Mountain Bike Or Road Bike: Which Is Better For Long Rides?

I love my mountain bike and the more I ride it the longer my rides become. Every time I ride on the road and a road biker goes past me, I am left wondering if I ride the right bike.

As a general rule, using a road bike to ride long distances on the pavement is the best choice due to the increased speed and pedaling efficiency, but if your ride on mixt terrains a mountain bike will offer better traction and it will handle better the off-road sections.

In this article, I will compare the two types of bikes for riding long distances, I will examine what are the storage options for your luggage and by the end of the article, you will have all the knowledge you need to determine which of the two bikes is more suited for your long-distance riding needs. So keep reading

Can a Mountain Bike Be Used for Long Rides?

Mountain bikes are well suited for long rides that incorporate a mix of rough and smooth terrain, but will not be very effective on the pavement. Because you need to pedal harder to maintain a decent speed on the road, you will deplete your energy much quicker than with a road bike.

Two cycles in front

If you enjoy nature and you like riding on unpaved side roads then a mountain bike is the best choice even for longer rides but if you are not bothered by the road traffic and most of all of your rides are on pavement, a road bike will be more suited for you.

I have a mountain bike and I love riding it, my longer rides tend to reach the 43 miles (70 km) mark. For my friends that are road bikers, this is a short ride, they tend to ride more than 62 miles (100 km) on their normal rides.

So, can you ride 40 or 60 miles on a mountain bike? Of course, you can, but because mountain bikes are not optimized for speed on the road it will take you much longer than on a road bike. If you ride on mountain trails or rough terrain then a mountain bike is your only option.

One of the biggest advantages of using a mountain bike for long rides is reliability, a mountain bike is a tough bike on which you can count in the roughest of weather and road conditions.

The chance that your mountain bike will break down during your rides is very slim, so you can enjoy your ride widout too much stress.

If you what to know more about using a mountain bike for long rides, I encourage you to read this article!

Can a Mountain Bike Be as Fast as a Road Bike?

Mountain bikes are slower than road bikes on the road because their transmission system is optimized for trail riding and not for pavement. While mountain bikes are equipped with wide and knobby tires, road bikes have slim tires for less friction with the road surface and this is great for speed.

Main reasons why a mountain bike is slower than a road bike (on the road):

  • Transmission system: The front chainring for a road bike has more than 50 teeth and most mountain bikes have a front chainring with less than 40 teeth, this will heavily favor the road bike when it comes to speed.
  • Tires: Because mountain bikes are made to be reliable on rough terrain they are equipped with wide knobby tires that are used at the lowest pressure possible to improve traction. Unfortunately, all these factors are slowing down the mountain bike when ridden on the road.
  • Bike weight: One more big difference between road bikes and mountain bikes is the weight of the bike, road bikes are much lighter than mountain bikes and this makes them more efficient for sprinting and on the uphill sections of your rides.

Believe me, I tell you this from my experience, you can’t keep up with a road biker while riding a mountain bike. I tried every time I had the opportunity. The only situation I was faster on my mountain bike was it the road was filled with holes and the road biker needed to slow down.

If you what to know all the reasons why a mountain bike is slower on the road, then this article is for you!

Are Mountain Bikes More Comfortable Than Road Bikes?

Riding a MTB on mountain road

Mountain bikes are more comfortable than road bikes because they are equipped with suspensions that absorbed the shocks when hitting bumps on the road. The riding position is more upright on a mountain bike and this will increase your level of comfort.

Because mountain bikes are designed to handle even the roughest off-road conditions they will be very comfortable when ridden on the road.

When it comes to long rides, road bikes have a big advantage over mountain bikes when it comes to comfort, and this advantage is that they are equipped with drop bars.

Drop bars will give you the option to change the grip type while riding, this is a great advantage on longer rides because it will prevent hand soreness and this will have a great impact on your comfort.

When it comes to using a bike with a geometry that allows you a more comfortable position and the ability to absorb all the bumps on the road and using a bike with drop bars, I would choose every day the first option. This is true only regarding comfort.

I think that we can easily say that mountain bikes are more comfortable than road bikes.

If you what to read a more in-depth comparison of road bikes and mountain bikes regarding comfort, read this article!

Which Can Carry More Bags and Weight?

If you want to go touring on your road bike or your mountain bike, you will need storage options for your luggage, so what options do you have for each type of bike:

Storage optionMountain bikeRoad bike
Rear RackYes but limited
options for full suspension
Front RackYesYes
Saddle PacksYesYes
Handlebar PacksYesYes
Frame BagsFew MTB have
clearance for them
Bike Trailers for CargoYesYes

As you can see, there are plenty of storage options for your luggage on both types of bikes, the many problems here are not going over the weight limit of the bike.

The weight limit is different for each bike and you should consult the user manual on the manufacturer’s website.

In general, mountain bikes and road bikes will have a weight limit in the 275 and 300 pounds range, while you can find some options that go to 375 or even 500 pounds but you will need to invest some time to find them.

If you can’t find this information on your bike manufacturer’s website and you what to be on the safer side consider your bike to have a 275 weight limit but keep in mind that this weight limit is composed of rider weight + luggage+ bike accessories.

When it comes to luggage options and the weight you will have roughly the same options for each one of the two bike types. So this one is a tie.

Head to Head Comparison of Mountain Bikes and Road Bikes Regarding Long Rides

Now let us compare the advantages of the two types of bikes:

Mountain bikesRoad bikes
ComfortableGood for speed
Tough and reliablePedaling efficiency
Can handle any type of terrainCover more distance in less time
Better on slippery roadsGood for uphill sections
Good for sprints
Can chance grip type, the advantages of mountain bikes and road bikes for long-distance riding.

The most crucial thing is to determine which of these advantages is more important for you because we all have different needs.

Now let us look at the disadvantages of the two types of bikes:

Mountain bikesRoad bikes
HeavyOnley road use
Low pedaling efficiency
(due to suspensions and tires)
Can feal every bump
Lower speedUncomfortable riding position
Can’t chance grip type
Heavier to go uphill
Bad for sprints, the disadvantages of mountain bikes and road bikes for long-distance riding.

At this point, I think you have the complete picture of riding long distances on both types of bikes.


In the end, we can definitely say that road bikes are the best choice for riding long distances on the road but if you what to incorporate off-road portions in your ride then a mountain bike will suit you better.

Keep in mind that we all have different needs, by now I think that you have all the knowledge you need to know which type of the two bikes suits your needs regarding riding long distances.

You may also like these articles:

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.