Road Bike vs Mountain Bike For Exercise

With cycling being one of the best cardiovascular exercises, your decision to invest in a new bike is a wise one. As an avid biker, I now understand that the quality of your workouts and your overall experience have a lot to do with the bike you select. But road bikes vs. mountain bikes for exercise- what should you choose?

As road bikes and mountain bikes are very popular among fitness enthusiasts, the selection could indeed be very daunting, especially if you are new to cycling. I was in a similar situation not too long ago when I wanted to upgrade to a new bike.

But guess what, you don’t have to go through all the troubles to choose one. After having used multiple bike models from both categories, I believe I can help you make the decision. Apart from that, I’ll also provide some great recommendations at the end of the post to accelerate the buying process for you.

What are Road Bikes?

Road bikes are lightweight bikes that are commonly used for recreational riding. They are built for speed as their narrow tires are able to roll farther and faster. Drop handlebars are also a signature style of these bikes. This category is further divided into models like endurance, ultralight, aero, all-road, and touring.

Many of the latest road bike models now feature disc brakes and multiple gears. Moreover, some of the top brands now offer road bike models specifically designed for women.

Are Road Bikes Good for Exercise?

Professional racers have been using road bikes in marathons for several years. One of the primary reasons for this is the speed and the simple design of these bikes. While you can now find models with multiple gears (as many as 20+) and complex components, traditionally, these bikes have been known for their straightforward design, lightweight build, and simplicity.

In other words, you can ride road bikes for a longer duration without using as much muscle power as you would when riding a mountain bike. The longer you ride, the higher the number of calories you burn. Also, these bikes are great for flat surfaces. So, if you live in a city and need a new bike for exercising, a road bike is definitely a great choice.

Last but not least, road bikes are generally cheaper than mountain bikes. While you sure can go for top-of-the-line models with 18 gears and other advanced features that could cost a bomb, standard models are more affordable than mountain bikes.

Pros and Cons of Road Bikes


  • Lightweight and great speed
  • Easier to ride for longer durations
  • Ideal for in-town riding
  • Great choice if you are new to cycling


  • Unnatural riding posture
  • Can be discomforting on bumpy roads

What are Mountain Bikes?

Mountain bikes are heavier rugged bikes with wide tires and flat handlebars that offer improved control on challenging surfaces such as dirt trails. For better traction, the tires of these bikes feature knobby tread. Full-suspension trail, full-suspension enduro, full-suspension cross country, and hard trail are some of the subcategories of mountain bikes. 

You can now also find mountain bike models designed for women with smaller grips, shorter crank arms, narrower handlebars, and women-specific seats.

Are Mountain Bikes Good for Exercise?

It is not just the distance for which you ride that matters when it comes to burning calories and exercising through cycling. Even the intensity with which you ride impacts your workout. As mountain bikes are generally used on challenging terrains, like trails and mountains, they require more effort than you would have for covering the same distance if you were riding a road bike on a flat surface. 

Carrying your weight as well as that of a heavier bike on a bumpy and challenging terrain will help you burn a lot more calories than riding a road bike on a flat surface, even if you do it for the same duration. Also, this does not mean that you cannot use a mountain bike on roads. However, using a road bike on dirt trails and mountains can be very difficult and unsafe.

As these bikes have a more complex design and are more durable, they are more expensive than standard road bikes. But if you have challenging terrain or mountains close to your home, a mountain bike can be a great way to exercise.

Pros and Cons of Mountain Bikes


  • Sturdier frame and more durable
  • Natural, upright riding posture
  • Require more effort to ride
  • Excellent choice if you live near mountains


  • Difficult to ride
  • Expensive

What Should You Choose Between Road Bikes and Mountain Bikes for Exercising?

Cycling is one of the best ways to improve your lower body and cardiovascular health. So, you are sure to burn calories and enjoy all the other great health benefits, irrespective of the bike you select.

If you ask me, the selection between the two is pretty much clear. If you are new to cycling and need a simple and affordable bike to ride on flat surfaces, go with a road bike. But if you have some cycling experience, love adventure cycling, and do not mind spending more, a mountain bike can be the one for you.

The area where you live is also a vital consideration. For instance, it doesn’t make sense to invest in an expensive mountain bike when you live in a city. If you live close to a mountain or the terrain around is uneven and challenging, you can consider purchasing a mountain bike.

