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Road Bikes

Road bikes (or race bikes), stand for the exhilaration of speed, for maximum efficiency as well as for minimalism and aesthetics. With a race bike, you fly over the asphalt - faster than with any other bike. The race bike is no longer just for racing. Different road bike categories have the right model for every rider. We show you what to look out for when buying a new road bike.

What is a race bike?

In the past, this question was easy to answer - the name said it all: a race bike is meant for racing. Racing bikes have always been defined by lightweight frames, narrow tyres and the characteristic drop bar. Of course, they still exist: Racing bikes designed for best times in races. But that is no longer everything. Today, modern materials and more relaxed geometries make it possible to build racing bikes that are particularly comfortable. There are also models for children and for women.

What are the different types of road bike and how do they differ?

First, let's see what are the different types of road bikes:

  • Aero road bikes
  • Racing Bikes
  • Endurance Road Bikes
  • Road bikes for children
  • Road bikes for women

Let's now see what are the specifics of the different road bike categories:

Aero Road Bikes: Highest efficiency for maximum speed

The name says it all: the aero road bike is built primarily with a focus on aerodynamics. This is important for all those who value maximum efficiency. For time trial competitions, for example, aero road bikes are the ideal choice. Here, maximum performance is reached in a short time. An aero racing bike can save a few watts and make the difference between victory and defeat. Aero road bikes usually have a streamlined carbon road bike frame. Wheels with high rims and aerodynamically optimised equipment are also common characteristics.

Race bikes: Super light, super fast

The classic among racing bikes. Since every race is different, good all-round characteristics are particularly important. Racing bikes have a balanced but sporty geometry. Every gram is haggled over, both in the frame and in the parts: race bikes are super light! Some of the lightest racing bikes ever belong to the race bike category. Modern race bikes have a carbon frame, disc brakes and electronic gears.

Which frame material is the best for road bikes?

Carbon has become the preferred frame material for modern road bikes. Carbon has ideal properties for the construction of road bike frames. Its fibres can be adapted with millimetre precision. This way, they offer exactly the desired properties. For example, the road bike frame can be made extremely stiff through the skilful use of carbon in the area of the crankset. In the area of the seat tube, on the other hand, a carbon road bike frame can be designed to be more flexible and comfortable.

Features of road bikes with carbon frames:

  • Road bikes with carbon frames are particularly light
  • They combine stiffness and comfort perfectly
  • They have a modern look
  • They are particularly aerodynamic
  • They are extremely durable, as long as they do not take shocks
  • Carbon road bikes tend to be expensive

Road bikes made of aluminium are particularly popular in the entry-level range. A typical example is the Cube Attain Pro road bike. Aluminium is a proven material with which the road bike industry has a lot of experience. This means that efficient, high-quality racing bikes can be built from aluminium that are comparatively inexpensive. If you want to buy a road bike and your budget is limited, take a look at aluminium road bikes.

Road bikes with aluminium frames offer these features:

  • They are light and rigid.
  • They have the best price-performance ratio.
  • They offer an interesting oversized look.
  • The frame material can corrode, good care is required in winter.
  • Aluminium road bikes are very stiff and therefore somewhat less comfortable.

Steel road bikes are hard to find these days. Steel racing bikes are still very popular in the vintage scene. New steel racing bikes are also offered by various custom frame builders.

Steel road bikes have these characteristics:

  • The most iconic racing bikes were built from steel.
  • Steel frames are popular in the vintage racing bike scene.
  • Steel road bikes are relatively soft and therefore comfortable.
  • Steel is robust and well-proven.
  • Steel is the most durable of all road bike frame materials.
  • Steel can be easily repaired.

How much does a good road bike cost?

This question is difficult to answer. The price range of road bikes is really wide. The upper limit is - as so often - almost unlimited. The frame material of the road bike and the equipment determine the price. But there is good news: nowadays there are really good road bikes for little money. If you buy a road bike with an aluminium frame and mid-range equipment, you get top material for 2,000 to 3,000 euros.

What is the best drivetrain system for a road bike?

This is where opinions differ. Many road cyclists swear by groupsets from certain manufacturers. Some only use Shimano parts on their bikes. Others swear by racing bike components from SRAM. And for others, a road bike without a Campagnolo groupset is not a real road bike. There is one more piece of good news: no matter which racing bike groupset you choose, you can't go far wrong. Today, all road bike groupsets are sophisticated and offer the best function.

You can safely base your decision on how high your budget is. Next, consider whether you want to use mechanical or electronic gears on your road bike. A mechanical road bike gear system is usually cheaper. They are fully developed and can be easily repaired by yourself. They don't need any electronic components or batteries and are particularly long-lasting. Electronic road bike gears are incredibly precise and practical to use. They are available as a wireless version, which ensures an incomparably clean look for your road bike. However, all this high-tech comes at a price: electronic drivetrains are usually more expensive. Fortunately, the new technology, is finding its way into more and more affordable road bike groupsets.

An important point with regard to road bike gears is the gear ratio. If you prefer to race, you will need a different gear ratio than on an alpine cross. As a rule, road bikes are equipped ex works with a gear ratio that suits the intended use. A real race bike, for example, comes with 52/36 chainrings and an 11/30 cassette. A typical gear ratio for an endurance road bike is 50/34 at the front and an 11-34 cassette. Most road bikes today are equipped with two chainrings on the crank.

