Road Bike Vs Mountain Bike, which One Is better For Exercise?

According to CDC, around 40% of American adults suffer from obesity. In Europe, around 35% of their population is overweight. Thus, exercise, fitness, gym, workouts have become the buzzwords in the whole world. And when it comes to exercises and workouts for fitness, biking tops the list.

Many people prefer regular road bikes for daily workouts, while others tilt towards mountain biking for intense workouts. Thus, it brings one important question in front of us, “Road bike vs. mountain bike for exercise, which is better?”

road bike vs mountain bike for exercise

Road bikes are good on flat roads and let you exercise through biking at any location. You can choose road bikes and perform regular workouts in your neighborhood. Also, road bikes with less complexity and the requirement of less muscle power are suitable for exercise to any person.

On the contrary, mountain bikes need more muscle power to ride through the terrains. Thus, it is an excellent option for burning calories in quick time. Plus, you will love mountain bikes for intensive workouts.

Road Bike's Advantages and Disadvantages

Road bikes are made for riding on flat roads. It can go as fast and as far as your legs can pedal. Thus, a road bike has no limitations. It can confidently take you through any paved surface.

These bikes are thin, lightweight, and designed to maximize your riding comfort. It has a traditional design compared to mountain bikes with full suspension. The key aspects of road bikes include the following ones:

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road bike's advantages and disadvantages
  • The wheels of road bikes have fewer spokes. It also has lighter rims. Thus, you will feel like flying through the air as you ride.
  • The rim of the road bike is thinner and narrower than mountain bikes. However, these bikes come with wider rims to improve their aerodynamics.
  • The overall frame design is made lightweight. It improves both aerodynamics and riding comfort. So, you will feel less stress while riding the road bikes for a longer period.
  • Road bikes strongly contrast with mountain bikes in the suspension category. Traditional road bikes don’t include any front and rear suspension. So, on bumpy roads, these bikes might not be suitable.
  • The handlebar is more curved than mountain bikes. The drop down design allow riders to hold the handlebar with better comfort. Nonetheless, many road bikes, these days, have a flat handlebar that mimics the mountain bikes more. It gives people a good choice for intense exercise.

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Advantages of road bikes:

Road bikes are great for daily commuting. Also, it has nice offerings for exercise for fitness freak people. Its key advantages include the following ones.

Lightweight and comfortable:

The best thing about a road bike is that it is very lightweight. An average road bike will weigh around 18 pounds to 20 pounds only. Thus, even a fragile person can control these bicycles without putting too much pressure on their fitness.

It is a significant advantage because how easily you can control the bike is determined by its weight. A lightweight frame will also improve riding comfort. Even a novice can ride a road bike. You won’t require any additional skills.

Ideal for riding anywhere and long distances:

With road bikes, you can do exercise on virtually any pavement or road. You can take them anywhere you want, from riding them on roads to your lawn and parkways. Also, with a lightweight frame and added comfort, road bikes are made for long-distance rides.

So, it brings two key benefits:

  1. Riding longer distances and more hours means you can shed more fats with road bikes. Also, it offers you more exercise hours.
  2. You can perform the workout for long distances with road bikes; it improves your cardiovascular and full-body exercise. It will help in strengthening your muscles better.

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Ideal for newbies:

Road bikes are made for people who are new in the cycling world and still want to perform cycling workouts. Yes, its lightweight frame, comfortable riding, and easy controls make it a go-to option for beginners.

Cheaper pricing:

Another fantastic advantage of road bikes is their low cost. An entry-level road bike costs between $200 and $500. It’s an excellent choice for beginners and those on a tight budget. Also, it is way cheaper than any fitness training equipment such as stationary bikes.

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Disadvantages of road bikes:

Without a doubt, road bikes are an excellent option for both commuting and exercising. However, in order to make an informed decision, you must understand its downsides.

Inappropriate posture:

Although road bikes has lightweight frame, its sitting position is a bit awkward and uncomfortable. As you ride the road bikes, you might hunch over and rise above the seat slightly for speeding up the bike on the pavement. It accelerates the road bike, but the inappropriate sitting posture might cause lower back pain. So, it isn’t a good choice for intense exercise.

Your body will experience more bating:

Road bikes lack rear and front suspensions. It is in strong contrast to mountain bikes with an excellent suspension system. Also, the thinner and aerodynamic frame cannot take more endurance.

