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Although riding a drop-bar bike with cleat pedals and a frame lighter than your favorite chair may seem as simple as riding a conventional bike, there are a few considerations to make. Let’s go over it step by step!
What is a Road Bike?
A road bike is not a hybrid bike or a mountain bike, but rather a complete bike with a lightweight frame, cleated pedals and a full carbon or aluminum seat post. This is the complete bike you will use for long distance or hard-core touring. The frame will be heavier than a conventional bike, typically around 25 to 35 pounds. The wheel size will vary depending on your goals: a modern road bike will have a wheel size between 25-40mm and a classic race bike will have a 32-50mm rim.
The Science of Road Bikes
Despite their relative simplicity, road bikes contain some pretty advanced technology that would impress the most advanced mountain biker. The mechanical systems that drive the stops, the rear derailleur and the front wheel drive are all just a few of the many advanced things that go on a road bike. Beyond the obvious advantages of better handling, speed and comfort, road bikes have also been developed to perform specific tasks such as competition, touring, racing and even as a daily commute bike.
Benefits of Road Biking
Riding a road bike has a few distinct advantages over riding a conventional bike. These include more gear options with multiple shifters, the ability to carry more gear and the fact that you get to ride a bike that is nearly identical to the one that you commute or ride everyday!
Travel – The biggest benefit of road biking is the ability to travel more miles with the same or less gear. Since you don’t need to shift as often, you can stay in the gear you are in and save energy for the hills.
Stability – Thanks to the wider tire, increased traction and larger crank, you will have better control over your bike on loose or uneven terrain. This stability can come in handy when all you want to do is hop on one foot and walk around.
Effective Power – The power of a bike is determined by its engine, the geometry of the frame and the tires. What happens in the engine is determined by the geometry, the offset of the chain and the condition of the tires. By changing the geometry and offsetting the chain, you can change the effective power of a bike from 100 percent to 15 percent or less.
Health Benefits – There are so much to talk about here, so i’ve made an entire post about this subject. Go check it out on What biking does to your body. To mention some, you get:
- Increased flexibility
- Increased strength
- Increased balance
- Increased breathing
- Improved concentration
- Reduced stress and anxiety
Choosing the Right Road Bike
Depending on your intended purpose, you may want to choose a road bike with Shimano or SRAM drivetrains, disc brakes or a mix of both. You may also want to keep in mind that a road bike is usually heavier than a hybrid bike or mountain bike, so you will need to make sure that you are comfortable riding the heavier bike before deciding to switch to road.
When to Ride a Road Bike
There are a few different times you would choose to ride a road bike. First, if you want to maximize your distance ridden per day. If you are mainly a weekend warrior, you may want to consider a mountain bike or hybrid bike. If you want to maximize your time on the bike, then a road bike is a perfect choice. Since you don’t need to shift as often, you can stay in the gear you are in and save energy for the hills.
How to Ride a Road Bike comfortably
When you first get the hang of it, you may notice that the movements on a road bike are very similar to those on a conventional bike. This is because the saddle is similar in both bikes and the mechanics of the bike are similar too. To get the most out of your road bike, you need to feel comfortable while biking. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your road bike comfort wise.
Choose the right frame size – Choosing the right frame size is crucial for getting all the other fittings and measurements dialed in. Most manufacturers offers size guides, so don’t worry to much about it going wrong.
Find a saddle, make it fit – A saddle is the main connection between you and the bike. It is important to find a saddle that is the right fit for you. If you are between sizes, try on the smaller size first. Choosing the right saddle is really hard for some, so I can only recommend you going to a bike store or fitter to find what suits you the best.
Find a handlebar that feels good – Once you have the saddle how you want it, the next step is to find the right bar. While you are at it, try to find a stem that gives you the right reach.
Bike riding can be a great way to get exercise, support your health and make new friends. There are many ways to ride a drop-bar bike with cleated pedals and a frame lighter than your favorite chair. For more information on how to choose the right road bike, read our guide to selecting the right road bike for you. If you are ready to start riding a road bike, reach out to me with any questions you could think of.
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