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Can you put mountain bike tires on a road bike?

The robust looks of a mountain bike tire are tempting for many people. It leads people to believe they are more durable and would perform better on the road. Others making a shift from mountain biking to road riding may also be tempted to use the same pair of tires on paved roads. It is more economical. So, is it worth putting your MTB tires on your road bike? Well, the answer is actually yes. However, there would be certain subtle differences you would need to adjust to. Unless you are a competitive rider, you would be fine using mountain bike tires on your road bike.

See the Best MTB Tires

Will the MTB tire fit your road bike?

Obviously, the most critical factor is fit. There’s no reason to go through the hassle of changing the tires on your wheels only to discover that they don’t fit.

The 700c road wheels come standard in most road bikes. These tires are the same diameter as the standard 29-inch wheels in most mountain bikes. It makes most people believe that an MTB tire would fit their road bike. But that may not be the case.

MTB tires are designed to fit wider rims. You’d have to check to see if your 700c rims can accommodate an MTB tire. The rims may end up being excessively narrow. Furthermore, MTB tires are wider and add significantly to the length and width of the wheels. In that situation, you’d also need to make sure your road bike’s frame can take the additional dimensions of the MTB tire.

Some places to check for clearance issues of tires are the rear and front fork arches, the chainstays, and the seat tube above the cranks. If you hear a swishing sound that wasn’t there before with additional pressure on the cranks it means that the MTB tire is probably rubbing somewhere on the frame.

Check the Brakes

Another factor is the brakes of your road bike. Road bikes are fitted with cantilever brakes while MTB bikes have V-brakes. V-brakes are an evolved version of cantilever brakes. Manufacturers are pushing for V-brakes on all bikes. But you should still check to see if your brakes are compatible with MTB tires.

Cantilever brakes may not fit the bigger tires and may cause clearance problems. Even if they fit, road bike brakes are not as heavy-duty as mountain bike brakes. The added weight of the MTB tire may affect the braking performance of the bike.

How to put MTB tires on a road bike?

Following is the step-by-step process for putting mountain bike tires on your road bike:

  1. Remove the existing road tires from the wheels of your bike.
  2. To ensure a suitable fit for the new tires, thoroughly clean the wheel rims.
  3. Make sure the tires are the right size for the wheels on your road bike by checking their dimensions.
  4. Mount the new MTB tires onto the wheels and ensure they are properly aligned.
  5. Inflate the tires to the recommended pressure.
  6. Test ride the bike to make sure the tires are securely in place and the bike is functioning properly.

It is critical to ensure that the new tires are compatible with the wheels on your road bike and that they meet the clearance requirements of your bike frame and brakes.

Advantages of using MTB tires on the road


MTB tires are primarily made for rough terrain which means manufacturers make sure the tires can withstand more wear and tear than their road counterparts. In terms of the lifespan of a pair of tires, MTB tires would last longer than road tires. However, you shouldn’t smile just yet as you would find out later why MTB tires shouldn’t be a choice for the road.


The versatility provided by a mountain bike tire is unmatched. You can use MTB tires on road, on gravel, and even on rough mountain terrain, given that your bike can handle them. Most of us use bikes for city commuting and some of us may come across different types of terrain. A mountain bike tire provides great versatility to handle all those terrains. You wouldn’t turn away from most terrains just because your bike tires aren’t up for the challenge.

Better Grip

Wider tires mean more contact area which translates to more traction. Plus, MTB tires have thicker treads to provide grip on mud and gravel which means more grip during wet and slippery conditions.

Added Comfort

MTB tires are more inflated than road tires and are made of softer material. They provide more cushioning and absorb a lot of the vibrations from the road. The overall ride feels smoother.

Disadvantages of using MTB tires on the road

Reduced Performance

The wider contact area of the MTB tires which provides more traction also produces more friction. More friction means less speed and less maneuverability since it would be harder to push the bike and change its direction. MTB tires also weigh more. The added weight also reduces performance.

But don’t worry; the difference is not night and day. It’s just that if you plan on participating in a competition or have a race with friends, you would be slower if they are on road tires. For daily riding, though, it won’t make much of a difference.

More Energy

Remember the cushioning absorbing vibrations to make for a smoother ride? It also absorbs energy coming from the pedals. The bike, therefore, would become less efficient and you would be pedaling more to cover the same distance. Again, it’s not a night and day difference. It will only be noticeable during competitive runs. It shouldn’t bother you if you are a casual rider.

Faster Wear

If MTB tires wear faster, how are they more reliable than road tires? Well, you might have missed a technicality there. You see MTB tires have a longer lifespan than road tires. If you buy a new set of both types of tires and use them equally, you would need to change the road tires sooner.

But MTB tires have a softer material than road tires. While it works great on loose surfaces like gravel and mud, on harder surfaces, like roads, it would wear faster. Add additional grip and more contact area to this and the tire wears even faster on the road. MTB tires are also more expensive than road tires. You would be paying more money in the long run for the distance you travel than road tires.


Robust looks or having an extra pair of mountain bike tires may tempt you to ask if you can use those tires on road. Yes, you can use them. You just need to make sure that they fit the frame of your road bike. You can find tire information for your frame from the manufacturer or use a measuring tape.

The advantages of an MTB tire on the road are durability, versatility, more grip, and more comfort. The disadvantages are reduced performance and efficiency while a faster-wearing tire. The setup would perform fine for casual riders. The differences would only be noticeable during high-performance runs. Just make sure you choose your challenges wisely.