Road bikes are suitable for every rider, from the weekend warrior to the professional racer. Designed with skinny tires and lightweight materials, the road bike is made for fast speeds! Scroll down to check out more information on road bikes at BikeExchange.
The term “road bike” may sound very broad, but there are several specific characteristics that define a modern road bike. Designed for fitness, racing and competition, road bikes need to be comfortable and robust. Because of their popularity, most manufacturers offer a wide selection of road bikes.
To help you make your choice, we put together this helpful infographic into the different types of road bikes. It will point you in the right direction and teach you about the different options available to the American road bike rider.
You can break down the main components of a road bike - or any bike - into four categories:
Frame - The frame is the backbone of your road bike. You can still find some steel (chromoly) choices, but the trend is for a lighter frame. Aluminium is a near-standard choice at the entry-level, but the metal will typically transfer vibrations from the road into your body, which can be tiring. Carbon fibre has become the standard for mid to high level road bikes, it typically offers better shock absorption and lower weight, but is priced above aluminium. Priced at a premium, titanium does a great job of marrying comfort and solidity, but it can't match the strength to weight ratio of a good carbon fibre frame.
Wheels and tires - Road bike wheels can have a big influence on the weight and aerodynamics of your bike. If there’s one place you’re looking for the most bang-for-your-buck, upgrading your wheels can have the most effect. Road tyres are for low rolling resistance, but the small footprint and lack of tread means they're best kept on smoother surfaces.
Drivetrain - The drivetrain includes the crankset, derailleur, gear shifters and brakes. Most manufacturers choose complete road bike drivetrains matched to their frames, but you can always pick and choose individual components to build your ultimate road bike. The number of cogs in your groupset determines the number of speeds your bike has, which is typically 20 or 22 for road bikes.
Additional components - You can choose components such as handlebars, pedals and seats according to your personal preference. The handlebars on a road bike are especially important. They should be approximately as wide as your shoulders for the best mix of comfort and steering control. Road riders typically choose clip-in shoes and pedals, as they give you greater control and efficiency.
The best way to learn what works for you is to try out and compare different makes and models of road bikes. You need to feel comfortable and in control, or you won’t want to get out frequently. And remember, if you’re just getting into the sport, spend your money on a quality frame. The rest can be upgraded later as you learn your riding style and get more into the enjoyable and rewarding sport of road racing!
Whatever you decide, you’ll find it on BikeExchange. Race over to our editorial section for the latest in the cycling industry, from news and reviews to interviews and awesome stories. Not sure if a road bike is right for you? See our guide to all types of bicycles.