As a result, your body will take more beating on the roads. It will, therefore, cause pain to your body and discourage you from regular exercise.

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Mountain Bike's Advantages and Disadvantages:

A mountain bike, aka MTB bike, is made for off-road cycling. Its design incorporates a sturdier frame and suspensions for improved endurance on tough and robust terrains. However, the mountain bike’s complex design and sturdier frame reduce its performance on flat and paved roads. Also, a heavier MTB and its suspension will require more muscle power for riding.

mountain bike's advantages

Some of the key features of MTB bikes include the following ones:

  • The wheel and tire of the mountain bikes are thicker and heavier than road bikes. Also, it has improved traction for better grip on the off-road routes. Its large knobby tires will allow you to ride through different terrains better.
  • A key benefit of mountain bikes is their stronger brakes. It lets you ride confidently and avoid emergencies.
  • Mountain bikes have a lower gear ratio. It will be useful for climbing steeper and hilly regions with the least effort. However, the lower gear ratio of MTBs offers a better exercising option for riders than road bikes.
  • Finally, mountain bikes will have more endurance due to their full suspension system. It lets you take the mountain bike on any terrain. But, it’s not suitable for smooth pavements.

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Advantages of mountain bikes:

Mountain bikes are great for exercise, particularly if you love intense workouts for fitness. Also, it gives you a rare chance of going off-trail rides.

Proper riding posture:

Compared to road bikes, mountain bikes have a better seating position. As it has a flat handlebar, you don’t need to bend your back while riding MTBs. So, it frees you from any back pain and stress. What’s more, the proper sitting posture will boost your riding comfort.

It permits you better work out for an extended period without any stress. Also, it is ideal for strength training and developing your core muscles. It will be useful if your workout aim is to improve your muscles and strength shortly.

Riding needs more effort:

Although cyclists will appreciate effortless riding experiences, MTBs are a sharp contrast. It needs excessive effort to ride through difficult terrains. At first glance, it might seem like a disadvantage, but with a closer inspection, you can find its worthiness.

Because your main goal is to lose weight, shape up your entire body, and increase muscle strength, the extra work required to ride mountain bikes will be quite beneficial. You will appreciate the effort required to vigorously sweat and lose weight.

Better and stronger frame:

Mountain biking is a great way to lose weight if you are overweight. Its sturdy and long-lasting frame can easily handle your weight. A sturdy frame also necessitates lot more effort to ride, which aids in weight loss.

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Disadvantages of mountain bikes:

While mountain bikes provide fantastic rigorous training, they do have a few drawbacks. You should be aware of these disadvantages before using it for exercise.

Heavier frame:

The heavier frame of the mountain bike makes it more durable on off-rad trails. Nonetheless, it increases the difficulty in uphill riding. Thus, newbie rides will be discouraged from using MTBs in hilly regions. It also discourages people from choosing it as their mainstream exercise option.

Associated injury risks:

You will mostly ride the mountain bike on bumpy grounds. Although mountain bikes have great brakes and suspension systems, riding on hills and the bumpy ground will increase the injury risks. When you choose it as your workout option, it also runs the risk of injuring yourself.

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Road Bike Vs. Mountain Bike For Exercise

Road bikes and mountain bikes are both excellent. You must, however, choose between the two bikes because you cannot ride both at the same time. Even if your earnings let it, the adventure will be too much for you.

road bike Vs mountain bike, which one is better for exercise

However, before choosing your bicycle for fitness training, there are a few things to consider.

  1. Firstly, check the pros and cons of your cycling options. We have covered it in detail in the above section. So, you can look at it to select your biking preference.
  2. You should also determine your exercise goal. Do you want to lose weight or improve your core muscles? The answer will determine your selection largely.
  3. Finally, consider how many calories you want to lose in a given period. Riding mountain bikes will be a great option if you want to burn massive calories faster. On the contrary, you can opt for road bikes for regular exercising with less calorie burn necessity.

We have discussed the first point in the above sections. So, it’s time to illustrate the next two points for better decision-making.

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Which bike is good for burning calories?

Both road and mountain biking improve muscle endurance. It will also help you grow muscle and reshape your body. 

So, which bike is better for burning calories?

