Finding the Right Road Bike for You
Whether you need a bike for commuting to work, hitting a trail or riding long distance the bike you purchase will determine your riding experience. The type of bike, it’s features, and fit will help you in deciding what bicycle will be the most comfortable and fun for your journey.
Road Bicycles are designed to be ridden fast on smooth pavement. They have smooth, skinny tires and "drop" handlebars, and can be used for on-road racing. They are usually lighter than other types of bicycles. They can be ridden on paved trails, but most people find them uncomfortable and unstable on unpaved trails. However, Gravel Bikes are made for both Road and trail riding.
Types of Bikes
Knowing the terrain you plan on riding will help to narrow down the perfect bike. Some bicycles are made for different types of surfaces like: pavement or dirt trails. There’s also other bikes that are versatile enough to go from one surface to another
Road bikes usually have drop-bar handlebars that are lightweight and curve downward giving you more hand and riding positions than flat bars. It also allows you to sit in an aerodynamic position, which helps you gain more speed and efficiently transfer your energy into making the bike move forward. The only con for this position is that it may put more strain on your back if you are less flexible.
Racing Bikes: If it’s speed you want, you’ll love racing bikes. They’re made for races, are great for going up hills or even if you want to just go on a ride with some friends. Their frames are usually made of carbon fiber or aluminum and have a slimmed-down design with aggressive geometry, making them as light as possible and awesome at sharp turns.
Endurance Bikes: Endurance bikes have the perks of racing bikes, but with a different frame geometry. A higher head tube allows you to ride in a more comfortable position, reducing stress on your back, arms and neck.
Cycloross bikes will take you on adventures through every sort of terrain. They are lightweight and usually feature semi-knobby tires that are tough enough to ride over pavement, dirt and grass.
700c: 700c is the standard size wheel on most road bikes. For most people on a road bike, 700c is fine, but if you’re smaller in stature and have had trouble finding the right fit on a bike, you may want to check out bikes featuring 650c wheels.
Rim Brakes: Road bikes are usually equipped with rim brakes. Rim brakes feature pads that grip onto the wheel rims.
Economical - Easy to see brake pad wear - Easy to replace worn pads
Gradually wearing out rim - Less stopping power - Less effective in wet or muddy conditions
Disc Brakes: Disc brake pads grip onto a brake rotor mounted to the wheel hub. There are two different versions:
- Hydraulic disc brakes offer more progressive and stronger braking with less finger effort, and they self-adjust for brake pad wear.
- Mechanical disc brakes need manual adjusting as the pads wear.
Consistent braking in all weather conditions - Less expensive to replace a rotor then the wheel - Less finger strain
Difficult to inspect brake pad wear - Not as easy to replace worn pads - Hydraulic brakes more expensive to service
Bike Frame Materials
Bikes are either made from aluminum, steel or carbon fiber and they each have their pros and cons.
Aluminum is lightweight, strong and way more affordable than other frame materials. Some riders feel it’s harsh on rougher roads, but new construction techniques have improved it’s shock absorption.
Steel is stronger and offers more flexibility for a seamless ride, the only disadvantage is that it’s it’s heavier than aluminum.
Carbon fiber is the most expensive, but a more desirable high-end bike as it’s lighter than aluminum and stronger than steel. To keep prices reasonable, there are bikes with carbon fiber forks and/or seat posts rather than a frame made entirely of carbon, which provide some of the benefits.
The level of the the seat and handlebar will determine how you sit on the bike and ultimately the level of your comfort. A seat raised above the handlebar allows you to ride in a more aerodynamic position and push harder into the pedals, giving you speed. Lowering the seat allows you to control how you sit and how comfortable you want it.
Drop-bar: If your passion is speed you’ll want a drop-bar handlebar. Usually on road bikes, they are lightweight, aerodynamic and permit you to have different riding and hand positions. The only con being hunched over puts more stress on your back and neck making them uncomfortable and it can reduce your visibility.
The Right Bike Fit
At the end of the day the bicycle you decide on should be the perfect fit to your body and the terrain you plan on riding. Your height will determine the size of frame you need to purchase and manufactures will usually include size charts to help you gauge what size is best for you.
When you consider all these factors and finally decide on the right bike, you’re guaranteed a more epic ride!
It's Your World, Ride It!