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  • Mountain Bike Tires Vs. Road Bike Tires

    Mountain Bike Tires Vs. Road Bike Tires
    Tires connect your bike to the ground. They let you roll and keep you upright. That's why it is important that your tires match the style of riding for which your bike was created. Here's a look at the differences between road and mountain tires and why they neither look nor perform the same.

    Road Tire Diameter

    A road bike's standard tire diameter runs at 700 millimeters. Because road riding originated in Europe, all measurements on road tires are metric. This tire is larger than what is found on other styles of bikes and allows for a faster and more efficient pedal stroke. Each time the tire turns, the bikes travels farther as compared to a smaller diameter wheel.


    Mountain Tire Diameter

    The standard mountain bike tire measures 26 inches. Mountain tires are measured in inches because the sport originated in the U.S. The slightly smaller wheel allows a rider to navigate the array of terrain found on trails.

    Road Bike Width

    Most road bikes come with a tire width that ranges from 20 to 25 millimeters. This narrow tire provides less rolling resistance, allowing the bike to travel at faster speeds.

    Mountain Bike Width

    A standard mountain tire will have a width close to 2 inches. This wider tire runs on lower air pressure compared to a road bike, allowing the tires to absorb some of the bumps on the trail.

    Road Bike Tread

    Traditional road bike tires do not have a tread pattern. The smooth surface decreases rolling resistance with the pavement.

    Mountain Bike Tread

    Mountain bike tires come with a variety of tread patterns. These "knobby" tires help the bike keep traction with the trail.


    Article Written By Kathrine Cole

    Kathrine Cole is a professional outdoor educator. She teaches rock climbing, backpacking, cycling, and bike maintenance classes. She is a graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School, a Wilderness First Responder, and a Leave No Trace Trainer.

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