How to Convert Your Mountain Bike Into a Commuter Bike
We may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you when you buy through links on our website. Learn more
What’s the difference between a mountain bike and a regular commuter bike? Speed, resistance, and efficacy. Mountain bikes are seen as hobby-oriented bicycles meant for riding on rocky terrain. Commuter bikes, on the other hand, are meant to be ridden in the suburbs, cities, or essentially anywhere with an open road. But what if you have a mountain bike wasting away in your garage while you need a commuter bike for now. The solution? Convert your mountain bike to a commuter bike!
You probably bought your mountain bicycle many summers ago on that trip with your mates. Now, that same bike is wasting away in your garage because it isn’t meant to be ridden on the open road.
You’re not to blame, but your bicycle isn’t either. This is why cycling enthusiasts are encouraged to convert their existing bikes to commuter bikes over spending money on a new one same as with vintage bicycle restoration.
Modifications aren’t limited to mountain bikes, however, you could just as easily convert any bicycle such as convert a road bike to a commuter bike.
Mountain Bike Commuter Conversion
The best bicycle to commute to and from work or just to go about is the bike you already have! Bike shops are equipped to modify any kind of bike into the one you’re most suited to use at the moment.
In this case, it’s a mountain bike to a regular commuter bike.
Before we get into the ‘how,’ it’s essential to understand the difference between the two kinds of bikes:
- Mountain Bikes: These bikes are designed specifically for off-road trails. Their handlebars are flat and upright, their tires have wider diameters, and they have several modifications such as suspensions, handrails, and rear suspensions.
- Commuter Bikes: Commuter bikes or road bikes are the most popular types of bikes you can find. These are designed for open roads with lighter bodies, skinnier tires, and drop handlebars. As the name implies, commuter bicycles are ideal to be ridden on smooth pavements.
Nonetheless, bikes can be modified for one use and the other – mountain bike commuter conversion is what we’ll learn today.
1. Have Your Bicycle Checked Out
Before taking your bicycle apart and ordering things off online, the first thing you need to do is have it inspected by a bike shop.
Although converting one bike to fit the needs of another, in this case turning a mountain bike into a road bike, is fairly common, you need to have it inspected at a bike shop nonetheless.
Why? Although it’s easy to DIY, a professional’s word of advice is needed if this is the first time you’re converting one bike into another.
Additionally, a few components of the bike, such as tires and suspensions might need to be professionally taken out or placed.
Mountain bikes with budget MTB forks are usually adapted at a height shorter than your own for better use. Commuter bikes, on the other hand, need not be shorter.
In fact, they are ideally suited to your own height. Have a bike shop adjust your bicycle accordingly.
2. Understand What Needs to Be Replaced
Here are some of the things you might consider getting to convert mountain bike to cruiser:
- Lights, and
This is by no means an all-inclusive list, you can add on other equipment as you see fit. However, the tires and fenders are key components and need to be added to convert a mountain bike to a commuter bike.
Mountain bikes are adapted for rocky terrains and encounter a lot of mud, dirt, and gravel. A regular commuter bike, let’s say to and from work, shouldn’t come in contact with as much gravel or rock (if any) and definitely not with any mud.
The first thing that needs to be changed is the tires. A mountain bike, by its use, has heavy, wider, off-road tires. They need to be replaced with narrower, light-weight, and skinny tires for commuting on the road.
This makes a significant difference in speed, agility, and comfort. Narrower tires can be fitted if you have a narrower tube at hand as well. For commuter bikes, you’ll need tubes that reduce the rolling resistance of the bike. An ideal example here would be puncture-resistant tubes, although any can be used.
Alternatively, you can pump the tires on your existing mountain bike to 40-50 PSI. Many professionals suggest bringing slick-tires with you on longer trips for road training. Bring them as a set of spare wheels or install them onto the regular off-road wheels.
Your mountain bicycle might have been adapted to be ridden through dirt, but a commuter bike isn’t meant to fight off the dirt. Especially if you’re on your way to work.
Needless to say, one of the primary components when it comes to converting mountain bikes to commuter bikes is adding fenders or mudguards.
Adding a fender to the front and rear tires will keep your bike from splashing rainwater, mud, or anything of the sort onto you while you drive by streets.
Fenders, although not necessarily the most attractive features, are essential for smoother and better commuting.
3. Change the Gearing
With a different set of wheels comes different gearing. In this case, you can use different rear gears to convert a mountain bicycle into a commuter bicycle for closer range and adjustments for smaller increments.
Mountain bikes usually have single chainrings, whereas commuter bikes need larger chainrings to accommodate faster speeds for on-road cycling.
Gearing isn’t something you can DIY (unless you’re experienced) which is why it’s best to head over to your local bicycle shop.
In the end, if you’re thinking of buying a new bicycle for commuting and having your mountain bike waste away – don’t!
Learning how to convert your mountain bike to a commuter bike is incredibly easy and doable.
Likewise, you can convert one type of bike into any other (for example; convert a mountain bike to hybrid). All it takes is a little help from your local mechanic and some hard work!