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What Is a Mountain Bike Used For? (You May Be Surprised!)

If you’re thinking of buying a mountain bike, you might be wondering what is the best use for it. There are several different uses for mountain bikes, but they all share some similarities.

As a general rule mountain bikes are used for competing in MTB races and riding technical off-road terrain in the safest conditions possible. Due to their toughness and versatility, they are becoming more and more popular with people that need a bike for commuting, touring, or dirt jumping.

In this article, we will take a look at some of the most common use cases of a mountain bike so that you can see how versatile a mountain bike can be and decide if it is worth the big investment.

Riding Off-road

Mountain biker riding off-road
Off-road MTB ride

Mountain bikes are specifically made for off-road use, so this use is one of the most obvious ones. MTBs offer higher clearance for pedaling on uneven terrain and are much tougher than other types of bikes.

Because they are equipped with suspension, you will have greater traction on rough trails and most of the shock of riding on rough terrain will be absorbed, this means that you will be able to ride longer without joint pain.

In contrast to road bikes, which have no suspension and narrow tires, mountain bikes have wider tires that can run at lower pressures and are better for shock-absorbing, this will allow you to ride uneven terrain more comfortably.

With the exception of downhill MTBs, mountain bikes are designed for climbing. They are also designed for rapid responses. You can pedal on a flat, gentle pedal trail, or tackle the steepest mountain terrain.

Downhill Riding

Riding downhill is the best part of cycling, your adrenaline gage will fill quickly as you gain speed while descending and this can become very addictive. Riding downhill on trails is very fun and will give you the most desired adrenaline rush, but if your bike doesn’t offer you enough traction (stability) you may lose control and this can spell disaster.

This is where a mountain bike will truly shine! Big knobby tires, long-travel suspensions, powerful brakes, and a frame that has a geometry specially designed to overcome rough terrain will all come together and will offer you a bike that allows you to enjoy adrenaline spikes without taking too high of a risk.

Keep in mind that on descents occur the most cycling crashes, so always ride according to your skill levels!

If you get a full-suspension MTB your back wheel will lose less often the contact with the ground (the rear suspension will absorb all the bumps so your back wheel will not bounce) and this will result in much better stability and traction when riding downhill (even on the road).

Dirt Jumping

Similar to motocross dirt jumping, MTB dirt jumping can be a lot of fun but you need a tough bicycle that won’t break when you land those big jumps. What tougher alternative can you find other than a mountain bike?

Yes, MTBs are great bikes for dirt jumping because they are tough and reliable bikes that can take a beating. Some people only use their MTb for dirt jumping, this can be really addictive but it requires some skills and it is not recommended for beginners.

Trials and Tricks

Besides BMX bikes, MTBs are the preferred bikes to impress a crowd with outstanding tricks. They are designed with handling in mind and are tough and stable enough to tackle any challenge you throw at them, descending stairs, jumping over obstacles, manual over benches, etc.

If you decide to show off your skills in a city, a mountain bike will be more than suited for the task at hand. Just get a smaller MTB and the sky is the limit, or should I say your skills are the limit!

Riding on Sand

Riding a mountain bike on sand

If you want to ride your bicycle on sand or on the beach then the most important feature of your bike needs to be great traction otherwise you will have a hard time riding such a loose terrain like sand.

MTBs offer the best traction you can have on a bicycle and there is even a special type of MTB designed to be ridden on sand and snow, it is colled fat bike and you will recognize it from afar due to its incredibly wide tires that will offer you all the traction you need to have fun on the beach or on sandy trails.

If you want to know more about riding a mountain bike on the beach (with helpful tips that will allow you to have a ton of fun), you can read this article!

Riding in Muddy Conditions

If you need to ride your bike after a day of rain and some portions of your route are unpaved then most surely you will encounter muddy terrain. Or maybe you want to have fun on the trails near you and you don’t want the rain to hold you back, no matter why you will ride on mud the only way to do it is with a mountain bike.

Because mud is so slippery you need to have adequate tires that will give you the necessary traction to move forward otherwise you may get stuck. Wide knobby tires are what will get you out of this pickle, the bigger the ire profile is and the wider they are the less chance you have to get stuck in the middle of a big puddle on the trails.

If your mountain bike is equipped with cross-country tires (lower profile) don’t push your luck trying to conquer dip mud because you won’t have the necessary traction to move forward and you will get stuck.

If you don’t like to get dirty, don’t forget about installing fenders on your mountain bike, I ride without them and when I get home I am filled with mud from head to toe.

Riding in the Cold Season

The most frustrating feeling in cycling is when the cold season comes and you need to take a break, but if you are tougher than the average person and you can handle the cold weather then you need a bike that can handle rough riding conditions without the need to service it too often.

Modern mountain bikes are made to withstand even the harshest of weather conditions without taking too much damage and draining your pockets with expensive repairs.

If you dry your mountain bike up when you get home and you store it at a proper temperature (room temperature is ideal) until the next ride you won’t need to service it more often than usual.

Participating in MTB Events and Races

MTB race
Mountain bike race

There are many mountain biking events and races in which you can compete with a mountain bike and really is not that unusual to see a mountain biker compete with a hardtail in a road race, at the amateur level of course.

Most renowned type of mountain biking races:

  • cross country
  • enduro events
  • downhill events
  • freeride

If you want to know more details about the different types of mountain biking riding styles and races I encourage you to read the following article!

Commuting

Mountain bikes are a popular type of bike for commuters because it rarely breaks and is versatile enough to be ridden on any type of terrain and weather conditions.

Practically a mountain bike will be a very good option for an all-around bike because you can ride it on any surface, it has good storing capabilities for commuting and if you get a hardtail you can mount a bike trunk and even go grocery shopping.

And let’s not forget, riding a mountain bike in the city will make you look good!

MTB Touring

Because mountain bikes are so tough and reliable many people prefer to use them for touring. Having your bike break on you when you are a couple of days far from home isn’t a desirable experience.

If you have a hardtail you will have decent storing possibilities and you can expand them by mounting a bike trunk, be aware that this option isn’t available on a full suspension because the bike’s geometry is more complex and has more moving parts.

Final Thoughts

As you may know by now mountain bikes are the most versatile bikes on the market, you can use them for every riding style, from jumps to tricks to riding very technical trails a mountain bike can handle almost anything you throw at it.

Because they are so tough and have a long lifespan mountain bikes gained so much in popularity even among people who are not that interested in riding mountain trails.

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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.