Very few people have the privilege of having a short commute within walking distance of home. As a result, most of us need to drive or use public transportation for commuting, which can be inconvenient and, at times, monotonous.
That’s why some commuters contemplating the idea of cycling to work wonder, “are mountain bikes good for commuting?” The good news is that, even though they’re designed for off-roading, mountain bikes are an excellent choice for commuting.
Still, there are a few considerations to keep in mind. That’s why we’ll discuss the main features of mountain bikes and whether they need some upgrades for the most comfortable commute.
Benefits of Cycling to Work
Before we examine the anatomy of a mountain bike, we should highlight why cycling to work is a good idea. Of course, you’re likely already considering this option. But for those on the fence, hearing the top reasons for commuting on a bike can help.
The absolute number one motivator for many is savings. Cycling to work saves money on gas and car maintenance. Indeed, you’ll need to tune up your bike once or twice per year, but that expense is minor compared to driving costs.
Getting on your bike to work is also preferable to navigating the crowds on public transportation, whether it’s the train, subway, or bus. You get to breathe fresh air and pay attention to your surroundings more.
Finally, commuting via bike is environmentally friendly as it lowers your carbon footprint. Commuters passionate about living more sustainably might find cycling to work an optimal option.
What Is a Mountain Bike?
The odds are that you already have a clear image in your mind when asked what a mountain bike is. But a quick overview can help explain why they can be an outstanding choice for commuting.
Mountain bikes are made for off-roading, and that’s why they have thick tires, flat handlebars, and a frame designed to improve balance. Typically, these cycles also have a suspension system.
Hardtail mountain bikes have only front-end suspension, while full-suspension bikes have both front and rear shocks. In terms of wheel size, mountain bikes are pretty versatile, as the standard sizes include 26, 27.5, and 29 inches.
Mountain Bike vs. Rad Bike for Commuting
Those asking are mountain bikes good for commuting might also wonder how they compare to road bikes, which might seem like a natural choice at first.
The road bike is easily recognized by its curved and dropped handlebars, which force the rider to stretch, have a more extended reach, and generally maintain a forward-leaning position.
On the other hand, the mountain bike has flat handlebars, which allow a much more upright position, better handling in tight corners, and improved leverage.
The Advantages of a Mountain Bike for Commuting
If you already have a mountain bike in your garage and thinking about dusting it off and riding to work, that can be a fantastic decision, and here are a few reasons why.
Deciding whether a bike is comfortable depends on personal preference, but it’s fair to compare mountain bikes to other types of bikes.
There’s no doubt that mountain bikes are made to provide comfort as they are primarily designed for rough terrain. A mountain bike is not too hard on your wrists, and if you choose a bike with a comfortable seat, you’ll likely enjoy the commute immensely.
Some people hesitate to cycle to work, especially with a mountain bike. In addition, a few would-be cyclists may be worried because it seems they wouldn’t feel very stable and may risk an injury.
But mountain bikes typically come with wider tires designed to increase stability. That comes in handy when riding in the city and having to take turns more often.
Let’s face it, very few cities are cyclist utopias, and most are full of sharp edges, random bumps, and a lot of concrete.
The lack of cycling infrastructure means investing in a durable bike is a good choice, and mountain bikes are made to perform under harsh conditions. Furthermore, the rugged design and wide tires reduce the chances of slipping, meaning you can safely cycle to work when it rains.
The Disadvantages of a Mountain Bike for Commuting
For some cyclists, the mountain bike might seem too bulky for commuting. Remember, though, that they come in different styles, and some are pretty sleek.
Compared to the road bike, they’re also not as aerodynamic and can feel slower, but that’s not the biggest issue for many commuters.
Commuting daily via mountain bike can wear out the tires faster. In addition, the mountain bike tires are not intended for asphalt; therefore, you might need to replace the tires more frequently.
How to Make Your Mountain Bike More Commute-Friendly
Suppose you already own a mountain bike or want to buy one so you use it for commuting and trails; you may find it helpful to consider some upgrades. First, if possible, replace the thick tires with narrow tires.
They will reduce the overall bike weight, increase speed, and improve comfort. Also, adding fenders is a must, especially if you live in an area where it rains frequently.
Standard mountain bikes are sold without the mudguards, so this would need to be a separate purchase. Installing lights is practical too if you’re commuting in the evenings.
Reflective tape can increase your visibility on the road and ensure added safety. Replacing the existing pedals with those designed for road use can help you pedal more comfortably in office shoes.
Finally, your mountain bike is probably missing a bell, which can be an inexpensive upgrade. It helps you nudge pedestrians to move, mainly if they’re occupying the bike lane.
Mountain Biking Your Way to Work
Road and city bikes are remarkable but aren’t as versatile as mountain bikes. Almost no other type of bike can be as efficient on and off the road.
You can commute with your mountain bike during the week and take it on an off-road adventure on nearby biking trails.
The added suspension system absorbs the bumps and prevents you from losing balance whenever you hit a pothole.
Also, the flat handlebars offer a more upright position, preferred by many cyclists. So, are mountain bikes good for commuting? The answer is a resounding yes, but you might need to make a few adjustments to increase safety and functionality.