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Road Bikes

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When would you ride a road bike?

The world of road bikes is incredibly sophisticated and tailored – there is no single road bike that will cater for any and all purposes of riding.

You’re likely to be in the road bike market if you’re planning to ride at a fairly good clip on paved surfaces. As the name suggest, road bikes are not ideal for any ‘off-road’ adventures.

What are the different types of road bikes?

You’ve basically got a choice between two different types of road bikes – road bikes with drop-bar handlebars and road bikes with flat bars. Drop-bars, or ‘drops’ enable you to ride in various positions (making them ideal for longer distances and/or routes of mixed terrain, such as flats and inclines/ descents) whereas flat bars will dictate a more upright position that is more suited to shorter distances.

What are some of the key features of a road bike?

The answer is not one-dimensional; it all depends on the type of road riding you mostly do. For example, if you’re in the market for a bike to race then you’re going to want to maximise the bike’s aerodynamics, go for a stiffer frame and ensure it’s on thin tyres.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for a road bike to take mountain climbing, then you’ll be looking for an ultra-light frame that is designed for comfort.

Types of material used for road bikes

Road bike frames are typically made from one of the following materials:

Steel road bike frames

The old faithful! Steel delivers quality, strength and durability but perhaps most importantly, it is one of the most affordable road bike materials on the market. Steel frames have undergone a renaissance and are often considered by some die-hard cyclists as the purist’s choice.

High quality steel frames will usually include alloys in the tubing, making them more responsive and comfortable. A popular alloy is ‘chromoly’.

Steel frames do however tend to be heavier than a lot of other materials on the road bike market.

Aluminium road bike frames

Common in the construction world, aluminium didn’t take off in the bike industry until the late 1900s. Although it might be a late bloomer, aluminium is now one of the most prolific road frame materials on the market. The big tick here is weight – aluminium is light. For this reason it is often preferred for racing and time trialling.

Titanium road bike frames

Ah – the princely titanium! We say this because titanium is easily one of the most expensive road bike frame materials on the market. Yet you pay for what you get and with titanium comes longevity and strength. Titanium lovers will put its lightness on a par with aluminium and its comfort on a par with steel.

Carbon fibre

Maybe once-upon-a-time carbon was the new kid on the bike block but these days it’s well and truly established and if anything, is considered de rigueur by many a discerning cyclist.

Unlike the other materials mentioned, carbon fibre is not a metal. Instead, it’s a kind of fabric laced with resin and is extremely light, durable and stiff. Carbon weaves can take on all manner of patterns and make the frame look especially beautiful upon closer inspection. Along with titanium, carbon is more high maintenance during the construction phase and as a result tends to be expensive. Carbon frames tend not to suffer from fatigue like other metals; instead they will snap or crack when under pressure.

Popular road bike brands

Road bikes popular the world around include bikes from brands such as Giant, Trek, Specialized, BMC, Cannondale, Boardman, Cervelo, Canyon, Bianchi, Colnago, Pinarello, Merida, Felt, Fuji, Scott, Orbea, De Rosa, Raleigh, Wilier and plenty more. These are all major brands but you will also find more niche, boutique brands on the market such as London based brand Pretorius, for example.

What else do road riders need?

If you’re new to road riding then chances are you won’t just be in the market for a bike, you’ll also potentially be after things like road riding kit (clothing), road bike helmets, road wheels, road puncture repair kits and more.

Just run a search here on BikeExchange to find all your road riding needs.

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