Road Workout For Mountain Bikers

fitness-london-cycling-routes1For a mountain biker, looking at training with a road bike may not seem very likely, let alone very appealing. The tight shorts are something us mountain bikers normally want to stay away from. However training with a road bike can lead to great gains in mountain biking strength and endurance. It can also be used as a great way to recover from an accident, before hitting those mountain trails again.

Today we are going to have a look at some reasons to use road cycling as part of your training regime, as a mountain biker and discuss some of the pros and cons.

How is a Road Bike any Different?

Cycling on a road is a more efficient way to use your energy. Due to the rigid frame, each time you push down with your legs, all the force is going into powering the wheels. On a mountain bike some of the force you generate gets swallowed up via the front and rear end suspension and the softer tires. You also “lose” some of your power output on off-road terrain due to having less traction, such as on loose dirt or gravel roads for example.

Training on paved road allows you to train much more consistently, and will give you a better chance of measuring your performance, as the terrain wont effect speed and level of power required. This will allow you to compare your results from training sessions with much more precision.

The Pros

  • Long sustained efforts on the road will place a lot of aerobic demand on your muscles. This will help you gain muscular and cardio vascular endurance. Working long, sustained efforts on the road will allow you to place a greater aerobic demand on the muscles. This can be used to gain greater overall cardiovascular and muscular endurance which will significantly benefit all your training on the mountain bike.somebody cycling on the road
  • Long duration efforts on the road, are always easier on the body, compared with long duration effort on the trails. Especially on the upper body and core. It is important to rest and recover if you want to improve. Riding the tarmac trails, allows you to let you upper body and core recover whilst you continue to build your muscular and cardio endurance.
  • Training on the road will force you to work with a steady cadence, which will allow you to develop better form and a steady pedal stroke.

The Cons (apart from the tight shorts!)

  • A rode bike cannot train you for some of the demands of mountain biking. The better you can manoeuvre past roots and rocks, the faster you ca ride a trail. This takes a certain body position that cannot be trained on a road bike.
  • With too much road cycling, you can start to lose the vital skills you need to rock the trails. Too much road training and your body will start to automatically go into road cycling position more comfortably than into mountain biking position.


Colin started mountain biking in the early 2000s and has haphazardly, and with barely increasing skill, dragged his bike around the majority of Scotland's trail centres since then. Colin has oodles of hard earned experience in how NOT to do things - listen, be warned and don't repeat his mistakes...   More about Colin... Google+ Colin

1 Response

  1. Dale says:

    Strictly from a workout perspective, do you think road or mountain biking is the best workout? Burning calories, etc?

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