Mountain bike on trail

Can You Put Hybrid Tires On A Mountain Bike? What you need to know

Mountain bikes are incredible sources of freedom. A skilled rider can take a bike over rough trails, obstacles, and treacherous slopes. Bikes are carefully constructed with durable frames, shock absorbers, and knobby tires that maintain grip on all sorts of terrain.

The more mundane black asphalt of the city, however, poses none of the challenges of an outdoor trail. What if you want to re-fit your bike to be more appropriate for the streets you ride it on?

But can you put hybrid tires on a mountain bike?

Yes. Hybrid tires are a cross between slim road tires and bulky off-roading tires. Like other types of bicycle tires, they’re designed to slot into the rims of your bicycle and surround your inner tube.

As long as you purchase the right size of tires, you can put any type of tires on your mountain bike – hybrid tires, mountain bike tires, city bike tires, BMX tires, or even specialty tires designed for gravel.

The advantage of hybrid tires on a mountain bike is twofold. First, you get most of the advantages of having road tires. Hybrid tires are designed to give smooth rides, great traction, and small amounts of roll resistance. They won’t quite measure up to road tires in these categories, sure, but they’ll provide a noticeably smoother and more pleasant experience while cycling on asphalt than mountain bike tires.

Second, they enable you to do bits of off-roading safely. A hybrid tire definitely isn’t the tool for hopping down a rocky slope regularly, sure, but they definitely beat road tires when it comes to zipping across a bit of grass, going through a muddy park, or even tearing down a dirt path on a small hill. All of these are normal things that you might want to do when bicycling in the city. If you decide to put road tires on your mountain bike, you probably won’t want to do these things. Hybrid tires give you the freedom to go a bit off the asphalt road while still delivering a good ride.

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How Much Of A Difference Do Road Tires Make On A Mountain Bike?

If you’re trying to make your experience bicycling in the city more pleasant, switching your tires should be one of the first things you do.

Unlike off-road mountain bike tires, road tires or hybrid tires don’t have lots of big bulky knobs on them. Instead, they’re mostly smooth, allowing more of the tire to come into contact with more of the road. This helps you stay in control of your bicycle and means that more of your pedal power gets used to push you forwards.

Additionally, mountain bike tires resist rolling more than road and hybrid tires. This compounds the effect above — not only do your wheels get more traction, but they also roll easier. Since you’re the one powering your bicycle, you’ll almost certainly notice a big difference in how easy it is to pedal within a few minutes of riding your bike after switching out your tires.

Finally, the lack of knobs on the tires makes the ride itself smoother. It’s easy to ignore the little bumps from your bike going up and down constantly as the knobs hit the pavement when you haven’t ridden on the alternative, but once you’ve tried road tires, you’ll definitely notice the much smoother ride. This means if you spend a lot of time cycling you’ll almost certainly want to use road tires as much as you can when you’re on pavement.

Can I Change My Mountain Bike Tires For Road Tires?

Modern bicycle tires are mostly standard, and as long as you know how big your wheels are you can definitely find road, hybrid, and mountain bike tires that will fit your bike.

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Simply measure the diameter of your wheels and find a tire that’s designed for the sort of riding you intend to do. Manufacturers offer treads designed for pure road use, a number of types of off-road terrain, and everything in between.

Once you’ve got the tires, changing them isn’t too hard, either. You should be able to do it yourself without expensive tools as long as you can take off your bike’s wheels. Your local bike store also offers this as a service, and may even give you a discount on this service if you purchase your new tires there as well.

Should you decide to switch to road tires, don’t throw your old mountain bike tires out! Road tires handle incredibly poorly on off-road terrain, so it’s nice to have a set of tires you can swap back to if you decide to do some more adventurous riding. You can always put your road tires back on again when you’re done exploring your local trails.

How Long Do Mountain Bike Tires Last?

A typical mountain bike tire lasts between 4,000 and 7,000 miles. This number can vary significantly based on the exact type of tire, how often it’s ridden, and the riding environment.

Putting your bike to work on harsh, rocky terrain will wear your tires out much more quickly than riding on grass. Other factors to consider include weather, maintenance, and storage.

The good news, however, is that your tires don’t necessarily need to be replaced if they just look a little bit worn. Instead, consider the amount of grip they provide and look for actual damage in the form of cracks and tears. You can also measure the physical protrusion of the various knobs on your tires to track the level of wear and use that as an indicator of when you should get new tires.

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On average, expect to want to replace your bike’s tires after a couple of years of semi-serious riding. If you casually ride with friends once a month or so, you can probably get away with replacing your tires far less frequently. If you’re hitting the trails daily and doing 50 miles of biking a week, consider getting new tires annually. It’s much better to get new tires a little bit too often than it is to be injured when you lose grip and take a nasty fall.