Can a mountain bike be used for touring? Mountain bikes are perfect for mountain biking but not so much for road biking, right? wrong! Mountain bikes can be used to tour both mountains and roads. They just have different features. 

A good example would be that mountain bikes have wider tires than regular bike tires because of the rougher terrain you will encounter while touring in the mountains, whereas a commuter bike or hybrid has narrower tires since it is mainly used on paved surfaces like streets or sidewalks. 

People often mistake this as meaning that mountain bikes aren’t good enough to use as road bicycles but nothing could be further from the truth. Mountain bikes are best suited for mountain biking because of the suspension and rugged treads on their tires, but they can still be ridden on the road with no trouble!

Can a mountain bike be used for touring?

Mountain bikes stand out from other types of bicycles thanks to their mountain bike tires. Mountain bike tires are more rugged than regular mountain bike tires and have grips on the side of them to help keep your mountain bike from sliding, even on a grade. 

They also come with suspensions for a smoother ride and braking systems that are far more powerful than other bicycles. You can take your mountain bike off-road with ease thanks to mountain bike brakes, and if you’re biking on a mountain tour, mountain bike suspension will keep your ride from getting too bumpy. 

Not only that, Mountain bikes are also built better than other bicycles because they have more gears, can carry heavier loads, and are stronger overall. Mountain bikes are made for rugged terrain so they’re the perfect choice for mountain biking.

The Benefits of Using a Mountain bike for Touring

What’s a mountain bike for? You may think a mountain bike is only good for mountain climbing or mountain biking, but mountain bikes are also good for road touring.

The major advantage of mountain bikes over other types of bikes are:

Maximum traction 

A Mountain bike has a wider wheelbase covered by a thick rubber tire which generates more friction with the road surface for better grip during mountain climbing or mountain biking. This characteristic of mountain bikes also gives mountain bikes good traction during road touring or urban commuting.

Good suspension 

 Mountain bikes have front and rear suspensions which cushion the impact on uneven surfaces (e.g. bumpy mountain paths) for a smooth ride.

Good gear shifting 

Mountain bikes have 21 to 27 gears which are easier and more convenient to shift, especially when you’re cruising through mountain paths or highland roads with lots of ups and downs.

Durable

 mountain bikes are sturdy and rugged, more so if you’re using a good mountain bike frame from a reputable brand with superior quality control.

Geometry of Mountain bike

Mountain bike geometry has been specially designed for different types of mountain biking activities. It also allows for a more extended arm reach and a comfortable riding position as you go uphill. It also has a lower handlebar position that is perfect for taking control of the steering and lowering your center weight as you ride downhill. 

Versatile  

Mountain bikes can be used for touring (e.g. mountain climbing or mountain biking), urban commuting, grocery shopping, recreational sports 

Safe  

Mountain bikes are equipped with good brakes (e.g. hydraulic mountain bike disc brakes) for a responsive and safe braking experience, especially when you’re riding downhill or on slippery surfaces, huge potholes on road.

Good handling 

Mountain bikes can be maneuvered easily on bumpy paths, with good control over your speed, and provides perfect angles at any surface. Mountain bike frame also enables you to turn the handlebars quickly and easily, especially when your steering needs to take a quick right or left turn. 

The Drawbacks:

Aluminium frame

Most mountain bikes do not have a steel frame like regular bikes, rather they have an aluminium frame. Steel is heavier than aluminum but it’s also much stronger and lasts much longer in comparison with aluminium frames because it can withstand more pressure and damage. Aluminum frames will bend or break easier than a steel frame would so it needs to be replaced more often.

Straight handle bars

Straight handlebars are found on a mountain bike, which causes fatigue in the wrist and hand, because of the inability to use different hand positions. These handlebars will be uncomfortable and hard to ride with for anyone who isn’t accustomed to them.

My recommendation is to try butterfly bars as they will allow you to change the position of your wrist. You can also try other uncommon options like aerobars or tri-bars.

Saddle pain

Try to ride as much as possible before your long trip as it will train you to be comfortable with the saddle, otherwise, it will cause serious saddle pain, which is frustrating and very painful. Choose seamless pants to avoid friction.

Costly

There is no lying in saying that MTBs are pretty expensive as compared to other traditional bikes. Entry-level MTB will be a good option for you if you don’t want to spend big bucks.

Suspension of MTB

The suspension of MTBs are built to absorb shock from off-road obstacles like terrain, bump, rocks, etc, not built to use on long flat rides. Suspension can make the rider feel like they’re bouncing more than normal and this bouncing effect can cause a lot of pain.

How to Turn Your Mountain Bike Into a Tour Bike?

If you want to go on longer trips on your MTB, you will need to make some changes on MTB parts and modify it to be super friendly for flat roads, but before that, you will need a bike in a well-maintained condition.

