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 at 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 a quick time. Plus, you will love mountain bikes for intensive workouts.

Road Bike Advantages and Disadvantages

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

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

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 road bikes.
  • 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 handlebar design allows riders to hold the handle 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.

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 its lightweight frame design. 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 great benefit since the control of bicycles depends on their weight. Also, a lightweight frame will increase riding comfort. Therefore, even a newbie can choose road bikes for better exercise. It won’t require any additional skills at all.

Ideal for riding anywhere and long distances:

With road bikes, virtually any pavement and road is your exercise ground. You can take the road bikes 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.
road bikes advantages min Road Bike Vs. Mountain Bike For Exercise: A Comparative Discussion

Ideal for newbies:

Road bikes are made for you if you 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. So, you won’t have to choose alternatives for fitness training with road bikes.

Cheaper pricing:

Another amazing advantage of road bikes is their affordable pricing. An entry-level road bike is gettable from $200 to $500. Thus, it will be a great option for newbies and people with a tight budget. Also, it is way cheaper than any fitness training equipment such as stationary bikes.

So, you can get it anytime and start the exercise. It won’t limit you regarding budget and facilities. In fact, you will love road bikes for exercise as you go to and from your offices with them.

Disadvantages of road bikes:

Undoubtedly, road bikes are a great option for commuting and exercising simultaneously. But, you need to look at its disadvantages for a practical choice.

Inappropriate posture:

Although the road bike has a lightweight frame, its sitting posture is unnatural and unrealistic. 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 and back pain. So, it isn’t a good choice for intense exercise. It might even discourage people from riding road bikes.

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 exercises.

Mountain Bike 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.

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:

Mountain bikes have a better seating posture than road bikes. 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.

As your main goal is to lose weight, shape your full body, and improve muscle strength, the additional effort to ride mountain bikes will be truly useful. You will love the effort to sweat quickly and lose weight.

Better and stronger frame:

If you are an obese person and looking for ways to shed some weight, you will love the mountain bike. Its sturdy and strong frame can easily take your weight. Also, a sturdier frame means it needs more effort to ride, which will help you lose weight quickly.

Disadvantages of mountain bikes:

While mountain bikes offer excellent intense training, it has a few setbacks. Before you choose it for exercise, you need to be aware of these drawbacks.

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.

Road Bike Vs. Mountain Bike For Exercise

Undoubtedly, road bikes and mountain bikes are excellent riding options. Nonetheless, you need to choose between both bikes since you can ride both simultaneously. Even if your budget permits, it will be too much of an adventure.

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

Nonetheless, before selecting your cycling option for fitness training, you need to consider a few points. 

  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 usefulness.

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Which bike is good for burning calories?

Riding road and mountain bikes both improve muscle endurance. Also, it will help you build muscles and shape your body. You can do it by burning calories.

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 exact calorie burn will depend on the biking intensity and weight of the rider.

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 above show that riding a mountain bike for the same amount of time will burn slightly more calories than road bikes. But, it’s not something incredibly significant that can overturn the decision.

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: On regular riding, both mountain bikes and road bikes burn almost similar calories. So, it is a tie. However, a road bike will burn more calories when you speed up your cycling. Road bikes will be a better option if your purpose is to burn calories.

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?

Losing weight is directly connected with your calorie level. Therefore, it is estimated that riding a road bike will offer better chances of losing weight quickly. Plus, road bikes are gearless and have a traditional frame design. It lets you ride the bike without any special skills and on regular roads. So, it will be a great option to lose weight. Plus, you can choose it as your daily commuter for going to offices, shopping, or in neighborhood locations. It will save you from traffic and help in lose weight too.

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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.

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?

Cardio exercises will improve blood circulation. It also strengthens your core muscles and helps you remain in good shape for longer periods. A road bike is obviously a clear winner for cardio training. It will allow even entry-level cyclists to perform some sorts of exercises. Also, you can increase your exercise intensity quickly with a road bike.

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: Road bike is better for regular cardio exercises. It is easy to ride and doesn’t risk over-stressing your heart. Also, you can ride it anywhere and so; it is suitable for older people too. Average persons will find mountain bikes as a harder option for intense training.

Frequently Asked Questions

A mountain bike will burn 100 calories more than a road bike at full-on speed. However, it’s difficult for most people to achieve full speed on MTBs. So, its advantage of calorie-burning ability evens out soon.

As Harvard University report showcases, you will need to ride a recreational bike for 1-hour to burn 500 calories at 12MPH. If you increase the speed to 15MPH, the time will reduce considerably.

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.

For example, if you get a 24V battery with the $300 one, the $500 one will provide you with a better option. The same goes for the motor model and performance. A price increase will also get you a better framework with premium quality material.

Final Thoughts

The elaborative discussion on-road bike vs. mountain bike for exercise shows that the road bike is the winner in most categories. A road bike is suitable for losing weight, burning calories, and doing cardio exercises. Also, the road bike is affordable, and you may ride it on any smooth pavement.

Nonetheless, a mountain bike is better for uphill rides ad quick weight loss results. Once you skill up your cycling technique on a road bike, you can shift to an MTB for intense fitness training. Moreover, both bike types offer you a good option for regular exercise to enjoy a healthy and fit lifestyle.

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