Road Bike Buyers Guide

Road Bike Img

Road bikes are characterised by drop-style handlebars, lightweight frames, skinny tyres and no suspension. They are designed to travel long distances quickly and efficiently on sealed roads and bikeways. Road bikes are great for general fitness training, long distance commuting and road racing. Within the road bike category, there are different types of road bikes, designed for slightly different purposes.

Race

Built for riding fast over long distances, and through both hilly and flat terrain. Race style bikes have an emphasis on low weight and high efficiency in all aspects of design and components. The frame geometry is designed to place the rider in a very aerodynamic position, while still being comfortable enough to spend a long time in the saddle.

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Aero

The main focus is speed and aerodynamics, with less focus on weight and comfort. Aero road bikes are very fast and responsive, making them ideal for sprinting. They are typically favoured on shorter, flatter rides, where race bikes are favoured for longer, hilly rides. Aero road bikes are particularly popular amongst triathletes as they are more race focused, while still being versatile for everyday training.

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Endurance

The main focus is comfort, and allowing the rider to spend longer in the saddle. The geometry of an endurance bike generally places the the rider in a more upright and comfortable position, compared to an aero bike which would be lower and stretched out. Endurance bikes are ideal for riders who are more focused on riding for fitness than riding for speed.

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Triathlon & Time Trial

Designed purely for speed and aerodynamics across short, flat courses. Both styles generally have aerobars which allow the rider to get as low and stretched out as possible. They are typically designed with thicker, aerodynamic tubing which acts to maximise pedalling efficiency and minimise wind resistance. Time Trial bikes are designed specifically for the time trial format of racing, while triathlon bikes feature some subtle variations which optimise the way the riders leg muscles are used in order to conserve them for running.

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Frame Material

Road bike frames are typically produced with alloy (aluminium) or carbon fibre. Alloy frames are lightweight and stiff, and come at a lower price than carbon fibre. Alloy is also typically heavier, and can tend give a less comfortable ride than carbon. Many alloy bikes will use carbon forks to improve comfort, as the carbon is more effective in dampening vibrations from the road.

Carbon frames provide a noticeable increase in performance. Riding a carbon bike will immediately feel easier and more responsive and easier to ride uphill as the material is extremely lightweight and stiff. Carbon also provides greater comfort (through vibration dampening) as well as power transfer and efficiency (through stiffness) compared to an alloy frame. Less flex laterally in the frame means less power is lost from each pedal stroke, and more transferred into forward motion.

Brakes

Road bikes have traditionally featured rim brakes (v-brakes), which apply force on the rim of the wheel for braking. In recent years, bikes have been designed with disc brakes, which apply force on a rotor mounted directly to the hub. Disc brakes are used on most mountain bikes, as well as cars and motorcycles.

Typically, rim brakes are lighter and considered to be lower maintenance. Disc brakes generally offering more stopping power and control over braking. Particularly in wet conditions, rim brakes can have more difficulty gripping the wheel.

Disc brakes have been permitted for racing by Cycling Australia since July 2017. They are still excluded from national championship level racing.

Groupset

A groupset is made up of the brakes and drivetrain of the bike, the drivetrain being cranks, chain, chainrings, cassette, derailleurs and shifters. As you move through price points of different groupsets, the materials and design change in order to provide improved performance. Materials progressively become lighter, smoother and more precise to operate, and more durable.

Shimano 105 is considered the first step into performance or race level groupsets. Shimano 105 is aimed at intermediate level riders, offering a good balance of performance, reliability, and cost effectiveness.

Bike Fitting

It is important to be properly fit to a road bike, as this process will ensure maximum comfort and performance, while reducing risk of injury. Our website offers a road bike size guide which generally outlines the size of bike that will suit riders of certain heights. This is a guide only, and as individual body types differ, the most accurate way to ensure you are riding the correct size road bike is to be measured and fit by a trained professional. At 99 Bikes, all our sales consultants are trained experts in bike fitting, which comes complimentary with your new bike