Road cycling is a discipline that combines sport and the pleasure of traveling. Your bike will take you far away on your outings, whether for training or just for the fun of riding.
Choosing the right road bike is therefore essential to find a high-performance and comfortable model. Among an increasingly wide range of products (the number of brands offering road bikes is nowadays very important), several criteria must be taken into account, starting with the use you want to make of them and the budget you have.
Choose your road bike
You will need to determine what type of riding you will do to find the bike that best suits your needs: whether you want to ride in leisure or competition mode, on flat ground or in the mountains and how often you go out and how far you go.
For leisure and occasional practice
Priority is given to comfort. An aluminum frame is a good compromise between strength and lightness. We will choose an ergonomic saddle, a right stem length, and flat handlebars for a comfortable position.
For competition or regular use
Priority is given to lightness and aerodynamics. You can choose between an aluminum or carbon frame, knowing that if you are looking for performance, a carbon frame will be the most suitable, but also more expensive. Carbon is a light, rigid, and comfortable material that reduces road vibrations and will give you an enjoyable driving experience. It will provide you with excellent performance and will make you gain in speed. Quality wheels, light and solid, are essential if you are going to drive often, it is even advisable to have wheels for training and wheels for competition. The transmission is an important element to consider in order to have precise and responsive gearshifts and a high-performance bike with efficient relaunches. For the competition, there are models of aerodynamic bicycles with profiled tubes on the frame for better penetration into the air and which are designed to have a very lying position.
To drive on the flat
A traditional or compact crankset is sufficient. When we go on more hilly terrain, we can change the cassette.
To ride in the mountains
A double or triple crankset with a large cassette at the back is recommended to have a wide speed range and climb more quickly.
Once you have chosen your bike, think about the rest of the equipment you will need to buy to ride comfortably and safely: pedals, shoes, helmet, gloves, and clothing!
How to choose a racing bike adapted to your practice?
In competition, training, or leisure, your racing bike will always take you further, faster. Beyond the budget at your disposal, two criteria are essential to choosing your racing bike: practice and geometry.
Today, road bicycles are no longer reserved for professionals: they have become an accessible sport. All you need is a few pedals to get away from the city! This sport allows you to stay fit, forget the stress of your day and is suitable for all levels and all ages.
If you want to buy a road bike, you need to ask yourself the right questions: how do you want to use it? You are a born competitor, and your next races are already marked in red on your calendar? Or do you want to enjoy the landscape of your region by driving along the roads at lightning speed?
There are different types of road bikes, adapted to different uses:
- Road bike
Buying a road bike is an investment. It is therefore important that you take stock of what you expect from it. Some parts of road bikes can vary in price. Below, we present those to which you need to pay attention.
Should I choose a road bike with an aluminum or carbon fiber frame?
Aluminum is a light, strong, and rigid material. You will find aluminum frames on entry-level or mid-range road bikes. This reliable frame provides excellent power transmission from pedals to wheels. However, aluminum also has defects: it is heavier than carbon fibers and does not absorb shocks as well. Today, most aluminum frames feature a carbon fiber fork and seatpost, which makes driving more enjoyable.
Carbon fiber frame
Carbon fibers are a much lighter material than aluminum. They absorb shocks better. The result? Thanks to technological progress, there are now many different ways to produce carbon fiber frames, and they are becoming more and more common in the bicycle market. Contrary to popular belief, they are not reserved for professional runners.
The right transmission for you
The three most famous transmission systems brands in the bicycle world are Shimano, Sram, and Campagnolo. Each of them produces a range of transmission systems for different types of cyclists: top-of-the-range products for professionals, and cheaper (but equally high-quality) products for amateurs. Keep in mind that their price is proportional to their quality. On some road bikes, gears are automatically shifted by means of an electronic system. These transmissions are much more expensive, but also much more efficient.
Wheels: why should they be so important?
After the frame, the wheels are the most important parts on a road bike. Their weight and rotation influence the behavior of your bike. The lighter the wheels, the better: they have an impact on braking and acceleration capacity. Their design also plays a major role: the deeper the rims, the more aerodynamic and rigid the wheels will be. The trend towards aerodynamic bicycles is relatively recent, but it makes a big difference, especially for riders and triathletes. Amateur cyclists will be very satisfied with light and rigid wheels at a reasonable price.
Rim or disc brakes?
Road bikes are usually equipped with rim brakes. Most cyclocross is equipped with disc brakes, which have a higher breaking capacity and are also effective in wet and dry weather.
The different types of road bikes
The road bike
As its name suggests, the road bike is designed to ride on asphalt. On this type of bike, the body position is sporty and very horizontal, in order to maximize speed and minimize wind resistance. The parts of a road bike include a road hanger, thin and extremely smooth wheels, and a light frame. They’re designed to be fast, not comfortable! They are perfect for training and running on asphalt. The perfect bike for speed lovers!
Cyclocross is a mixture of a road bike and a mountain bike. Cyclocross is a type of race in which many cyclists participate in the off-season. Participants must complete several tours on different surfaces: grass, technical wooden elements, etc. These races are real challenges for cyclists, who can test their endurance, strength, and agility. As a result, cyclocross can roll on a wide variety of surfaces.
The triathlon bike
Triathlon bikes are a more aerodynamic variant of road bikes. This aerodynamic design considerably reduces wind resistance. The most recognizable features of a triathlon bike are a straight handlebar and a frame with aggressive geometry (pronounced angles, stem and low handlebar). It is this frame shape that allows the bike to be more aerodynamic. The latter is also designed to reduce the effort produced by the triathlete, who will then have to run! Finally, the wheel rims are deeper and have fewer spokes than standard road wheels. Everything is designed to optimize speed!
Geometry does not only allow you to choose the right size of your bike. It also determines the behavior of the bike by offering a specific compromise between performance, comfort, weight, rigidity, and aerodynamics. We can distinguish three leading families within racing bicycles.
The “Aero” type racing bicycles are designed for speed. Often studied in wind tunnels, these models are characterized by wider and more aerodynamic tubes to split the air. Generally more rigid, their geometry has a more extended reach (length of the frame, measured from the upper axis of the head tube to the vertical axis passing through the center of the bottom bracket) and a reduced head tube. The position is, therefore, more advanced, more lying down to maximize speed with each pedal stroke. The “Aero” bicycles are ideal for powerful riders with a roller or sprinter profile.
Endurance racing bicycles offer a perfect compromise between stiffness, speed, and comfort. With generally longer bases, a shorter horizontal tube and a raised head tube, these models are true all-rounder bikes. This versatility allows you to spend long days in the saddle when riding a sportbike or a classic. From the mountains to the cobblestones, you will go everywhere with comfort and efficiency
These racing bicycles are designed to offer an optimal weight/rigidity ratio. Thinner tubes and shorter bases characterize them. Their behavior is more nervous, lively, and agile. Lighter than bicycles with aerodynamic geometry and endurance, they are particularly effective for climbing the most demanding climbs and aggressive restarts. These bicycles will be perfect for climbers and fans of the outdoors and mountainous landscapes!