I am going to buy a bike soon, and I want to make sure I’m making the right choice. I will be using it for commuting and light exercise (nothing over an hour of use a day). I’ve been recommended buying a MTB as it can be used for rough terrain and roads. However, I recently read that it won’t give the best performance. Summary: I want to use a mountain bike for commuting. Has anyone with a mountain bike experienced difficulty cycling on normal car roads? And are there any real downsides to this? Thank you

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    How far is your commute? And make sure you actually ride the route you want to use to commute before you actually go to work, like on a weekend. You don't want to plot out a route and find out on your way to work that it takes a lot longer than you thought, or you can't go that way at all for some reason you weren't aware of when you were planning. Commented Aug 2, 2020 at 17:54
  • @ArgentiApparatus Yeah it did thank you!
    – Jood
    Commented Aug 2, 2020 at 18:02
  • @AndrewHenle hi I didn’t take that into account before, thank you so much!
    – Jood
    Commented Aug 2, 2020 at 18:02
  • Actually, if the side you're going down is pretty steep then a mountain bike is probably a good idea! Commented Aug 3, 2020 at 2:18
  • Do you have any climbs?
    – Criggie
    Commented Aug 3, 2020 at 3:18

2 Answers 2


You'll gain several advantages Comfort Versatility Durability Relaxed position

Some cons Speed Weight (only matters during acceleration) Difficulty in finding suitable racks but this is easily overcome

You'd need to harden the suspension and lock out the shocks im guessing as well.

  • Thank you so much!
    – Jood
    Commented Aug 2, 2020 at 9:49
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    You may also want to find some narrower tires (but having wide tires is also a benefit if you're worried about possibly getting a tire caught in a road feature, e.g., tram track), and/or run them at closer to the maximum recommended pressure.
    – einfeyn496
    Commented Aug 2, 2020 at 10:13
  • I’ll look out for that, Thank you!
    – Jood
    Commented Aug 2, 2020 at 17:34
  • "harden the suspension and lock the shocks" <-- so why have them at all? A rigid MTB is essentially a commuter bike.
    – Criggie
    Commented Aug 3, 2020 at 3:19
  • Agreed. Just the adaptability is there that's all. In relation to my point of versatility earlier. Commented Aug 3, 2020 at 6:49

are there any real downsides to this?

The one thing about a typical MTB that really doesn't work well on the road are soft-compound, deep-thread tyres: they have lots of rolling resistance and wear out quickly. But this is easily fixed because even the burliest enduro bike can be fitted with more road-suitable tyres without problems.

Smaller disadvantages include the higher mass and suspension bobbing. IMO neither of that is really an issue for commuting, though it definitely does mean you get not the best performance. If it's a long commute then maybe you're better off with a more performant bike but for a short commute (< 5 km) honestly just about any bike will do; I'd recommend making longievety / low maintenance more of a deciding factor than performance. Also, a fancy bike is no good if it's stolen.

In summary: an inexpensive hartail MTB makes for a perfectly adequate commuter bike, as well as for “light exercise”. Only if you want to get a bit more adventurous about the MTB part, then I'd recommend rather getting two separate bikes, with a cheap, used, road-only one for the commute job.

  • As far as MTB tires wearing out quicker, I have to disagree. I have several thousands miles on my original tires.
    – fixit7
    Commented Aug 3, 2020 at 2:52
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    @fixit7 hard-compound XC tyres can last long, but even they have more rolling resistance on tarmac than smoother tyres. The downhill-style, mud-suitable variety definitely does also wear out much quicker. Commented Aug 3, 2020 at 9:37

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