Can you make a mountain bike faster on the road? Yes, you can.
Whether you use your mountain bike for commuting or enjoy a casual road ride at the weekend, you’re probably wondering how you can make your bike faster on the road.
Here’s a list of the steps you should follow to make your mountain bike faster on the road:
1) Pump Up the Tires
Pump up the tires of your mountain bike to the maximum pressure recommended. You should be able to find this written on the side of the tire.
Mountain bikes usually have much lower tire pressure than road bikes because the tires are wider and because lower pressure can be useful when riding off-road.
If you’re riding your mountain bike on the road, however, the best thing you can do is inflate the tire as much as you can within the guidelines written on the tire.
This will make your bike more efficient and faster on the road.
2) Raise the Seat
You may have lowered your mountain bike seat to use it off-road, or perhaps you’ve never put much thought into how high your seat should be set.
Whilst a lower seat can be useful when you’re using your mountain bike for jumps or off-roading, it’s not so good for road riding.
Raise your seat so that when you sit on your bike and pedal, your leg is completely straight at the bottom of each rotation of the pedals.
This is the most effective way to pedal. Having your seat raised so that your leg is straight when it gets to the bottom of each rotation gets the most power out of your legs and means you’ll ride faster.
3) Firm Up the Suspension
A bouncy mountain bike suspension is great when riding on bumpy, rocky trails, but it’s no good for riding on the road.
Roads are generally flat and smooth, which means you don’t need all that suspension.
Having suspension on the road slows you down because it squishes as you pedal. When it squishes you lose energy which slows you down.
That’s why no road bikes have suspension. Fortunately, there is something you can do to reduce the effects of suspension.
Look for the suspension adjustment knobs on your bike and turn them all the way in the direction that makes it firmer. Here’s an example of what the adjustment know will look like on your front suspension:
You can check you’ve done it the right way by pushing down on your handlebars before and after you adjust your suspension.
If it’s much harder to push the bars down than it was before you adjusted your suspension, you’ve done it right and your bike will perform better on the road.
Whilst firming up your forks will make your bike faster, worn or poor-quality forks may not provide all the calibration you’d like. Check out this article we wrote on what to look out for in a good mtb fork here.
4) Clean the Bike
Cleaning your bike goes a long way when it comes to increasing your speed.
Over time, dirt and grease will build up on your bike, clog up the moving parts, and slow it down.
Cleaning your mountain bike whenever it’s looking dirty will keep the moving parts around your chain free from mud, making them able to move freely and letting you ride faster on the road.
We recommend using warm water and bike cleaner, as well as using a soft-bristled brush to clean all of the moving parts.
Don’t be tempted to use a power washer or pressure washer to clean your bike. Using a high-powered jet of water to clean your bike can damage the moving parts, so you’re better off avoiding power washers and pressure washers.
If your bike is super muddy, cleaning it will also make it lighter. A lighter bike is a faster bike!
5) Use Less Bumpy Tires
Mountain bikes usually come with tires that have lots of bumps on the surface.
These bumps are great for extra grip when off-roading, but when riding on the road they aren’t necessary and actually slow you down.
If you ride your mountain bike on the road regularly it’s probably worth investing in a pair of slicker (less bumpy) tires.
Being less bumpy means these tires can grip smoother surfaces like roads much better.
On top of that, they’re also usually lighter than the tires you get when you buy your mountain bike.
The combination of more grip and less weight makes your mountain bike faster when riding on roads.
6) Lubricate the Chain
Keeping your mountain bike chain well lubricated will minimize friction and keep you moving as fast as possible.
Not only that but keeping your chain well lubricated will keep your chain, chainring, and gear cogs (or cassette) in top condition.
They’ll last longer and you’ll have to spend less time and money on replacements.
We recommend just using a standard chain lubricant. All-conditions lubricant is a good choice because you can use it all year round instead of having to use different lubricants for the summer and winter months.
7) Reduce the Bike’s Weight
A lighter bike is a faster bike, so if you can replace any of the parts of your bike with a lighter alternative you’ll be that bit faster.
We’ve already mentioned that slicker, less bumpy tires will save some weight on your bike. Other areas you can save quite a lot of weight are the pedals, handlebars, and seat.
This is one of the more costly tips on our list. If you only want to replace one part to save money we’d recommend switching to slicker tires, seeing as this saves weight AND gives you more grip at the same time.
However, if you’re serious about getting the most out of your mountain bike for road riding, replacing your seat, handlebars, and pedals for lightweight alternatives could be worthwhile.
8) Grease the Bearings
Greasing the bearings of your bike will keep them running smoothly by reducing friction as you pedal, meaning you’ll ride faster.
Pay particular attention to your wheel bearings and pedal bearings, as keeping these bearings well greased up will have the biggest impact on how fast you can go.
9) Service the Bike
At least once a year you should fully service your bike.
You can either do this yourself or get a bike mechanic to do it for you at your local bike shop.
Having your bike serviced will not only keep you riding as fast as possible, but it will also highlight any repairs that need to be made in order to keep you safe.
Like anything with moving parts, over time bits of your bike will get worn and need replacing.
By properly servicing your bike’s brakes, gears, and all the moving parts, you’ll be sure to fly along the roads as quickly as possible without the fear of something on your bike failing and causing a crash!
Ultimately you can make your mountain bike faster on the road by implementing some or all of these tips, but it’s important to remember that you can also make yourself faster, regardless of the bike you happen to be riding!
Improving your fitness is the best way to increase your speed. Check out this article we wrote on the health benefits of cycling for as little as 30 minutes.