Using a road bike for MTB training?

After months of thinking about it and listen every week the the podcast (5 stars BTW) I’m pulling the trigger and signing up.

I ride both MTB and road, but my target events in 2020 are MTB. my B+ event is a 24 hour race in February and my A event is a weekly race series in the summer.

So my question is this. My road bike a Giant TCR is all set up on the triner and I use it often. Is running the MTB plans while on a road bike ok? Or should I mount a slick on my spare MTB wheels for the trainer? I’m looking at the Olympic MTB plan as my A race is short 5 mile loops.

  • Yes, that is fine. Especially in the beginning of the plans, you are building fitness as the main goal.
  • This might make more sense as you get closer to your event, with a goal of optimizing and getting more specific to your goal.
  • However, that would likely mean a bunch of back and forth loading and unloading the bike (and swapping a tire/wheel), which adds to the mess.
  • It is likely a small difference in general that is fine to ignore and try to do some workouts outside on the actual MTB, as you get closer to your event.
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Riding on the trainer will build your pedaling fitness - cardio engine, muscular endurance. You can do this with a road bike on the trainer.

Riding outside on your MTB will build MTB conditioning and skills.

I don’t think there’s much to be gained from riding MTB on the trainer. Yeah, the positioning is different, but you’re so static on the trainer anyway, I don’t see how there’s much carry over to building strength for riding MTB outside.


I’ve trained for MTB Marathons the past 2 years, almost exclusively on my roadie on the trainer. I’ll mix in some outdoor road rides when it’s nice outside and then add some skills sessions on my MTB once a week. Not ideal but the races i’ve done aren’t that technical, where handling becomes crucial.

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This is great feedback, thank you.

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Although I planned to put my mountain bike on the trainer this past season while preparing for some long events like Leadville, I never did and stuck with a road bike on the trainer that I have dedicated for indoor work only. I still did a lot of long outdoor rides on the mountain bike, both on road and dirt, so didn’t feel I was missing much.

With the road bike, I made sure to set things up similarly especially in relation to saddle height/position. I also tended to ride on the tops of the bars, rather than down in the drops, while on the trainer. I have found in the past that small differences in saddle height can make me more susceptible to cramps when switching between bikes.