The ‘road bike‘ is the modern name for the old school racer bike. These bikes have become very popular in the last couple of years with people looking for ways to get fit. With modern icons such as Bradley Wiggins living the dream and inspiring people from all walks of life to get on a road bike and ride, sales have increased worldwide.
These are distinguished by very narrow tyres (typically 23-28mm wide) and large 700mm diameter wheels with drop handlebars. They are intended for use on paved roads. The narrow tyres help to reduce rolling friction and the drop handlebars put the rider in a streamlined position that minimises air resistance. The frames are strong but lightweight and they all have multiple gears, with some having up to 30.
There are several sub-groups within the road bike category:
These are the largest group in the road category and are aimed at those who like to ride fast, whether it’s in a race such as the Tour de France or just for a sprint around the block with friends. These bikes are light, stiff and extremely efficient. Low weight is achieved by the use of modern materials such as aluminium and carbon fibre.
Road racing bike prices start around £350 and go up to around £9,000
Triathlon/Time Trial bikes
These are very similar to road racing bikes but with more emphasis on aerodynamics and straight-line speed. It is easy to notice the strange shaped (tri bars) handlebars, which have been designed to get the rider into an aero tuck position. The tubing on the bike is tear-dropped shaped similar to aircraft wings and they use special triathlon geometry frames. Some triathlon bikes also use special deep-rimmed wheels to help slice through the air.
Triathlon bike prices start around £1200 up to around £10,000
Sportif bikes (sportive bikes)
Sportif bikes have become very popular in the last couple of years as more and more sportives/challenge events are appearing on the calendar, the most famous being the Etape (chance to ride a stage of the Tour de France). A lot of these events are long distance hilly routes so the bikes need to be light, durable, have plenty of climbing gears and most importantly be comfortable (as some events can take all day). The bikes are essentially less ‘extreme’ race bikes, the riding position is not as forward leaning and the frames will have clearance for mudguards and may even have the facility to fit a light-weight rear rack. It’s all about distance not absolute speed.
Cyclo-cross is the winter off-shoot of road racing. It uses a road-looking bike, which has been adapted with slightly wider, off-road tyres, extra clearance to prevent mud build up, different brakes and lower range gears. Cyclocross races take place off-road across grass and mud with some sections even forcing the riders to carry their bike over obstacles or up hills.
Cyclo-cross bike prices start around £700 up to around £5,000
Track bikes are designed to be raced on an oval track (velodrome). They are very specialized machines as they have only one fixed gear and no brakes. These have recently become very popular for use on the streets due in part to their simplicity and popularity with cycle couriers, however brakeless, fixed wheel bikes are not for inexperienced or faint-hearted riders. As a result most ‘track’ bikes now available come with brakes and a freewheeling ability as options and are generically known as ‘single speeds’ or ‘fixies’.
April 13, 2012 Bike Guides