Even though the giants of the bike industry have left our shores and gone abroad. Cycling and Bike riding is still one of the most popular ways of keeping fit. Road Bikes are increasing in their popularity as the high cost of gas and traffic jams have forced people to seek alternative means of transportation.
However, the real reason it is being done by people from all walks of life is because it is Fun! In no other way can you get to experience the world directly without a metal shell around you that cuts you off from nature and all its splendor.
Today I will show you what you need to get the best in your Road Bike experiences.
Well, there are many reasons and as I mentioned earlier, but the one reason that most quote is keeping fit.
With the rise of obesity and Type II Diabetes, becoming an epidemic in this country keeping the weight off and trimming down to an ideal body weight has taken on a critical significance for many people.
A recent case study has shown that by exercise, you can stave off and even reverse the ravages of Type II Diabetes and since obesity and this disease often go hand in hand, you are doing double duty by getting on a bike and riding off into the sunset. But, there are some other reasons you might want to consider:
Biking gives you a lean, buff, and sexy body that you will want to flaunt
Riding Relieves excess stress, the #1 cause of anxiety and depression in the home and workplace
You don’t need to go to school or get a license to ride anywhere in the country
You don’t wear out your knees as with other exercise progress where you are on all fours on a mat or doing leg lifts
Riding a bike to work keeps you fit and gets you past the morning rush hour traffic jams
Why walk, when you can ride, plus you’ll get there sooner
Finally, You’ll save a ton of cash in auto wear and tear along with the price of gas and the risk of accident, which can drive up you insurance rates
How many kinds of bikes are there anyway?
There is an almost unlimited variety of bikes out there on the market today. Many are custom built, one that is one of the more interesting is solar powered, has a computer, and the owner travels the country taking his office with him on his bike.
Another example is the man in Canada who lived on his bike.However, most of us do not want to go to these extremes. So here is a short list of the following kinds of bikes people choose from and are available for us to ride today:
● Utility bikes – made for carrying light loads. (Sometimes outrageous loads, as in China)
● Roadster Bikes
● Dutch Bicycles
● Freight Bikes – with a flatbed attached
● Butchers Bike – with a cargo compartment on the back
● Boda Boda – The ubiquitous African Bike taxi
● Messenger Bikes
● Carbon Fiber – light weight and as strong as steel
● Ice Cycles – You guessed it
● Mountain Bikes/Acts – designed for those who feel mountain climbing is done best on a bicycle
● Downhill bikes designed for people that once they get to the top of a mountain want to go all out going the other way as fast as possible
● Free riders – Bikes that have addition shock support and made for rugged use
● Fat Bikes – wide tires that allow them to be used over sand or snow. Alton Mammoth Fat-Tire Bike is considered one of the best fat bike
● Swiss & Swedish Military Bikes
● Triathlon Bikes – made to exercise the Gluts and hamstrings and have special handlebars and mounting hardware
● Track Bike – You see them on the indoor tracks at Spas and Health clubs
● BMX – Bikes these are the ones you see mostly in the air as their riders disdain keeping them on the ground for any length of time
● Cruisers Bikes – Balloon tires and comfort in mind Found in California on the beach or the boulevard
● Pedicabs or the bike rickshaws – Once famous in Asian countries and now spreading everywhere especially in downtown areas to cut down on pollution and noise
● Motorized bikes either electric or gas powered – used mostly with a flatbed to move goods and packages from place to place. In China, it is not uncommon to see them sharing the highway with cars in special lanes set aside for Bicycles.
● Vilano road bikes are popular among cyclist because of their simplicity in design & performance.
There are also many other kinds that are even more specialized. Some are recumbent, portable, fold-able, and almost any variation under the sun in their hundreds of designs and thousands of colors.
But now we come to the True Kings of the Bicycle world!
The Road Bike– Made for high performance and Raleigh was once the king of these sleek and fast thoroughbreds of the biking world. But now composites made up of exotic materials and even made with 3D printers are taking to the roadways between towns and cities for long distance jaunts and in the next section we are going to learn a bit more about them.
Not all Road Bikes are the Same!
Within the road bike segment of the biking community there is also a variety of different types to choose from:
Single Speed Road Bike
These would be classed also as vintage bikes. The single gear type Road Bike has a single sprocket on the rear wheel and the same up near the pedals as well. This means if you want to go faster, you need to exert more energy. The Flat Iron Handlebars are often associated with this type of bike and those who wish to get into shape choose it precisely for this reason.
