Is a mountain bike good for city riding? You need to know this!

We live in a time where efficiency is everything. With that being said, efficiency can be subjective. For one person, efficiency might be having one bike that can both ride in the city and on trails.

For another person, efficiency could be the easiest way to get from point A to point B on a bike. This brings up the question, is a mountain bike good for city riding?

A mountain bike is good for riding in the city. However, it is not the best nor is it the most efficient. The best way to commute within the city is on a road bike and the best way to commute long distances is on a touring bike. If you only have a mountain bike then you should be perfectly fine riding in the city.

In this article, we are going to start by talking about riding a mountain bike in urban areas. Once we get through that, I will answer the question of which bike you should get. Then we will look at long-distance commuting. After that, we will move on to talking about mountain bikes vs road bikes. So, for everything that you need to know, keep reading.

Is A Mountain Bike Good For Urban Riding?

If you only have a mountain bike, then yes, they are good for urban riding. If you do want to use a mountain bike for urban riding it is best if you use a hardtail.

Man cyclist in the city

You want to avoid having any extra weight on the mountain bike. The more weight you have on the bike, the more rolling resistance you will encounter and this can make what should be an easy cycle turn into quite a tiring one.

The biggest downside to using a mountain bike in urban areas is fatigue. Let’s look at the tires first. The tires on a mountain bike are often bigger and a lot chunkier than road bikes or touring bikes. Therefore, it requires more energy to keep those tires moving.

Because there might be a lot of “stop/start” while in the city, this can become tiring. However, once you get used to it not only will it be good training for your legs, but the problem won’t seem so relevant anymore.

Is Riding A Mountain Bike On The Road Bad?

No, it is not bad for your mountain bike to ride on the road. In fact, when you compare a mountain bike against road bikes or touring bikes within the same price category, you will find that mountain bikes are more durable and thus, they take less damage from riding on any terrain when compared to the other bikes.

Should You Get A Mountain Bike Or A Road Bike For City Riding?

The answer to this question depends on your situation. See, not everybody is the same so to give a broad answer to this question would be rather disingenuous and I’m not a huge fan of that. So, allow me to give you three answers that hopefully include your situation.

  • If you use the bike for city riding and trail riding: You should use a mountain bike. A hardtail might be your best option.
  • If you are using the bike only for city riding: Get a road bike. It is more efficient for city riding.
  • If your commute is longer than 10 miles each way: Get a touring bike.

Is A Mountain Bike Good For Long Distance Commuting?

The best bikes for long-distance commuting are touring bikes. With that being said, you can indeed use a mountain bike for your long-distance commute. However, there is a slight catch.

A mountain bike is not efficient when it comes to time. It takes longer to get from point A to point B on a mountain bike if the terrain between point A and B is a normal tar road.

All cities are different. So, let’s say your long-distance commute starts in the suburbs and ends at your workplace in the city. There could actually be a lot of gravel, grass, and dirt because there might be shortcuts.

So, if this is the case for you then having a mountain bike could be better. Remember, while a mountain bike can efficiently ride on dirt and tar, a road bike or a touring bike is not so efficient at doing both of those but rather, they are only efficient at riding on the road.

Using A Mountain Bike To Commute Can Cause Fatigue

If you are trying to decide which type of bike you should get for your commute, you need to take a look at how long your commute is. Most people live within 10 miles of their workplace.

For anybody who has an average fitness level, 10 miles to work and then another 10 back from work is perfectly fine and you should be able to do the commute.

The problem is, as we have or will discuss in this article, a mountain bike is not as efficient at handling the road as a road bike is.

You will end up spending a lot of energy on that 10-mile commute on a mountain bike than you would on a road bike. This could mean that by the end of the week you feel fatigued. If you are biking for fitness, this might be a good thing however, if you are just looking for a better way to commute to and from work, it is a negative thing.

What Are Mountain Bikes Good For?

A mountain bike is best used on a trail. However, as we mentioned above, if you have a lot of shortcuts on your route then a mountain bike could be your best option.

Also, the more technical your route becomes, the more justified using a mountain bike becomes as well.

Mountain Bike Vs Road Bike

Right, if you plan on riding a bike in the city you might want to compare a road bike against a mountain bike. Sometimes this comparison is not needed. For example, if you are going to use the bike for multiple things.

If you want a bike to use on a trail as well as in urban areas then your best bet is to get a mountain bike. With all of that said, allow us to discuss a few of the significant differences between a mountain bike and a road bike. Hopefully, this helps you make the best decision as to which bike you should get for urban areas.

Mountain Bikes Are Heavier Than Road Bikes

So, a lot of people don’t realize that a mountain bike is a lot heavier than a road bike. While the difference in weight might seem insignificant at first, it does actually play quite a large role in how you experience each session while riding in urban areas.

The most notable difference when it comes to mountain bikes versus road bikes is the rolling resistance. This is due to the weight and size of mountain bike tires.

On a 10-mile stretch, rolling resistance can play a major factor in how tired you are after your riding session. That is something that you always need to consider if you want to use a mountain bike in the city.

Road Bikes Are Cheaper Than Mountain Bikes

Again, this goes in favor of road bikes. They are often a lot cheaper than mountain bikes and this is because they have fewer features.

Now, it is important to remember that the features that a mountain bike has, will play a very insignificant role in how you will experience your riding session in a city. In fact, as we have discussed, in terms of weight, it will make you more tired.

Mountain Bikes Are More Durable Than Road Bikes

Finally, a mountain bike comes out on top in this section. In terms of durability, there is almost no bike out there that can compare to the durability of a mountain bike. Obviously, this is when you compare two bikes that are in similar price brackets and made from similar quality materials.

Having a durable bike is the best option if you plan on taking a lot of technical shortcuts. What we mean by “technical shortcuts” is going through parks, fields, gravel roads, and much more.


As we said, if you want to use your bike for trails and for commuting in the city, then yes, you should get a mountain bike. However, if you just want to commute then you should get a road bike, and if it’s a long-distance commute, think about a touring bike. If you do decide to use a mountain bike, it is best if you use a hardtail.

That brings us to the end of this article. Hopefully, you can walk away from it having a clear idea of what bike you are going to get, and hopefully, we have answered all of your questions.

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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.