A study on the Health Line suggested that a person will shed between 240 calories to 355 calories in a 30 minutes session on the road bike. The amount of calories burned when biking varies depending on the rider’s weight and intensity.

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Road Bike Calorie Burn Amount

Rider’s Weight

Calorie Burnt

125 pounds

240 calories

155 pounds

290 calories

185 pounds

355 calories

The amount of calorie burn may vary slightly depending on the riding intensity. But, it will offer a nice weight loss capacity in most cases.

On the contrary, a study on the Harvard University on calories burnt in 30 minutes exercise duration on a mountain bike will burn anywhere from 255 to 380 calories. The exact data follows as:

Mountain Bike Calorie Burn Amount

Rider’s Weight

Calorie Burnt

125 pounds

255 calories

155 pounds

316 calories

185 pounds

380 calories

The two tables demonstrates that, during the same amount of time spent riding a mountain bike burns somewhat more calories than riding a road bike. However, it is not a considerable enough factor to overturn the verdict.

However, there’s a catch-

The same study shows that riding road bikes with speed above 20MPH can help a person burn 490-695 calories. You will find it hard to achieve such speed with mountain bikes. So it will not burn a higher amount of calories.

Winner: Both mountain bikes and road bikes burn almost similar calories. So, it is a tie. On the other side, as you increase your cycling speed, road bikes will burn more calories.

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Which bike is better for losing weight?

Another key concern of people is to control or lose weight. Also, it is more important for those suffering from obesity. So, which is better to lose weight, road bike vs. mountain bike?

Your calorie intake has a direct influence on your ability to lose weight. Road cycling is therefore considered to increase your chances of losing weight quickly. It enables you to ride the bike on common routes without needing any special abilities.

Additionally, you can use it as your everyday commuter to go to neighborhood locations, shops, or offices.

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mountain bike's advantages

On the contrary, mountain bikes are also good at losing weight. But for this, you will need to ride uphill with the steeper ground. As you go for an uphill ride, MTBs will need more effort. Consequently, you will lose weight quicker than road bikes.

Nonetheless, uphill riding isn’t suitable for beginners. Also, it runs the risk of injuring yourself as you develop the riding intensity. So, MTBs are only good for professionals and advanced riders. But, advanced riders will almost surely have a toned body.

Winner: If you are obese and want to lose weight quickly, you should always go with road bikes. On the contrary, MTB bikes with heavier frames might accommodate heavier persons better. But, it isn’t a good option for a beginner at all.

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Which bike is better for intense and cardio exercises?

Are mountain bikes good for exercise? Or, are road bikes good for exercise? Well, for regular workouts, both bikes have pretty commendable facilities. But what happens when it comes to serious cardio improvement and intense training?

Cardiovascular exercise increases blood circulation. It also strengthens the core muscles of your heart, allowing you to stay in shape for extended periods of time. A road bike is undoubtedly the obvious winner when it comes to cardio training. Even beginner bikers can obtain benefit from it. 

Mountain bikes aren’t for occasional riders. Plus, it needs more effort and might even put too much stress on your heart. Thus, you need to be careful about intense fitness training with mountain bikes to avoid inconsequence.

Winner: A road bike is perfect for frequent cardio exercises. It is also simple to ride and will not put extra pressure your heart. It is also suitable for senior citizens because it can be ridden anywhere. For most people, mountain bikes are a far more challenging option for serious training.

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Frequently Asked Questions

A mountain bike burns 100 more calories than a road bike. Most people, however, find it difficult to achieve full speed on MTBs. As a result, its advantage in calorie-burning ability quickly balances out.

According to a Harvard University study, riding a recreational bike for an hour at 12MPH will burn 500 calories. The time will be significantly reduced if the speed is increased to 15 MPH.

A physically fit person can confidently ride 10 miles in 30 minutes. However, beginners should start at a 5MPH average speed and slowly increase the intensity.

Final Thoughts

In this comprehensive comparison of road bikes vs mountain bikes for exercise, the road bikes significantly outperformed.. Road bikes are excellent for calorie burning and aerobic workouts. They are also reasonably priced.

A mountain bike, on the other hand, is excellent at climbing steep hills and shedding pounds quickly. After improving your riding skills on a road bike, you can switch to a mountain bike for serious fitness training. Furthermore, both types of bikes are suitable for physical activity in order to maintain a healthy and fit lifestyle.

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