Mountain Biking vs Road Biking – 10 Reasons MTB is Better

Bikes have been around for ages. They’re great for getting outside and getting some exercise. They’re fun. They’re easy to learn. I could go on.

There are two main types of biking that most people are doing these days: mountain biking and road biking. If you’re wondering which is better and what the differences are, you’ve come to the right spot! We’re going to be looking at all of this and more…

Mountain Biking vs Road Biking

Mountain Biking vs Road Biking

Before we dive into the reasons why mountain biking is better than road biking, we need to look at their similarities and differences. The similarities between the two are pretty straightforward. Obviously, they are both fitness activities that require a bike. They both can differ in difficulty based on the terrain, the type of bike you use, the weather outside, and more. So, no matter if you are a beginner or a very advanced cyclist, you will challenge yourself with either. Another big similarity is that they require the same safety gear because they both have inherent risks that riders need to be aware of. But, we’ll get more into that with the differences…

Different Bikes

Like I mentioned above, you need a bike for both outdoor activities, but the type of bike differs a lot. I could go into great detail about how different they are, but it comes down to three things for me: tires, weight and price.

Typically with road bikes, the tires are going to be very thin. The primary reason that road bikes have thinner tires than mountain bikes is because this sport is more designed around speed. The thinner the tire, the less surface area you are covering and the faster you will go. The opposite is true for mountain bikes. You will cover all kinds of different terrains and you will need a thicker tire to be more forgiving and stable.

Because the goal of biking on the open road is to go fast, you are going to want a lighter bike. Typically, they make road bikes of thinner, lighter metal (such as aluminum) to achieve this goal. However, they build mountain bikes a good bit sturdier.

The last way that the bikes are different is with the price. While you can find a solid road bike for under $500, they are usually much more expensive.

Different Terrains

If we’re talking mountain biking vs road biking, we’ve got to discuss terrain. As the names suggest, road biking is biking on roads while mountain biking is biking more in nature.

With road biking, you ideally want to be on very smooth pavement because of the bike design. With mountain biking, however, you can bike on all kinds of different terrains. It could be a rocky trail, a dusty dirt bike track, or anything in between.

Different Risks

The last biggest difference that stands out to me when I think of comparing mountain biking vs road biking is the risk factor. Both sports come with some risks. One of the biggest risks that road bikers face is cars, but some other risks you may not have considered include: slippery roads, uneven surfaces, and stopping at red lights.

Mountain biking is risky because you’re exploring different terrains. If you fall, you could land wrong on a rock, slide down a hill, or even worse.

It’s important that whenever you do any kind of biking that you take as many safety precautions as you can. Whether it’s wearing protective gear or picking times to ride that are less crowded, it’s important to know the potential risks and do the best you can to protect yourself from them!

10 Reasons Mountain Biking is Better

This doesn’t sound biased at all, right? Well, there may be some people out there who may disagree, but I am here to share the top 10 reasons we believe mountain biking is better than road biking.

More Variety

When comparing mountain biking vs road biking, mountain biking has the biggest variety hands down. With cycling on the road, you need the terrain to be consistent or it could be dangerous. Yes, you could have a hilly route or a flat route. Yes, you could have one that has a beautiful view, but there are so many options with mountain biking.

With mountain biking, there are 16 different styles and counting. From a bikepark, to a man-made track to trails, cross-country and more, there is a type of mountain biking for everyone.

Magnificent Views

Mountain Biking vs Road Biking

Of course, you could find superb views on both a road bike and a mountain bike, there’s just something more special about actually being in nature and riding alongside it.

There is limited access to magnificent views with roads, but if you ride through the mountains, your possibilities of amazing views are endless.

No Cars

I don’t know about you, but sharing the open road with cars brings all kinds of nerves and anxieties. You could be the safest cyclist in the world, but that will not help you if you come across a distracted driver. With mountain biking, you simply don’t have to deal with the same worries of cars and how they will react to you on the road.

While there are still risks with mountain biking vs road biking, I like to think that you are less at the mercy of other people.

Can Be the Safest Option

Notice that I said mountain biking “can be” the safest option. This depends on you and your style, but depending on the type of mountain biking you do, it can be incredibly safer!

Mountain biking on simple trails is the safest option out there between the two forms of biking. What I mean by simple trails is trails that are manmade and, while offering normal variances, don’t have any extreme slopes or changes in grade or terrain. This is much safer than biking on a road where there are cars and other risk factors.

But, if you are more into extreme mountain biking, then it is less safe than road biking. By extreme, I mean steep downhill slopes. Downhill mountain biking offers the most risk.

So, if you choose to mountain bike on trails, you are choosing the safest option!

More Forgiving Terrain

If you fall on the pavement, you’re going to get hurt. The surface for road bikes is always going to be hard and unforgiving. With mountain biking vs road biking, however, the terrain is much more forgiving since most of the time it is dirt. It’s softer and has more cushion for the inevitable fall.

Burns More Calories

Mountain Biking vs Road Biking

When you vary the terrain you’re riding, you use more energy and, therefore, burn more calories. Mountain biking, on average, can burn 100 more calories an hour when compared to road biking.

Uses More Muscles

The bike is heavier. The terrain is more varied. It simply makes sense that mountain biking is going to use significantly more muscles. With each new obstacle you face, whether that’s another hill or a tree in the way, you’ve got to be on your toes, ready for the next burst of energy.

So, if you’re wanting to choose a type of biking that will be better for your fitness all around, mountain biking is definitely the way to go!

Better For Your Health

Both mountain biking and road biking are good for your health, but there are a few reasons mountain biking is better for your health. As stated above, it burns more calories and activates more muscle groups, so it is better for your physical and cardiovascular health.

But it is also better for you because you are not sharing the air with CO2-emitting vehicles. Actually, mountain biking is the complete opposite. With it, you are literally sharing oxygen with trees and nature, which is obviously better for your health in the long run!

More Affordable

With the bike, both mountain and road bikes can be as affordable or expensive as you can afford. You can find bikes for both anywhere along the spectrum of pricing, but when it comes down to it, you will find more affordable mountain bikes that still don’t skimp on the quality.

RXridersplace found that the median road bike starts at around $900, whereas the median mountain bike starts at around $500. Not only is mountain biking vs road biking better for you, it is also more affordable for you! Talk about a win-win!

More Fun!

Mountain Biking vs Road Biking

Again, this may be personal bias, but I just can’t end this without talking about how much more fun mountain biking is vs road biking! Yes, road bikes may go faster, but think about all the different things you can experience on a mountain bike! You can splash through puddles, zip past animals in the forest, climb new heights to see new views, and perform some pretty gnarly tricks along the way! For mountain biking vs road biking, you just can’t beat the fun-factor!

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Jessica Meacham

I’m a former college athlete turned marathon-running and outdoor exploring mom of two little ones. From hiking through Iceland to paddle boarding in Lake Tahoe, our family is always up for a fun adventure that incorporates fun and fitness!

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