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  1. #1
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    Fitness of a mountain biker vrs. road biker

    Hi,

    I am a triathlonist and was discussing with a friend who's a mountain biker.
    We had a discussion who is in better fitness, someone who is a road biker or someone who is a mountain biker.
    He suggested that mountain biking requires more strength and that someone that rides a mountain bike 4 times a week is in better shape than someone who rides a road bike for the same amount of time per week.

    Is this true?


    Thanks,

    Eric Michiels

  2. #2
    Unobtanium-Based Lifeform calamarichris's Avatar
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    Hi Eric the triathlete. (and sorry if you already knew that and were just being goofy.)
    It's crap, what your friend is claiming. There is an enormous spectrum of ability in both categories.
    You might ride at 60% of your max during your 4-rides per week and your chest-thumping friend might ride at 80% or more. Or vice versa. Whoever trains the smartest and has the most natural ability is the fittest.
    You could always invite each other on your rides and try to trounce each other, if it would prove something.
    Everyone claims their sport is the hardest. But those who beat their chests the loudest are frequently those with the smallest plumbing to back it up.

  3. #3
    token triathlete Bah Humbug's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by calamarichris View Post
    Everyone claims their sport is the hardest. But those who beat their chests the loudest are frequently those with the smallest plumbing to back it up.
    My high school's cheerleading team had shirts that said "All the other sports looked too easy so I became an XYZ cheerleader!"

    It was bullcrap.

  4. #4
    umd
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    I don't think either one is going to be inherently more fit than the other.

  5. #5
    You blink and it's gone. rbart4506's Avatar
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    I'm more fit now as a road cyclist then I was as a MTBr, but that has more to do with the fact that I actually train now and not just ride....
    "On the other hand riding down a hill at 55 MPH wearing (essentially) women's underwear and a Styrofoam cup on your head is the epitome of rational life-extending decisions." - RacerEx

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    runnin' down a dream edbikebabe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by umd View Post
    I don't think either one is going to be inherently more fit than the other.
    You're totally ruining this thread with your logical & rational thought. Stop it.

  7. #7
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    I can say that road biking has definitely helped my mountain biking endurance. What used to be a long mountain bike ride for me is now pretty easy, trails that would kill me before are more than doable now that I started hitting so many more miles on the road.
    ~If you are ever being chased by a Nascar fan, turn right...

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    Senior Member Georgebowen's Avatar
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    Mountain biker will be more fit.

    It is harder to ride easy on a mountain bike. You are out of the saddle more often, there is just more rolling resistance and a heavier bike, and you have to jump and lift the bike over terrain.

    It is more easy to not exert yourself on a modern road bike as they ride so smooth.

    But road ridding is more endurance and mtn you need bursts of energy for the inconsistencies int he terrain.

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    i think road biking is more of a sustained effort, where as MTBing tends to be more short bursts of power and more coasting when attacking technical sections. i dont think either is neccessarily better, but they are diffrent.

    in my opinion the focus of each is- MTB-handling skill ROAD-fitness

  10. #10
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    It's difficult to get the long endurance training in on a MTB..unless of course you ride it on the road. Almost all of the top pro MTBers train a lot on the road.

    Having said that, there's a lot of technique, skill, and pure low speed grunt that's necessary to ride well off-road. The off-road endurance races are crazy; no way in hell I'd survive 12 or 24 hours on single track.
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    Well, you have to define "better shape".

    Generally, I would expect a road cyclist to put out better power numbers because the riding is less variable.
    I don't even use the offensive term "Fred." -- Sheldon "All Cyclists Are My Friends" Brown (1944-2008)

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    Just whip'em out and measure.
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    Banned. El Diablo Rojo's Avatar
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    At the pro level I don't think there is much difference anymore. Go back 10-12 years and I would argue the rodies were fitter. That's changed and more mountain bike guys are crossing over to train on the road to get their fitness level up.

    On a weekend warrior level when I did mountain bike I'd do it maybe once a month, while riding on the road about 75-100mi a week. I'd spank my mtb buddies on every climb we did and they would spend 3-4 days a week on the trails.

