Mountain biking in a city is a good way of quickly getting from A to B without being stuck in traffic. I do it all the time and never faced any problems, except for a flat tire.
Are mountain bikes good for urban riding? Mountain bikes are good for urban riding as long as you’re riding a hardtail. They are perfectly capable of commuting your city fast and efficient, but make sure you secure your bike to prevent it from being stolen.
Just make sure to stay safe and beware of traffic, here’s everything you need to know when you want a mountain bike for commuting.
Riding Your Mountain Bike in the City
Mountain bikes are meant for rough terrain so maybe less efficient than a road bike. MTB’s have more friction due to their wide tire profile compared to a normal bicycle.
If you like the looks of mountain bikes you should go for it. It’s a healthy exercise and will get you from A to B without problems. Just don’t get a full suspense mountain bike. these bikes are for trails and can be heavy to ride in the city. they’re also about $1000 more expensive than a regular hardtail.
I always ride my mountain bike (hardtail) everywhere and nobody ever caught up with me, not even electric bikes (except for those ridiculously fast ones). It’s a great workout and you’ll burn some extra calories.
A mountain bike helps you to avoid traffic and you can easily get off the road and hop on a curb. A mountain bike can take a beating and are made to handle rough terrain. I’d say you’ll be safer on a mountain bike when you’re riding your city than on a regular bike.
Be aware of parked cars on the side of the road. Not everyone views their mirror before they get out. When you’re near and slam into a car door, you run the risk of severe injuries. Don’t assume they see you, try to keep some distance between you and the car doors at all times.
Always keep at least one finger on your breaks, be aware of your surroundings and don’t do anything risky.
Safety: Helmet and Lights
Depending on where you live you might or might not need to wear a helmet. If the law requires you to wear one, do it. It’s wise to wear a helmet anyway, not everyone pays attention to bikes and if you get hit by a car you really want to wear a helmet.
make sure you buy a CSPC compliant helmet. These helmets are tested and certified. This doesn’t mean other helmets are bad, but at least you know the one you wear will protect you from impacts.
Never, ever toss your helmet aside when you come home. Handle them with care because microfractures cause by throwing it around will become a hazard. Your helmet won’t be able to protect you as it was designed to do. Small cracks make it much less effective.
Replace your helmet every 5 years, even if you handled it with care. And if it did get hit it once, it’s wise to replace it with a new one. just like throwing it around, even a minor crash can make a helmet unusable.
Getting proper lights! When it’s dark you won’t be visible and led-lights are pretty cheap. You can easily take them off if you don’t want them to get stolen.
Securing Your Bike in the City
No matter how many locks you use or how expensive they are, a bike can always get stolen. The trick is to make it as hard as possible for anyone to steal it. The more time it takes, the more likely it is they will move on to the next bike.
Get a lock that has some reach so you can attach it to an object. Make sure it can’t be picked up and pulled off the object, a short pole is not a good place to secure your bike.
Lock your wheel and frame at a fence or anything that can’t be pulled from the ground. If you only lock your wheel and don’t attach the lock to an object, you’re only left with a wheel. This actually happens quite often where I live.
Never leave your bike unlocked, even if you only have to run into a store for a minute. It takes a few seconds to steal an unlocked mountain bike and you won’t outrun a thieve unless it’s a crappy rider.
I recently heard a story of a guy that attached his mountain bike to a tree, when he came back somebody just cut the tree and took his bike. kind of hilarious and sad at the same time.
Here’s how you secure your bike properly:
Depending on how much you spent on your mountain bike you might consider insurance. Make sure to read the insurance policies as not all insurances are equal.
Depending on how often bikes get stolen in your area, the cost may be higher or lower.
Even if you are insured, you still should lock your bike. Some insurance companies require you to hand over 2 keys, the one you use to lock it and your spare. You can figure out yourself how to get an extra key if you happen to only have one, but I’m not encouraging anyone to commit fraud.
Riding in the City can be Fun
Once you get used to your bike urban riding can be a lot more fun than just a regular bike. Hopping on and off curbs, jumping speed bumps and full speed and riding dirt paths where other bikes can’t go.
Don’t get overconfident though, there’s always other traffic and be mindful about pedestrians.
Your MTB will be able to handle bad roads, cross broken up streets, soda cans, and holes. Careful of broken glass though, when you hit glass in the wrong angle you might get a flat tire. MTB’s tires handle glass better than regular tires though. It might be an idea to carry a small repair kit to quickly fix a flat tire. They’re cheap and small so they won’t get in your way.
Don’t Spend too Much
While it’s true that a cheap mountain bike is horrible to ride, don’t go all out and buy these carbon frames MTB’s that start at 2k. You really don’t need that fancy stuff, you’re not riding trails. A hardtail MTB with an aluminum frame within $700 to $1100 is a great bike for commuting.
If you want to get a good deal, check out this post. It’s about the best time to buy an MTb and how you can get a great bike with a huge discount. Just remember that your bike needs to fit, go to your local bike shop and they’ll measure you and tell you what you need.
You also don’t want your $2k MTB stolen and insurance is probably higher.
Maintaining and servicing your MTB
Even if you only ride in the city, you should maintain it properly. It isn’t a ton of work but if your chain gets dirty, wash it off and use some silicone-based lube to grease it.
Get it serviced at your local bike shop at least once a year. They’ll check all the parts and replace them when needed. Safety is important, you don’t want your breaks to fail you and a snapped chain is a pain.
If you want to save money you can maintain your mountain bike yourself. Youtube has a vast amount of videos on how to repair and maintain your MTB.