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Can I Put Gravel Tires on My Mountain Bike?

can i put gravel tires on my mountain bike

Biking season is finally here and now that the snow has melted, people can’t wait to hit the trails with their mountain bikes. Each type of bike comes with its own set of tires. While mountain bike tires are great for traveling over rough terrain, they aren’t quite as fast as gravel tires. This leads many people to wonder if they can put gravel tires on a mountain bike.

You can put a gravel bike tire on a mountain bike, but you will need to make sure it is able to fit. It’s very common for people to switch their tires to suit the type of terrain they are riding on. While a bike rider may want to own every type of bike, their budget (or wife) might now allow it. Luckily, if you can only own one bike there’s still the option to switch tires.

Since you can put gravel tires on a mountain bike, you may be wondering how. Today, we’re going to go over everything you need to know so you can safely ride a mountain bike with gravel tires. Keep reading to find out.

What Size Gravel Tires Can I Put On a Mountain Bike?

Gravel tires are much wider than mountain bike tires. They are typically between 36 to 48 mm wide. Before selecting a tire, you will need to measure your mountain bike’s frame clearance to make sure they are compatible. Since mountain bike tires are thinner with high rolling resistance, many people want something faster when they are on the road.

Many people will use a 700c gravel tire because it is only slightly larger than the 26-inch wheel that most mountain bikes use. However, you will always have to measure your bike’s maximum tire size to make sure it fits. If your bike has disc brakes, it shouldn’t have any issue fitting. However, if the 700c tire is too big, the 650b is 31.5 mm smaller in size.

However, a good rule of thumb to keep in mind is wider tires are better for gravel roads. This means that you should get the widest tire that your mountain bike’s frame will allow.

We recommend using a 700cc gravel tire for your mountain bike like this Gravel King Tire by Panaracer.

How to Put Gravel Tires on Your Mountain Bike

When it comes to putting gravel bike tires on your mountain bike you will have to get the bike prepared. Your first course of action is to enhance the gears. This is because gravel bikes are much speedier than mountain bikes, so you’ll need to turn up your bike’s gears to match. However, it’s important to make sure the ratio stays at 2:1. 

The next thing you’ll need to take care of is suspension. After you’ve maxed out your gears, you’ll need to do the same with the suspension. This is one of the most important parts because mountain bikes are set up with a lower suspension to support bikers as they come across tough obstacles on the trails. 

Once you have the gears and suspensions ready for gravel bike tires, you can remove the mountain bike tires and replace them with lighter but wider gravel tires. You may find this easier to do if you position the bike upside down so the tires are in the air. 

You should notice that the tire is held onto the bike frame by 2 nuts, one on each side. You will need to loosen these nuts in order to remove the tire. Some mountain bikes have a lever that needs to be released before the tire can come off. Make sure to disengage the brake cable first before attempting to remove the tire from the brake pads.

Once the mountain bike tire is removed, you can replace it with the gravel tire. Make sure the tire is secured in the frame before reattaching the nuts on the axle to keep it in place. You will want to check to make sure the tire has been centered and that the brakes are working correctly. 

What to Know Before Riding a Mountain Bike With Gravel Tires

One thing that many people weren’t prepared for is that gravel bikes actually need a higher shock absorption than mountain bikes. This is because they actually hit more rocks and pebbles at a faster speed than a trail bike would. Since this is bound to happen, it’s important to adjust the shocks of your bike so they are tougher.

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Depending on how often you want to use your mountain bike as a gravel bike, you may need to replace its shocks. Many mountain bike shocks aren’t designed for the type of impact a gravel bike receives. This causes the experience of gravel bike riding to completely damage because they just aren’t built to handle it.

Some bikers have also noticed that the handlebars are different, which may affect how they ride. One tip to make this better is to put gel pads on the handlebars. This helps reduce the amount of impact when you go over a rough bump at high speed. 

One thing to keep in mind about swapping to gravel tires is that it’s important to make the bike as lightweight as possible. Often mountain bikes have a lot of different accessories, so make sure they have all been removed to lighten up your load.

Do the Brakes Need to Be Changed?

If you don’t change the braking system on your bike, then it could wear out sooner than you expected. Since there is a difference in weight between mountain bikes and gravel bikes, gravel tires need a sharper braking system that can keep up. If the brakes aren’t responsive enough, they will experience more wear and tear. 

Getting a braking system that is designed for gravel bikes will help them last for a lot longer. You may not need to do this if you only plan to ride your mountain bike with gravel tires occasionally. However, if you find yourself riding like this more frequently you should definitely consider getting an upgrade. This way you won’t wear out your mountain bike brake system and can switch back.

Final Thoughts

While there are many different types of bikes, it turns out one frame can be used in multiple ways. If you have a mountain bike and want to try riding with different types of tires then you will likely have enough clearance in the frame to make the switch. Many people like to switch to gravel tires so they can ride their bikes faster on the road.

If you do plan to ride your bike like this often, then you should consider doing some upgrades to your bike so it will be equipped for the ride. Ignoring these upgrades could lead to early wear and tear on your bike. While your mountain bike may be able to fit gravel tires, it wasn’t built for the experience. These upgrades will help prepare it for road riding.

The good thing about bike riding is that once you are familiar with your bike, you can make the necessary adjustments to ride it anywhere you would like. When you need to ride your mountain bike on the road, you can by putting on gravel tires.

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