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Can a Mountain Bike be Converted Into a Road Bike? How?

Black and blue colored mountain bike.

When you read an article that boldly states that you can convert a mountain bike to a road bike, you should question whether you want to spend the money and time to do that. Would you rather simply make the mountain bike more comfortable to ride on the road?

The Frame

Green colored mountain bike frame.

Here’s why the latter makes for a better idea. If you observe your mountain bike and a friend’s road bike next to one another, you’ll notice that they use a different frame. The road bike uses a thinner, lighter frame that weighs much less and lacks a weight bar in the frame’s front. To genuinely convert a mountain bike to a road bike, you would need a different frame.

The Wheels and Tires

A mountain bike inside a workplace.

The wheels, you could theoretically keep, but they would need different tires. Mountain bike tires provide the thickest, beefiest ride you can find. Their nubby rubber grabs loose dirt and pebbles to help you gain traction and not wipe out on a dirt track.

The thin, smooth tires of a road bike conversely glide across asphalt roads and detest dirt. Your best solution is the compromise provided by hybrid tires. They provide the road capability your mountain bike needs, and you’ll still be able to bike on dirt. Hybrid tires aren’t meant for a mountain though.

The Handlebars

A person biking in a forest dirt road.

Another item you’d need to change is your handlebars. A mountain bike uses a straight bar design for its handlebars with the brake grips located parallel to the handgrips. This lets the rider sit up straight. The road bike uses a U-shaped handlebar with the brake grips located in front of the handgrip. They’re designed for you to hunch over, a posture that proves more aerodynamic.

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The Pedals

A road bike also uses pedals that you strap onto, since you’ll ride long distances. These thinner, lighter pedals often have a clipping mechanism that lets you attach your cycle shoes to the pedals.

The Seat

The one simple thing you’ll need to do is to raise your seat. You sit higher on a road bike than on a mountain bike.

You May As Well Buy a Road Bike

A road bike with leather cover.

By now you’re probably laughing. If you changed the frame, tires, pedals, and handlebars, you’ve essentially purchased a new bike, or you may as well have done so.

Perhaps you don’t actually want to alter your mountain bike to make it a road bike. Changing it back to a mountain bike would be nearly impossible on a quick turnaround.

Why don’t we focus on how to make your mountain bike more amenable to riding on the road. If you actually want to begin cycling on paved roads, you should invest your money in purchasing a separate bike, a road bike designed for that.

Modify Your Mountain Bike to a Hybrid Bike

A blue colored hybrid bicycle.

Let’s say you just want to make your mountain bike easier to ride to and from work or school. Part of the trip consists of a busy street with no sidewalk for part of the ride and the rest of the trip you cut through a park. Your mountain bike does fabulously on the grass, gravel, and dirt in the park. You huff and puff trying to ride the heavy bike on asphalt hills though.

Try two items that can make your mountain bike closer to a hybrid bike. A hybrid bike uses the best parts of a mountain bike design and a road bike design in one bicycle. You’ll need to do the following:

  1. Remove your mountain bike tires and replace them with hybrid tires. Your thick mountain tires work well in slow, dirty conditions with rocks. You need something more like a road bike tire designed for speed. Riding on the road means biking in traffic, so you need the speed capabilities, especially in areas with no separate bike lanes.
    Many bikes come with hinged mounts for the wheels, so you flip the locking mechanism for the hinge up, then pull the whole wheel and tire off. You slip the hybrid tires on a separate wheel onto the bike frame and lock them on using the hinge lock. Repeat the process on the back wheel/tire.
  2. Disassemble your frame on the front end. Check the center front of the inside of the frame for a weighted bar. If the bar in your bike frame can slide out, you can remove it while riding on the road. This bar weights the bike while you take uneven and hilled/inclined terrain.
    You should not try to travel offroad without it installed. You can, however, pedal down a paved road without it. Removing it for road travel makes your heavy mountain bike almost as light as a road bike.
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Rear wheel of a black mountain bike.

When you do these two things, you temporarily convert your mountain bike to a road-leaning hybrid. Altering your mountain bike to a road bike makes little sense. You can easily switch out these two things and readily ride the roads during the weekdays, then switch things back to take the hills and mountains on the weekends.