Road biking | What it is and what it isn't.
What is a road bike?
The answer to this question may seem simple, but there are endless variations to the category. Road bikes come in five varieties: endurance, gravel, commuting, touring and time trial. As with all things cycling, there are subcategories within each of these categories: for example, cyclocross bikes (a type of gravel bike) can also be raced at local velodromes after work.
Road bikes come in many shapes and sizes. Some models weigh less than 30 pounds (15 kg), while others tip the scales at more than 100 pounds (45 kg). A typical road bike has an aluminum frame and a seat that is equipped with a suspension system designed to improve comfort and aerodynamics by minimizing friction between tire and road. Many new riders lift their handlebars high, the lower they sit on the frame, the less jarring impact they absorb during a bumpy ride. We recommend that you keep yours low so your hands remain comfortable over long rides when you stop to eat or rest along the way.
A road bike is designed to ride on smooth pavement, and it's built for speed. The tires are thin so they can be light and fast. The drop handlebars allow you to sit in a more aerodynamic position than on a flat bar mountain bike. Road bikes also have higher gear ratios than mountain bikes, which allows you to go faster with less effort.
How to choose a road bike?
Chances are, you've already decided that you want to purchase a road bike. But the next step is determining what type of riding you plan on doing. Will it be for regular commuting on city streets? Touring and carrying gear? Or will it be for competitive and long distance racing?
If your primary purpose is commuting, the cheapest option would not be a bad choice if you can find one in good condition. However, if bad weather is common, bear in mind that they will require more maintenance than bikes built with wet climates in mind.
Another thing to consider is fit, as it’s important for comfort and efficiency when riding. Buying from an online retailer such as Amazon may seem like a better option initially because of price point, however getting your bike set up properly at your local bike shop could save you much more money down the line by avoiding injury due to improper setup.
How to get into road biking?
Here are some tips to ease into road biking and make sure you don't get discouraged:
- Join a biking club : Biking clubs and groups are a great way to meet like-minded road bikers, learn from each other and build up your skills in a fun, social setting. Check out our guide for more on this topic.
- Find a riding partner : Whether it's someone you know or someone you meet at through your local cycling club, having a dedicated riding partner will help you stay motivated, gain skills, enjoy the ride and feel safer about hitting the roads on two wheels (safety in numbers!). This is one of my favorite things about road biking, there's nothing cooler than experiencing Mother Nature from the saddle of your bike with one of your best friends by your side.
- Find a good bike shop : It's crucial to find a reputable bike shop that can help you select the right bike for you and become familiar with all its parts and components, as well as recommend appropriate accessories such as clothes and gear to improve your experience on two wheels. Your local bike shop can also be invaluable when it comes to getting maintenance advice or having repairs done if something goes wrong with your trusty steed while out on the road. Check out our guide for more on this topic.
Practice safety first! Road cycling is an inherently risky sport because bicycles lack many of the protections that cars have such as seat belts and air bags (and yes, sometimes even drivers). That said, there are plenty of things that cyclists can do to increase their personal safety while out on the open roads such as wearing conspicuity gear such as brightly colored clothing so motorists can see them better or reflective gear so they're visible at night; installing headlights/tail lights/side lights on their bikes; taking defensive driving classes; learning how to communicate effectively with other road users via hand signals — just to name few.*
What to wear when you road bike?
Road cycling, or road biking, is a sport where you ride your bike on paved roads. You're probably thinking that sounds pretty easy, and you'd be right: It's actually quite easy! There are no challenges to overcome like mountain climbing and overcoming wind resistance, but there are still challenges. Despite all these challenges, though, it's a very fun activity that can be done in the comfort of your own home. So what do you need to get started?
- Bike shorts : These aren't necessary, you can ride in jeans or any other type of pants, but they make it much easier to pedal if you have shorts with elastic waistbands.
- Helmet : This is an absolute must! Every cyclist should wear one when riding on roads (or even on trails) because it protects your head from being hit by pieces of debris as well as keeps a secure seal around your neck. They're relatively inexpensive and come in a variety of styles (different shapes for different types of cyclists).
- Jersey : If this sounds like "a shirt" instead of "a sportswear article," then you've taken the wrong approach to understanding clothing for road biking. A jersey is a piece of fabric that attaches to the front and back of your bra straps and covers the whole upper body from shoulders to wrists over the lower body (more specifically, just above your hips). It usually covers everything except your arms; some jerseys have arm panels so they can cover those too.
- Gloves : Cycling gloves are designed so that they add padding around your fingers while allowing freedom of movement; they're not intended for cold weather rides as they make it difficult to feel what's going on with your hands. Gloves tend to be more snug than normal gloves so they will stick when wet; regular gloves will allow more breathing room than cycling gloves do. Most cyclists wear both types during their rides so that each set has time to dry out between uses before their next use.
Road biking safety
Safety is the main thing to keep in mind when road biking. Before you go on a ride, make sure your bike is in working order and that you're wearing a helmet. Brightly colored clothing makes it easier for cars to see you, and may also help prevent bugs from flying into your mouth. When turning, use hand signals to let other riders or drivers know what you're doing.
When riding, be alert for cars and remember that they don't always stop at stop signs and lights for bikes. Carry water with you or know where water sources are along your route so that you can stay hydrated during your ride. Finally, if possible, go on rides with others who have more experience than you do so that they can show you things like proper hand signals and places where water can be found on the route.
Different types of road biking races
The main types of road races are criteriums, circuit races, point-to-point or road races, and stage races. Criteriums usually take place on a short course (1 to 2 km), with the winner determined by points awarded to the top finishers in one or more intermediate sprints and the finish. Circuit races take place on longer courses that can be raced multiple times. In some cases, such as the Tour de France, it is common for professional teams to enter only a subset of riders in each stage race, with each rider competing for only one day.
Stages are often classified as flat (short climbs no steeper than 4%), hill (steeper than 4% but under 8%) or mountain (8% or over); different jersey colors indicate leaders in these categories. The colors used most commonly are red for mountains classification leader; green for points classification leader; white with red polka dots for king of the mountains classification leader; yellow for general classification leader; blue for most combative rider award, as voted by a panel of journalists covering that specific stage, often given after an escape from a breakaway; black with orange polka dots for the best climber at intermediate climbs on mountain stages, awarded after every climb which has been categorized.
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You now know what road biking is and the basics of how to get started. Road biking is a fun sport, but it is also challenging and dangerous. Take care to learn the sport properly, prepare to face difficulties, and ride safely.
Next time we'll be taking a look at a few other sports you can try with your road bike and some tips on how to do this. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe on our website to receive updates on new articles we publish.