Cycling Vs Mountain Biking

Cycling Vs Mountain Biking

Mountain Biking vs. Road Biking: How Much More Work Does Mountain Biking Really Involve?

I’ve been mountain biking for decades, and mountain bikers have always prided themselves on how much more difficult MTB riding is than road riding. I’ve heard that increasing the length of a mountain bike ride by two or three to obtain the corresponding road ride is a good rule of thumb, and based on my own experience, anything close to that seems about correct. But, really, how much more tough is mountain biking? I decided to investigate whether science could help me find an answer to that issue.

I’ve been testing a PowerTap power meter, and I used it to create a controlled test to separate the characteristics that make mountain biking more difficult than road biking.

 These are the three key considerations I made:

  • On the trail, there are obstacles. The number and size of path obstacles might vary greatly, but they are usually rocks and roots. Paved roads, on the other hand, are usually smooth and devoid of obstacles. Obstacles on the trail slow riders down and make them exert more physical effort.
  • The trail’s actual surface. When opposed to solid, high-traction tarmac, dirt and vegetation slow motorcyclists down.
  • Aerodynamics and tire resistance Over slender, high-pressure road tires, fat, squishy tires add resistance. Road bikes put riders in a more aerodynamic stance and have a narrower overall profile.

Factors I choose to exclude because they aren’t unique to road or mountain biking:

Mountain bike paths frequently have sudden, steep climbs, but road gradients are usually softer and more steady. However, much as mountain bike routes can be flat, roadways can feature steep gradients and fast reversals. We must account for elevation gains and losses if we are to properly understand what makes mountain biking more difficult than road cycling. A mountain road ride is unquestionably more tough than a railroad-grade trail MTB ride. I kept the surface grade the same for my test.

Although road bikes are generally lighter than mountain cycles, each bike (and rider) is unique. Furthermore, it is self-evident that pedaling a light bike is easier than pedaling a heavy one, and this isn’t limited to road biking. Mountain biking could be made easier by shedding a few pounds from the bike and/or rider. I maintained the total weights of the test bikes the same for my experiment, but added weights to the road cycle to make the weights equal.

Trails often have more twists and turns than roads, and believe me when I say that turning takes a lot of energy! However, a lack of turns isn’t exclusive to riding a road bike, just as twists and turns aren’t exclusive to mountain biking. While some MTB trails go straight as an arrow for lengthy stretches, riding a greenway path on a road bike requires a lot of turning.

Stop-and-go riding owing to traffic signals, like dismounting for hike-a-bike trips, may be very taxing on road rides. From this vantage point, roads and trails can differ dramatically, thus comparing the two may be as simple as counting the number of times the rider has to accelerate from a halt or near stop. Some road rides may have numerous acceleration moments, but a flow trail MTB ride may have few.

Even when correctly tuned, suspension wastes energy throughout a ride. For now, I’m sticking with a hardtail with the front suspension locked out. Suspension isn’t standard on all mountain bikes.

Making decisions–that is, choosing lines–is intellectually difficult, which might have a physical cost. Technical terrain necessitate more frequent decisions, but riding in traffic may be just as stressful. As a result, I chose not to test this variable.

Putting the effort to clear impediments to the test

I set up a 0.10-mile test track immediately outside the Singlet racks office, which happens to be on a steep hill. For the control test, I rode my mountain bike up the concrete route three times at the same speed, measuring the total power consumed each time.

Then, at even intervals along the same road, I placed 10 obstacles: six two-by-fours and four four-by-fours of timber. The two-by-fours, at 1.5 inches height, are meant to resemble trail roots, while the four-by-fours, at 3.5 inches tall, are meant to resemble trail rocks. I repeated the course three times more, maintaining the same speed as in the control test.

As a result, the obstacles required a 9% increase in power to keep up with the control test’s pace. That number would obviously climb if the barriers were greater or positioned closer together, as in a rock garden. Now I see why it’s impossible to compare the difficulty of riding a road bike to riding a mountain bike! Every trail is unique.

