Is Mountain Biking Safer Than Road Biking?

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If you are a passionate cyclist, you won’t just give up something you truly love just because you want to be more cautious.

I know from my experience, many people have a very basic question: “Is Mountain Biking Safer Than Road Biking” ?

People ask this because they are almost new to cycling and want to explore this sport but they get confused where to ride? In the city / road or they are better with mountain biking?

In this article, I am going to help you to understand the concept and why mountain biking is safer and better than road cycling.

Just to let you know, different cyclists have varying opinions on whether or not you should bike on the road or on a mountain trail.

Some argue that the behavior of drivers these days make road biking more dangerous. Others also claim that mountain biking exposes cyclists to more knee and shoulder injuries than road biking.

Whether you are biking on the road or exploring those off-the-beaten mountain trails, having the right type of bike with great bike accessories make riding smoother, safer and more enjoyable.

Here’s the answer!

Is mountain biking truly safer than road biking?

To answer your quesiton, mountain biking is safer than road biking for various reasons. From Absence of other motorists to better control, MTB provides worry free riding and actually help you to prevent accident.

Over the past few years, mountain biking has gained international recognition as a leisure activity and a competitive sport. Technology has also shaped the face of cycling today.

Since the first model came out in 1970, bike manufacturers have improved mountain bike technology, making it easier for cyclists to conquer more complicated terrain and ride at enhanced speeds.

While the classic model only had a fixed speed, the modern bikes now have various speeds depending on the type and model.

Why mountain biking is safer than road biking

There’s a reason why bikes are created differently, according to their intended purpose. While it’s easy to assume that mountain bikes and road bikes all perform the same, knowing the difference between the two will help you decide which type is indeed safer.

mountain biking safer than road biking

Below are the top reasons why mountain biking is considered safer than road biking:

1. Absence of other motorists

Without worrying about other motorists, you can focus more on riding your bike and not worry about 4,000 pounds to potentially hit you. In 2016 and 2017, The NHTSA or National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has recorded 852 and 783 cyclists killed in motor vehicle crashes. (1)

2. Dirt can cause less damage than pavement

There are times when you lose your grip or the road may be too slippery to navigate. This is where you probably get your knees scraped or your shoulders taking the brunt of the fall.

However, it is easy to wipe off the dirt from your knee and keep going than when you had a mishap on a pavement.

Mountain bike accidents usually hurt less than a car crash. When you crash into a tree while on your mountain bike, it’s not as painful as falling on the pavement.

Of course, it’s a different story when you do some stunts on your bike like a backflip from a 40-foot cliff.

3. Lesser exposure to pollutants

Since mountain biking takes you away from urban cities and into country trails with no cars, you will be exposed to fewer pollutants than when you are on a road.

This keeps your lungs safe from harmful fumes that are usually found in highly industrialized cities. You won’t have to share your ride with vehicles emitting CO-2 and as a result, it is safer for your lungs.

4. You have better control

You won’t have to worry about the behavior of other drivers because cars and other drivers won’t interfere with your riding. As a result, you are more in control of your environment and how you ride your bike.

5. Lesser chances of acquiring head injuries

According to a published study by the Wilderness and Environmental Medicine entitled Cycling Injuries in Southwest Colorado: A Comparison of Road vs Trail Riding Injury Patterns, 16% of head injuries are from road cycling, while only 6% of head injuries are from mountain biking.

Should you give up road biking completely?

Campaigning for fitness and health or raising funds for cancer patients has become easy, thanks to road biking.

Such type of movements didn’t involve complex riding on mountain trails; only basic biking on paved roadways.

After all, most people join not to win but to help but to contribute to a cause, just like what Patrick Dempsey has been doing as part of his annual Dempsey Challenge.

He portrayed Dr Derek Shepherd in Grey’s Anatomy and has founded Dempsey Center to honor his mom and help people who are diagnosed with cancer.

Even House of Cards actor, Michael Kelly still makes time to ride his bike every day to destress, stay healthy and as his tribute to his trusted 2 wheels which has helped him in his career.

What does this signify? This means that while statistics may reveal how road biking lead to more serious head injuries, it doesn’t mean you should ditch it out completely.

a guy riding a bicycle on the mountain

While cycling on the road is inherently more dangerous than mountain biking, it’s the absence of safe facilities that actually make road cycling a safety concern, as based on research on bicycle and road safety at the University of Colorado Denver and the University of New Mexico. ( 5)

Keep in mind that once you are on the road, the laws of traffic also apply to you. Wearing proper protective gear and following traffic rules is important to enhance your safety while cycling.

The more you encourage other cyclists to hit the road on their bikes, the more you will raise awareness to other drivers about the need to have dedicated bike lanes in addition to sidewalks.


The choice of riding mountain bikes or road bikes totally depends on your purpose. If you want to help reduce carbon footprint and encourage others to a fit lifestyle, then you will be more effective when you ride on the road using your road bike.

It gets you faster to your workplace and is also lighter.

If you are seeking a more diverse and thrilling experience without worrying about being hit by vehicles, then mounting biking is definitely for you.

The road conditions, challenges, the weather and even the behavior of other drivers all play important roles in figuring out whether mountain biking is safer than road biking.

As a cyclist, you want to be able to ride a bike anywhere. However, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to choosing a bike.

It doesn’t mean you can’t use your mountain bike on the road. But it will yield a different result than when you use it on a mountain trail.

Whether you love mountain biking or road biking, be responsible for your own safety and the welfare of other drivers.

You can still raise awareness of the benefits of cycling even when you’re biking your way out of urban traffic or while mountain biking on a complex and narrow trail.

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