Mountain bikes are fantastic for pulling you up steep hills and bringing you back down with control. They take the wear and tear of unforgiving trails very well, especially with their thick knobby tires and forgiving suspension.
But how well do mountain bikes do when riding long distances? Can you hop on a bike and ride for hours on end?
Not all bikes do well for long trips. They either aren’t very comfortable or aren’t built to be ridden for extended periods of time. Luckily, mountain bikes can do very well on long-distance trips. They’re sturdy, reliable, and do well on different kinds of terrains.
How Far Can You Go on a Mountain Bike?
You can go quite far on a mountain bike, but the rider determines the length of the distance more than the mountain bike does. Some mountain bikers enjoy riding over 50 miles a time. That’s quite an achievement, so don’t be discouraged if that feels impossible right now.
The average biker will ride around 10 miles and feel content with their trip that day. Much like running, it takes time, dedication, and practice to work up to longer distances.
If you have the time, energy, and experience under your belt, you can power through over 100 miles in a day. Now, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. It all depends on what your goals are.
If you’re working on progressively increasing your distance but don’t want to burn yourself out after a single ride, going super long distances may not be the right choice for you. Alternatively, if you really want to push yourself to your absolute limit, give that long-distance journey a go!
Can You Go Long Distance on a Mountain Bike?
Mountain bikes make great long-distance bikes. Their tires are designed to ride over sharp rocks and edges, so they won’t puncture easily.
However, you may need to pedal more than you normally have to on a long-distance bike. This will make the journey a little tougher, but the challenge is part of the fun! The handlebars and tires might also need to be adjusted for comfort.
Tips for Travelling Long Distances on a Mountain Bike
You could hop on your bike as is and try to make it long distances with little preparation, and you might succeed. However, a little preparation goes a long way. Here are a few tips to get you through a long-distance journey on a mountain bike.
You can tell if a tire is a mountain bike tire from the knobs coating it. These knobs help your bike tires ride securely over the mud, rock, and loose, dry earth you usually encounter on trails.
However, if you’re planning on riding long distances, you may want to opt out of supper knobby bike tires. Mountain bikes are designed to go slow with a lot of control, and the knobs on the tires are most responsible for ensuring the bike maintains a slower speed.
Instead, go for smoother tires that can ride over obstacles quickly. The more pedaling you need to do, the more tired you’re going to get, and the shorter your final distance will be. Knobby tires are okay for riding for three hours or less, but anything more than that will require a different set of tires.
2/ Puncture Repair Kits
Even the best riders get a puncture or two. It’s totally normal to run into problems when riding, and if you’re well prepared, a small hole won’t interrupt your entire trip.
Having a puncture repair kit with you is essential. It isn’t a long-term fix, though, so you will need to get the tire looked at and probably replaced as soon as you can.
We recommend practicing how to repair a small puncture before going on a journey. Yes, you could probably just look up a Youtube video at the moment to talk you through it, but what if you don’t have any signal? What if you’re with a bunch of cool bikers and, therefore, also want to look cool?
Tubeless tires are generally less prone to punctures, so we recommend going for those particularly if you’re nervous about repairing a puncture on your own.
3/ Pack a Bag
You wouldn’t go on a road trip without snacks, so why would you go on a long-distance bike trip without them? Packing a bag with essentials is easy and might be a saving grace if you get lost.
There are lots of different kinds of mountain bike bags, but we think pannier bags are reliable, stylish, and have a good amount of room in them.
You should pack food, water, your phone, an external charger, the previously mentioned puncture repair kit, and anything else you might need during the day. Remember, you probably won’t be able to stop at any gas stations or corner stores, so please bring enough fresh water with you!
4/ Bike Saddle
Setting off with a brand new seat may sound like a good idea, but you may only get two or three hours into your trip before sitting down feels worse than standing up.
You should go on long-distance bike rides using a saddle you are very comfortable with. Wearing seamless pants (and even padded pants) will also help. We recommend going for a couple of slightly shorter bike rides with your saddle beforehand to test its limits.
Can a Mountain Bike be Used for Touring?
A mountain bike is great for touring!
Mountain bikes do well on roads and in the mountains, so touring on a variety of terrains works very well with them. Lots of riders have enjoyed going touring with mountain bikes. They are sturdy and get the job done.
It’s important to keep in mind that mountain bikes aren’t meant to go super fast. Riding at a moderate and steady pace with a mountain bike is achievable, but speeding through trails will be much more difficult.
You will want to ride a hardtail bike. Too much suspension on a long-distance tour will be frustrating and uncomfortable.
As far as wheel sizing goes, a 26-inch wheel should do the trick. If you’re taller or have a larger bike, you can certainly size up, but you may not need to.
Finally, you need to consider the kind of handlebars to put on the bike. Butterfly handlebars work really well. They let your hands and wrists sit comfortably on them for long periods and you can adjust your hands without compromising your steering control.
Can You Travel Too Much on a Mountain Bike?
Like with any sport, you can overbike. This has more to do with how you feel when riding. Are you tired? Are you overcompensating with a bigger bike to make up for the fact you’re exhausted and can’t pedal as well anymore?
Taking breaks is important, even on those days where you want to push yourself to the very edge. Listen to your body and don’t be discouraged if you have a few weeks where you can’t bike as hard as you used to.
The Best Long Distance Mountain Bikes
1/ Schwinn Bonafide Mens Mountain Bike
- 17-inch aluminum mountain frame with high-performance suspension fork effectively absorb bumps and thumps, while the 29-inch wheels fit to riders 5'4 to 6'2 inches tall
- Effortless gear change with 24-speed trigger shifters and front and rear derailleurs
- Front and rear mechanical disc brakes deliver precise stopping power in any condition, while the durable alloy cranks ensure reliable gearing and reduced maintenance hassle
Last update on 2023-11-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
This mountain bike comes with a front suspension and 29-inch wheels. Schwinn is a well-known and respected brand in the mountain bike industry, so you know you can trust their products. The aluminum frame makes it lightweight and less prone to rust, which is perfect when you’re riding through wet weather.
One thing to note is that this bike will probably be too large for a woman. The wheels are quite big, and this may hinder a smaller individual’s ability to bike at ease.
2/ Mongoose Impasse Mens Mountain Bike
- Enhance comfort and performance with the 18-inch aluminum suspension frame, while the 29-inch wheels fit riders 5'4" to 6'2" tall
- Element suspension fork smooths the bumps and increases control
- Effortlessly switch gears with the 21-speed rear derailleur equipped with SRAM twist shifters
Last update on 2023-11-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
This bike has fantastic reviews and is quite affordable. It has an aluminum frame, 21 gears, and 29-inch wheels. Lots of customers have said the bike is easy to assemble and great for beginner bikes.
You may want to go for a small wheel size if you’re shorter than 5 foot 8, but other than that, this bike will take you everywhere you need to go!
To Wrap Things Up
Traveling long distances on a bike is an amazing experience. You feel free, strong, and ready to take the world by storm.
Have a look at your mountain bike tires, seat, and handlebars to ensure they will be comfortable enough to get you through the several hours of riding. Also, make sure your bag is packed with enough food, water, and supplies to get you through your trip. It’s better to have more than less of what you need!
Have you gone touring on a mountain bike? Did you like it and would you do it again? Let us know in the comments below!