Can you put Road Tires on a Mountain Bike?

If you’re constantly asking the can you put road tires on a mountain bike question, it’s likely you’re not satisfied with the on-road performance. Naturally, mountain bikes are designed to deal with trails and difficult off-road paths. 

Consequently, their design doesn’t translate to decent performance on paved terrains, which can become incredibly frustrating. That’s why so many cyclists ask can you put road tires on a mountain bike? 

bike logo on ground

In short, yes, you can put road tires on a mountain bike! However, due to the significant design differences, installing road tires will have an initial negative impact. That’s why it’s essential to make a few adjustments to get the best out of your new tire configuration. 

It can be incredibly challenging for beginner cyclists to understand what adjustments to make, and what difference road bike tires will make. That’s why we’ll try to explain everything you need to know and fully answer the question “can you put road tires on a mountain bike”!

Can you really put Road tires on a Mountain bike?

When it comes to logistics, the answer to can you put road tires on a mountain bike is simple, Yes! Regardless of the type of bike, if the size fits appropriately, you’ll be able to install any kind of bike tire. 

Mountain bikes typically feature a pair of tires to provide the best traction in off-road conditions. Consequently, that means that mountain bikes don’t perform that well on the road. If you want to ride around the neighborhood, chances are you won’t pick a mountain bike.

That’s why so many cyclists question whether you can put road tires on a mountain bike! You can put on tires with a smoother thread to help provide you with a more comfortable ride on standard roads. 

road tires on mountain bike

While it’s possible to put road tires on a mountain bike, there are plenty of different factors that you need to consider before you start taking your cycle apart. There are significant differences between the geometry of a road bike and a mountain bike. 

As a result, there are a few adjustments that you’ll need to make. It might arguably even be better to opt for a new road bike as well. However, if you’re stuck on keeping one bike, keep reading to find out how you can get the most out of your road tire mountain bike!

What to consider before putting road tires on a mountain bike 

The Suspension 

Mountain bikes have a very durable structure that allows them to absorb impact through rough terrains. A majority of the mountain bikes feature a suspension that’s designed explicitly for trail cycling. 

When you’re riding on the road, though, however, the suspension doesn’t play a significant role. If the mountain bike features a lockout suspension, all that remains necessary is an easy adjustment. 

If you don’t have a lockout suspension available, you can stiffen the suspension by increasing the air pressure. When you install road bike tires, you won’t get the full impact until you change the suspension. 

After adjusting the suspension, you’ll encounter less bobbing while you’re riding. If you’re serious about fully converting your mountain bike to a road bike, you can completely change the suspension. Go for a rigid fork to get the best performance out of your mountain bike on the road!

The Pressure 

Aside from just getting new road tires, it’s essential to ensure that they have the correct pressure. You should pump up your tires to 50-PSI to get the best results. Before you start filling everything up, check for the maximum pressure level on the tire sidewall. 

50 PSI is the optimal pressure for road tires and helps reduce the rolling resistance. You’ll be able to go faster and enjoy a better ride simultaneously. However, if you want to go even faster, there’s another option available. 

Slick tires are something that mountain bikers have been using for a long time when they’re going for street training sessions. Get an extra set of wheels and mount the slick tires on them. That way, if you ever feel like you’re not going fast enough, you’ll be able to switch to the slicks and improve your speed. 

The Gears 

Mountain bike gearing is significantly different from the gearing configuration on road bikes. The purpose of a mountain bike is to accommodate a slower average speed and compensate for steep climbs. 

When you’re looking to get another set of wheels, you also have the opportunity to use another rear gear set to help perk up the gear configuration. The best road bikes tend to have a lot more gears so that you can adjust the gear configuration accordingly. 

If you’re not sure about what adjustments you can make to the gearing, visiting your mechanic is a good idea. They’ll be able to give you a very fair idea of what adjustments are possible. 

Even if you can’t change the gearing, it’s not a significant stress factor. You can look at it as an opportunity to get some cycling training and improve your skills. 

Geometry Changes 

road tires on mountain bike

When you’re looking to put road tires on a mountain bike, making a few changes to the bike geometry and positioning can help a lot. Generally, a mountain bike encourages the rider to have an upright sitting position. The geometry is very similar to a hybrid bike.

The handlebars are higher than the bike seat, and that encourages cyclists to keep their back straight. It also helps promote optimal visibility. However, that’s not what you want from a road bike. 

When converting your mountain bike for the road, it’s a good idea to lower the height of the handlebar. You can lower the height until the seat post is above the handlebars. That’ll encourage you to lean forward, which helps reduce air resistance. 

Whatever positioning you decide on, make sure that your body feels comfortable. If there’s too much strain on your back and hands, then you aren’t going to have a lot of fun while riding!

If you want to enjoy the full road bike experience, then maybe replace the standard mountain bike handlebars with a drop bar. Almost every road bike comes with a drop bar, and adding one to your mountain bike will significantly change the frame. 

With the drop handlebars, it’s arguable that the mountain bike frame starts closely resembling the frame of a gravel bike!

It’s pretty common for mountain bike riders that want to switch over to get drop bars for their bike. The drop-bar will help transform the mountain bike into a competent adventure bike. You can get the most out of putting road bike tires on your mountain bike by considering these features. 

How much difference will road bike tires make on a mountain bike? 

It’s easy to underestimate the actual level of difference getting road bike tires on your mountain bike will make. One of the most significant differences you’ll notice is the difference in speed.

To get an accurate assessment of the difference, you should check how fast your mountain bike goes with standard tires and compare them to the speed you get with road tires!

Aside from the speed, there are a few other improvements that you’ll notice!

