Road bikes have a forward bent seating posture, mountain bikes have a straight seating posture.

I was wondering which of the above seating postures (of road bikes or mountain bike) is better for back bone?

Whether any of these seating postures could cause back pain, slipped disks etc?

  • Welcome to bicycles.SX! In its current form your question is quite hard to read and understand and therefore might not get many and helpful answers. Maybe you want to elaborate a bit more on the topic and go a bit more into detail. Please have also a look at our help page and take the tour to learn how good questions and answers here on stackexchange should look like. Commented Jun 24, 2014 at 9:06
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    @Nikhil it was quite difficult to read your question so I took the liberty of making a few edits to hopefully make the meaning more clear. Please review it and check that my wording is consistent with your original question.
    – PeteH
    Commented Jun 24, 2014 at 9:43
  • @PeteH Thanks for the edits, it is more clear now.
    – Porcupine
    Commented Jun 24, 2014 at 12:07
  • @PeteH Thanks for your prompt reply, could you please elaborate a bit on "under the large umbrellas of "road bikes" or "mountain bikes", there are many different geometries which offer many levels of comfort". Which and what kind of geometry you are referring to?
    – Porcupine
    Commented Jun 24, 2014 at 12:26
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    It must be remembered that bicycle seating is a (often poor) compromise between numerous factors -- comfort, stability, mechanical effectiveness, friction, etc. There is no "perfect" bike seat, and the "ideal" choice depends on the priorities of the user. Commented Jun 24, 2014 at 14:21

2 Answers 2


The number of comments to your question is becoming quite large, so I thought I'd roll my comments up into an answer (of sorts).

You ask whether the seat postures could cause back pains, and whilst I have no specialist knowledge in this area, I'd have to say from a purely empirical viewpoint that the answer must be "no". A lot of people ride a lot of miles on a lot of days, without suffering long-term pain.

But it's not a blanket "no", there are caveats. For example, if you have a badly-fitting bike, this can quickly cause pain.

Plus don't forget, under the large umbrellas of "road bikes" or "mountain bikes", there are many different frame geometries which offer many levels of comfort.

For example with road bikes, at one extreme there are bikes designed to be ridden by professional racers, whose geometry will sacrifice comfort for efficiency/performance.

At the other extreme there are, for example, touring bikes which are designed with a more relaxed geometry, so as to be comfortable for riding all day, over several days, and carrying a load. There are a gozillion bikes in between, and the story is repeated for mountain bikes.

Example: two different road bikes (same manufacturer). The first (left/top?) photo shows a bike from their "road" [i.e. racing] range, the other from their "touring" range. You can see the different frame shapes involved. (The two bikes look pretty much to be on the same scale, certainly they both run 700 tyres.) But if you look at both the vertical and horizontal distances between the saddle and handlebar, hopefully you can envisage that the rider of the left bike would have their back more horizontal (efficient but uncomfortable), the rider of the right bike will have their back at maybe 45° (give or take), a far more comfortable position.

Dawes Giro 500 (racing) Dawes Galaxy (touring)

  • Thanks for the example, it really helped me a lot to understand the concept of geometry of cycle.
    – Porcupine
    Commented Jun 28, 2014 at 18:30

(this is more of a supplemental answer to Pete's one)

The answer is somewhat different if you already have back pain vs if you don't. Simply, if you already have pain it's much easier to make it worse, but if you don't an upright bike is fairly unlikely to cause it.

The main factor is likely to be how far forward you lean while stilling on the bike, with a racing bike putting you further forward. One reason cheap mountain bikes are so popular is that the more upright seating position is more comfortable. But the main area these bikes cause pain is your upper back and shoulders, from the extra weight resting on that area. But I'm not a medical professional, this is just opinion.

You've left a few options off the list, though.

Dutch Bikes are commonly even more upright and comfortable than mountain bikes. They're not fast, but they're comfortable and they're designed to be ridden in everyday clothing, and have luggage space.

dutch bike

Recumbents For people with back pain sometimes that's not enough. There's a whole other type of bikes called recumbents, because they take the "wouldn't you rather have an armchair" approach to bike seats.

recumbent bike recumbent trike

Note that in both cases there's a big base area of the seat that you sit on, plus a substantial backrest. You're also leaning back rather than forward. There are a huge range of shapes and styles of recumbents, but they're more expensive than most upright bikes.

I've seen a lot of people riding different bike styles and I've heard at least one person say that the few different recumbents they tried all made their back pain worse. But I've heard from more people who had much reduced back pain or simply couldn't ride an upright any more because of a back injury. So if you do have pain, and find an upright bike does not help with it, it might be worth trying a recumbent.

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