Road Bike vs Mountain Bike: Which Is Harder?

Skinny tires take on fatties in this two-wheeled battle for the ages


Road Bike vs Mountain Bike: Which Is Harder?

While not particularly scientific, this video from the Global Cycling Network has some fun with the age-old debate of which is harder road cycling or riding a mountain bike. Press play to see presenters Simon and Matt challenge one another to see which is fastest in a route from A-B. The rides take place in the beautiful Alta Badia region of Italy.

Which do you think is harder? Let us know in the comments below. And be sure to check out more videos on RoadBikeReview.

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  • Ken says:

    Great discussion. loved the video of the off-road course, little critter & Simon’s utterances. My vote would be for “Off road” as harder. I’m a big chicken so, unless I was fully acquainted the “Rut” I’d be riding, just wouldn’t do.

  • Jane R says:

    I think it just depends. Most MTB’ers are not pedaling a trail for 50 plus miles, but the energy being expelled in the shorter rides is greater per equal distance of a road biker, but road bikers will tend to pedal further and that distance equates to steady energy being burned. Just guessing without any hard scientific evidence, I would say someone going 20 miles of rough terrain on a MTB is probably burning the same energy as someone pedaling 40 miles of smooth roads on a road bike…on average. So one isn’t harder than another just different.

  • cycledan says:

    I do both and it is sort of a silly thing to say what is harder. Depends on the ride and the riders. Mountain biking requires a lot more skills obviously in terms of bike handling, shifting, weight distribution and the like. But mountain bikers still train on the road since you can push it harder for a longer time on a road bike. A MTB race won’t go to the strongest rider in terms of conditioning but the guy who can handle it best and still crank up the big hill. A good MTBer could still do well in a road bike race but a road cyclist could never win a technical MTB race without a lot of training on the MTB.

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