It is usually less aerodynamic to ride a mountain bike than a road bike or gravel bike, due to its larger tires, longer frame geometry, heavier weight, suspension, and even slower gearing compared to a road bike or gravel bike. By making some general changes to a mountain, you may be able to increase its speed. We’re going to examine why mountain bikes are slower than other types of bikes, especially road bikes, in this article. After that, we’ll discuss how you can make your mountain bike go faster on the road and why it might seem slow.
Factors That Affected Mountain Bike Speed
There is a big difference between mountain bikes and other types of bikes when it comes to their tires. Compared to road tires and even typical gravel or cruiser tires, mountain bike tires are wider and knobbier. Tires on mountain bikes require lower air pressure as well. Best Mountain Bikes tires are designed to roll over large rocks and roots, so they ‘squish’ rather than bounce. However, this type of tire also creates more friction with the road because it ‘squishes’ onto the road surface, absorbing energy. On mountain bikes, the tires also have knobby treads, which provide extra traction in slippery conditions. However, the extra tread will slow you down when riding on pavement since you don’t need as much grip.
Speed determines body position on a road bike. In order to allow the wind to pass over them, road riders will be hunched over. It’s about balance and control, though, when it comes to mountain bike positioning. In mountain bikes, the handlebars are wider for leverage and the position is more upright for strength. In addition to catching more wind, this body position also slows you down when you’re traveling over eight mph. As a result, your body position influences your speed more as you ride faster.
The Geometry of the Frame
Mountain bikes have long frames for stability, with a high bottom bracket for climbing obstacles. In contrast, shorter bikes, like race bikes, can accelerate and turn more quickly because of their shorter length.
Because mountain bikes have large tires and heavy suspensions, they are heavy. While hybrid bikes, road bikes, and gravel bikes all have thinner tires and lack heavy suspension, hybrid bikes are the exception. They accelerate faster and go faster uphill when they are lighter.
Suspension on bikes is designed to absorb bumps and lumps on the road. In addition to absorbing energy, a suspension system also absorbs power, so you’ll lose some of your pedal power. Speed decreases when power is reduced.
Gears on mountain bikes are designed to make climbing hills easy (albeit more slowly) and coasting downhills easy. Unfortunately, there are no large gears that make you go fast. There are different gears on road and gravel bikes designed to maximize speed and power rather than get over obstacles. To keep up with a roadie who is cruising along at a more comfortable RPM, a mountain biker would have to spin a very high cadence on a flat road. There can be a lot of difficulty in going fast if you have the wrong gear.
The Best Way to Make Your Mountain Bike Faster
Swap the Tires
If you want to improve your mountain biking, you should replace your heavy, fat tires with skinnier slicks (like these ones from Amazon, for instance). There is little need for mountain bike tires on most roads since they have a relatively smooth surface. You can also add air to the tires to reduce friction between them and the road. As well as being lighter and more aerodynamic, they will also be more energy efficient.
Adjust Your Tire Pressure
Have trouble swapping out your tires? You can try adjusting the tire pressure instead. In the Best Full Suspension Mountain Bike, for example, the tire pressure is lower to conform to the terrain for better grip and comfort. If you’re going to ride on the road, you don’t have to worry about it so much. You can increase the tire pressure (but don’t go outside the recommended range).
Lock Out the Suspension
By turning the pedals, you are putting some energy into your bike’s suspension. In other words, by locking out the suspension, your bike becomes a bit stiffer, more efficient, and will be able to accelerate more rapidly due to more torque put on the pedals.
Change Your Position on the Bike
You can go a little – or a lot- faster on your mountain bike if you change your riding position from upright to aggressive. For a more aerodynamic riding position, you might be able to raise your saddle, lower your handlebars, or change your flat bars for drops, depending on your bike.
There are different cassettes and chainrings that will fit different bikes, so changing gears can be a bit more challenging. Changing gears may give you a bit more power when turning the pedals, however.
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Make Sure Your Bike is Clean
Mountain biking can slow down your bike if you pick up mud, dirt, or grime. Make sure you clean your chain as well, as a dirty chain is much less efficient.