Is a Mountain Bike Good for City Riding? You need to know this!

A mountain bike can be used for city riding, but whether it’s “good” for it depends on your specific needs and preferences.

Mountain bikes are good for riding in the city. However, it is not the best option, nor is it the most efficient. Road bikes are more efficient on the road but for city riding a city bike will be the most comfortable ride.

Pros and Cons of Using a Mountain Bike in the City


  • Durability: Mountain bikes are built to withstand rough terrains, so they can handle potholes and curbs in the city quite well.
  • Traction: The wide and knobby tires of mountain bikes offer good traction, which can be beneficial on wet or slippery city streets.
  • Comfort: Mountain bikes often have a more upright riding position than road bikes, which some riders find more comfortable for short trips. Additionally, the wider tires and suspension (if present) can absorb shocks from uneven roads, making for a smoother ride.
  • Versatility: If your city rides occasionally take you through parks, trails, or unpaved paths, a mountain bike can handle those terrains without issue.


  • Less Efficient: Mountain bikes are generally heavier than road or hybrid bikes, and their wide, knobby tires create more rolling resistance. This means you’ll have to exert more effort to maintain the same speed as on a road bike.
  • Speed: Due to their design and weight, mountain bikes are typically slower on paved roads compared to road bikes.
  • Maneuverability: The wider handlebars on some mountain bikes can make navigating through tight city spaces a bit more challenging.
  • Tire Wear: The knobby tires on mountain bikes can wear out faster on paved roads than they would on trails.
  • Overkill: Many of the features that make mountain bikes great for trails (like heavy-duty suspension) might be unnecessary for city riding and can add extra weight

Is A Mountain Bike a Good Choice 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.

Mountain Bike vs. City Bike

Mountain bikes and city bikes are designed for different terrains and purposes. Here’s a comparison of their key features and intended uses:

Mountain Bike (MTB):

  1. Purpose: Designed for off-road trails, rough terrains, and technical paths.
  2. Tires: Wide and knobby to provide grip on uneven surfaces.
  3. Frame: Robust and durable to withstand the stresses of off-road riding.
  4. Suspension: Often equipped with front (and sometimes rear) suspension to absorb shocks from rough terrains.
  5. Geometry: Generally has a more relaxed geometry, allowing riders to navigate technical trails.
  6. Gearing: Wide range of gears to handle steep inclines and rapid descents.
  7. Brakes: Typically disc brakes for better stopping power in muddy or wet conditions.

City Bike:

  1. Purpose: Designed for urban commuting, short trips, and paved roads.
  2. Tires: Narrower than MTB tires, with a smoother tread for efficient rolling on asphalt.
  3. Frame: Lightweight and often designed for an upright riding position for comfort and visibility in traffic.
  4. Suspension: Usually rigid, but some models might have minimal front suspension or seat post suspension for comfort.
  5. Geometry: Designed for comfort and ease of use in urban settings.
  6. Gearing: Often has fewer gears, suitable for flat or mildly hilly urban terrains.
  7. Brakes: These can be rim brakes or disc brakes. Some city bikes also feature internal hub brakes.
  8. Extras: Often come with fenders, racks, chain guards, and lights for practicality in urban environments.

Which to Choose?

  • For off-road adventures and commuting or occasional city rides: Choose a mountain bike.
  • For daily commuting, errands, and city rides: Choose a city bike.

Remember, the best bike for you depends on your specific needs, the terrains you’ll be riding on, and your personal preferences.

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.


In conclusion, while a mountain bike can be used for city riding, it might not be the most efficient choice. If you already own a mountain bike and want to use it in the city, a few modifications can make it more suitable. However, if you’re buying a new bike specifically for city riding, you might want to consider a road bike, hybrid bike, or city-specific bike

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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.