How to Convert a Mountain Bike to a Road Bike

If you have an older, hardtail mountain bike lying around with no hopes of using it on rockier trails and off-road routes, then making it more road-friendly can give it a second life.

This is also great if you do not want to invest in a brand-new road bike when you have a good-quality mountain bike already in your possession. This is the best time to start a project and convert a mountain bike to a road bike so you can commute to nearby urban areas easily.

You can use it to go to the coffee shop or run a few errands around town. Whatever your tasks, converting a mountain bike to a road bike will give you a great commute that is easier on the pocket than purchasing a new one.

How To Convert A Mountain Bike To A Road Bike

Here is a checklist of things you might need to consider before turning your hardtail mountain bike into being more road-friendly:

  • You have to adjust the saddle position for an efficient stroke
  • The tires and tire pressure need work to reduce resistance
  • To make things safer, you should add a mirror
  • Locking out or removing suspension can give you a better pedal stroke
  • Adding a rack on the back can help you carry your groceries after some errands
  • You need reflectors and lights while riding on the road
  • Fenders and mud flaps to protect your bike from getting dirty
can you convert a mountain bike into a road bike
can you convert a mountain bike into a road bike

Read Mountain Bike vs. Road Bike vs. Hybrid Bike

Mountain Bike Versus Road Bike

Most bike riders who like going on riding adventures prefer mountain bikes. This is mainly because they can use them on difficult terrains and off-road with ease. Some may consider typical road bikes to be nothing adventurous, especially when compared to a hardtail mountain bike.

However, it is essential to understand that any bike is a good bike because, at the end of the day, they can carry you anywhere you want to go.

There are various kinds of bikes available for different kinds of adventures you’re looking for, and with just a few changes here and there, you can morph them into something brand new.

Let’s look at the main changes in more detail:

Tires Play A Huge Role

When it comes to mountain bikes or even road bikes, tire selection matters a lot. Mountain bikes generally have thick tires that help you ride on rocky and dirty terrains. Even though thick tires give you superior performance on mountain bike trails, they become incredibly heavy on a smooth road.

If you are looking for a road bike to stay on the road 100% of the time, you need an incredibly slick wheel. If you want to convert your mountain bike to a road bike so you can use it on the road most of the time but also venture out onto gravel, then a semi-slick tire will work best.

Hence, your first step should be to change the thick mountain bike tires to slick city bike tires that come in both 26-inch and 29-inch sizes to fit your mountain bike perfectly.

You can even get super narrow slick tires in mountain bike diameters if you want to create the perfect road bike. Once you have your tires changed, you have completed one of the most crucial steps involved in converting a mountain bike to a road bike.

Check out, Best beginners mountain bikes

Maximum Speed And Efficiency

If you are looking to convert your old mountain bike to a road bike to provide you with maximum speed, then ultra-narrow tires as low as 28 mm can also fit your mountain bike rims.

However, you must remember that while these super narrow tires will give you maximum speed and efficiency, they may still not allow you to hop off a curb.

converting a mountain bike into a road bike
Converting a mountain bike into a road bike

What’s the bottom line?

The fact that mountain bikes have thick tires is because they are meant to be taken anywhere. You can ride them on the rockiest and uneven terrains and still be able to conquer them with ease.

However, if you want to settle for a commuter bike for your day-to-day errands, you can still maintain that capability if you get a slightly thicker tire.

The bottom line on what kind of tired you should get while converting your mountain bike to a road bike. Well, the simplest explanation is to base it on the type of terrain you wish to ride.

Make a list of the possible places you want to visit and then decide which type of tire will suit you best. The basic rule to remember is that thicker tires don’t give you the speed you need on a smooth road – that too with traffic.

Tire Pressure

Most research on the internet highlights how higher pressure in a tire means less resistance and maximum speed on the road. However, other investigations shed light on the fact that tire design and material are much more important in rolling speed. The condition of the road surface, as well as your body weight, matters in this equation too.

Low pressure in a tire allows it to sustain bumps and gives you a better grip on turns. This means that you can improve the way you handle and corner the bike on each turn.

Even with professional racing, riders like to race on a low tire pressure because it gives them more control. If you end up over-inflating your bike tire, you will end up reducing your speed on the road.

In the end, it all comes down to the main differences between the mountain bike and a road bike and how they are made for completely different terrains.