Using a natural surface for testing

Cycling Vs Mountain Biking

My test track for this one wasn’t flawless, to be honest. I really wanted to test hardpack, but I needed to keep the gradient consistent with my pavement test. Instead, I tested on patches of grass and leaves. Sure, it’s not ideal, but few trails have constant surfaces over their length. Riders should expect to come across sand, boulders, compacted dirt, muck, weeds, grass, and falling leaves on the trail.

Surprisingly, the patchy grass and leaf surface necessitated roughly 31% more power than my control test! Personally, I despise riding on grass, and I’ve long felt that riding on grass is more difficult than riding on other trail surfaces. Still, a 31% increase is significant. I doubt that hardpack or even loose-over-hard would add more than 31% to the required effort.

Setting up a separate test on trail surfaces alone to see how much difficulty each one adds could be fascinating. However, even among surface types, there are bound to be differences. “Sugar sand,” for example, appears to add more resistance than, say, coarse river sand. Muddy clay slows tires down far more than organic black dirt.

Aerodynamics and tire testing

Because the PowerTap hub I’m testing is made into an MTB wheel, I couldn’t use it on my road bike. However, I learnt from my tire pressure testing a long back that, at least for the sake of this test, downhill speeds are a reasonably reasonable proxy for uphill climbing power changes. To balance the weight of the road and mountain bikes I utilized in the test, I added 8.5 pounds to my setup. The mountain bike was a 29er with 2.3′′ MTB tires at about 30psi, for those who are interested. The tires on the road bike were normal road bike tires with an 80psi pressure.

Based on the speed test, I discovered that the road bike rolled around 11% quicker than the mountain bike. One interesting point to note is that the majority of the speed difference in the test seems to occur in the first 10 yards when the bikes got up to speed. When compared to a road wheel, the extra rolling mass of an MTB tire makes a significant impact.

What is the difference between mountain riding and cycling?

Cycling refers to the majority of racing events and contests. Mountain biking is a bicycle-based activity that takes place on rugged terrain. Biking is a common term used to describe it. There are several types of riding, including freestyle, dirt jumping, downhill, trail riding, and cross country.

Is mountain biking more difficult than road biking?

I discovered that riding a mountain bike on a grassy, leafy terrain with hazards requires 51 percent more work than riding a road cycle on a paved surface, based on the factors I was able to test. Remember, that implies a mountain bike track with identical gradients and curves to what you’d see on the road.

Mountain bike or road bike: which is better?

On pavement, road bikes are quick and easy to ride. They aren’t as well suited to working off the beaten path. Some people find it difficult to stay comfortable in the “dropped” riding position for lengthy periods of time. On pavement, mountain bikes are more difficult to pedal and slower.

Mountain biking or road bike burns more calories.

Simply put, the rougher the surface, the more intense the workout, as evidenced by the fact that full-on mountain biking can burn up to 100 calories more than a typical road ride.

What would happen if we cycled every day?

Cycling on a daily basis strengthens and stimulates your heart, lungs, and circulation, minimizing your risk of heart disease. Cycling improves heart muscle strength, lowers resting pulse, and lowers blood fat levels.

Is it possible to ride a mountain bike as a road bike?

The answer is yes, you certainly can. It will simply feel different than riding a traditional road bike. This is primarily due to the tire’s thickness. Also, with a mountain bike, the enhanced suspension.

Cycling Vs Mountain Biking

What if we rode our bikes every day?

Cycling regularly stimulates and improves your heart, lungs, and circulation, lowering your risk of heart disease. Cycling improves heart muscle strength, reduces blood fat levels, and lowers resting pulse.

Can a road bike be used as a mountain bike?

Yes, you can without a doubt. Riding a conventional road bike will simply feel different. This is due to the tire thickness. In addition, a mountain bike’s higher suspension.

What is the difference between a mountain bike and a road bike?

On smooth, paved surfaces, a road bicycle is 10 to 30% quicker than a mountain bike and 15 percent faster on average at the same power output. Road bikes are faster with the same amount of effort due to riding position, rolling resistance, frame geometry, and weight.