When it comes to size, road bike tires are much smaller than most standard mountain bike tires. At the same time, they also don’t have the same kind of strong sidewalls that mountain bike tires feature. 

mtb road bike tire

Consequently, when you put road bike tires on your mountain bike, you lose the level of durability you had previously. It’s especially noticeable when you ride on rough and rugged terrains. 

On top of the reduced durability, using road bike tires will also reduce the overall comfort you experience on off-road terrains. In certain circumstances, it’s also possible that your bike’s maintenance needs will increase significantly. 

Overall, changing your mountain bike tires with road bike tires will significantly improve performance, comfort, and durability. However, don’t let the changes scare you off. If you focus on making changes to the rest of the bike, you can compensate for these differences!

Why would you ride a mountain bike on the road?

With so many different types of bikes available on the market, many people wonder why you would even want to ride a mountain bike on the road. A mountain bike’s design and features specifically cater to riding off-road.

That’s why certain mountain bikes do feel incredibly uncomfortable on the road. The pedal feels tougher, and the speed is significantly slower in comparison to a proper road bike. However, there are a few reasons why you would ride a mountain bike on the road. 

The geometry of mountain bikes helps ensure that cyclists enjoy an upright riding position and are incredibly comfortable. While some mountain bikes will struggle on the road, more modern bikes are significantly improving their on-road performance. 

There are some mountain bikes that are almost as fast as a standard road bike, even without road bike tires. 

While it might look unusual to other cyclists and may draw the ire of hardcore enthusiasts, you can definitely ride a mountain bike on the road. Mountain bikes also tend to be cheaper, more durable, and safer than most other road bikes on the market. 

If you can put road tires on mountain bike, then you’ll be competing with the best of them!

What size road tires will work with mountain bikes? 

A key component of the can you put road tires on a mountain bike question is will the tire size match up with the wheels. The three main mountain bike tire sizes are 26”, 29”, and 27.5”. 26-inch tires are the most popular option for modern mountain bikes, and the 29-inch versions are for more hardcore mountain bikes. 

On the other hand, Road Bike tires are also available in three main sizes; 700c, 650c, and 27”. 700c tires are the most popular option for road bikes and are available in width ranging between 2.3cm and 3.6cm! 650c tires, on the other hand, are slightly smaller and dedicated for high-performance road bikes!

While widely available, no modern road bike manufacturers are offering cycles with 27” tires. These are a good option as they’ll work with most mountain bikes on the market. 

If you’re looking to get new wheels along with the tires, then every single size will work with a mountain bike. However, if you’re looking to change the tire, your best bet is to go with 27” tires. 

Even though narrow tires are better for hard surfaces, if it’s your first time converting to road bike tires, it’s a good idea to pick the most comprehensive option. Even though road bike tires are faster, they’re much more uncomfortable than mountain bike tires. 

However, narrow tires mean that there’s less contact with the ground. As a result, there’s less friction and rolling resistance, which helps increase your overall speed. 

Instead of just getting a set of tires and replacing your old ones, it’s a good idea to get a new set of wheels altogether. That way, you won’t have to worry about finding tires that fit perfectly with your original mountain bike wheels. 

With two sets of wheels, you’ll have a very versatile bike that’s capable of handling multiple different situations!

What about tubeless tire options?

When people ask if they can put road tires on mountain bike, they often forget about tubeless tires. One of the most annoying things for any cyclist is suffering from a flat tire. A flat tire can effectively ruin what’s turning out to be an excellent day for you on the cycle.

While it’s essential to learn how to pump a bike tire and fix a flat, what if you could avoid the hassle altogether?

That’s where tubeless tire options come into the equation. These tires don’t use any tubes. Consequently, the tires, rims, and valves remain entirely sealed. That helps guard them against going flat without any reason. 

In some instances, there are tire sealants available that you can add to the inside of the tire. The purpose of the sealant is to help prevent any air from leaking out. If a tubeless tire option is available, then it’s definitely worth the investment. 

Alternatively, you can reduce the chances of standard tires suffering punctures by using bicycle tire liners. Bicycle tire liners are thin strips of plastic that fit ideally between the tire and tube. 

The tire liner will help ensure that you can puncture a tire through glasses, stones, thorns, and other sharp objects. If you’re not planning on getting a tubeless tire, bike liners can be a great source of protection. 

Wrapping Up 

Can you put road tires on a mountain bike is a question that many new cyclists will ask. Mountain bikes are some of the most aesthetically pleasing bikes on the market but they aren’t designed for on road-performance.

If you’ve made up your mind about changing to road bike tires for your mountain bike, then you should fully commit to the change. It’s not as impossible as people tend to claim; using all the information in this guide, you’ll be able to transition towards a more road-friendly mountain bike successfully!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Can I install new bike tires myself?

Ans. Yes, if you know what you’re doing then you can easily install a new set of tires yourself. It’s not that difficult to learn how to change a tire.

Q2. How will road bike tires impact my mountain’s bike durability?

Ans. Road bike tires don’t offer the same level of cushioning and shock absorption as mountain bike tires. As a result, the suspension and frame of the cycle have to withstand the most force.

Q3. After installing road bike tires, can my mountain bike compete with adventure bikes?

Ans. When you install road bike tires, it’s much easier to ride your mountain bike on the road. However, it’s still not enough to allow it to compete with adventure bikes in terms of speed. Most mountain bikes are pretty heavy and can’t compete with lighter adventure bikes.

James Dawson

After learning how to ride a bicycle much later than all the other kids, James Dawson hasn't looked back. The author now actively rides a bicycle as a part of the community cycling group and competes regularly in local competitions. Aside from that, he loves technology and always keeps up to date with the latest cycling tech.