What is the difference between mountain bike and road bike?
When i first started looking what are my options for buying a bicycle, i ran into the two most used Bicycle Types, MTBs or the Mountain Bike and Road Bike. The obvious question was what’s the difference between the two. After spending lot of hours in understanding the two types of bicycles and how important they are, this article explains all the required difference between the MTB and a Road Bike.
Mountain Bike or MTBs as the name suggest are primarily used to tackle tougher terrains like the Mountain, Snow and even Sandy regions. They have visibly broader tyres when compared to Urban or Road bikes. Road bikes on the other hand are going to be used for general purpose riding on the urban terrain and can also be used for competitive cycling . They usually have bent handlebars compared to Straight Handlebars in an MTB. Apart from these details, the main difference involving Size, Weight, Price and Comfort of these two bicycles are compared in the rest of the article
Size of the Bike
This one is an easy difference to spot, the Mountain Bike or the MTB is bigger in size compared to the Road bike. The main reason being, the Tyre of an MTB is bigger and broader. This is to cover a lot of surface area which in turn reduces the pressure on the cyclist.
Other than this reason, MTBs are bigger in size due to the fact the Frame of the bicycle is super strong. The tyres exert enough pressure on the body, a flimsy frame cannot handle that. MTBs perform much better mainly because of their sturdier frames which in turn make them look big.
Road bikes are usually slim in size and even come in varying frame sizes. The usual frame size is the 24 or 26-inch which carries a tire of size 700Cm width and 24 or 26-inch in height. This makes the bicycle light and fast. The overall size of the Road bike is Slim on the outset but sturdy. Most of the consumer Road bikes come with Aluminium or Steel Frames that handles the plain road surface of the Road.
Weight of the Bike
With size comes the weight! MTBs are heavier than the Roadsters or the Road bikes because most of the weight is contributed by the Frame and the Tire of the MTB. But the weight of the bike is for good. The center of balance in MTBs are comfortable because of the weight and the Frame position.
MTBs even though are mostly made of Aluminium or Steel Frames(Some competitive bicycles might come in carbon fiber and titanium), the weight is still felt because of the additional parts like the Full suspension and the overall bicycle Body.
Road bikes on the other hand are lighter in weight mainly because of the frame size being thin. The Bicycle comes with a 24 or 26-inch wheel which is not bigger in size either. Most of the Road bikes nowadays are hard tail(Has only suspension at the back) which reduces additional moving parts for suspension in particular. All these contribute to the weight of a Road bike.
Why is the handlebar on the MTBs straight? or Why is the seating position of a Road Bike different from an MTB? To answer these two question, take a look at the picture below. The MTBs primarily have an upright seating position to let the rider control the momentum of the bicycle easily. It also makes it easy to sway either side and still upholding the balance. MTBs handlebar have gone through a lot of iterations over the year. If you are looking to ride MTBs on a Road, remember the fact that the bicycle is not designed to ride fast, instead it is designed to tackle tougher trails.
Road bicycles however, have a little bit of leaning position with its seat bent inward. HandleBars are bent on the side and arms are bent as well while holding the handle. This is to create good momentum and make it aerodynamic to ride the bicycle faster on the road. A lot of competitive bicycles and premium bicycles like Trek do not have a normal handlebar at all. Rather it requires the cyclist to always lean forward and make it aerodynamic. This is a key player in saving time off the clock in competitive cycling.
Consumer Road Bikes, even though do not want you to always bend forward, they still have a bit of a leaning position along with bent arms on the handlebar. This makes it easy to ride on a smooth road without requiring to always adjust your back. Reduces the pressure on your back and keeps you going forward.
Primary Use of a Mountain Bike
Mostly for off-roading only. Proper Road bikes on the other hand are not suitable for Off-roading. This means tackling tougher terrains with stone, gravel and tough mountain regions. Think about MTBs only if you have to ride a proper mountain trail, snow trail or even at times sandy trail(The larger tires cover larger surface area and are enough to keep your bicycle up and running).
MTBs can cause back pain if you are going to ride it everyday like a normal Road bike. This is because the seating position is suitable only to handle ups and downs in a Mountain. If you look at most of the MTB riders, they are always seated on the edge and look at using their body to navigate the track.
Cost of Mountain bike compared to Road Bike
Let’s take a look at the difference between the two types of bicycle on the Market currently. Even though the cost varies according to the company and the product, the price difference remains the same across the board. For Comparison Purpose, I am taking the Montra Brand of Bicycles and looking at the Road Bike and MTB series.
Cost of a Mountain Bicycle
The cost of Mountain Bicycle usually is upwards of 30k INR. A quality bicycle like the Montra Rock 3.1 comes at a price range of 33K INR. MTBs are made of good quality frame and can be heavy on the pockets. If you are really serious about buying an MTB consider Montra Rock series for some really comfortable and quality buy in India.
Cost of a Road/Hybrid Bicycle
Road or a Hybrid Bicycle costs half of an MTB. The main reason being most of the Hybrid bicycles do not have full body suspension. This is to cut down on the weight and also to reduce unnecessary moving parts in the bicycle.
Again considering, Montra for comparison, the MONTRA TRANCE PRO costs about 18k INR whereas a proper Road Bike like MONTRA UNPLUGGED costs about 28k INR.
Which bike to Choose
If you want to answer the question, Which bicycle to choose between MTB and Road Bikes? The answer lies in the below 3 counter-questions
- Do you ride every day or is it only a hobby for now? – If you ride every day (Usually to and fro from Work), then the best choice is going to be a Road or a Hybrid Bicycle
- Do you off-road a lot? But also want a bicycle for Quick rides – Put your money with either a quality MTB or a Hybrid Bicycle
- Do you ride everyday in a mountain region or hard trails? – MTB serves you better than a hybrid.
If you have any other ideas or thoughts on this topic, let me know about it in the comments below!