I must admit that before I moved to Tenerife, I really didn’t fully understand this whole mountainbiking phenomenon. I mean, why would anyone intentionally choose to ride a bike on dirty, bumpy surfaces, in the middle of nowhere? They’re heavier than road bikes for a start. MTB drivetrains wear out quicker. Complex suspension components demand more maintenance. And obviously, they’re much slower than road racing bikes.
The primary reason, I believe, is to escape from traffic, other people and civilisation itself. It’s the single best form of transport to get you out in the wilderness and away from society.
How do you know when you should choose a road or mountain bike? A good mountain bike is generally very robust – they’re toughness derives from numerous factors; they’re like the landcruisers of the biking world. Road bikes on the other hand are all about efficiency; their sleek lines, light weight and agility resemble high-performance sports cars. Hybrids exhibit characteristics of both but have never really been popular (and since the gap between road & MTBs has increased, they should have become more mainstream by now). Here are several main features of these types of bikes.
Features of MTBs:
- Front and often rear suspension provide extra comfort and increased traction when riding offroad. The frame is highly influenced by the presence of rear suspension; often the frame is designed around a complex suspension mechanism.
- Slack head tube angles result in a bike with more stability when travelling at high speeds.
- Wider handlbars yield greater steering control.
- Wide range gearing to cope with varied terrain.
- Much lower overall gear ratios lend themselves to slower speeds and steeper climbs generally associated with mountainbiking.
- Strong hydraulic disc brakes offer improved power and modulation.
- Upright body position to aid visibility.
Road bike features:
- Lighter, stiffer frames to increase pedalling efficiency.
- Steeper head tube angles result in a bike with a very nimble steering action.
- High gear ratios for the greater speeds which are expected of road bikes.
- Close-ratio gears to hone in on the most efficient pedalling rate.
- A lowered torso position and narrow handlebars to aid aerodynamics.