Road Bikes vs Mountain Bikes: The Differences & Which is the Better

Beginner riders always ask me lots of questions like, what’s the difference between a mountain bike and a road bike? And which is better? I know it can be very confusing because they look just the same but there are a lot of differences that you must know before choosing the perfect bike for you.

It is also very important to know that both road and mountain bikes are good and neither I think is better than the other, it all depends on your priorities and your personal opinion.

In general, I think that if you need a bicycle for off-road riding then pick a mountain bike. On the other hand, if you want a bike for road riding and for daily purposes then pick a road bike.

What is the difference between mountain bikes and road bikes? The most prominent differences are that mountain bikes are designed for riding off-road and in more difficult terrains. Also, they are more designed for short distance riding. On the other hand, road bikes are more designed to ride on comfortable, easy surfaces and are more designed for long distance riding.

But there are many other differences between them that you need to know and due to this I have written you this post where I will show you all the differences between them, and the advantages and disadvantages of both.

But before that, you need to understand what road bikes and mountain bikes are.

What is a mountain bike?

Man on mountain bike rides on the trail on a stormy sunset

Mountain bikes are a type of bike that are designed for off-road riding which means that they can ride on harder surfaces that contain rocks or even mud. Usually, they were very resistant to any surface you ride them on.

Also, mountain bikes are more designed for short-distance rides and are typically heavier than road bikes and they require more effort when riding. This is both an advantage and disadvantage because you put more effort into riding, which helps your physical fitness but it can also be uncomfortable.

I personally prefer mountain biking because I ride in very hard terrains that include stones and rocks and only mountain bikes are made to cope on such surfaces.

Advantages Disadvantages
Helps to improve physical fitness Suitable for short-distance riding
Brakes are very strong Heavy
A very advanced transmission system Require more effort when riding
Very strong frame
Perfectly resistant to difficult terrain

What is a road bike?

Road bikes are the exact opposite of mountain bikes and are known to be designed for long-distance riding and can reach very high speeds.

Also, road bikes are lighter compared to mountain bikes.

They are designed for riding on easy riding surfaces such as sidewalk grass or roads and less on hard surfaces that include rocks or stones.

Also, road bikes cost a little less than mountain bikes and they also require less maintenance. They can be great for those who want to ride a bike for fun and long-distance.

Advantages Disadvantages
Designed for long-distance riding Less durable compared to mountain bikes
Reach high speeds Less comfortable than mountain bikes
Require less maintenance
cost less than a mountain bike

What are the differences between a mountain bike and a road bike?

Mountain bikes are much more durable than road bikes.

Mountain bikes are very strong and durable compared to road bikes.

In fact, mountain bikes can ride in most terrains such as mountains, snow, mud, stones, and rocks. Road bikes are not designed to ride on these kinds of surfaces.

Mountain bikes can do this because they have a very strong frame and very durable tires. They are much stronger and wider than road bike tires which gives them the ability to ride on hard surfaces perfectly.

Road bikes are faster than mountain bikes

Road bikes are much faster than mountain bikes however, trying to ride on difficult terrain will slow your speed significantly.

Remember that road bikes can only reach very high speeds on easy terrains such as sidewalks, grass, or on the road.

Road bikes are faster than mountain bikes because they have very narrow and light wheels that greatly reduce friction.  

Another reason that road bikes are faster than mountain bikes is because they weigh less, which helps make it a lot easier when riding and this gives you more speed.

Road bikes are much more dangerous than mountain bikes

I know that mountain biking sounds more dangerous than riding on the road because the terrain is often rocky and full of stones, but actually, road bikes are way more dangerous because of the very high speeds that they can reach.

Another reason that road bikes are more dangerous is because there is a risk of being hit by another vehicle, especially if you do not ride on the sidewalk.

Also, the chances you will get a more serious injury while riding a road bike is very high compared to mountain biking.

If you ask me, I would not recommend giving your child a road bike until they are at least 12 years old.

Mountain biking is much better for your physical fitness than road biking

If you are looking for a good bike that will improve your physical fitness, mountain bikes are much better than road bikes and this is because mountain biking requires a lot more effort from the rider compared to road bikes.

Also, mountain biking improves your arm and leg muscles, as well as enhancing your cardiovascular endurance. This is very important when riding, especially if you are a professional rier who competes in races.

However, chances are your muscles will hurt more from mountain biking than road biking because it requires a lot of effort.

Road bikes are more fun than mountain bikes

The downside I think to mountain biking is that it much less fun to ride compared to road bikes because it is very difficult to reach high speeds with a mountain bike compared to road bikes.

Also, when riding a road bike you use a lot more adrenaline therefore, road bikes will also make feel better and you enjoy it more.

However, you will have to consider that the more fun the sport is, the more dangerous it is so you have to choose what is more important to you, your safety or fun when riding.

Mountain bikes are much heavier than road bikes

Mountain bikes are much heavier compared to road bikes and this is because they have more gears, which is very important when riding in the field.

