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How to pick a Road Bike

Road Bikes

road bike
Efficiency is the Goal

Road bikes are just as the name describes meant for the road, concrete pavement, only hard smooth surfaces. Compared to a hybrid, a road bike puts the cyclist in a more aerodynamic position in order to increase speed. One major difference a road bike has versus other categories is that road bikes offer 3 hand positions for the cyclist.


Hands on tops | Hands on Hoods | Hands on drops


road bike hand positions

If the intention of the cyclist is to go as fast as possible or cover a long distance in the most effective way, road bikes will be best. Road bikes vary greatly but they do have some commonalities; most of them have a carbon fork whether or not the frame is carbon, almost all of them use a 700c wheel with the exception of kids road bikes and the very few extra small road bikes that make use of the 650 wheel size. The value of a road bike differs greatly depending on both the frame and the parts.

Performance Road

performance road cannondale caad 12
Fastest on the Road

Performance road bike is a sub category dedicated to optimizing the bikes performance for competition; the frames are designed more aerodynamic and stiffer in many areas particularly the top tubes, seat stays and bottom brackets of the bike. Performance road bikes will be equipped with a 39/53 chain ring. This kind of chain ring can be a little challenging to beginner riders because it will require more strength to keep up a certain cadence but it contributes to the bike being much faster; they also use the narrower 700x23 tire in order to reduce the amount of contact the tire has against the ground which increases speed slightly. The handle bar positioning is usually set to be a littler lower in order to further increase the aerodynamics of the rider.


Endurance Road

Endurance road bike Specialized roubaix
Ride All Day

Endurance road bikes are designed with comfort as its focus, endurance road bikes are excellent for novice cyclist or any cyclist that plan on being on the road for several hours; They offer more vertical compliance, vertical compliance can be thought of as flex on the frame. By giving the frame flex points it helps to dampen the vibrations that a cyclist would normally experience on a performance road bike. Endurance road bikes normally come with a compact cranks 34/50 or a mid compact 36/52, these are easier to maintain a higher cadence with and easier to climb. These kinds of bikes will typically be equipped with a 700x25 or 700x28 in order to further dampen vibrations and increase comfort for the cyclist. Lastly the headset on an endurance road bike is elevated slightly to create more of an upright position for the cyclist and make it easier on their body.

Cyclocross

Cyclocross bike Raleigh RX 1
Built different

Cyclocross bikes are the most rugged of the road bike category, they are meant for off road racing; it’s become a very popular winter sport. The races usually include a whole lot of mud, a circuit track and barricades to jump or climb over, that’s right cyclocross bikes can be bunny hopped once you have the technique down. Cyclocross bikes have an even greater upright positioning than that of an endurance road bike, the frames and fork are both available in steel, aluminum or carbon depending on the brand and the model. The components are what greatly separate a cyclocross bike from the other road bike categories. The chain ring ratio is typically 34/46 that is much smaller than the other road bike categories, this allows for much easier climbing of hills and other off road obstacles. The brake systems commonly used on cyclocross bikes are cantilevers and disc brakes. Although these bikes are designed for off road racing they also make excellent commuter bikes for someone who wants a sturdier road style bike for commuting. Many cyclocross bikes are compatible with fenders and racks, which adds to the commuter appeal.


Track

Track fix bike

All City All day, Unless your going to the Track

Track bikes are the rebels of the road category; they only have one gear. Depending on the model the cyclist has the option of running it as a fix bike or a regular single speed. The differences between the two are fix bikes' pedals and the rear wheel are fixed to each other, pedals rotate together in sync with the rear wheel and the same for the rear wheel, it rotates in sync with the pedals. A regular single speed rides like any normal except it only has one gear. What is interesting about track bikes is that they have many customization options. Track bikes are compatible with drop bars, bull horn bars, flat bars, riser bars, riser bars with a cross bar and pursuit bars. Track bikes typically run 700c wheels but sometimes an extra small size may use a 650c. Some people aim to improve the aerodynamics of the bike by using a 700c rear wheel and 650c front. Another common practice with track bikes is cutting the handlebars so that there is only enough space for the hands to fit. Some track bikes don’t leave any room for brake levers because they don’t use brakes; they slow down and stop using a skid method. One factor about track bikes that makes them tricky is that not all road bike parts are compatible with them. A high quality road hub may not even fit into the dropouts of the frame. Even though track bikes are a sub category of road bikes its important to remember that a track bike will usually need track parts but as with everything there are exceptions.


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