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Road Bike Basics

Posted Mar 06 2011 1:05pm

Road bikes are one of the oldest and probably the most popular type of bike around. Ultimately, they are built for speed and agility.

I have a 2009 Specialized Allez Elite

Typically, road bikes are known as racing bicycles because weight and stiffness are their distinguished characteristics. These two greatly determine the efficiency at which the power of the rider’s pedal can be transferred to its wheels.

In return, most road bikes sacrifice comfort for speed. They have dropped handlebars which are positioned lower than the saddle (see above picture) to create an aerodynamic posture. The gear ratios are also closely spaced enabling its rider to pedal according to their own rhythm.

There are a few things about road bikes that set them apart from mountain bikes:



Road bikes are fast because they run on thin tires (in general). These tires are kept as thin as possible to keep the drag to a minimum, which in return requires less effort. It’s simple science.

With thin tires, the friction is lessened and the stability of the bike is compromised. This is one of the reasons that road bikes are not ideal for beginners. They are less steady, and compared to mountain bikes, cannot be run on rough terrain. I’ve gone off road before (trying to take a short cut) and popped a tired in about 30 seconds.



Handlebars that are generally found on road bikes have special curved handles and are usually lower than the saddle so that the rider’s posture will be more aerodynamic, producing more speed with minimal effort.


Most modern gear systems have double or triple chain rings in the front…


I have three chain rings

And 7-10 rings on the rear wheel…


I have nine in the rear

A bike with a triple usually has about the same high-end (your go-fast gears) range as a double. Basically, with a triple, you’re not giving up anything at the high end but rather adding on at the lower end (meaning that you’re getting new gears to make it easier to go uphill while keeping the high gears that allow you to go fast downhill).

Does that make sense?

This gearing system permits its rider to bike steep hills with more ease and convenience without sacrificing speed.

Your road bike will also have something called a derailleur, which is a mechanism that shifts the chain from one sprocket to the next.


Shifting gears on a road bike can be tricky and takes practice, but I will go over that in a future post.

With all that being said, road bikes are not cheap. An entry level model will probably cost you around $500-$1000 and mid-level road bikes can cost up to $2000.

High-end racing bicycles are made entirely out of carbon with the best quality components available and will usually cost between $2,000 and $6,000.

Should I take out a loan?

For amateur cyclists (like me) and those who want to use a road bike for their own fitness on a regular basis, a mid-level bike is probably a worthwhile investment. They will last you a long time and will run smoothly for years.

Do you have a road bike? Please tell me that you love it just as much as I do.


I continued my Sunday morning tradition by heading out for a long ride really early this morning.

Sunday Long Ride

Cycling: 58.13 miles

This was my longest ride to date!

I hate to say this, but I think I enjoy my long rides almost as much as my long runs. I say “almost” because I know that I will always be a runner deep down. I have no doubt in my mind that I will be running for the rest of my life.

My long runs and my long rides are also two completely different things. My long rides are more for relaxation, while I try to focus my long runs more on intensity.

This post is starting to get lengthy, so I better sign off for the day. I have an accounting test tomorrow, so I “should” be studying ;)

I hope everyone had a great weekend!

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