Now that the confusion between road bike vs. mountain bike for exercise is eliminated, let us quickly go through some of the top recommendations from both categories-

Top 3 Road Bikes

Eurobike EURXC550 21 Speed Road Bike

If you are looking for a budget-friendly road bike, Eurobike EURXC550 could be an excellent choice. The 21-speed road bike with dual-disc brake can be your ideal companion on city roads. It has durable steel frames with a rigid suspension type, making it a great choice for anyone investing in a new bike for exercising.

Moreover, the model is available in multiple sizes, ranging from 49cm frame to 54cm frame. This ensures that you can easily choose one that best suits your size.


  • 21-speed shifting system
  • Dual-disc brake system
  • Lightweight steel frame
Click below to compare prices and check availability

Marin Presidio 4 DLX Complete Bike

If you are a cycling enthusiast looking to upgrade to an improved road bike, Marin Presidio 4 DLX Complete Bike can be the one for you. With the frame constructed from 6061 aluminum tubing, the lightweight bike will let you cycle for a longer duration so that you can burn more calories. It features a hydraulic disc brake system to offer controlled and smooth stopping in every condition.

Moreover, as it is an 11-speed bike, you can pick the speed you like as you ride through your favorite roads.


  • Lightweight aluminum frame
  • Hydraulic disc brake
  • Gates carbon belt drive
Click below to compare prices and check availability

Schwinn Phocus 1400 and 1600 Drop Bar Road Bicycle

This 16-speed Schwinn Phocus 1400 and 1600 Drop Bar Road Bicycle also deserves your attention if you want to invest in a top-notch exercising road bike. The combination of aluminum frame and carbon fork ensures that the bike is light in weight and perfect for riding over longer distances. It features a micro shift integrated shift/brake lever combo for improved control while riding.

For the best braking power, the Schwinn Phocus bike has Promax alloy dual pivot caliper brakes. So, no matter how challenging the surface is or what your bike’s speed is, you’ll be able to stop it almost instantly and smoothly.


  • Aluminium frame and carbon forks
  • Micro shift integrated shift/brake lever
  • Alloy crank for broader gear range
Click below to compare prices and check availability

Top 3 Mountain Bikes

Yeti Cycles SB115 T-Series Special Edition Complete Mountain Bike 2021

The SB115 T-Series Complete Mountain Bike 2021 from Yeti Cycles is a perfect combination of strength and technology. It features top-of-the-line Switch Infinity suspension with the premium quality TURQ Series carbon frame to offer a safe and comfortable riding experience no matter how challenging the terrain is.

The bike is also equipped with SRAM X01 Eagle drive train and SRAM AXS Eagle rear derailleur and shifter for uncompromising performance.


  • TURQ Series carbon frame
  • Switch Infinity suspension
  • Maxxis Rekon race tires
Click below to compare prices and check availability

Devinci Django 29 NX 12s Complete Mountain Bike 2020

If you are a trailhead searching for a high-end mountain bike for exercise, check out this Devinci Django 29 NX 12s Complete Mountain Bike 2020. It features patented Split Pivot suspension for intuitive performance and improved customization. The bike is equipped with Maxxis Minion DHF front tire and Maxxis Aggressor rear tire, making it an exceptional choice for mountainous terrain.

The mountain bike also has SRAM Level 1 Brakeset to provide consistent and powerful braking across surfaces.


  • Lighter carbon DMC-G 120mm frame
  • Split pivot suspension
  • SRAM NX Eagle drive train
Click below to compare prices and check availability

Huffy Hardtail Mountain Bike

If you want to purchase a mountain bike without spending a lot of money, you should check out this Huffy Hardtail Mountain Bike. With the frame made from lightweight yet durable steel, this 21-speed bike is perfect for anyone new to mountain biking. The bike features Shimano TZ-31 rear derailleur with a micro-shift twist shifter for on-demand speed, even on challenging terrain.

The handlebar of the bike is slightly raised to provide riders a more natural sitting position. And with Kraton grips on the handles, you are sure to enjoy a comfortable and fully controlled riding experience.


  • Lightweight steel frame
  • Shimano TZ-31 rear derailleur
  • 21-speed mountain bike
Click below to compare prices and check availability

Ready to Ride?

There you have it! I hope that now you have all the information to choose between a road bike and mountain bike for exercise. Apart from the factors that are critical to making a decision, I’ve also provided a few top recommendations from both categories to help you pick the best without wasting a lot of time or effort.

Go through this post a couple of times, and it shouldn’t be difficult for you to make a decision. Also, don’t forget to invest in good quality protective gear and clothing for complete safety while riding. 

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