Read When to Change Road Bike Tires?

Bike Saddle Positioning

Saddle positioning is dependent on several things, such as the physiology of the rider, position of the rider on the saddle, and the way a rider peddles.

In order to convert your mountain bike to a road bike, a popular method to use is a knee over pedal spindle technique. With this technique, you should sit on your bike in a way where your cranks are parallel to the ground.

While you are sitting on the bike, the line should be in cohesion with the front of your knee as well as the center of the pedal axle.

If this is not the case, you can adjust the saddle positioning accordingly. However, saddle positioning is also a personal preference. If your knees are not comfortable with this particular positioning, you can adjust it to make things easier.

Saddle Height

If you want to determine the seat height, you can do this by sitting on your bike with the cranks perpendicular to the surface. Person preferences matter in this department as well, but generally, you should be able to put your foot against the pedal with your bike shoes on.

You may be able to determine the height seat better when you take your bike out for a spin. If you are sticking to commuting on the road, you can adjust the height of the seat 2-3 mm at a time, depending on what makes you comfortable.

Rear View Mirror

Since you will be navigating the roads with other forms of traffic, a rear-view mirror will offer you safety as a rider. This will help you commute better because you again keep an eye on the rest of the cars or bikes on the busy streets.

Most rear-view mirrors are lightweight and easy to install while giving you an excellent view of what goes on around you. Other than safety, it is also a matter of responsibility and accountability while you are riding between busy city streets.

Lights and Reflectors

When you are going to be riding a road bike amongst other heavy traffic, it is important for you to install lights and reflectors on your bike. This will help you avoid getting hit by a car, as well as ride defensively in heavy traffic.

Reflectors and lights can assist you in remaining invisible, especially at night, because you may be an easy target without them. You can get a headlight for the front of your road bike and a small blinking light for the rear end.

These two points can help other drivers see where you are and figure out which direction you are headed.

Suspension Forks

If you are planning to ride your road bike on smooth surfaces only, then it is a good choice to swap out your mountain bike suspension fork for a rigid one. This can help you convert your bike into giving you a much lighter ride.

If affording a new rigid suspension is not in your budget, then you can lock out your fork suspension. However, this is not possible for each type of suspension fork. If you do have a particular kind of suspension fork, you can lock the power drain.

This will keep it from bobbing up and down. You can use the same method for the rear-end suspension as well. You can lock it out on smooth surfaces and unlock it if you ever hit the gravel trails.

However, if your mountain bike has the kind of suspension that cannot be locked, another option is to pump the pressure and eliminate any dips in the tire to hopefully have a similar effect.

Convert a Mountain Bike Into a Road Bike
Convert a Mountain Bike Into a Road Bike

Panniers and Bike Racks

Once you convert your mountain bike to a road bike, it will become more of a tool rather than just a recreational vehicle. This means that you can carry things from one place to another and use your bike for several errands.

These include grocery shopping as well as a bike rack that can help you hold all the goods. Even though it may add a bit of weight to your bike, but it will allow you to transport things easily.

You can also invest in panniers if you want to take it a step further. They can help you carry light grocery shopping, or if you want to carry something to your friend’s house.

Some people like to keep their bikes completely clutter-free, which is why they prefer backpacks instead of panniers or bike racks. However, even baskets based on the handlebars are incredibly convenient for carrying things from one place to another – it all depends on your personal choice.

Mud Flaps and Fenders

If you live in a place where rains and storms are common throughout the year, it is a good idea to get high-quality mudflaps and fenders for your newly converted road bike. This is especially useful if you have to travel to a place where you have to look presentable.

Without a mudflap or fenders, you can get mud or dirt across your clothes, which may not leave a good impression on anyone you come across. Always remember to install both front and rear wheel fenders so that you can fight off the dirt and grime.

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Wrapping Up

Converting your mountain bike to a road bike is not a simple job. However, as long as you have a basic understanding of how each bike is different from the other, you will be able to make all the necessary changes to make your mountain bike roadworthy. At the same time, it is essential for you to remember that road biking is more dangerous compared to mountain biking.

Cars in heavy traffic can be dangerous, so it is important for you to stay alert every time you take your road bike out. If you stay safe, road biking can be joyful as well, especially when you can enjoy a ride while running all your errands!