One question frequently pops up when considering purchasing a bike – Road bike vs Mountain Bike?
This may sound like a simple question, after all, chances are you already know what type of cycling you intend to do. But buying a bike can mean some serious cash outlay, and you want to be positive that the choice you make is the right one.
This article is written to help you decide which bike is right for you.
The obvious answer is a road bike is optimized to work best on paved surfaces, a mountain bike is optimized for rugged off-road trails. Even to the untrained eye, a quick glance at the bikes is enough to spot some fundamental differences: -
My completely unbiased opinion is - why would you even consider a road bike?
Nah, only kidding, I have had some amazing fun on road bikes over the years, the sheer thrill of speed can be hard to beat.
So a more serious approach is to ask yourself what you intend to use your bike for. If under no circumstances you can see yourself wanting to hit mountain trails, then a road bike may be the right choice.
But before you rush out and purchase that road bike there are a couple of other considerations to think about:
Distance is another consideration. Road bikes are built for speed and distance if you are intending to set out on some serious road trips or spend days racking the miles up, then a road bike is going to make it easier and more comfortable.
Below is a summary of the pros and cons of a road bike:
Advantages of a road bike
Disadvantages of a road bike
Great for long-distance high-speed rides
Not as robust as mountain bikes
Lighter than mountain bikes
Not as versatile
Easier to maintain
Less effort required (on paved surfaces)
Mountain bikes are optimized to work on rough and uneven terrain, where reaching high speeds is not considered essential. While this characterization means they will always underperform on road surfaces when compared to road bikes, they do still ride admirably well on roads.
The same cannot be said if the tables were turned. I’m often riding my mountain bike on roads, I have never ridden my road bike on a trail.
This versatility is why many people choose a mountain bike even if they never have any intention of doing any serious off-road riding. Even for those who already own road bikes, owning a mountain bike is a great way of keeping your options open.
Bumpy footpaths, uneven canal and river banks, and roads that have seen better days are all accessible on a mountain bike. And they needn’t cost the earth, the price of mountain bikes has dropped in recent years and now it is possible to get hold of a perfectly adequate mountain bike for under $500.
Here are my pros and cons for mountain bikes:
Pros of Mountain Bikes
Cons of Mountain Bikes
Require more maintenance
Great in all weathers
Better brakes and drivetrain
There are no rights and wrongs when choosing between a road bike and a mountain bike. Ultimately, the choice is dependent on how the bike is going to be used.
The only piece of relevant advice I would give is this – If you could only buy one bike and want to cover as many bases as possible, then it has to be a mountain bike.
If you are certain that road work is all you will ever do, then a road bike is probably the right choice.