Also, it is a bike that doesn’t require as much maintenance as a multi-geared bike. Finally, there is the cost factor as it is often the least expensive bike to buy as well.
It also will coast and you don’t have to worry about the pedal moving when your feet aren’t. The Fixed Gear Road Bike talked about below will not do this and the pedals are in constant motion.
Fixed Gear road bike
Here is a bike that is similar to the one above except fixed gear road bike requires you to constantly pedal and the beadles are always moving even when you’re coasting.
Fixed gear road bike is often found on tracks as it is designed for exercise and endurance. So, if you want a good workout here is your answer.
Hybrid Road Bikes
A Hybrid road bike has you sitting upright and often uses Flat Handlebars. The main difference between a Hybrid and the regular Road Bike is that, one uses the power of only the legs to generate motion while the regular Road Bike uses the whole body to do the work.
This means your speed and endurance are limited to a hybrid and short journeys of only about 10-20 miles can be done comfortably.
Recumbent Road Bikes
Recently a special Recumbent bicycle was able to attain a speed of 80 miles an hour. However, the real reason people go with a recumbent Road Bike is for the comfort and ergonomics that takes the weight off the lower back and shifts it to a wider area and you have the support of your buttocks vs. the sitting bones. The rest of the back is also utilized more so the stresses are more evenly distributed.
The other factor is that a Recumbent is more aerodynamic and the current world record for speed is held by a recumbent Road Bike. So if you want speed and have less stress on your body a recumbent Road Bike is for you.
What to Look for in a great Road Bike?
Now let’s take a look at what you need to search for to get the best road bike possible.Let’s first start off with makers of the bikes you’ll want to look at and we’ve saved the very best for last.
Who is making the Best Road Bikes today?
It, of course, depends on whom you ask and aficionados all have their favorite. But if you look at the sales figures and all the magazine reviews, you’ll see the following that was also gleaned from Inter-bike, the world’s largest Trade show for the Biking community.
● From Spain BAH is a leading maker of some of the best Road Bikes anywhere
● Diamondback is one of the popular cycle brand produced by Kinesis Industry in China & sold in many countries around the world.
● Retrospec Bicycles based in Los Angeles, California is good for urban cycling.
● Moots – from Steamboat Springs Colorado handmade and worth every penny you pay for it
● Fuji has made the leap from film to Road Bike construction at the Tour De France
● BMC is also a major contender for the best Roadie Bike maker in the world
● Norco – makes a great carbon frame but for us mere mortals they are taking some of their best and turning them out in steel that has a more down to earth price. They are also famous for their Fat-bikes as well designs for on and off the road travel
But if you want the Crème Del La Crème of Road Bikes, it has to be…
Gitane who have won the Tour De France 11 times and no other company has that kind of resume to back them up.
Next, you need to look for certain things in your new Road Bike-
Road Bike Gearing
Some swear by the old-fashioned single gear setup as if you choose the correct ration you get the best workout as well as the endurance you need to build up as it is always at the same amount of resilience on level surfaces. You also don’t run the risk of the chain coming off the sprockets at an inopportune time.
To their credit, a multiple geared shifting systems have the advantage of adjusting to hills and rough going. The standards are of course 3, 10, 24, and now, exotic ratios are available in 27 or, even more, gears. It will boil down mostly to why you are riding the single gear bikes are less trouble prone and require less maintenance and the prices are generally lower.
Performance, however, for competition requires an assortment of gears to take advantage of the elements as well as the terrain and your strength/stamina levels.
Road Bike Frame
Here is may depend on the size of your wallet and your commitment to Road Bikes. The more advanced composites give you a bike that rivals a Dragon space Capsule in the technical difficulty in creating the frame of today’s Kevlar, Carbone Fiber, and Titanium frames.
All of these frames are super strong and are lightweight to the extreme that can shave seconds off your time. If you are a pro or intend to race in the Tour De France and this is where it all pays off.
Road Bike weight factor
The weight factor also comes into play if you intend to do cross country riding between cities and downtown commuting. Because in some cases, you may be required to carry the bike, as today Buses and commuter trains make allowances for bringing your bike along.
