Road Bike – Explained – The Basics

Road bike bicycles design to take you as far and as fast as your legs can manage on paved surfaces. The road bike gets its name from the terrain it plans to use on – the road. At first glance, the road bike hasn’t changed a great deal over the years. Compared to a complex full-suspension mountain bike, it’s a traditional bicycle with a near-identical silhouette to those raced 50 years ago.

Of course, there’s nothing traditional about the carbon fibre frames and electronic 24-speed drivetrains we see now on high-end machines. Modern bikes are faster, more comfortable and more technologically sophisticated than ever before. While the tech has improved, the most important thing is still how the cycle fits you. If you get that right at the start, everything else will be simple.

How to Pick the Best Bike for You

Suppose you buy a bike to ride with a group of friends, buy something similar to what they ride. You will not be able to keep up with road bikes if you are on a mountain bike or cruiser. And a road bike cannot go on the dirt or the sand. As a child, if you enjoyed a three-speed, you may find this a fun bike again. Perhaps a mountain bike would be better if you disliked the road bike you bought a few years ago.

When Trying to Decide on the Best Type of Bike, Think about These Questions:

They can be ridden on paved trails, but most people find them uncomfortable and unstable on unpaved trails. Most road bikes cannot carry heavy loads, so they are not very suitable for commuting or touring.

Cyclocross Bikes

Cyclocross bicycles are road bikes designed to be raced on a mixed-surface course. They have a drop handlebar like regular road bikes, but the tires are a little wider for more off-road traction, and they have a different brake style that helps prevent mud build-up in the frame. Cyclocross bicycles are sometimes ‘cross bikes or cx bikes for short.

Touring Bikes

Touring bicycles are another particular type of road bike. They design ridden on pavement but are more durable for use on self-supported long-distance riding. They have all of the necessary mounting bolts for cargo racks and fenders. Although they still have a drop handlebar, they usually have a more comfortable frame design so that the rider is more upright for more comfort when riding long distances for multiple days at a time. They have a lower gear range than regular road bikes to carry heavy loads up steep hills. They also make suitable commuter bicycles because of their durability and ability to carry heavy loads

road bike

The Design of the Road Bike

The frame is the heart of any bike, and road bike frames are usually aluminium or carbon, with steel and titanium used in more niche models. Traditional road frames use a flat top-tube and a shorter seat post, but compact geometry is now most common, with a sloping top tube making a more petite, lighter frame and improving the standover height. You must buy the right size and shape frame for you and the riding you’ll be doing.

The forks on more expensive bikes are typically made from carbon, while cheaper models may use a combination of carbon and aluminium, aluminium only or steel. Road bicycle frames and designs as an all-in-one system, and the combination of the two refer to as a ‘frameset’.

Wheels and Tyres of Road Bike

Road bike wheels don’t have to be as robust as mountain bikes, so they tend to have fewer spokes and lighter rims. Aerodynamics are essential, so the edges are sometimes deeper. Traditionally, road rims very narrowly, but they’ve gotten more expansive in recent years. Research shows this is more aerodynamic, increases tyre volume for a smoother ride and potentially leads to fewer flat tyres.

Road bike tyres are also skinny but not as thin as they used to be because wider tyres are comfier and faster in the real world. 25mm is typical for race-focused bikes, while more endurance-oriented machines might come with 28mm or 30mm tyres. In the past, 23s expect, and some riders went as narrow as 18mm. To minimise rolling resistance, road tyres usually have a slick or near-slick tread and run at high pressures of around 4.8 to 8 bar / 70 to 120psi.


A decent entry-level road bike is a joy to ride and need not be eye-water expensive. Head over to our road bike buyer’s guide for everything you need to know when it comes to choosing your first road bike, and if you want to geek out about components, our complete guide to road bike groupsets is the place to be. If you already have an idea of what you’re looking for.

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