Road Bike Reviews
Road Bike History
A Road Bicycle is a synonym used to describe a racing bicycle. They are designed for road cycling, or racing, under the rules of Union Cyclist Internationale, or UCI. A Road Bikes most defining characteristics are its light weight and aerodynamic properties. It is also specially designed to put the rider in a position which allows maximum handling and speed. The handlebars of a road bicycle are placed lower than the seat so that the rider sits in an aerodynamic position. The front and back wheels are placed close together to allow for quick handling. Even the gears are set in a way to allow for maximum speed, having the derailleur gear ratios closely spaced to allow the rider to pedal at maximum efficiency.
The wheels are probably the most important part of a road bicycle, largely responsible for the performance of the bike. The rims are often designed with aerodynamics in mind, using less spokes than usual, with the spokes sometimes designed and shaped to provide less wind resistance. Rims for road bikes commonly use aluminum alloy as the material of choice, while lighter carbon fiber rims are also commonly used. Racers generally use two different sets of rims; a heavy, cheap set for training purposes, and lighter, aerodynamic wheels for racing. The tires of the road bike are very narrow and lightweight with thin tread to reduce rolling and air resistance on the road. They are often inflated to high pressures.
Road bicycle components, with the exception of the frame, wheel set, forks, bars, seat, seat post, saddle, and pedals, are referred to as the groupset. The groupset does a number of things for a road bike; it determines how refined the bicycle feels, adds to the performance of the bike, and also determines the amount of maintenance needed. Shimano and Campagnolo are the major distributors of racing bicycle groupsets. Racing cyclists often have a strong loyalty and allegiance to one a specific brand. In earlier road bike designs, the brakes and shifters were placed at different locations on the bike itself, requiring the need to change hand positions quickly in order to shift and brake efficiently. To combat this, in the early 1990′s, Shimano introduced dual-control, with a system dubbed Shimano Total Integration, or STI. This new system combined the shift levers and brake levers, called “brifters.”
Due to the advancement of current technology, shifting systems have been further altered to allow for the ease of gear shifting. A company called Mavic introduced an electronic shifting system in the mid 1990′s, but this new system didn’t stay long because of technological difficulties. Shimano and Campagnolo, however, continue to work on and test these electronic shifting options. As of late, carbon fiber has been a favorite material of road bike components. Due to its very light weight and high vibration dampening, carbon fiber is now commonly used for brake levers, shifters, derailleurs, cranks, stems, handlebars, forks, seat posts, and even shoe soles.
Road bikes are not the only type of bicycle built for use on pavement; for recreational use, other types of road-built-bicycles are favored. The sport bike, or training bike, is a very popular bike for use on the road. The sport bicycle is a little bit heavier than the road bicycle, and less expensive as well. Another popular choice for recreational road use is the sport/touring bike, which resembles a road bike but with more relaxed geometry in the frame for more recreational, daily use. Touring bikes also have drop handlebars and other close similarities to the road bicycle, and are also even referred to as racing bicycles. Mountain bikes, though not built for use on the road, are very common for road use, as their mass-produced basic models are about half the price of a basic road bicycle. Cyclo-cross bicycles, also built for use off-road, are better suited for the road than mountain bikes are. They require only minimal modification for use on the road, such as new tires and changes in the gears. The hybrid bicycle is a utility bicycle which is primarily intended for use on smooth pavement, but may also be used on relatively smooth unpaved surfaces and trails.