Disc brake or good old rim brake?

For a long time it was clear: a "real" racing bike has a rim brake. Rim brakes were mandatory for use in UCI races until recently. However, this rule has been updated. Since disc brakes have been allowed in racing, they have rapidly gained acceptance. Many advantages speak for the use of racing disc brakes. The constant high braking power under all weather conditions is the biggest plus point. Hydraulic racing disc brakes automatically compensate for wear on the brake pads. This improves both handling and safety.

Road bike rim brakes are inexpensive and feature simple, absolutely proven technology. This can be a big advantage when you go on a long trip with your road bike. If you have a defect on your rim brake on the road, you can repair it yourself without the need to find a bike shop.

The right racing bike for everyone: Special racing bikes for kids and for women

Your road bike must fit you perfectly. Your riding style is an important criterion for this and of course your body size. The anatomy of the body of children and women differs significantly from that of men. That's why there are road bike models that are precisely tailored for this.

Which features are particularly important for women's road bike models? The right frame size is all-important. Women's road bikes are usually available in smaller frame sizes because many women are smaller. The geometry is also perfectly adapted to women. The same applies to many road bike parts. Narrower handlebars or special saddle models for women can make sense on a women's road bike. Last but not least, the look also plays a role. After all, you have to like your new women's road bike, don't you?

With kids, the right road bike size is even more obvious: children are smaller, even if they grow quickly. By the way: Because children grow so quickly, the price of a children's racing bike is an important criterion. If the children need a new racing bike in two years, it should be cheaper than daddy's carbon racing bike, right? That's why there are many low-priced offers in the children's racing bike segment. Nevertheless, a children's racing bike should be comfortable, safe and light. The challenge is to offer all these features at a good price.

What is the difference between a road bike and a gravel bike?

Both bike categories have a dropbar - isn't a gravel bike a subcategory of a road bike? You need to know that the gravel bike evolved from the cyclocross bike. And the classic CX bike is traditionally an off-road form of the road bike. Many male and female road cyclists like to switch to the cyclocross bike in winter. So the question is quite justified. Nevertheless, we believe that gravel bikes are a separate bike genre. Despite their origins, gravel bikes are nowadays very different from a road bike. The drop bar, however, is one of the similarities. But the differences to the road bike are obvious:

  • Road bikes have significantly narrower tyres.
  • Road bikes are designed exclusively for use on asphalt surfaces.
  • A road bike is usually weight-optimised and not designed for off-road use.
  • The riding position on a road bike is sportier and more stretched.
  • Road bikes are smoother and less agile.
  • Many road bikes are not prepared for mounting accessories such as lights, mudguards or racks. On many gravel bikes you can easily mount luggage and accessories for long bike rides.
  • Racing bikes come exclusively with 700 C tyres (apart from children's racing bikes).
  • Road bikes usually have two chainrings, while many gravel bikes are equipped with 1-speed drivetrains.

How important is the maintenance of a road bike?

If you want to buy a road bike, it costs a lot of money. Of course, you want to enjoy your new road bike for as long as possible, don't you? Fortunately, racing bikes are very sophisticated and easy to maintain these days. Nevertheless, you should give your new road bike regular care. We show you which care and maintenance work you should carry out.

Regular maintenance:

  • Check the tyre pressure before every ride. This is not only decisive for the ideal rolling resistance of the road bike. It is also important for safety. The correct tyre pressure ensures good grip on the road and prevents the risk of a flat tyre.
  • Before each ride, check that your brakes are working. If they do not, solve the problem before setting off. You can easily adjust or repair mechanical disc brakes yourself. If you have problems with hydraulic brakes, it is better to let a professional do it.
  • Check that your chain is clean and well lubricated. If not, clean it first. Then you can put new oil on the chain. Be sparing - a lot does not always help a lot. Too much oil acts as a "dirt magnet" and quickly makes the chain look worse than before. When you have re-oiled the chain, wipe off the excess oil with a cloth.

Care and maintenance work that needs to be done occasionally:

  • Many road bike manufacturers state in their user manuals what the maintenance intervals are for your new road bike. This is a good guide.
  • With a tubeless setup, check from time to time whether there is still enough sealing fluid in the system. As this fluid hardens over time, you will need to clean and re-inflate the tyres regularly.
  • Check your brake pads: If they are worn, replace them.
  • Do the gears on your road bike still shift precisely? If not, adjust them correctly. If this does not lead to a result, it may be due to a dirty cable housing or a deformed dropout.
  • Cleaning a road bike does not only serve visual purposes. Dirt and grime accelerate the corrosion of your road bike and increase wear. Fine sand, for example, is not good for your drivetrain. If moisture and dirt get into the bearings of your road bike, this is also problematic. Therefore, clean your road bike after every ride on which it got dirty and dry it afterwards. To do this, it is best to use a bucket and a cloth or the gentle spray of your garden hose. Never use a pressure washer on the bearings.
  • Replace worn parts on a regular basis. This ensures proper functioning and is easy on your wallet. For example, a chain wears out faster than sprockets and chainrings. If you don't replace it in time, it can literally destroy the other parts of your drivetrain. In this case, you will not only need a new chain for your road bike, but a completely new drivetrain.

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