Road Bikes and mountain bikes have different size wheels and tires even when they measure the same.
It is an issue of width rather than diameter because MTBs use a wider style with a deeper tread for trails and off-road adventures where a road bike has a narrow wheel and smoother texture. Can you put mountain bike tires on a road bike?
Most mountain bike parts are not compatible with road bike parts however you can put mountain bike tires on a road bike as long as you put on new wheels. Road bikes have narrow wheels that can’t hold a wider mountain bike tire.
To see all of my up-to-date recommendations for bikes and cycling gear, check out this resource that I made for you!
Can I Change My Road Bike Tires To Mountain Bike Tires
Not every road bike can accommodate mountain bike tires. The back end of your bike frame and fork on the front of your road bike have spaces where the wheels and tires fit.
Since road bikes typically have relatively narrow and lightweight tires, there isn’t always room for the wide-set MTB style. That said, not all bikes are the same.
As David Bäckman explains on Quora, “Road bikes are built to use narrower tires than MTBs. Most likely the MTB tires will be too wide for the fork and frame.
Note: the above goes for a traditional, speed-oriented, drop bar road bike. There are several types of drop-bar bikes that can take wider-than-average tires. Might even be able to take narrow MTB tires.”
Putting Mountain Bike Tires On A Road Bike: A Step by Step Guide
Before putting a mountain bike tire on a road bike, you need to measure the space on the rear end of your frame and fork to ensure it is the same width, with the exact clearance as an equivalent mountain bike.
If you don’t have enough room, either the wheel won’t fit between the two metal posts, or the tire will rub on your fork or frame, making it impossible to use MTB tires.
Please do not attempt to bend the bike or wheels to fit. Doing so makes them unsafe for use.
Once you have compatible parts, follow the steps below to change out your road bike wheels and tires.
1 – Set Your Bike On A Stand
It’s not possible to take a bike wheel off while the bike is sitting on it.
If you don’t have a stand to set your bike on, you can turn it upside down and rest it on the handlebars and seat instead. Doing this will give you easy access to the wheel.
2 – Set Your Gears
You’ll need to set your gear to the smallest cog. Do this by manually rotating the pedal and shifting.
If necessary, you can do this step before putting the bike on the stand, but either way, you need the chain to be as slack as possible before moving on.
This is necessary for the rear tire, but not the front, though you’ll probably be changing them both.
3 – Quick Release
Most modern bikes have a quick-release lever. All you need to do is pull up on the lever, then turn it 180 degrees.
Once it’s loose, you can set this to the side, but don’t lose it. However, if you do not have a quick release, you might need your bike manual to determine how to remove wheels from your particular bike.
Most wheels without quick release can be removed by unscrewing the nuts with a 15 mm wrench.
4 – Detach Brake Cables
You will most likely skip this step, but I wanted to include it here anyway, just in case you need it.
Quick-release levers usually also detach the brake cables.
However, if you need to disconnect your brake cables manually, this video from Global Cycling Network shows you how to change your gear cables, which includes detaching the old ones.
5 – Remove & Replace Your Wheel
When working on a back tire, you will need to get the chain out of the way, but this step should be no trouble once you push it aside.
Simply lift out the old wheel, tire, and all. If you checked the specs and have the correct mountain bike wheel and tire ready, all you need to do is place it where the old wheel was before and reverse your steps.
6 – Safety Test
Once everything is put back together and you have secured the new MTB tires on your road bike, you need to test them.
All you need for the test is a willingness to trust your own skills and ride the bike. Always double-check your work before you plan to take your bike out on a longer ride.
Best Road Tires For Mountain Bike
Putting mountain bike tires on a road bike is a lot harder than swapping out your MTB tires for a set of road tires.
Several companies make road tires mean to fit on mountain bikes, making it a lot easier to find the correct fit.
Below I’ve listed the best 26″ and 27.5″ road tires for your mountain bike so you can make a quick swap and get back to riding with no worries.
Best 26 Inch Road Tires For Mountain Bike
If you’re riding a 26-inch mountain bike, I recommend Fincci 26 x 1.95 Inch Foldable Slick Tires for Road Mountain Hybrid Bike Bicycles from Amazon.
These high-quality tires have a smoother, low-profile tread for fast, comfortable rides on paved roads. You’ll appreciate the durable nylon and rubber compound with kevlar wire that makes these tires foldable.
Best of all you won’t need to worry. Fincci offers full after-sale support and an excellent manufacturer warranty. Grab a pair today by clicking here.
- Foldable slick tires size: 26 x 1.95 inches. ETRTO 50-559. Suitable for 26" Wheels as replacements for old tires sizes 26x1.75 26x1.95 26x2.00 26x2.10 26x2.125
- Weight: 630gr 1.4lb each 26inch bike tires slick. Package consists of 2x bicycle tires 26x1.95. 1x Tire size when folded: 25x12x10 cm.
- Made of high quality nylon and rubber compound. Kevlar wire to make the tire foldable
- Fast Rolling high traction tread for faster and more comfortable ride. Also, provides good grip on uneven surfaces like tarmac roads or pavement. Perfect replacement tire for mountain or road bicycles with 26" wheels
- Fincci - buy with confidence. Full after-sale support and manufacturer warranty.
Best 27.5 Inch Road Tires For Mountain Bike
For riders with standard MTB wheels, I suggest checking out the Cubierta MTB 27.5″ x 2.00 Continental Double Fighter III ARO Rígido from Amazon.
These versatile MTB-to-road bike tires are made to allow the rider better traction on pavement without sacrificing all the benefits of off-road texture.
Plus, the mesh sidewall design helps keep your tires safe from debris and punctures.
Continental, the company that makes these outstanding tires, was founded in Hanover, Germany, in 1871.
With over a hundred and fifty years of design experience, you know these tires are well-made. To get a pair shipped to your door, click here.
Helpful Tips To Know About Putting Mountain Bike Tires On A Road Bike
You can’t always find a pair of mountain bike tires that will fit a road bike because of the frame and fork.
However, if your road bike can hold them, switching to MTB tires is easy. Alternately, some companies make road-style wheels to fit mountain bikes.
Here are more helpful tips to know about putting mountain bike tires on a road bike.
- You should never hear a swishing sound or feel additional pressure on your wheels as you ride. If it seems challenging to push your cranks and you hear a rubbing or swish noise that wasn’t present before, then your new MTB tires are touching your fork, frame, or another part of your road bike as you move. In this case, all you can do is switch back to the old tires.
- The size MTB tire and wheel you need will depend on the size of your road bike frame. Whenever possible, you should switch for a tire the same size as before and only change the style. However, in some rare cases, a slightly smaller wheel and tire will fit, though it will change how your bike rides and how your weight is distributed. Use caution and common sense when making wheel changes. Always test the new tires in a safe area away from traffic.
- Road bike tires for a mountain bike are not the same as regular road bike tires and will not fit on your road bike. The only exception is when your road bike can fit MTB tires because road tires for a mountain bike are specialized MTB tires.
It’s easy to get confused and assume all bike tires are basically the same so long as they’re the same size. They’re not.
The width and tread pattern rather than the size make a wheel and tire right for a particular terrain or bike style.
Road bike tires are thin and nearly smooth, while mountain bike tires are thick and have a deep tread pattern for tackling dirt and mud.
If the fork and frame of your bicycle are wide enough, you can put regular mountain bike tires on your road bike.
Unfortunately, you need specialty road tires made for an MTB if you want to switch them the other way around.
Since these two styles are specialized for their environments, it’s good to know that they are both capable of versatility, even if it’s not quite as simple as swapping them around.