Comparing cycling off-road with biking on established roadways is like looking for similarities between peanut butter and zebras. There just aren’t too many. Okay, you use a bike in both instances. And any type of cycling is a great form of exercise as well as transportation. But there are plenty of differences between on-road and off-road cycling.
First off, different equipment is needed. You can ride a mountain bike down a crowded city street if you would like to. But tire size and width, coupled with a lower and wider profile, makes the experience physically harder and much more dangerous. Accordingly, attempting to traverse mountain biking trails with your skinny-wheeled, light-framed street cycle could quickly mean expensive bike repairs and a trip to the hospital.
Devoted cyclists even wear different types of clothing and shoes when heading off-road than when they are negotiating city streets. You need more protective clothing and more durable shoes for mountain biking and other types of off-road cycling adventures than if you are pedaling along down the highway.
As far as money goes, your financial outlay can be cheap or extremely expensive in either case. There are all sorts of bikes and accessories at every budget level, which makes cycling of any kind a wonderfully healthy hobby for everyone.
Another difference between piloting a road bike versus an off-road bicycle concerns skill level. It is much easier to move from mountain biking and other off-road biking activities to a road bike than the other way around. Off-road biking requires an intense and physical dedication almost constantly. Road cycling is much more of a repetitive, rhythmic process.
Your environments are totally different, too. People that love off-road cycling do it for the mother nature benefits as much as for the actual biking itself. They love the sights, smells and sounds of the great outdoors and experience it uniquely while biking along. Fans of the urban environment cycling experience are comfortable with cars, trucks, SUVs, sidewalks full of people and the incessant sounds of city life.
Your physical cycling motion is also different on the road versus off. Mountain bikes and other off-road cycles are shorter. They also employ a much smaller gear ratio than multi-gear road bikes. This means your cycling rhythm and style is going to be totally different when you are slowly climbing rock-strewn trails or flying down clear forest paths than when you are rhythmically pumping along at a constant rate of speed on a flat concrete roadway.
You can burn fat, get in shape and improve your heart health on both off and on-road bicycles. Before you get started with one discipline or another however, just understand that the above differences are a few of the many ways that these 2 enjoyable physical activities are dissimilar.