Let’s take a look at the modifications you need to make:

Change your Handlebars

Mountain bikes come with flat handlebars which do not allow to change arm position, which causes fatigue in the arm and hand. The handlebars must be adjusted so you’re in an upright position while riding. The grip should also be comfortable for your hands, as this can cause hand fatigue.

If you are planning for longer trips, you will definitely need to change your handlebar. The ones which are on road bikes are more preferable like butterfly bars, trekking bars, etc.

Get rid of Knobby Tires and install the road tires:

The tires of MTB are 2.5 inches made for use on terrain, bumpy roads, for firm grip and better friction with off-road, but it will be very tough to ride on flat paved roads to go on longer trips.

Go with slicker ones with 1.25 to 1.5 inches as they need less pedaling to maintain good speed.

 Remove Suspension

MTBs are designed for the strenuous terrain of off-road riding. MTBs have suspension for a smoother ride over uneven surfaces but can be uncomfortable while riding on pavement because of their rugged nature.

 Clipless Pedals or Install Platforms

To improve your mountain bike’s efficiency, it is highly recommended to swap out clipless pedals for larger platform ones. This will give you a more comfortable ride and help prevent falls when the terrain gets tougher because of slippery conditions or an obstacle in the way.

Install Fenders

Attach fenders to cover the front and back spokes/spokes giving you protection from rain, snow, mud, or dirt (depending on where you’re riding). Fenders are very useful in keeping the drivetrain and gear clean.

Adjust the Saddle

Adjust the saddle to be level with the ground and easy to get on/off of. since you will likely spend more time on your bike, you will need to have a more comfortable option like a leather saddle

Install a mirror

Riding your bike, whether it is a mountain or road bike can be an exhilarating experience.  One of the most important things to consider when riding long distances is car mirrors that will allow you to see oncoming traffic and avoid any potential collisions.

Add Lights 

You will need a bike light If you are planning to ride in the dark like late evening or at dawn.

Racks, Bags, and Panniers

Installing a rack on your bike will always be tricky, but it can be made easier by contacting the experts in town at your local bicycle shop. Different parts of bikes might get in the way when installing racks, like disc brakes or tire size differences for example; however, with some helpful advice from an expert, you’ll have no problem getting that new storage space! 

Mountain Bike Tire Pressure for Road Touring

Mountain bikers should keep pressure on their tires low so that they have better traction for tackling tracks and trails. In order to maintain speed and momentum on the road with less pedaling, you need to have low tire pressure. It will make your trip a lot smoother and you’ll save energy because there’s less resistance against those turning pedals.

Repair Kits and Spare Parts

Make sure to bring the essentials for an adventure! Bring a repair kit and at least one spare tube. When you’re on your bike, you never know what’s going to happen, no matter how careful of a driver you may be. 

Make sure that if something does go wrong during your trip there is someone who can help make it right again with these essential items in tow so nothing stands between having fun or getting back home safe.

Minor Position Changes

If you’re a mountain biker with aspirations of some road riding, it may be best to lower your handlebars for more control. For road riders, lower handlebars are used for better aerodynamics while mountain bikers prefer raised handles to have better handling.

Tips for Short Tours

Always remember to pack light! If you’re on a tour for 4-5 hours, all you need is water and some basic tools. Remember your repair kit, spare tube if needed to keep rolling down the road (or just carrying it in case), and pump so that those pesky flats don’t stop your trek.

Important Tips for Extended Touring (like days)

  • Make sure you have enough water and snacks at all times while riding! You never know when it will be time to break down or if you’ll get lost, which means making sure you’re prepared with what you need to stay hydrated and fed.
  • Strap on a backpack or purchase a bike rack so that you can carry what you need with you while riding, such as extra clothes, food, water or anything else that may be important for your ride!
  • Plan your trip ahead of time, it will make for a much more enjoyable and less stressful ride.
  • Make sure you have a spare tire and pump if needed.
  • Bring extra cash so that you can buy supplies or food when necessary, as well as any other items that may be on your list of essentials for the ride!
  • Prepare an emergency contact card with insurance information just in case something happens while riding.
  • If you stop for lunch, be sure to bring a road map so that you know where you are!
  • Don’t forget the sunscreen and bike gloves in order to avoid getting sunburned or blisters on your hands.
  • Bring items like toilet paper, feminine hygiene products or anything else personal if needed! Traveling can lead to these items being forgotten, so it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
  • Tighten any screws or bolts that are not tightened properly so there is less chance they will come loose on the road.
  • Make sure there is enough air in your tires and that they are not worn down or have any big cracks, which can lead to a blowout on the road!

Last but not least, have fun out there! Remember this is supposed to make your riding experience better and more enjoyable, not harder!