Will mountain riding help me lose weight?

Mountain biking requires a lot of oxygen because it involves huge muscle groups. By regularly working your heart, you can improve its fitness by 3-7 percent. Mountain biking is a low-impact sport, meaning it is less taxing on the joints than other cardiovascular activities such as running.

Can mountain riding help you gain muscle?

Mountain riding, in most circumstances, does not significantly increase upper-body strength. While it is a terrific all-around fitness activity that works a variety of muscle groups, leg strength is the one that benefits the most in terms of muscle activation.

Is mountain biking suitable for novices?

We normally recommend a hardtail for beginners, but the best affordable mountain bikes can accommodate both. There are many other sorts of mountain riding and bikes dedicated to each of them, but trail mountain biking is the ideal place to start for most beginner riders.

Is it possible to ride a mountain bike on the road?

On pavement, you can ride your mountain bike. Just keep in mind that pedaling will be more difficult (and thus slower), and the pavement will be rough on standard knobby mountain bike tires.

Is mountain biking good for losing abdominal fat?

Does cycling help you lose weight? Yes. Cycling’s aerobic nature means you burn fat even if your stomach muscles aren’t working as hard as your quadriceps or glutes when you’re riding.

Which bicycle burns the most calories?

The air bike (also known as “The Devil’s Tricycle”) burns the most calories, with the average person burning between 20 and 30 calories each minute and up to 300 in 20 minutes. Rob MacDonald, an American personal trainer, holds the current world record for burning the most calories in a minute while riding an air bike.

Which exercise burns the most calories?

Cycling at a steady, moderate pace burns about 300 calories in 60 minutes, but you can burn much more if you increase the effort. A 155-pound person can burn as many as 298 calories in a 30-minute bike ride if they pedal at a 12-to-13.9 mile-per-hour speed, according to the Harvard Health Letter.

Cycling Vs Mountain Biking

Is 2 hours of riding each day excessive?

Cycling twice a day is not excessive in most circumstances. Many sportsmen train twice a day, and cyclists have no reason to be any different. The overall volume and intensity, as well as fitness at any particular time, are the most essential criteria. Cycling twice a day can be quite beneficial in many circumstances.

What is a reasonable daily cycling distance?

Each day, the average person on a long-distance bicycle tour will bike between 40 and 60 miles (64–96 kilometers). Distances shorter and longer than this are, however, extremely common. The typical daily distance recommended for most bicycle visitors is 40 to 60 miles.

Why is it that mountain bikes are so slow?

Mountain bikes are slower than road and gravel bikes due to their larger tires, less aerodynamic body position, longer frame design, more bike weight, suspension, and even slower gearing.

Is a mountain bike suitable for long distance travel?

Long rides should be done on mountain bikes, especially if you’re bicycling off-road. They’re tough and light, so you can concentrate on enjoying your long-distance ride rather than worrying about your bike. They also have a stronger grip on uneven roads than other bikes.

Last Word

I discovered that riding a mountain bike on a grassy, leafy terrain with hazards requires 51 percent more work than riding a road cycle on a paved surface, based on the factors I was able to test. Remember, that implies a mountain bike track with identical gradients and curves to what you’d see on the road. It also implies riding without suspension on a mountain bike. There will be more energy wasted on the trail for bikes with suspension.

When you factor in all of the other things I described earlier, it’s simple to see how the percentage increase in effort may reach 100% or higher, which would correspond to the 2-times estimate I indicated earlier. I’m not sure what the highest limit is (if there is one), but if pressed, I’d estimate mountain biking demands 50-150 percent more effort than a similar-distance road ride. So, a 10-mile mountain bike ride is roughly equivalent to a 15-25-mile road ride (physically).

Of course, looking at average speeds is another easy approach to estimate. If a cyclist averages 8mph on an MTB and 18mph on a road ride, the road ride is around 125 percent longer than the MTB ride, assuming both rides have the same total moving duration and average heart rate. This falls within the range I calculated from my experiments.

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