What Is A Road Bike, How Does It work - Complete Guide

Your first bike likely came equipped with supporting wheels. Your father probably helped push it for you from behind, and riding was likely one of the easiest activities available to you.

As you became an older cyclist, those supporting wheels fell away, making things a little harder but, through multiple falls and lessons learned along the way, eventually teaching yourself how to ride a bicycle (assuming this was indeed your experience!)

what is a road bike

Things have changed now. You have grown, and so has the bicycle industry. There is now an abundance of road bike brands on the market, each serving their riders uniquely.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about “what is a road bike” and the wide variety of types available.

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So, What Is A Road Bike?

Name speaks for itself!

Road bikes are perfect for riding on pavement.

They are designed with specific purpose: providing maximum efficiency and optimal performance with relaxed geometry for any rider who only intends to use it on roads.

Your bicycle is designed with you in mind – its shape, tire width, frame design, and weight all come together to deliver optimal performance on the road.

Can a mountain bike be transformed into a road bike easily?

Although it might sound appealing, converting a skinny road bike to mountain riding won’t work.

Mountain bikes have thicker frames and tougher tires that cannot be changed through modifications alone.

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Types Of road Bike

Great. Now that we have familiarized ourselves with the types of road bikes let’s dive a little deeper.

1. Aero Road Bike

These road bikes are specially designed to reduce any wind resistance the rider might encounter, using aerodynamic properties, lightweight frames and narrow tires in their design.

Aero bikes may give off an impression of racing bikes at first glance; in reality, however, these wind-deflectors are even faster than typical road cycling bicycles.

how road bikes work

2. Backpacking Bike

The entire objective of the bike’s construction was for one purpose only – to allow its rider access to hard-to-reach spots.

Camping enthusiasts tend to seek out locations that are remote and unsuitable for cycling.

This type of bike was specifically designed for nature enthusiasts. From its frame materials, wheels and wider tires – provides incredible strength to protect its rider. These are commonly known as adventure bikes.

Additionally, the bike body, gear range and wheels enable its rider to carry loads (preferably camping materials and supplies).


2. How are road bikes different?

3. Commuter Road Bike/City bikes

This subcategory of road bikes is dedicated solely to city commutes used for point A to point B transportation; consider it “Average Joe”.

Commuter road bikes provide riders with great efficiency, ease and convenience. Although not offering anything too exotic, commuter road bikes still make an impactful statement about themselves thanks to all their impressive features.

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4. Cyclocross Bike

This cross bike offers the best of both worlds.

It provides reliable services on varied surfaces (unpaved trails, sand, dirt and pavement) while offering commendable speeds and smoother rides to its riders.

5. Dual-Sport-Bike

This type of bike is perfect for adrenaline seekers. If speed is your passion, this variant should do you proud.

Smaller seats mean lighter bikes with greater fluidity in movement.

At the front, there is also a suspension to cushion any shocks from bumpy roads or unpaved trails to ensure rider comfort.

6. Endurance (Sportive) Road Bike

4. Why is it called a road bike

Endurance bikes provide extra comfort, allowing riders to go cycling for extended periods.

At endurance events, riders need to ride for extended periods, often over multiple days. Bikes belonging to this category often make an appearance at these competitions.

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Components of Road Bikes

The components of a road bike are:

1. The Frame (Frameset) and Forks

The frame material or framework can be compared to the human body; thus it’s likely the most essential part. Each component attaches to it to form its final form on a road bike.

Road bike frames typically consist of aluminum or carbon. Steel or titanium may also be utilized, though this practice tends to be reserved for specific races, events or purposes – rather than general usage.

Traditional road bikes feature flat top tubes. Nowadays, seat posts (the long cylindrical tubes that connect the frame to the seat) have become significantly shorter when compared to older generations of bikes.

