Can You Put Mountain Bike Tires On a Road Bike? Here’s The Answer

Are you looking for a way to use your road bike as a trail bike on a weekend trip with friends?  Maybe you have a set of mountain bike tires that you think might fit your road bike?

In my city the roads are perfect for biking, but mountain biking is becoming more popular. It would be nice to be able to change the tires on my road bike just to try out the new trails.

Will the tire fit?

The easiest way to tell if the mountain bike tire will work on your road bike is to eyeball the two tires side by side.

Remember the rims on mountain bike tires are larger and the width of the tire is wider too. Check to see if the bigger tire will fit inside the road bike frame.

If it is too big the seat tube above the cranks could hit the tire.

Some other places to check are the front and rear fork clearances, the stay bridge, any of the stays, and the down tube. You can find the size of your tire on the sidewall of the tire.

If you have a 25mm tire you could probably go up to a 30mm tire, but if you are looking for a something even bigger you should probably also go for a larger rim just for safety. 

Road bike tire sizes will look like this: 700x23.  The 700mm is the diameter and the 23mm is the width given in millimeters.

Mountain bike tire measurements are given in inches like this 26x2.0.  The 26” gives the diameter and the 2” is the width.

Mountain bike tires come in different sizes, typically 27.5” or 29” which will usually make it possible to find the right size so that you can trail ride with your road bike.  

​Check! Do the brakes fit too!

Not all bikes have the same kinds of brakes.  You may need to change the brakes if the existing ones don’t fit the larger tire.

V-brakes, which are commonly used on mountain bikes, are an evolved version of the cantilever brakes which are being used more on road bikes.

There has been a push by manufacturers to make all bikes with V-brakes.

The important thing is to be aware that when you are looking to replace the road bike tires with mountain bike tires the type of brakes you have may determine if you need a travel agent to extent the cable.

Cantilevers, which work with road bikes may not fit the bigger tire and could cause some clearance problems.

Also keep in mind that even though they might fit, road bike brakes are not as heavy duty as mountain bike breaks.

It might be worth the time and trouble to switch these out if you are going on rough terrain and doing a lot of downhill.

​Make a quick switch

If you plan on changing out your road bike tires for mountain bike tires on a regular basis, you might want to consider setting up a tire and cassette combo.

The cassette is a set of circular metal discs on the rear hub.  These discs have teeth, or sprockets, which go with the number of gears you have.

Mountain bikes and all terrain bikes need a wide range of gears; whereas road bikes need fewer gears that make smoother transitions.

You might want to mount a cassette with a larger range of gears to the rear tire of the mountain bike tire and a road bike cassette to the road bike tire.

Then when it’s time to go from the road to the trails the mountain bike tire and cassette will be ready to switch.

Even though the road cassettes are compatible, the mountain bike cassettes are made to handle the extra force you will need on trails, and they give you the extra gears that will make your ride more fun.

Setting your tires up for a quick switch can save you time and wear and tear on your bike.  

Protect the frame

The possibility of turning your road bike into a mountain bike sounds tempting, but don’t forget about the rugged terrain.

The gravel roads will scratch the paint if you don’t take some simple precautions.

Frame tape will protect your bike so that you can stop thinking about every rock that makes a sound as it hits your bike.

Check this link to find some frame tape and buy some peace of mind. 

Conclusion

Can you use your road bike with mountain bike tires?  The quick answer is, yes, there are ways to make this work.

In certain circumstances the switch can be made, and you will be on the trails in no time flat. 

Most of the time it will be evident whether this is a viable option for your road bike. Just be sure to check your brakes.

The advantage of making the tire and cassette combos is that you will be able to change the tires out more easily, and you can have more gears for the all terrain trails.

Finally, don’t forget to protect your bike with frame tape. The versatility of changing tire types on a road bike is like having the best of both biking worlds.

Please send us your comments. We would love to hear about your experiences.  If you have any questions please use the comments section to contact us.

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