For the majority of us who can’t afford the $1,000 dollar and up price tags, steel, aluminum and even the new 3D printed bikes are a viable alternative.
You might also want to consider the high theft rate of exotic composite Road Bikes. Thieves have been known to break into a home and steal only the bike as some of the best have prices tags of 3 thousand dollars or more. This also makes you a target for a bike jacking if you were to ride such a bike on the streets in many urban centers today.
Road Bike Tires
Road bike tires are a prime concern for most Road Bike aficionados and choosing the right one can be the difference between a comfortable glide and a tiring slug fest as you try to maneuver over the rough terrain where you live.
Balloon Tires work well on soft surfaces. Thin tires make paved surface go by quickly. For rough ground a knobby tire and even in ice and snow, a spike tire might be called for.
The best way to find out what is needed for your area or riding venue is to go to your local Road Bike dealership and pick their brains about the local road conditions and the type of tires that work the best for the area.
Remember one style does not fit all and this is especially true of Road Bikes.
Road Bike Handlebars
Here the traditional Afro Bars are the most common that lets you cut down on air resistance and lowers you silhouette to have you laying out over the frame. Many, however, find this uncomfortable and other styles such as the Flat bar are to same people’s tastes along with the high risers that were in vogue in the 60s and 70s and seen on many choppers today. Once again, the function defines the form and comfort and is the secret to your choice of handlebars.
Butterfly bars AKA Trek bars give you a wide variety of hand positioning and you can decide on the fly which hand position suits you at a given moment.
Longhorn or cow horn handlebars make for a comfortable ride and you can adjust them to your personal taste.
The tradition cruiser bars are still popular and many replace their drop bars that come standard on most Road Bikes in favor of these.
BMX handlebars have reinforcing that also makes for varied hand positioning and along with Drop Bars are some of the most popular.
The Drop Bar itself is probably the most common handlebars and they come in a wide variety of styles and shapes. But is characterized by a ram’s horn shape that curls down and toward the rider.
Finally, fit the rider
The bike must fit the rider. This means tires, road bike saddle, and frame must conform the rider’s shape and weight.
The best way to do this is to have your Road Bike Dealer fit you out as they know which tire sizes and make all the height adjustments for handlebars and seat.
Accessories and Riding Gear?
Here the sky’s the limit and sometimes the price as well but there are some things you will need to have to get the most out of your riding experience.
The first is, of course, is the helmet.
Spandex is your friend
Get a fitted riding suit as it will keep your warm when it’s cold and keep you cool as well.
Make sure it breathes and let’s sweat escape as you can baste in your own juices during a long ride in the sun.
Helmets Are A Road Biker’s best friend
There is nothing like going down and hearing the grating sound of your helmet on the ground. But this is better than looking in the mirror and see the scars and road rash that a hard drop can cause.
So a road bike helmet is mandatory and you just need to decide among plastic, fiberglass, carbon fiber, and Kevlar which one you want to wear.The shape can cut down on wind resistance and save you time and energy by making it easier to pedal.
Gloves are next
If you have ever had, a piece of gravel hit your hand at 20 miles an hour, or a hornet’s sting on your hand while traveling during the spring and summer, Not to mention saving you from scraping it raw on the pavement if you drop the bike So, like helmets this needs no more to be said. Nomex gloves, however, are rugged and let your hand breath as well.
Nothing worse that slipping off the pedals and scraping your shin. Also, if you are caught out in the rain you can keep your feet firmly on the pedals as well as when going uphill while standing.
Either tinted or clear at your discretion keeps grit and sand out of your eyes. Sand? Yep, Sand truck ply the road these days and it can score your Cornea and impair your vision for life.
So protect your eyes and do risk your vision.
Try to get one that is BOA free and get the mounting rack that holds it. You’ll thank us in a few years as you avoid cancer. You will require about two liters of water and in some cases, up to four if you are in the west or southwest. So size accordingly.
Another item that should be on the road with you. You will suffer a flat at one point or another so get one that is lightweight and snaps to your frame.
Patches and a tool kit
As with the above, you need these items to keep your bike going as it is a long way between service stations these days. Carry a good tool kit with tools that wouldn’t snap if you put any torque on them. Extra bolts, master links, and other small bits hardware are a good idea as well.
Take a tent
If you are going to be on the road for long distance riding? Having a one-person tent along can keep you dry in the event of rain.
