycling skills can still fall if they don’t have enough traction. 

Traction

Mountain bike manufacturers make their wheels specifically for mountain biking, so they have more tread and larger tire knobs to withstand the rough and loose terrain they maneuver over. On the other hand, a road bike tire has small knobs and a smooth center for less rolling resistance. 

Tire Width and Diameter

Most mountain bike tires have a width of 2 or 2.5 inches, while a road tire is usually no more than 1.75 inches. The narrow tires on road bikes allow for a faster ride because they don’t flatten as much as the wheels on many mountain bikes, so there’s less friction. 

A narrow bike tire also has a lighter weight so that it won’t weigh the bike down as much. Just remember that your bike’s rim is going to determine your tire width. 

Not all bikes can take thin wheels, so check the appropriate tire widths for your bike. 

You should know the tire diameter your bike can take to find the right ISO-sized tire. But, overall, bike wheels are relatively interchangeable, so your bike should be able to accommodate a wide range of tire sizes. 

Also, be sure that you update your bicycle kit so that you have the correct tube and tools for your tire size. You should also know that thinner wheels are less shock-absorbing, so be careful on rough terrain. 

You can also choose to put wider tires on the front of your bike so that you can get more traction. More traction on the front of the bike prevents sliding, which can lead to a fall. 

For the rear tires, a thinner wheel will give you the advantages of a narrower wheel and balance out the thicker front wheel. When buying a rear tire, buy the best quality that you can because rear tires wear the quickest. 

Gears

Skinny tires allow you to use another rear gear set to perk up your gearing. Manufacturers make mountain bikes to accommodate slower average speeds and steep climbs, so their gears aren’t the same as a road bike. 

Road bikes have more gears in a close range so that a rider can adjust the cadence in smaller increments. 

You can also think about swapping to a larger chainring. The chainring is the spiky disc that connects to your cranks and pulls the chain around. 

A larger chainring makes the bike easier to pedal uphill. Most mountain bikes today only have one chainring, which makes them easier to change. 

Handlebar Position

Road bicycles have lower handlebars to make them more aerodynamic. So, lowering the handlebars on your mountain bike will make it more comfortable for street riding. 

To drop the handlebars on your bike, you’ll need to lower the stem on your steer tube. Lowering the steer tube is a simple procedure and shouldn’t take more than five minutes. 

Tube or Tubeless Tires?

You can use either a tire with a tube or a tubeless option for your conversion. When deciding which one to choose, think about the pros and cons of tubeless tires. 

Tubeless tires give you more momentum, better ride quality, and make the bike lighter, but they are more expensive and require more maintenance than traditional tubed tires. 

When most people are buying mountain bike tires or road bike tires, they prefer tires with tubes. Tubeless tires have become more common over the years, but most bike tires still have tubes in them. 

Safety Considerations

If you aren’t used to riding on the road, there are a few safety features you may want to consider. 

For instance, a rearview mirror can ensure you see traffic around you. Bike bells can also help to keep you and others around you safe when you’re driving in crowded areas. 

Finally, reflective clothing or gear for your bicycle can help increase your visibility to vehicles. 

Conclusion

If you are wondering if you can put street tires on a mountain bike, the short answer is yes. Street tires are a good idea for a mountain bike if you are riding your bike on flat surfaces. 

When switching out your tires, think about the differences in tire and frame design so that you can find the best road tire for your mountain bike. Slick tires, narrower tires, and a rigid fork are essential considerations when switching to different tires. 

Tire size and rim size are also important to consider before heading out on road rides.