Road bikes and Mountain Bikes (MTBs) are designed to handle different types of terrains. The major differentiating feature between a road bike and a mountain bike is the speed and endurance features. MTBs require more control, balance, and comfort whereas a road bike is faster and has more aerodynamic features than an MTB.
Whereas a Mountain bike’s features are perfect for off-road cycling because they are specially designed to handle tough terrains, they lack speed. A road bike, on the other hand, can manage long distances at high speeds. Consequently, they have uniquely designed components specialized to handle their specific road terrains.
As such, the main reasons which necessitate the change from a Mountain Bike (MTB) to a road bike is mostly to increase its speed features because road bikes are designed to ride fast on roads.
Also Read: History of the Bicycle
Main Features of a Mountain Bike
An MTB is heavier. It also has suspension in the rear and front for absorbing the impacts of roots, a rough terrain and rocks. The suspension is unnecessary on a regular road.
In addition, MTBs are more comfortable and stable than road bikes.Besides, MTBs have flat handlebars which make the rider sit in an upright position.
Just as importantly, the tires on a mountain bike are steady, and heavy and meant for off-road driving. Also, MTB tires have lugs and less air pressure for grip and traction which make MTB tires have more rolling resistance.More so, the tires of an MTB are wider to provide more grip and give the rider control.Unfortunately, the above features on the MTB impact negatively on the speed of an MTB.
Main Features of a Road Bike
Road bikes, on the other hand, are lighter in weight. The lightweight makes controlling road bikes easier at fast speeds.Also, the tires on a road bike are small and have less power to hold onto the ground. Besides, posture techniques are different between a road bike and an MTB.
A rider on a road bike sits in a forward leaning position contrary to a rider on an MTB which in creases their aerodynamics.Pedaling techniques are also different on MTBs and road bikes.
Making Your Mountain Biker Speedier
It is impossible to change all the features of the MTB to fit road use, the exercise can prove to be expensive and time-consuming. The features that are easy to convert include changing the tires and gearing system.
However, we have mentioned other parts you can change too if you are not on a tight budget. Noteworthy, don’t purchase any part until you are sure that it fits the MTB and it is compatible with your MTB.
If you are on a tight budget and you want minimal changes, you can change the wheels and you are good to go. Invest in good quality road tires that will reduce friction. Mountain bikes are heavier requiring more energy to operate than road bikes, and therefore you will be saving your energies to use them for speeding purposes.
The tires need to be smooth and narrow tires. They also need to have less surface drag. Get the same size of tires that your MTB has.You can also consider changing the wheel set for ones that can accommodate narrow rims, although it may not be a pocket-friendly exercise.
The change will make your bike easier to ride and faster. In addition, the tubes need to be inflated to accommodate more pressure.
The other very important component that you may want to consider altering even on a budget is the gearing system of the MTB. MTB gears are not designed for speed but are devised massive. You need gears that can cruise fast.
Invest in small gears. Alternatively, you can change the chainring for a smaller one. The effect will be an overall reduction in weight. Road bike gears that have bigger teeth and are fast can also work although you have to be sure that they are compatible with your gearing system.
Alternatively, you can opt to change the cassette instead, it is an easier and faster process.
Handlebars can be lowered which will help improve the aerodynamics of the bike. You need shoulder width handlebars. It is because sitting in an upright position will end up slowing you down. You also need narrower handlebars.
The wheel change will contribute to cutting down quite some weight of the bike. Other parts to change in a bid to reduce the weight of the MTB includes the saddle which should be changed to a lighter version. You can also replace the suspension forks or do away with them altogether.
You need a saddle that will allow you to drive more upright. The MTB saddle can be moved a bit to the front side. Also, get more rigid forks because they are stiffer and lighter and better suited for road biking.
To lighten the bike some more, you can swap some bike components and get carbon for the seat, stems, and fork.
Other Factors to Consider
You can use stiff shoes if you have flat pedals on the bike and use proper clothing too.You can also add toe clips to your pedals or change them to clip less pedals, not a cheap exercise. Additionally, the bike needs front and rear lights for safety.
What is Your Budget Allocation?
Converting an MTB to a road bike depends on your budget allocation. It can be a fun project because you will have a unique kind of bike that you kind of designed yourself. You can decide to do tons of changes or just stick to the bare minimum.
You cannot change all the features of an MTB to make it as efficient as a road bike. If you want a bike that is perfect for the road, it may be easier to sell the MTB and buy a road bike even if it is a second-hand. This is especially if you intend to compete with road racers.
It is because you cannot change the geometry of the MTB to a road bike, case in point is the longer wheelbase and bigger frame which provide a different posture than required on a road bike.