Are you wondering whether your bike is suitable to be ridden out on trails?
There are so many different types of bikes including road bikes, mountain bikes, utility bikes, and comfort bikes.
With such a variety of options, it can be difficult to know what environment they should be used in. That’s why in this guide we’ll be reviewing the most common bikes and if answering whether they’re a good option for trail use or not.
Which Bikes Can Be Used on Trails?
|Bike Type||Trail Use||Best For|
|Cruiser||No||Slow and smooth rides|
|Hybrid||Yes||Casual riding on bikes paths|
|Mountain||Yes||Riding on most surfaces including rough terrain|
|BMX||Depends||At parks, urban environments, motocross tracks|
|Road||No||Smooth pavement or paved trails|
|Downhill||Yes||Fast uphill or downhill rides|
The design of hybrid bikes is strong enough to support riding on easy trails, but they lack the correct tires to be used on rough terrain. They can be ridden on simple trails that have minimal downhill riding and easier terrain to navigate.
Hybrid bikes are usually used in comparison to regular road bikes, but they have the advantage of being lighter weight and more narrow tires. If you’re planning on using your hybrid on a trail environment having wider tires would make them easier to ride on unpaved terrains.
Risks of using a hybrid bike off-road
- Thinner tires may become damaged if you’re riding over large roots or rocks
- The rigid frame can be uncomfortable when going over bumps
Mountain bikes are designed to be ridden off-road and on rougher trails or roads. The full suspension and heavy frames allow the bike to easily travel over bumps and jumps without becoming uncomfortable or damaged.
Since mountain bikes are great for use on trails, it’s clear that that’s the main environment they should be used in. Some people have used them on paved roads but that would be limiting the benefits of using a mountain bike in the first place.
Risks of using a mountain bike off-road
- As long as the bike is in good condition, it’s perfectly fine to continue riding it off-road
BMX / Motocross Bike
BMX bikes are smaller and lack the handling to be safely used on trails or off-road. With a BMX bike, there would be difficulty maneuvering around on certain terrain that’s soft like dirt or mud. If the trail descends at any point, the bike will be harder to control as you pick up enough speed from traveling downhill.
The best environment to ride BMX bikes is anywhere around town or on larger racing tracks. The lightweight frame makes them the go-to option for speeding around and racing against other bikes.
Risks of using a BMX bike off-road
- Too much speed downhill and you may lose control of the bike
- It’s much harder to slow down and stop with the BMX handbrakes
Although there are modifications you can make to a road bike so that it’s safer, it’s best to not take it off-road and onto steep and rough trails. The main reason these bikes should be ridden on roads is because of the thin tires, the speed that they can travel, and the comfort of the ride.
Road bikes are usually used on paved roads that give a nice smooth ride. As mentioned above, changing the tires and choosing a trail that provides easier riding would make it possible to take the road bike off-road, but there are much better options available.
Risks of using a road bike off-road
- You risk the chance of getting a flat tire by riding over gravel or other sharp objects
- Unpaved trails can have a lot of bumps that would be uncomfortable while on a road bike
You can ride downhill bikes on trails due to their full suspension, strong frames, and ability to be ridden downhill. The frames are strong enough to support drops and jumps, while still being able to handle stressful terrains like gravel or roots.
The one negative with taking them on trails is how difficult it can be ascending certain hills while off-road. They can feel heavy to move around since they aren’t built for riding on flat ground or even on traveling upwards.
Risks of using a downhill bike off-road
- It can be a struggle to ride them flat or uphill
Tips For Using Your Bike on Trails
- Use tires that are thicker and more suitable for rougher terrain on trails (gravel, logs, rocks, roots)
- Check that your tires are properly inflated to the correct levels
- Go through the normal checks and bike maintenance before heading to the trail
- Watch the weather and only ride on trails during good conditions
- Keep your head up, look forward, and be alert for bumps or drops on the trail