MTB pedals offer a number of benefits and more riding efficiency. However, one question that cyclists often ask is, can you use MTB pedals on a road bike?
A good set of mountain bike pedals will help a cyclist of any skill level ride more efficiently and with more confidence. This is particularly helpful for those who are involved in cross country or downhill racing. Most people, however, use MTB pedals on mountain bikes.
MTB pedals can also easily be used on road bikes. Both MTB pedals and road pedals for adults have the same pedal thread, which means you can switch road pedals with MTB pedals on a road bike. In conjunction with the right cleats, it can lead to an enhanced cycling experience.
In this guide, we will talk about the technical requirements for installing an MTB pedal on a road bike and what advantages and cons it can bring you.
As lifelong bicycle riders, we have experimented with many different pedals styles on both our road and mountain bikes and have gotten very interesting results. Let us share our experience using an MTB pedal on a road bike.
The Technical Requirements for Swapping MTB Pedals on a Road Bike
Of course, in order to increase the riding efficiency of your bicycle, the MTB pedals should fulfill all the technical requirements of a road bike.
The Density of the Pedal Threads
If the pedals and cranks have threads that do not correspond with each other, you will not be able to install the pedals on the road bike.
Fortunately, most MTB pedals have 9/16 x 20 TPI (threads per inch) threads. The TPI shows how many threads are in an inch of the pedal. An MTB pedal has a density of 20 threads per inch.
Keep in mind that we are talking about adult pedals here. There are some pedals that are ½ inch thick, but these pedals are only often used on kids’ bikes or low-end bikes. However, it is always smart to go through the information on an MTB pedal package before you buy it.
The Right Cleats
MTB and road pedals have different cleat systems. Cleats in mountain bike pedals have recessed soles and are installed with the help of a 2-bolt cleat system. On the other hand, cleats in road bike pedals use a 3-hole design. These cleats are also larger and stick out further from the sole than the recessed MTB-style cleats.
To adapt to these variations, we are left with three easy options:
Buying MTB Shoes
This is the easiest way to resolve the cleat issue. However, getting an extra pair of mountain bike shoes can be quite expensive for you unless you already have a mountain bike and MTB shoes with it.
Using Cleat Adaptors
Another good option is to place road-to-MTB adaptors on your cycling shoes. However, these are not as efficient as MTB shoes. Depending on the quality of the adaptors, they may be even more expensive than MTB shoes. So it would be a better choice to just buy a pair of MTB shoes.
Investing in Hybrid Shoes
Some cycling shoes are versatile and are designed to accommodate both road and mountain bike cleats. However, since these shoes accept road cleats as well, the cleats will stick out when you install them.
Additionally, these models are often not great quality, so you are basically buying cheap quality road shoes with extra bolt holes in them. As an experienced rider, I don’t really recommend them unless you are very short on cash and cannot afford either of the two options above.
The Advantages that MTB Pedals Lend to Road Bikes
A lot of people replace their regular road pedals with MTB pedals because it elevates the cycling experience.
Most riders can quickly and more easily clip in and out of the MTB pedals than out of road pedals. This is because MTB pedals come with a mounting system on either side. On the other hand, road pedals have a mounting system on one side, so some people have to lean over, flip the pedal over to the right side, or waste precious seconds trying to keep things in alignment.
Better Walking Experience
For most people, using MTB pedals means also wearing MTB shoes. Since MTB shoes have recessed cleats that do not protrude, it makes it a lot easier to walk on the ground. It also retains the lifespan of the cleats since they do not come into contact with the ground’s rough surface.
MTB shoes are also equipped with treads that are designed for off-road walking.
Conversely, road bike shoes have protruding soles. This means it can be quite uncomfortable to walk and may increase your risk of injury if you trip on something. In addition, road shoes usually have cleats made of plastic which can become easily damaged when walking off-road or on asphalt.
MTB pedals and shoes can be easily used on road bikes. You can also install road pedals on a mountain bike; however, in my experience, it results in a lot of underperformance on the trail and can even be a cause of accidents.
If you have a road bike and a mountain bike and you want to keep things simple, you can install MTB pedals on both bikes and use MTB shoes exclusively when riding both these types of bikes.
Mountain bike pedals also come in flat designs. These flat pedals can increase your confidence during training, which means you can perform several high-risk maneuvers and stunts. These pedals deliver excellent feedback from the bike and allow you to adjust to the situation quickly. Hence, they offer increased bike control.
With flat MTB pedals, you can retain control of your bike in emergencies and prevent crashes. In addition, these pedals allow you to learn jumps the right way.
Limitations of MTB Pedals
Although MTB pedals offer a lot of advantages, some people think that they also have some limitations.
Heavier Than Road Pedals
Most MTB clipless pedals are heavier than road bike pedals. If you consider the pedal lineup chart by Shimano, it shows that road pedals weigh anywhere between 0.5 lbs. to almost 1 lb. On the other hand, MTB pedals weigh between 0.88 lbs. to 1.34 lbs.
As you can see, road pedals are much lighter than MTB pedals. However, these pedals have a larger platform. If you want your MTB pedals to weigh less, you can find slimmer MTB pedals which can reduce the weight difference to about 0.3 lbs.
Interestingly, I did not notice the weight of the pedals in a significant way. However, I also know that many other experienced cyclists have pointed this out and have also had varying views on whether it affected their performance or not.
Less Power Transmission
When it comes to the transmission of power from the foot to the bike pedals, road shoes are more efficient than MTB shoes. Since road shoes have a stiffer sole, it can deliver more power when accelerating. In addition, road shoes also have a wider design which makes them more stable.
This difference isn’t that big; however, it could matter to serious and pro cyclists. If this is the case with you, you should stick with road-specific pedals and shoes.
On the other hand, most recreational cyclists would not notice the difference. In fact, most cyclists would prefer to use MTB shoes since the extra few seconds saved by using road pedals cannot offset the discomfort that comes from wearing road cleats.
In the end, the decision to use MTB pedals on your road bike really depends on your comfort level and preference. Whatever you use, we strongly advise that you exercise safety and feel comfortable and confident when using the equipment.
About THE AUTHOR
Mountain biking is more than just a hobby for me - it's a way of life. I love the challenge and excitement that comes with it, and I'm always pushing myself to go faster and ride harder. Some people might think that mountain biking is dangerous, but I see it as the only way to live.Read More About Danny Lawson