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    Senior Member kaNUK's Avatar
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    Ned Overend

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    Senior Member RacerX's Avatar
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    you will gain more fitness on the road. it's impossible to gain a comparable amount on the mtb unless you use your mtb on the road.

    all the pro mtb do a lot of road to build up.

    but mtb is a lot of fun and you gain more handling skills

  16. #16
    Senior Member Rutnick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by melon View Post
    i think road biking is more of a sustained effort, where as MTBing tends to be more short bursts of power and more coasting when attacking technical sections. i dont think either is neccessarily better, but they are diffrent.

    in my opinion the focus of each is- MTB-handling skill ROAD-fitness
    fail.

    I do both. If I don't mtb for a while, it really kicks my butt when i start riding in the dirt again. The MTB aspect can be a total body thing. It has been mentioned upper body is used more in mtb riding. Well, yes and no. Roadies can understand that there is an aspect of upper body use in road riding.

    I can tell you the highest HR that I have ever maintained was racing MTB. I have raced on some MTB courses that in 30 miles have 5k feet of climbing. There isn't much resting either as far as pedaling. When I road ride, I ride with a high cadence. When I MTB, my cadence is slower.

    On Wed, i will do a 22 mile MTB ride with 3400 feet of climbing. That climbing will only be in six miles of the 22. The rest of the course is flat and fast. Big chainring fast. The final six will be brutal with switchbacks, rocks and jumps.

    I've always felt that if I ride equally hard on road and MTB that MTB is harder.

    I did a road ride yesterday and the fastest guy there was a MTB rider on a X bike. Go figure.

  17. #17
    Cardiac Case Drag's Avatar
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    Road cycling is a slow death. MTBing is an instant death. But you die regardless.
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  18. #18
    ride lots be safe Creakyknees's Avatar
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    everybody knows that cycling is not a real sport.

    baseball players are the fittest athletes, duh.
    "have fun and be kind"
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  19. #19
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    Unicyclists are the most fit

  20. #20
    Rather be riding...
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    I used to ride strictly mountain, but changed to mostly road when I moved to Socal. One of my riding buddies who kicks my ass on the road also has a mountain bike, but since they don't have the technical skills off-road I was able to smoke him on the trails.

    It's 2 different skill sets, but I do feel that the mountain bike experience has made me a better road rider and saved me from a few near crashes and the road riding has increased my power and endurance on the mountain bike.

  21. #21
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    Mountain biking is harder per hour, but road bikers ride more hours per week (on average). Competitive mountain bikers do at least half their training on road bikes to keep their fitness up. Spending that many hours doing only mountain biking would beat up your body too much.

  22. #22
    Senior Member topflightpro's Avatar
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    Well, this doesn't relate to fitness per se, but a study by Unigene Laboratories said mountain bikers are more likely to have stronger bones than roadies. Because road bicycling is so low impact, your bones will actually weaken. You need the higher impact of mountain biking or running to maintain bone strength.

  23. #23
    Senior Member UGASkiDawg's Avatar
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    Road riders have more fitness because they aren't stopping every hour to burn a bowl man
    Quote Originally Posted by kimconyc View Post
    He's not mother Teresa. He's a friggin cyclist for crying out loud. Why is this so hard to understand for so many people?

    Think of it like the WWE but on bikes; it's just a big show with real-live suffering and soul crushing.

  24. #24
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    Last Saturday, my road riding group stopped to regroup at a convenience store. Shortly after we arrived, a group of local mountain bikers stopped at the same store on their way back from the trails.

    They had just completed a 2 hour trail ride, and said it was "Beer-Thirty". We were half-way through a 4 hour road ride.

    Every one of the mountain bikers was heavier than the roadies...by an average of at least 20 lbs.

    Not saying it's the same everywhere, but that's what I see here in NorCal.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by melon View Post
    in my opinion the focus of each is- MTB-handling skill ROAD-fitness
    That hit the nail on the head. My mountain biking buddies will take breaks going up hills if they get too tired. They are interested in having fun on the gnarly, technical sections. In road biking it's pretty much all about fitness, there's not as much technical ability involved. Of course either one could be more fit, but it seems that fitness is more the goal/purpose of road biking whereas bike handling is more the point for most mountain bikers.

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