Recently I rode 26 miles (42 km) on my mountain bicycle on a dirt/rock mountain trail. How far could I ride on a road bicycle? I was thinking of riding in a 100k (62 miles) and wondering if my fitness from a mountain bike could be translated to a road bike.

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    The first approximation would be to compare times. You should be able to go a similar amount of time on the road, and perhaps a bit more. And your speed would likely be 1.5-2.5x what it is offroad. Commented Jul 9, 2014 at 1:56
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    Another point is that if one is used to going X miles a day regularly, they can generally do about 2X miles a day when they push it -- longer if they take several breaks. Commented Jul 9, 2014 at 1:58
  • It's more about time and effort. There's a difference between (say) full on singletrack climbing with a quick bomb at the end and cruising along a level gravel path, but both are "mountain biking". If you have a road bike look at your average speed and how far that gets you for a comparable time in the saddle. The difference in speed between the MTB and road bike will be particular to you on the two bikes you have, unfortunately
    – Móż
    Commented Jul 9, 2014 at 2:25
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    Of course it can be translated. Get on your bike and translate. :-) Commented Jul 9, 2014 at 5:32
  • My rule of thumb is about 8km road vs. 5-6km dirt.
    – Carel
    Commented Jul 9, 2014 at 8:06

1 Answer 1


As @Daniel said in his comment, use time as he bases for any comparison. I have had MTB rides where I have averaged under 8km/hour (5 mph), and others where I average over 20km/h (12.5 mph) over a similar time frame. What does not change is how much effort I put in over that time, but the consistency of that effort does.

What I find difficult transitioning from MTB to Road is on a Road bike you spend a lot more time in the riding position producing the same output - consistency is far more important than on the MTB. The 'mental space' on the road is hard for me as I get bored too easily. 160 km (100 miles, a century) days on roads does my head in more than my muscles, where as 6 hours/60 km (10 km/h or 6.2 mph) technical MTB and I have nothing left in the tank at the end but will still be enjoying it.

If you can comfortably do 26 mile (42 km) MTB, stop thinking about it and do it - whats the worst that happens?

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