Generally the best type of road bike you can get will be the best bike suited for YOU!
This means it has to fit your body, your desired use, and your comfort needs. Below is more detail on different types and classes of road bikes but before that you need to know how to fit a bike to your needs.
The bikes are measured differently depending on style. For example the road bikes are usually measured using metric measurements and the mountain bikes are traditionally in imperial sizes. The height of a bike is given as the height of the seat tube or in classes of small, medium, large.
Most bike manufactures will provide a measurement chart that you can use to measure your body against the bike itself. Your body measurements needed are your:
Traditional Women’s Style Bikes
Being female does not confine you to having to choose a woman’s or unisex designed bike. Your measurements and needs are important when deciding. Generally a woman is longer in the legs proportionally with the torso. Men are the opposite. Women’s bikes are made with narrower handlebars, bike seats for her, and a shorter reach.
If your body measurements indicate that you should consider a unisex or mens style frame then do that. You can then add a female saddle and narrower handlebars if desired. Cycle shops are generally full of awesome enthusiasts that are more than happy to fit you into the proper bike.
To figure out what type of bike is right for you, your first consideration is to know where you’ll be riding: on pavement, dirt trails or both. Some bicycles are made specifically for a particular kind of riding surface, while others are versatile enough that, perhaps with a quick tire change, they can be ridden in more than one category.
What do you want to use your bike for? Road? Off-road? Both?
Is there a style or a look you prefer?
Road bike is a generalized term but has been used mostly to describe a race style bike. Curved handlebars that have you hunched over the bike while pedalling. It is more aerodynamic and used by a wide rage of people with éclectique needs. These types of bikes are light weight and used for long distance riding events, general fitness sport, or just commuting to and from work.
It is important to ensure this bike is sized properly else the bending over the handlebars can cause undue stress on your back.
What are the best road bike brands?
Big topic – there are sooo many brands. Some are better known for there performance in one category or another. Because of the vast array of choices, and so as not to clutter up this page. Please go here for the page indexed on best road bike brands.
Mountain Bikes are made more rugged than the road bike with shock-absorbing and a sturdier braking system. Made to perform on off-road trails and ride over rocks, tree roots, ruts, gravel, and dirt. To negotiate the steep terrain they are made with lower gears.
Trail bikes are a type of mountain bike and most common among the general trail goer.
This is the style of bike I have and it’s great. It works well on the road and a bit of the off-road. The tires and shocks aren’t really made for deep woods but it’s a perfect performance enhancer for dirt roads or on rougher pavement. That way if a car is hogging the road and you absolutely must get on the shoulder you will be able to handle the change in terrain.
The handle bars can be adjusted in height and on some hybrids the seats are more cushy. The bikes often come with disk brakes for a more responsive braking system for inclement weather.
The styles of hybrid bikes are as diverse as road bikes. Make sure you are clear on the type of performance you are looking for when buying one.
The BMX (Bicycle Motocross) Bike is similar in appearance to the Mountain bike but it’s a smaller bike with only 20″ wheels. The tires are wide and this bike is commonly used for stunts. Dressed with upright handlebars this heavy duty bike is made for quick steering and agility. Unlike their road bike cousins these bikes have only one gear.
Best described as designed for “alternative” riding styles. The “Freestyle” is usually the type of BMX you will see in the parks jumping the ramps and performing tricks. This type of freestyle is actually called vert riding.
BMX racing can take place on dirt tracks and trails or be combined with dirt jumping and other forms of performance racing.
The Cyclocross breed is made for touring. These are versatile and suitable for long distance biking. Often made with a longer wheelbase and a lower centre of mass making it more responsive.
THese bikes have the curved handles like the racing bike but a heavier tire like the hybrid for gravel roads and more rugged terrain. They are made for touring so you can add all sorts of accessories like bottle holders, fenders, racks, and lights. If you are traveling a distance, want to pull a cart of camping gear and a couple of saddle-bags, this is the bike of choice.
Like it’s hybrid neighbour, these also commonly come with a disk braking system for superior brake capabilities.
Recumbent Road Bikes
The recumbent bike is ridden by sitting in a very comfortable seat with your legs in front of you. Those stinky, padded shorts become a thing of the past. It’s like the easy chair of the cycling world. The position you ride in as well as the muscles used, speed, and mobility all change with the recumbent road bike.
They may look more awkward to ride but they are pretty easy to master. Going uphill may be slower then the average racing bike but on the flats they can have much more power. The people who have them, love them.
The reclined position is easier on the back and because you aren’t leaning it is also easier on the hands and arms. Some folks think these are harder to see on the road and others think they are easier. Dress your bike accordingly.
Arm pedal road bikes are better known as “Handbikes” or “Armbikes”. Handbikes are a style of road bike with three wheels and are pedal powered with the arms and hands. They have been designed for the mobility challenged person and for people who are able bodied but want a versatile form of travel.
A handbike attachment can be found to clip on to a wheelchair for moving around quicker and easier but still require the rider to stick to level roadways. For venturing off the smooth path there are alternatives that will allow a person to travel some fairly rough terrain.
An Armbike alternative available where rather than pedalling you pump a bar for movement. Some handbikes can be coupled together so you can ride with a buddy in tandem.
Elliptical Road Bicycles
There are a couple different styles of elliptical bicycles. One has only two wheels so you have to balance and put your feet down when you stop. The other is a three wheel version that has pumping arm levers as well.
The gym style elliptical has been turned into a road elliptical bicycle. It is operated from a standing position and the elliptical movement of the pedals turn the wheels.
The two-wheeled version has lever brakes and steers with handle bars. The elliptical road bike makes for a nice cross-training machine for cyclers and runners. It also works well for people who cannot cycle or run because of an injury.
The three-wheeled road elliptical bike is more like the cross country skiing with the arm levers. It does not have a handle bar and is steered into a turn by leaning.
Urban bikes also referred to as city or commuter bikes have a wide range of design. They generally have a flat handlebar like a mountain bike or a soft riser bar like the old style bicycle. Generally the seats are less narrow and provide more padding.
When riding you are upright and in a cruise position to see the sites as you ride.
The importance has been placed on comfort so the rider can get to their destination with ease. Since the bikes are expected to travel on paved roads there is no additional suspension offered on most urban style bikes. The tires are wider and offer more comfort and stability.
Once scoffed at by the cyclist, the electric bike is becoming more an more popular among several different type of people with many different needs.
Whether you get the electric bike or convert your old bike, it could open a whole new world for you.
Commuters who have a long distance to travel like how they can pedal and rest. People who are new to pedalling or have physical ailments like asthma can benefit from being able to stop pedalling and let the motor take over during times they need it to.
Overweight persons who don’t have the stamina to jump on an old style bike can now get out there and start pedalling without having to worry about tiring out too much to get home.
They might be a little heavier and more expensive but the electric bicycle is a great piece of athletic equipment.
You can add versatility to your road bike and the two-wheeled elliptical by getting a bicycle trainer stand so you can train indoors on off-season.