Are Mountain Bikes Fast?

Typically designed for off road riding, mountain bikes are excellent bikes for riding under rugged conditions, like traversing in woody environments, rocky trails or even the desert. This is because the bikes;

  • Have more upright frames
  • Offer the best clearance to go over logs and rocks
  • Offer a more comfortable way of negotiating through rugged terrain
  • Have suspensions making them take abuse without necessarily getting broken

Over the years, mountain bikes designers have improved the bike’s parts in order to maximize their performance, efficiency and comfort while meeting the demands of their customer. In addition, bike companies are producing of many bike models each year. Important parts such as the front suspension and V brakes have remained the same although little improvements have been made. In order to answer the question of how fast these bikes are, we need to look at the following features;


Mountain bikes have knobby tires to offer a better grip and traction on different rough surfaces such as rocks and gravel. The tire pressure is more while the rims and spokes are strong and durable in order to handle the rough riding. But this tires are not suitable for fast riding anyway.


Most bikes have a rugged frame made of steel making these bikes heavy. However, steel is strong making it easy for the bike to handle rough riding. However, bike companies are adopting the use of other materials such as aluminum, carbon fiber and titanium that can withstand heavier loads and rust.


These bikes have a wider gearing allowing riders to conquer tough terrains easily. The high gear is not tall making the bike not useful in road or pavement riding. In addition, the granny gear absent on road bikes comes in handy when climbing steep terrains.

Reasons Why Mountain Bikes Aren’t Fast

  1. The bike’s riding position increases room for air resistance. The rider sits in an upright position in order to get the best control over the bike, but less power is transmitted on the bike in this position. Road bikes are faster because of the over the handle bar posture that transmits much power over the bike.
  2. The bike’s tires are generally small. Most of the mountain bikes use 26 inch wheels which are smaller hence increasing a rolling resistance. In addition, the greater traction caused by the wheels contribute to an increased friction between the tires and riding surface.
  3. Most mountain bike’s frame are made of steel which is heavy metal. This means that much effort is required to move both the rider’s weight and bike’s beefy frame making them slow bikes.
  4. The bikes suspension, in some way robs some efficiency from each pedal stroke made by a rider.
  5. The bike’s gear range is made for slow and strenuous riding.

How to Make Your Mountain Bike Fast

  • Get high pressure rides and remove knobby tires. Slick tires with 75 to 90 lbs. of pressure will help in reducing rolling resistance.
  • Lock out your bike’s suspension in order to have much of your effort directed directly at your bike’s drive train. Alternatively, set it as stiff as possible in order to reduce the loss of momentum when the suspension absorbs shocks when riding.
  • Use clipless pedals since they are more efficient when pedaling hence increasing the bike’s speed.