All road bikes, regardless of the type, can pick up high speed – this is their element. But they show such results only on the road with a smooth surface. Due to the need to turn a conventional two-wheeler into a high-speed car and the development of materials, a carbon road bike appeared on the market with reduced weight. The front fork is often made of carbon fiber, combining it with aluminum.
Road bike: what it is and how it differs from other bikes
If you look at the features as a whole, then what a road bike is will become clear from the first differences obtained in comparison with touring or hybrid ones:
- the lightest among two-wheelers due to the carbon fiber used in the design of the front fork;
- in most models, the shape of the steering wheel is recognizable by the “lamb” shape, although there are also straight ones, like in mountain ones;
- tires and wheels are narrow, for greater maneuverability;
- no rear or front suspension;
- male and female options are very different in size.
The prevailing majority of them do not have mounts for the trunk (like the mountain or tourist ones).
What is the geometry of the frame?
If you plan to travel several times a week for up to 240 km, take a closer look at the largest group of products in this category – with a universal frame design. They have a more upright riding position and very relaxed steering compared to race cars.
The latter are “sharpened” for competitions, because they have a horizontal frame: the rider unites with the vehicle, which has a positive effect on aerodynamic characteristics. It has high top speed, a complex frame and high-end components.
By the way, it is the frame that affects the choice of height:
- XS and S for people no taller than 165 cm;
- M for 165-180 cm;
- L – up to 185 cm;
- XXL for those over 190 cm.
Those with long legs may need a larger size than the standard fit.
Do wheels matter on a road bike?
They play almost the main role in the final characteristics, since the following depends on them:
- weight of the bicycle;
- how fast you accelerate;
- how long will the inertia last;
- aerodynamics and handling during the wind.
Wheels are already included with the purchase, but they can be changed if you want to reduce the weight of the unit and improve the responsiveness of the control.
Shifters and brakes for a road bike
Not so long ago, these two elements were two completely different mechanisms. Yes, and they were located in different parts of the bike. To save space, they are now combined. There are two approaches to gearing:
- the Shimano model combines these two mechanisms into one;
- The SRAM derailleur is located just behind the brake, and both elements work independently of each other.
Since it is impossible to choose a road bike without understanding the differences between models within this category, let’s move on to their typing.
Types of road bikes, pros and cons of each
The term “highway” misleads many, forcing them to believe that such vehicles are only suitable for driving on perfectly smooth asphalt roads. But if you look at the original name – Road Bike – everything will fall into place, because it is designed to conquer roads in general. But which roads will be subject to your “metal” (or carbon) friend – depends on its type.
Such options are also referred to as lightweight, group ones or for lifting. These 4 names quietly coexist together, and only mean that the model presented in front of you shows itself perfectly on asphalt roads. Here the main principle is to reduce weight because the frame is made of thin tubes.
They are used for racing, where you have to spend more than one hour in the saddle. Landing is low, aggressive, albeit comfortable. The wheelbase has been shortened to increase maneuverability and fast cornering.
Suitable for: riding in mountainous and hilly areas with good roads.
The designers seriously thought about how much their offspring weighs, and whether something can be done about this problem. Aero models have become the solution: they just need carbon, which takes any shape.
Aero is almost indistinguishable from the classics, but it has an advantage at speeds over 30 km / h, where it turns into a real car. It is chosen by triathletes and sprinters.
Suitable for: riding on flat terrain
Endurance for long trips
Take a racing frame and fit it comfortably. You’ll get an endurance model with a very upright fit, 28 mm or 32 mm tires. There will be no impressive aerodynamic performance but driving on cobblestones and bad roads for a long time is what it is created for.
Best for: long trips where you don’t want to get tired.
Track for athletes
They are specialized and were designed for riding on an oval track. This is singlespeed, i.e. there is a fixed gear, which is why the speed switch is absent at all. There are breaks here, although the opposite opinion is widespread: to turn them on, it is enough to slow down the rotation of the pedals.
Suitable for: riding a cycle track or in a big city with perfect asphalt.
Gravel – a collaboration of comfort and patency
Some consider this to be the best road bike for the layman. Its design is the combination of an endurance frame, wide tires, and disc brakes. It is this category that has become the field for the greatest experiments of manufacturers: you will find original solutions such as a suspension fork or huge models that resemble country specimens.
Suitable for: driving on a dirt road or bad roads.
Mountain bike vs road bike: who will win?
If we take an abstract comparison, then no one. But when viewed from the objective point of view, then:
- the mountain one will show itself perfectly when driving on slush, mud, gravel, and snow due to thick tires and durable wheels designed for shock loads (the photo perfectly shows the visual difference between them);
- the highway one will carry you on a flat road at high speed, and it’s not worth mentioning the maneuverability at all – it’s phenomenal.
Since you can only choose a road bike or mountain bike based on your needs and the terrain where you will ride, the argument between these two representatives of two-wheeled vehicles is simply meaningless. But if you know for sure that you have to move on high-quality roads somewhere in the mountains of Switzerland, with their sharp turns and long lengths, then question whether to choose a road bike or a mountain bike is not even worth it. Definitely the first one.
But for difficult-to-pass areas with irregularities, you will not find a better option than mountainous bikes. This is especially felt in depreciation and absorption of shocks from pothole. And on a flat surface, although it will not fly at high speed, it will demonstrate good grip with the roadway.
In the articles you will also find scooter modifications and bike seat options.