Road cycling or mountain biking, which is better?

Road cycling or mountain biking, which is better?

Are you wanting to start cycling? Are you more of a road cyclist, or do you prefer mountain, downhill and/or trails? In this article, I intend to bring the two specialities closer together (or further apart, depending on who’s reading it) so that you can decide, or practise both alternately. Mountain biking or road cycling?

What’s clear is that cycling, whichever speciality you choose, is one of the most attractive options for doing sport: it’s a low impact cardiovascular exercise, which will also help you burn fat.

Getting started with MTB

Let’s take a look at the differences between their two main specialities…

What is road cycling?

Road cycling is the speciality determined by the practice of cycling on roads.

Its main feature, key for people who want to start cycling, is that it’s suitable for beginners, as you’re the one to set your own time, duration and above all intensity.

It’s an important training modality for professional athletes from other sports specialities too: car drivers or motorbikers, for example; who plan their pre-season (and seasonal training) under the cardiovascular demands of cycling, and particularly road cycling.

A tip for beginners or those who’ve only been cycling for a short time: Don’t be surprised by the speed and pace of the road cyclists you see on your rides! The secret is the time they’ve been cycling for and the dedication put into their training.

Going from less to more is the key! You don’t want to try and o everything in a few days 😉

Keep reading find out my reasoning for the benefits of practicing road cycling.

What is MBT, or mountain biking?

The variant of MTB (meaning Mountain Biking) corresponds to the practice of cycling off-road, including on trails, hills, or any type of terrain that differs from that travelled by motor vehicles.

Mountain biking or road cycling, which is better

XC or AM? Have you heard of these types of MTB? Read on.

They are perhaps the best-selling or best-known entry-level bikes, precisely because they’re adaptable to any type of terrain.

But I do have awarning for you: despite its innumerable benefits for beginners in the speciality, bear in mind that the level of technique for accessing many terrains is greater than on the road.

The fact is that the MTB speciality has different sub-specialities that open up a wide range of possibilities.

What are the MTB specialities?

  • XC or Cross Country: longer distance and less technical, as it runs on tracks and trails, with continuous ascents and descents.
  • AM or All Mountain: more technical and shorter distance, as its routes include trials and jumps, among other difficulties. Logically, the technical characteristics of the bicycles in this speciality will be greater than the previous ones.
  • FR or FreeRide: Enduro. By having to overcome natural or created technical terrain for its development. Very technically demanding.
  • DH or Down Hill: Descent. Exclusive downhill modality, using other means than bicycles for the ascent. Demanding technique.

Descent Cycling

Which one to go for?

Road vs. Mountain

Is there really a choice to be made? You don’t have to, as even the pro cyclists themselves alternate between the two to improve their training.

However, I’m particularly partial to one over the other, although I won’t say which one until the end of the article.

And now for the most frequently asked question from beginners who don’t know much about specialisation…

How to practice MTB

Can you go road cycling on a mountain bike? Mountain biking or road cycling, which one do you choose?

Of course! The purists of the cycling world might look at you funny if they see you, but you won’t be the first person to road cyclist on a mountain bike. Fair play yo you if you can handle it 😉

Warning: If you’re interested in getting into the world of cycling, be careful! It’s an addicting experience, and you’ll probably become interested in more than one speciality, you’ll want to try them all…

Are they compatible?

I’ve warned you, so don’t complain 😉

Yes, it’s super common for road cyclists to also ride in the mountains, or vice versa.

How to get started with road cycling

Why? It’s simple: MTB bikers will be looking for endurance training and more hours on the ‘skinny’ bike, while road riders will try to gain technique, explosiveness and maybe a bit more fun (it’s not my opinion particularly!) on the fat bike.

There are a whole host examples of professionals from both sides exchanging training sessions, although perhaps there’s always a greater shift from MTB to road cycling than in the other direction… do you know which one I would choose? 😊 Mountain biking or road cycling?

Reasons for road cycling

In case you haven’t tried the road yet, here are a few reasons why you should…

  • You set the intensity of your sessions or workouts and you set the terrain to overcome.
  • You don’t need great technique on the bike to practise.
  • You’ll travel long distances on your bike that you never thought you would.
  • You’ll improve your muscular endurance.
  • You’ll learn to ride in a group and benefit from its advantages (in terms of effort), thus increasing your level.
  • You can train and set your goals on the same terrain as the pros, and, depending on your area, even share training sessions with some of them.
  • The road-specific bike is lower maintenance than any other speciality.

Reasons for road cycling

Do you see more advantages or disadvantages over road cycling?

Reasons for doing MTB

And in a second column, write down the advantages why you should practice mountain biking, or MTB, whatever you like to call it…

  • You’ll gain better control and technique on the bike.
  • You’ll enjoy being in nature (always respect it as much as possible, please).
  • You’ll have the opportunity to try more specialities, although it will depend on your experience/technique (maximum caution).
  • It’s not as necessary to go in a group, although for safety reasons it’s always better to go with someone else.
  • You’ll need less time to do a good level of training.
  • Cold and/or rain won’t such an impediment to going mountain biking.
  • As there’s no traffic, even if there are other risks, you’ll have less exposure to cars and possible run-ins.

Reasons for practicing MTB Mountain biking or road cycling


So, mountain biking or road cycling?

Although many of my training and riding companions encourage me with the reasoning that it’s the perfect two-wheeled sport for the winter, I must admit that I’m a road racer, 100%.

Nevertheless, I find no reason to say that one mode is better than the other. In both, you enjoy nature, enjoy the benefits of a sport like cycling, and the social relations are extensive.

I see only joint advantages! The decision is up to the individual, depending on wheel tastes and roads available. In my case, see you on the roads! 😉

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Review o Road Cycling vs Mountain Biking

Road - 100%

MTB - 100%

Can both be practised? - 100%

Conclusions - 100%


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About José Miguel Olivencia
José Miguel Olivencia
José Miguel Olivencia is a professional in communication and sport who relates his training and experience in every post he writes.
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