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Commuting To Work On A Mountain Bike: Is This A Good Choice?

If you’re like me and enjoy exercising but can’t seem to find enough time to fit it all in, then I am sure the possibility of commuting to work on your mountain bike has crossed your mind.

If so, then join me as I discover the pros and the cons of this decision and whether you can take your beloved mountain bike off the trails and onto the tar.

Using your mountain bike to commute to work can be a good choice if you can overlook the wear and tear on the tread of your tires.  A mountain bike on the road offers a really comfortable ride because it has a suspension that allows for a steady ride over potholes and bumps.

There are a number of reasons that make commuting to work on a mountain bike a possible good choice.  On the downside, it is not great on the wheel’s tread.  Further on, we explore why the tread on a mountain bike’s wheels diminishes more rapidly than when on the trails.

Why Commuting To Work On A Mountain Bike Is A Good Choice

Mountain bikes are designed for tough off-road riding.  They have been designed to ride in difficult conditions too, such as slippery slopes or muddy conditions.  Mountain bikes have thick treads on their wheels and they have suspensions.

Businessman with bicycle in a summer city

However, these beautiful monster bikes can be used for commuting to work on a tar road and I’ll show you why.

  • Comfort:  A mountain bike has a suspension made especially for uncompromising off-road trails.  Therefore, when using a mountain bike to commute to work on a tar road, the suspension will allow for a much smoother ride over potholes and any other poor road conditions.
  • Easier Commute:  Tar roads are mostly flat and hard but with most tar roads, you will eventually still come across road constructions such as potholes and bumps, and general holes in the roads.  With a mountain bike, these will be a lot easier to handle and maneuver over than with an ordinary road bike which is really just designed for a mainly straight road.
  • Any terrain:  If you are commuting to work on a mountain bike, sure you are mainly going to be on a tar road, but because you are on a mountain bike, you will have the option of taking shortcuts and venturing over foreign terrain that road bikes would never allow for.  Taking shortcuts over muddy fields and over little mountain hills will definitely not be something you need to avoid.
  • Weather:  When traveling on a bike, the weather is generally something you need to take into consideration.  Being on a mountain bike, however, will banish most of these concerns, and whether there is rain or even snow, muddy or other conditions are something you can steadily move through.  The mountain bike also weighs a lot more than a road bike making sure for a steady journey.
  • Flat bar:  The flat bar of a mountain bike is a lot more comfortable for most riders than the aerodynamic handlebars of a road bike and the flat bar also allows for a quicker reaction time. 
  • Positioning:  You are a lot more upright than when on a road bike and as a result, you will experience less body fatigue.
  • Speed:  In terms of speed there isn’t too much of a difference when commuting at a comfortable pace between the two bikes.  If anything, the mountain bike can go faster because of its ability to take shortcuts by going over different terrain and also faster in rainy conditions because it has a better grip.
  • The mountain bike weighs more:  One of the biggest noticeable differences between these two bikes is that a mountain bike weighs more, but one may only notice that on the acceleration.  If you aren’t taking off too often and really just enjoying the commute to work, this shouldn’t bother you too much.
  • One Reason Not To Use Your Mountain Bike For Commuting Every Day: One of the reasons to perhaps leverage your use of a mountain bike on the tar road would be the wear and tear on the tread of the tires.  The tread of the wheels of a mountain bike is designed for adventurous terrains such as mountain slopes, rocky roads, and dry hills and therefore are quite different from the wheels found on a road bike.

If you are interested in riding your mountain bike on the road and what to know if it is a good idea check out our in-depth articles here.

A lot of emphasis goes to trying to maintain the tread on your wheels because that is what is going to get you to the top of that mountain.  Destroying the tread on the tar of the road isn’t something the avid trail rider necessarily wants to do.  Riding on the tar is definitely going to wear out your tire’s tread a bit more than if you were riding out in the trails.

What Is A Reasonable Commute Distance To Work?

When weighing up the pros and cons of choosing to use your mountain bike to commute to work or not, it is a good idea to take into consideration the distance you will be traveling on a daily basis.

According to Google, an average person’s commute to work is between 10 miles and 20 miles per day, and a mountain bike’s tires will last between 3000 miles and 8000 miles.

If you are interested in riding long distances on a mountain bike check out our in-depth articles here.

Advantages Of Commuting To Work On A Bicycle

Commuting to work on a bicycle is fast becoming a growing trend with advantages such as contributing to the environment by not using a car and petrol, being gentle on the condition of the roads and a wonderful form of exercise.

Exercise:  This is a great way to stop the excuses and the procrastination and just to put the action in and get on with life.  By commuting to work daily you will be feeding two birds with one scone.  If you are commuting to work for 30 minutes every day you will be getting in a good amount of cardiovascular exercise.

In the time that we are living in, problems with our environment and pollution are very real things.  By choosing to commute to work on a bicycle and being one less car off the roads contributing to the morning traffic and pollution, you will automatically be placing yourself within the solution.

Saving:  Riding a bicycle costs absolutely nothing, besides the initial set up of course.  Riding to work would be free of charge.  No petrol to fill up and no bus or train tickets to purchase.  On top of that no parking tickets so you will really be saving quite a bit of money whilst getting in a good amount of exercise.

If you are wondering if a mountain bike is a good choice for everyday use check out this article here.

What To Wear To Work When Commuting On A Mountain Bike

Depending on your level of fitness, it would be wise to take a pair of clothes in a backpack to change in.  But it can be quite relaxed and a lot of people ride to work in their work clothes and change just a couple of items once there.  Here are a couple of points to keep in mind.

  • Set some time aside before your first appointment to freshen up and change a couple of items, such as touching up your make-up or re-doing your hair if necessary.    
  • A lot of people take a pair of shoes with them in a backpack because it can be a lot easier to ride with bike shoes as opposed to your work shoes or your work heels and it is quick to change.
  • A windbreaker can really come to the rescue in turbulent conditions to cover oneself up from any gusts of wind or even muddy puddles that might be lurking behind the next corner.
  • A backpack is lovely because you can put your lunch or your laptop or any other necessities in there.
  • When the weather allows, women can choose to commute to work in a dress, and if necessary, wear a pair of shorts underneath.

In Conclusion

In my opinion, with the above facts mentioned, commuting to work on any bicycle is wonderful.  If you don’t mind the wear and tear on the tread of your mountain bike it will be a great choice.  Don’t forget the added bonus of a ‘comfy ride’ when taking those shortcuts.

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I started mountain biking many years ago to improve my overall health state. After my first ride, I fell in love with the sport. Now I spend dozens of hours a week researching and training to compete in local XC and Enduro events.