If you have ever had the chance to ride a road bike, you know how superior this design is when cycling on a smooth, paved surface. This is because the entire design is centered on speed and different sitting positions when traveling over an extended distance.
If you are interested in riding longer distances faster, you may want to consider a road bike rather than a mountain bike or a different style of bicycle. There are a few different characteristics that set this style of bike apart from other models. They are:
- Handlebars that are dropped rather than straight;
- A seat (known as a saddle) that is smooth and does not have any springs for added suspension;
- The presence of derailleurs on the front and rear forks. A particular combination of derailleurs can give a range of 10 – 24 gears;
- Pedals that feature metal treads. These are normally fitted with retainers that can help keep feet from sliding off while peddling;
- Narrow wheels and tires. There are two types of wheel: wired (for general purpose use) and tubular (used for racing).
Common Types of Road Bike Frame
Paying attention to the frame is the number one priority. They vary in shapes and sizes, but the most challenging part is choosing the right material. There are four materials that are found in almost every bike frame today:
- Aluminum – this is the most common material used in bikes that are affordable to the average buyer. It is cheap, light and durable enough;
- Steel – when it comes to durability, steel is the champion. However, it lacks lightness that aluminum provides. The best quality comes with hand made models for a very high price;
- Titanium – light as aluminum, durable as steel and resistant to corrosion makes this material the best of three. However, titanium is not an easy material to work with and frames made of it are more expensive;
- Carbon Fiber – although originally reserved only for high-end bikes, carbon fiber is slowly taking its place in city bikes too. The current champion among frame materials. Easily manipulated, durable, light and resistant to corrosion, this once super-expensive element is now affordable to everyone.
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The dropped handlebars can be positioned in several different ways. If a rider wants to minimize wind resistance they can be lowered so that the rider has a more aerodynamic form. Riders who want comfort rather than speed can raise the handlebars so that they are able to pedal more comfortably for extended periods of time. Riders who are travelling over rough roads can also move the handlebars forward so that they can have better control over the bike when braking.
While the unsprung saddle design may seem, at first glance, to be uncomfortable it is actually designed to be quite comfortable. The smooth covering means that a rider’s legs are less likely to chafe while they are pedaling. While springs may seem comfortable they cause a rider to bounce and this can actually cause some power to bleed away instead of being transferred to the pedals.
The saddle is also very easy to reposition and this also adds to the rider’s comfort and power. By designing the saddle the way it is a rider will find that their weight rests further forward on the bike. When a rider pedals hard, their weight will be lifted up and this makes it easier to keep speed consistent.
The tires used on a road bike also contribute to the quality of a rider’s experience. Their smooth surface helps to reduce friction. It is friction that leads to road resistance and this can cause a rider to become tired more quickly than they would if friction was not present.
When picking a road bike, you need to consider what you will be using it for. Will you:
- Participate in road races with their increased need for speed;
- Cycle recreationally or for short periods of time;
- Tour over longer distances while carrying heavier loads.
By determining how you will use your bike you will be able to narrow down the number of speeds or gears you will need and will also be able to tell if you need features such as road guards or frames capable of holding saddlebags.
By considering these factors it should be fairly easy to get a bike that meets your needs.
Road bikes require proper quality roads. You can easily get high speed with a road bike on better surfaces. Although these bikes are great for long distances, you will find less comfort and every ride may feel like an intense workout session if you are a beginner. Road bikes are more than expensive others.
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