Road Bike vs. Mountain Bike

on March 15, 2012

If you’re planning to purchase a new bicycle, you may find the range of choices to be somewhat overwhelming. However, the choices can be narrowed down significantly simply by determining whether a road bike or mountain bike is better suited to your needs. Consider all of the places and activities where you plan to use your new bicycle, and then read over these differences between these two major categories of bikes to help you make your choice. For your final selection, the Cannondale Bicycle Corporation, makers of the popular Cannondale brand of bikes suggests, "Professional guidance DOES simplify the process and we encourage you to be fit properly by a trained bicycle professional. Where you ride and how you ride, your fitness, and flexibility are only some of the variables."

Primary features of a road bike. For riding on smooth pavement, road bikes are the perfect answer. These bikes are built lightweight with slimmer tires and an overall more aerodynamic design. Because you’re not intending to go over a lot of rough terrain, many road bikes are made without any kind of suspension system that could absorb power. On this bike, you’ll ride bent low over the handlebars to reduce drag as you pick up speed. Lighter metals can be used for the frames because the metal does not have to withstand significant shock during normal use, and this can also help with your speed. Alternatively, there are a number of designs of cruiser road bikes that are built with an emphasis on comfort with wide, well-cushioned seats and higher handlebar positioning.

What to expect from a mountain bike. One of the most readily recognizable features of a mountain bike is its tires, which are wide and thick to ensure durability with heavier use. The pronounced tracks in the rubber on these tires are great for grabbing ground and propelling you forward, regardless of how steep or uneven the road might be. You’ll also notice that you sit more upright on a mountain bike, the frame is heavier and it has some form of suspension system — how elaborate that suspension is generally depends on the bicycle quality. Every feature of the mountain bike puts emphasis on stability and shock absorption. These are essential off-road, but can make gaining speed on a paved road much more challenging. If you’re trying to find a good commuter bike that can also go camping with you on occasion, there are a number of hybrid models on the market that allow you to reap some or all of the benefits from both types on one bike.

Found in: Fitness