Usually, road bikes weigh between 17 to 18 pounds and in most cases they weigh a lot less. Here’s an interesting fact – the lightest road bikes in the world weigh only 3 pounds!

On the other hand, mountain bikes usually weigh between 21 to 30 pounds, which makes a very significant difference.

The difference in weight between mountain bikes and road bikes is usually 10 kilos, which is very significant because it affects a lot of factors like speed, move, agility and more.

In my opinion, it is a huge disadvantage that mountain bikes weigh more because it dramatically affects the way you ride, especially when you try to do stunts with your mountain bike, which is more difficult because of the heavy weight.

Mountain bikes are much better and safer for beginner riders than road bikes

If you are a beginner rider, I can assure you that a mountain bike will be perfect for you because they ride much slower and they are safer because you can ride them in places that don’t have vehicles that can put you at risk, such as woods and trails.

Road bikes are dangerous for riders for two reasons:

1 The first reason is because road bikes can travel at very high speeds and it is easier to reach these speeds, which can endanger you.

2 The second reason is that it is much safer for you to crash from mountain bikes than road bikes because there are no cars that could hurt you.

And you will have to realize that you are going to fall and crash from your bike, especially at the beginning when you are just starting to ride, so you need to be in an area that is safe to do so.

Road bikes are easier to carry than mountain bikes

A very big advantage of having a road bike over a mountain bike is that they are easy to move from one place to another because they are very light. This peronally make it easy for me to move the bike from one place to another, especially when I want to do chores like transferring the bike to a car or truck.

Mountain bikes are much better at snow riding than road bikes

Mountain bikes are perfectly adapted to snow riding and that is because of the massive, thick wheels they have. They can even ride very efficiently in deep snow.

However, road bikes are much less suited for snow riding because of their narrow wheels.

If you live in a country where it snows most days of the year, a mountain bike is probably the best choice for you.

It is more difficult to find places to ride a mountain bike than a road bike

One of the most notable drawbacks to mountain biking is that it is more difficult to find places to ride because mountain bikes are intended to ride on trails or forests. This means you will need to go specifically to a place that may be far from your home to ride your bike however, you can ride a road bike close to your home.

If you do not have places that are suitable for mountain biking near your home, road bikes may be better for you, especially if you don’t want to go to places that are far from your home.

Another disadvantage is that you cannot ride your mountain bike on the road which sucks, especially when you need your bike to ride to work or school.

Mountain biking is much better for kids than a road bike

Mountain biking is the best option for children because they are much safer to ride and are much less likely to be injured.

In addition, mountain biking is not only safer, it also teaches your child how to go through obstacles which is very important to them for life.

Road bikes cost more money than mountain bikes

Road bikes are much more expensive and that’s because they are built from more expensive and high-quality parts and materials than mountain bikes.

In fact, medium road bikes start at $900 and much better models can cost between $13,000 to $15,000.

However, medium mountain bikes will start at $500 and if you want more powerful models they will cost you between $10,000 to $13,000.

But you must know that the more money you pay, the better quality the bike will be.

If you want to ride a bike only for fun and trips of around 25 to 30 miles then usually bikes that cost $400 will do the job.

If you are looking for a better quality bicycle that can ride between 50 and 60 miles, a $1,000 bike can be perfect for you.

And if you’re a rider who competes in races and you need a very high quality bike, you will usually need a bicycle that costs between $2,000 to $15,000.

Types of bikes

It is very important to know that all types of bicycles on this list do not have many differences from each other and they are all designed for the same purpose.

Types of mountain bikes

Mountain Bike Trails – Mountain Biking Trails are a type of mountain bike that are excellent for riders who like to ride in relatively easy places and just want to have fun. They usually don’t cost very much.

Enduro bikes – Enduro bikes are very advanced, quality bikes that can suit advanced riders who compete in races perfectly. However, they are usually very expensive and I really like to call them racing mountain bikes.

Cross Country (XC) – These kind of bikes are very common all over the world and they can be perfect for riders who want to ride bikes over long distances.

Types of road bikes

Racing Bikes – Racing bikes are designed for riders who compete in races and they are usually designed for speed only and are not so comfortable, which makes them not good for riding in the field or on tough terrain.

Hiking Bikes – Hiking bikes are the best option for hiking or cycling on the road for fun and that’s because they are very comfortable and not too fast like the other models.

Gravel Bike – Gravel Bike is a very strong bicycle type made of high-quality materials and can be excellent for riding on difficult roads.

So, which is the best?

In general, neither bike is better than the other and you have to understand that each one is better off in the area that they were designed for.

In my opinion, mountain biking is great for riders who want to ride trails through forests and similar areas however, road bikes are great for those who want to ride on the road on a daily basis.

Thanks for your riding. Until next time.


I’m Rob, the owner of RX Riders Place. My family and I have a long history of riding dirt bikes and ATVs and want to share what we have learned.

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