Bikes may not be as advanced and fast as other types of vehicles, but when it comes to versatility and flexibility, it’s no less than the others. You can have almost every kind of bikes for various purposes. And new varieties are getting invented and added to the list. But still, two types of bike are always considered as the most hyped and wanted among people. And they are road bike and mountain bike. Even though they have some significant differences and generally used for different purposes, still these two are the most convenient types of bike for both professional and entry-level bikers. Because of that many people become confused, especially those who are buying a high quality bike for the first time. Well, to find the answer to this question, you first need to know what the differences between a road bike and a mountain bike are and which objectives are each of these are capable of fulfilling?
Design and Geometry
Mountain bikes are usually made to tackle rugged conditions or off-road terrains. Bikes for rough terrains are usually equipped with bigger tyres and better aerodynamic design. On the other hand, a Road bike is for smoother and well-maintained surfaces. That’s why these two have lots of differences in their frame geometry and design.
Mountain bikes are for rough roads where it’s hard to balance and keep control. That’s why almost every mountain bike has a front suspension fork. But road bikes don’t usually have any front suspension. Because the geometry of road bike concentrates on reducing weight and as it’s made for smooth or city roads. So, there’s no suspension required.
Mountain bikes have rear suspension that helps to reduce the bumps and shocks while riding and maintaining the balance. Trail bike, which is a classification of mountain bike has almost 10 inches of suspension as it’s made for extreme travelling. But there isn’t any rear suspension on road bikes. Because as road bikes are for smooth, even surfaces, having rear suspension will waste energy and disturb the rear wheel’s vertical motion.
Wheels and tires
The tires of mountain bikes are usually around 2.2-3 inches. And the typical wheel size of a mountain bike is 29-inches. The width is critical to ride over rugged roads as they don’t get damaged easily. But this much width is not necessary for road bikes. The tires are usually skinny and have width around 2-inches. And the wheel’s size of road bikes varies around 27.5-29 inches. On the other hand, hybrid bike tires are more thinner in size by default. The wheel size is usually around 1.7-2 inches. But you can still attach wider and thicker tires with hybrid bikes depending on the customization option and model.
Mountain riding means rolling over the wet, slippery, and muddy condition. As a result, disc brakes attached in the center wheel works better for mountain bikes. Disc brakes response well during frequent resistance and climbing and doesn’t get affected by rain or mud. You’ll find disc brakes on the road bike as well, but caliper brakes will also be found there as there’s no need for facing extreme condition in road riding.
While mountain riding, the rider needs to concentrate on the terrain condition and balance by shifting his/her weight based on the situation. That’s why an upward riding position is most convenient for mountain bikes. But road bikes are made in a way so that the rider can lean down for better wind resistance. It’s more of a relaxed riding thing.
Many people think that pedals are the same for all kinds of bikes, but that’s not true, Road bike pedals and Mountain bike pedals are different. However, some bikers use MTB pedals for road bikes. The primary difference between these two types is the cleat’s size, where the shoe sole gets attached. There are fewer cleats in mountain bike pedals for easy unlocking, whereas in road bike pedals there’re large cleats to increase the contact between shoe sole and pedal surface.
The handlebars of mountain bikes are usually more comprehensive in size. And in road bikes, you’ll mostly find drop-bar handlebars. Wide and flat bars are useful to climb and makes it easy to push brakes while facing rolling resistance. And drop bar handlebar is convenient for relaxed riding position. You'll get a clear idea about handlebar that suits you if you go through our article dedicated on handlebars.
Intention of Use
As the name suggests, a decent road bike is made for riding on roads. Whereas even though a mountain bike is specially made for off-road riding, uphill climbing etc. you can use them to ride on city roads as well. But never make the mistake of taking a road bike on uneven, bumpy terrains. That’s why it’s based on the choice of the rider if she/he wants to use the bike for only leisure hours or want to do some adventure as well.
When it comes to a comfortable ride, mountain bikes will get more votes on this criterion. Because this type of bike is made for dealing with rough terrains, that’s why to reduce the irritation of that extremity, mountain bikes have all the things included on it that helps to make the ride smoother. For instance, it has suspension, and wider tires. These things absorb most of the shocks and bumps, and the rider can feel the comfort during the tour. As none of these is available on most of the road bikes, you won’t be comfortable while riding on any surfaces other than city roads.
Road bike claims superiority when it comes to speed. They are particularly designed for higher acceleration, and the gear range is also impressive. The lightweight frames, thin construction etc. helps the rider to have the top-speed. But it’s also understandable that mountain bikes don’t have this feature because no one would ever want to ride at the speed of the wind over the rough pavement and, steep hills.
It’s evident that mountain bikes offer a wider variety than road bikes, but not everyone can handle them. For any entry-level biker, he/she should choose road bikes and then jump to mountain bikes. Even many professional adventure bikers sometimes prefer road bike for a change, especially for the speed while riding in an obstacle-free road. And lastly, each of the bikes has its own advantages and disadvantages. So, it’s up to the rider and his/her riding purpose that what type of bike they should choose!