I think I want a road bike. Now What?
Road bicycles are fun, bottom line. You see them being used from racing to touring and centuries. They are fast, low rolling resistant bikes. They are great for commuting, touring, recreation and fitness. In my opinion the they are the the sports car of all bicycles.
What can a road bike can bring to the table? The feeling of power, speed and control and covering a lot of distance in a short amount of time
To the bike aficionado the road bicycle is a classy piece of machinery that not only performs like a prized thoroughbred it can also be seen as a status symbol. Like a Fine luxury car driven only on sunny days, an extension of one's self.
What Road bikes bring to the table
- Low Rolling Resistance
- Aerodynamics (Cutting through the wind)
Less rolling resistance
Starting with the obvious, the tire’s and wheel’s are very big. They are measured in centimeters, generally 700cm in circumference diameter. The tire’s are generally categorized by their width, 23cm to 28cm being the most common. Air pressure is on average ranges from 90psi to 125 psi. This combination allows for very fast rolling speeds.
Because there is such little tire contact on the ground this means the steering is very fast and agile. But don’t be afraid, with some time in the saddle you will adapt quickly to the road bike.
The tires are so skinny, how does one ride and brake safely? No problem. Like a Porsche 911 it was designed to handle speed and braking with ease.
Of course as the price goes up so will the quality of the frame and components. Frame feel, geometry and brakes will have a big impact on the handling.
The second distinct feature of the road bike is the handlebars. In bicycle vocabulary these are called “drop bars”. They have a curvature in the bars that drop down and around. This is a pretty cool feature because this allows for great wind cutting ability. By placing your hands in the “drops”, you are lowering your upper body allowing for less wind resistance.
These road bike handlebars (drop bars) offer many hand positions to choose from. Most commonly you will find five very easily. Having options means more comfort on long rides.
The road bicycle frame is taller in size compared to a mountain bike, bmx or cruiser. It is designed this way from conception, it needs to accommodate the 700c wheels. On early road bikes the majority of frame tubing was very thin. This helped cut down on weight. Because this bike was used for riding on the road and not off road, there was no need for a beefy frame set.
Steel road bike frames were very popular early on. Steel bikes were known as being a little on the heavy side but it absorbed road vibrations very nicely (Steel Is Real). Aluminum then became popular. It was known for its rigidity which meant less frame flex for those who raced. Titanium was also popular with some people. This was liked for its ability to offer both characteristics of steel and aluminum.
Then along came carbon fiber bike frames. As any new product hitting the market people were skeptical.
As time and testing went on carbon proved to be a very high functioning manipulative material. Carbon Fiber allowed the designer-builder to really add more material to the areas of the frame that demanded more strength and lessen the material in areas that did not need the extra weight. That made for highly tunable road bicycles, pretty cool!
Still different people all have very different opinions when choosing a road bike. Choosing a frame material is a very personal choice. It can come down to picking a material that compliments your bodies needs i.e. pain, discomforts, previous injuries. Other choices may depend on weight, ride feel and looks.
I like the feel of road bicycles, they are very efficient, they get you from point a to point b very quickly with a bit of fun I might add. As I mentioned earlier a road bike is like a fine luxury automobile. Have some fun with it and accessorize right down to a sleek clothing kit like the guys in the Tour de France. I save the dirty stuff for my mountain bike.