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In the world of cycling, mountain biking is one of the most popular sports when compared to others. Due to the all-terrain design of these bikes, they offer riders the opportunity to take on virtually any terrain. However, many people are wondering if mountain bikes are good for commuting and what does it offer.
Are mountain bikes good for commuting? A mountain bike is a great option for commuting as it is designed with an upright position, which offers the rider a more comfortable position. While a mountain bike might not be the best for normal road surfaces, it works wonders on different terrains and dirt roads. They also tend to be more durable and absorb shock far better.
Mountain bikes are a great option for those that enjoy the world of cycling and want to use the various features or take on numerous terrains. Yes, it is a great option for commuting, but we have gone even deeper.
This article aims to understand what a mountain brings to the table and what it would offer when used for commuting.
If you are interested in Commuter Bikes, I wrote a whole article about the top 9 Best Commuter Pedals (And how to choose yours)
What Benefits Do Mountain Bikes Offer Commuters?
To help you understand the value of your mountain bike better, we should dive into some of the benefits that it offers. These benefits would give you an idea of how functional the mountain bike can be and what it brings to the table.
Here are some of the essential benefits mountain bike riders could experience.
1- Terrain Versatility
One of the major benefits is in the tires of the mountain bike. The traditional mountain bike will use large and wide tires with a knobby surface. These tires provide excellent traction on various terrains and should make it possible to commute off-road.
In addition, mountain bikes are a bit more durable than traditional road bike tires, which also means fewer punctures and fixes are needed.
2- Shock Absorbers
A mountain bike is often fitted with shock absorbers. However, these would depend on the bike and which bike you choose.
The traditional hardtail bike only features a shock absorber in the front of the bike. The main benefit of this is that it does not have as much drag, which means climbing is easier, and you could get away with riding on flat surfaces.
Dual-suspension mountain bikes are a bit more complex, offering a front and rear suspension that reduces the shock. If you are riding on especially bumpy terrains, the full-suspension mountain bike would offer you plenty of value and functionality.
Unfortunately, it also comes with drag on flat and uphill terrains.
If comfort is what you are looking for, the mountain bike’s geometry would be perfect. As mentioned, these bikes offer a more upright seating position.
This reduces the need for slouching over and being frustrated. You could sit upright on the wider seats, reducing the strain on your rear.
If you put a mountain bike and road bike side by side, one of the first things you would notice is that the frame is made to be bigger and slightly thicker.
While this does mean more weight, it also means the bike is less prone to breaking. If you fall on a road bike, chances are that bike is ruined. However, road bikes can be picked up to continue.
Another significant benefit of a mountain bike stems from the drivetrain. These bikes often have numerous gears that would be functional for commuting. The traditional commuter bike is made to offer you a single-speed drivetrain that would get you from point A to point B.
With numerous gearing options for the mountain bike, riders can determine whether they want to be in a specific gear, and this would reduce the cadence needed for pedaling.
If you are going uphill, you can reduce the gear and choose something smaller. This would make it much easier to use the bike for climbing.
The parts and components on your commuter bike are often fixed, and it can be very hard to make changes and improvements. These bikes are designed to help you ride in one direction on more comfortable surfaces.
Mountain bikes offer tons of functionality; if you don’t like the drivetrain, you can replace it with something different.
The same goes for the tires and other components of the mountain bike, which would offer numerous benefits while riding. You can custom-build your mountain bike to meet all your needs.
You might enjoy reading: Best 9 MTB Bikes For Heavy Riders (And what you should look for when choosing one!)
What Are The Drawbacks Of Mountain Bikes?
Much like there are tons of benefits to riding your mountain bike, there are also a few drawbacks when you use it specifically for commuting.
Some of the following drawbacks might be daunting and could significantly hold you back, especially if you are not serious about cycling.
7- Weight Of Mountain Bikes
One of the first things you would notice is that mountain bikes are heavier than traditional commuter bikes, mainly due to all the features and accessories that are often on these bikes.
The additional weight would make the bike more durable, but it could also consume more energy to move the bike.
8- Complexity Of Mountain Bikes
Many commuters simply look for a normal bike that enables them to ride from one point to the other.
With the drivetrain and unique brakes, the mountain bike could be complex, meaning it would take some time to fully understand the bike.
Many commuters don’t want to put in the time and effort to fully understand the mountain bike.
9- Suspension Of Mountain Bikes
While the suspension is mostly hailed as a benefit, a few drawbacks are also associated with it. The suspension would make it easier to ride over bumpy and unique terrains.
However, it drags the bike down much more when you use it for flatter roads. You might need to find the perfect balance between suspension and stiffness, which is where the lockout suspension proves useful.
10- Price Of Mountain Bikes
Finally, the price is something that would hinder many buyers from considering the mountain bike. Due to the complex nature of the setup and various accessories, mountain bikes tend to be a bit more expensive than their commuter counterparts.
If you don’t want to use all the features, you would probably not need to pay this price.
See also: 6 Best Electric Mountain Bikes Under $3000.
A Few Things To Keep In Mind When Commuting With A Mountain Bike
There are a few important things you might want to keep in mind if you are planning to commute with your mountain bike.
Once you understand these factors, you can determine whether the mountain bike would be the ideal option to use.
1- Commuting Distance
You must understand the distance you are commuting. If your plan for commuting is more than 10 miles, you could be spending up to 1-hour on your mountain bike.
This could be hard for someone without adequate fitness; additionally, you would need to buckle down and understand your fitness level.
If you want to reach your destination a bit faster and constantly travel on paved roads, using a road bike might be much better.
Road bikes are aerodynamically proficient, and the smaller tires make them perfect for paved roads. A road bike could help you reach your destination in a much shorter time.
The best mountain bikes feature a carbon fiber frame with dual suspension and probably an SRAM or Shimano drivetrain with numerous speeds.
These components add a hefty price to the mountain bike, and you might not need them. You could opt for a much cheaper mountain bike with a steel frame that should be sufficient.
3- Mountain Bike Speed Vs. Road Bikes
In the commuting distance section, we briefly touched on the speeds of the mountain bike. However, there are mountain bikes that could offer you good speeds. As a rule of thumb, you should note that mountain bikes tend to be between 15% and 30% slower than road bikes on paved surfaces. Fortunately, this is made up for on bumpy off-road terrains.
4- Fitness Level
Finally, you need to have some sort of fitness when you are riding a mountain bike. In the world of cycling, cadence is everything and refers to the wattage you put out when pedaling. The higher your cadence, the more speed you would generate with the bike.
Mountain bikes are a great way to improve your fitness gradually and eventually become comfortable with doing longer distances.
Are Mountain Bikes More Comfortable Than Road Bikes?
Mountain bikes are typically more comfortable than road bikes because of their wider wheels, suspension, and upright riding. In addition, mountain bikes’ suspension absorbs bumps, and their wider handlebar offers more stability.
In contrast, road bikes feel “lighter” to ride than mountain bikes, not because of their actual weight difference but because of the difference in tires.
We can look at the mountain bike as the jack-of-all-trades in the world of cycling. It can do virtually everything, which is why it is so popular, and even commuters choose to use the bike for their trips.
We would recommend the mountain bike for the value it offers and would love to see some of your experiences when using the mountain bike for commuting.
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