5. Is riding a road bike difficult?

Compact geometry (the long metal cylindrical tube in the framework of the cycle that forms a sort of a kite shape) is the most common form nowadays. The top tube also forms a sloping shape that makes the frame smaller and lighter.

Forks are two cylindrical tubes/fork-like structure which connect the frameset to the front tires.

Expensive bikes usually feature forks made of carbon while their cheaper counterparts usually utilize aluminum or steel instead. Some manufacturers even create forks combining both carbon and aluminum into an alloy for optimal performance.

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2. Wheel size and Tires

If the frameset is referred to as the body, then the tires become the cycle’s leg. A solid set of tires is required for a smooth riding experience. The size of the bike’s tires varies.

Road bikes are specifically designed for riding on roadways. Their tyres typically feature fewer spokes than on other bikes and their rims are extremely lightweight.

Sometimes the rims are modified at deeper positions to improve aerodynamic performance and create greater lateral stability.

Up until a few years, road rims were typically thin. Now they have become wider as research demonstrates their advantages for improved aerodynamic performance, smooth and elegant ride quality and reduced flat tires risk.

2. Crankset (or chainset, if you will)

Cranksets are discs used to maintain chain movement. Road bikes typically utilize different kinds of chainsets such as:

  • Compact (50/34t cranks) or semi-compact (52/36t) gearing: This gear configuration is very popular among road bikes, and most come equipped with this gear system as standard.
road bike crankset
  • Standard double: This category comprises 53/39t chain rings; however, they have become less prevalent over time and it may be unlikely for one to encounter one on their daily commutes.

N.B.: “T” refers to the number of teeth in the chain

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3. Cassette

A set of tightly packed gears may be found in the bike’s rear wheel. These enable the biker to pedal at any speed they choose.

Road bikes for beginners often have 11 or even 12 sprockets, which is an astonishing number. However, cheaper recreational bikes have 8–10 sprockets and are priced lower.

Note: The road bike cassette’s sprockets available in two different sizes: 11-28t and 11-30t.

4. Derailleurs

The elitist phrase, isn’t it? In simple terms, it is a component that aids the rider in shifting gears. The derailleurs accomplish this by squeezing the chain length against the cassette sprockets’ teeth.

By pushing, the rider is helped in shifting the gear by switching the chain rings.

Most road bikes feature derailleurs that are integrated into both their front and rear wheels, which operate manually using physical cables while electronic versions can also be found widely throughout the market.

5. Handlebars and levers

Drop handlebars (handles with an outward curve at their base) and road bikes go hand in hand.

The bars’ hoods provide protection for the brakes. Their drops enable riders to attain a lower center of gravity for enhanced control during descending.

To meet the diverse needs of riders, the market offers various width and shape bar options.

road bike handlebar

6. Saddle

One of the biggest mistakes buyers make when shopping for bikes is prioritizing appearance over comfort.

Buyers should place equal emphasis on both aspects, particularly regarding road bike saddles which typically feature narrow shapes with minimal padding.

It initially sounds strange and horribly uncomfortable. After all, wouldn’t it be more comfortable if it had soft padding?

Unpadded saddles actually serve more than you might realise, despite the fact that it sounds strange.

Unpadded saddles provide more stable support during long cycling hours, without compressing nerves or soft tissues that could otherwise become compressed.

Seating on these saddles may seem cumbersome at first, but in reality they can bring out your best qualities.

There is a wide selection of saddle models on the market; find one which best meets your needs.

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7. Brakes

Road bikes typically use two kinds of brakes:

Rim Breaks

These function as dual-pivot calipers, halting the bike by clamping the wheel rims. Rim brakes are one of the most widely-used and provide outstanding performance.

Moreover, they do not offer quite the same stopping power as disc brakes; however, quality rim brakes can do an adequate job.

Disc Brakes

Simple grab and hold of disc rotors adjusted to bike hubs is all that’s required, as these work more consistently in wet weather.

These perform better than rim brakes. However, these are a little heavier and more expensive.

road bike disk brake

Why would anyone choose a road bike instead of other options?

Road bikes are perhaps the most commonly seen type of bicycle.

But why purchase a road bike? As previously discussed, there are plenty of racing bikes on offer; why settle for something uninspiring?

Assuming you’re spending plenty, why not go the extra mile in order to impress those around you?

Here are three top reasons why it’s best to buy road bikes exclusively.

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1. Speed

Road bikes are among the best choices to purchase because of their incredible speed. Indeed, they were designed specifically to achieve top performance at top speeds.

Large diameter wheels designed with lightweight material to increase inertia will ensure fast speeds with minimum fluid resistance and frictional forces.

Mountain bikes, on the other hand, are built for strength and protection; similar bikes such as hybrids and cruisers also share this trait and are made to withstand wear-and-tear over time.

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Therefore, unless your cycling routes include hills or uneven terrains, other types of bicycles will actually do more harm than good and make you appear even more foolish than before.

An investment in a road bike is your best defense against accidents on the roads.

2. Weight

Road bikes are lightweight, which makes them enjoyable to ride. A lighter bike is easy and quick to operate compared to its counterpart, plus it will travel further faster.

Mountain bikes and other heavy types make cycling difficult, since these were designed for resistance which isn’t necessary unless riding mountain paths.

3. Efficiency

Combine fast wheels with lightweight frames for maximum efficiency – not only can you reach destinations faster, but you also spend less effort to do it!

Imagine you’re headed out for a meeting at your friend’s home ten minutes away.

Road bikes make riding simple and enjoyable; other forms of transport could leave you tired, sweaty and out of breath.

7. Is a gravel bike slower than a road bike?

The Bottom Line

Purchasing a mountain bike or another type of bike may seem like a great idea. But unless you plan to use that on a real mountain or on a road with a lot of potholes, it will cause more damage than good.

Comparable to mountain or other forms of biking, road bikes are extremely straightforward, efficient, and effortless – and will get you wherever you’re going without breaking a sweat!

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Frequently Asked Questions

These bikes are built for efficiency and speed, enabling riders to reach their destination more quickly while expending less energy than with other types of bicycles.

It is also quite lightweight, which makes it simple to operate.

Road bikes are lightweight and require much less effort to operate compared to mountain bikes, plus their setup, geometry, and anatomy are distinct from that of other bicycle types.

Road bikes are built for speed and efficiency. Their design ensures fast transport from point A to B with reduced effort required to ride them on smooth concrete or asphalt roads. They excel when utilized properly on smooth paths where riding may become tiresome.

However, road bikes cannot carry much weight compared to touring bikes which offer more strength and resilience for riders as well as being built specifically to operate under extreme weather conditions.

Because it works best in roads such as concretes and asphalts. Consequently, it will easily succumb to the rough and tough mountain terrains, uneven roads. Some categories of road bikes work in mud but not all of them.

Road bikes are indeed easier than other forms of bicycles to ride.

Road bikes’ lighter construction and larger wheels allow more effective pedaling, thus requiring less work or energy to cover similar distances as mountain bikes.

Not at all. They are designed for efficiency and comfort. The saddle might be uncomfortable for riders initially because it is small and not padded. However, such a design ensures comfort during long hours of cycling.

Gravel bikes move more slowly than road bikes due to being heavier and thus decreasing speed, making them slower overall than standard road bikes.

Final Words On What Is A Road Bike

It looks like we have reached the end of our discussion for today about “What Is  A Road Bike“.

To summarize, we established the definition of a road bike, different parts, types, and why you should buy a one, as well as answered a few frequently asked questions.

A road bike is an ideal bike for roads. It is fast, efficient and lightweight. Additionally, refrain from buying another sort of bike unless you really need it because it would be both wastes of money and would make you look bad.

Hope now you know more about road bikes than you started with. Sincerely, hope that we were able to help you.

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