Unless you plan on carrying maps and a compass and learn how to use them. GPS is a wonderful thing to have and if your cell phone has it, you can get apps that make your Road Riding more enjoyable as you can get valuable info on the local sights and most importantly, where food and a service sat ion is located.
Mounts are available that fit GPSS units or your particular brand of Smart phone and know where you are and where you are going makes the whole experience much more enjoyable.
If you are exploring for the best GPS list on the market. Fishing Picks has a list of the best GPS for fishing worth checking out, which is also perfect for road biking.
A waterproof pouch that either mounts around your waist or around your neck
Do carry your IDs, credit cards, keys, and cash in a waterproof wallet or pouch. You will need to pay for food and lodging if you are traveling any distance and this keeps everything dry and easy to get at when you need it. In case you hadn’t noticed most riding, suits don’t have pockets.
The most important things to have along
A flashlight can help you when you have to make those repairs at night on a lonely road. And along with that make sure your bike has lights, reflectors, and your are wearing them as well a blinking LED can save you from getting run down while traveling cross-country.
The one thing many riders forget
Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to get there. Also, tell them the route you plan to take and don’t change it once you’ve decided where you are going.
Authorities take a dim view of people who don’t check in and they have to search for them and then find them miles away from where they say they’ll be. You could get a hefty bill for Search and Rescue or worse you might not be found at all.
Also, travel in a group and don’t get separated. Remember there is safety in numbers. Wolves travel the roads today and not all are the four-footed variety.
Road Bike Tips and Tricks
● Carry Duct Tape
● A extra crescent wrench is your best friend
● A comfortable seats will save wear and tear on your butt
● MREs are small and easy to carry and will feed your for a day
● Batteries: don’t leave home without them
● A seat pack carries those things you need and leaves your hands free
● Knowing where you are going is half the battle of getting there
● Know the week’s weather and dress accordingly
● A drop cloth will keep burrs and bugs out of your clothing
● A checklist filled out before you hit the road can save you grief
● A first aid kid can save yours or someone else’s life
● A knife has 1001 uses
● A fire starter works when matches don’t during a rain storm
● A poncho will keep you dry and doubles as a tent in a pinch
● Make a list of places to stop before you leave
● Pace yourself
● Take you vitamins with you
● Ditto for your meds if you take any
● Sun tan lotion!
● Bug replant as well
● Ace bandage
● Dry socks
● A watch
● Know where WIFI and Charging spots are before hitting the road
● Make sure your cell service works where you are going
● Take a lot of pictures
Road Bike Maintenance
● Make sure you are thoroughly familiar with your Road Bike
● Carry the maintenance manual with you
● Make sure you have all the tools you need to fix flats, replace cables, and repair the chain
● Carry spare nuts for the wheels and extra master links
● Have your bike tuned and road ready prior to leaving
● Check everything and then check it again
● A checkoff sheet can save you headaches and possible breakdowns if you follow it
● Make sure you have oil or graphite to make thing work their best
● A aerosol patch kit can save you time in making temporary repairs to holes in your tires
● At home have a bike jig and use it when aligning and making adjustment
● An Extra break cable and shifter cable will save your trip
● Electrical tape on the handlebars prevents slipping
● Get off the road to rest or make repairs
● Lights should all be working before you leave
● A Tire Gauge goes with and check your pressure before leaving
● Valve stems and extra screw caps
Getting the most out of Road Bike riding if you take the time to do things in a systematic and organized manner. If you select your bike and the necessary accessories and plan your trips beforehand, you’ll get much more out of the whole experience. It doesn’t matter if you are going around the block or across the US. Those who compete in the Tour De France take months to plan their journeyer and they know their route better than you know your neighborhood.
In fact, some of the teams study NASA’s techniques of redundancy and project management strategies. Because to win in France takes not only skill and stamina but prior planning and determination to maximize both rider, machine, and support team.
You should think in a similar manner. Especially if you are planning to travel long distances. For it is here where there is the most chance for failure of a weak link in the Chain or a chance nail left on the road that can leave you hitching a ride home or worse stranded in the middle of the Corn Belt. Crossing Arizona is considered dangerous in an air-conditioned car. It is more so for a group of Road Bikes and is a challenge all in itself.
So, take a leaf out of the people who win the Tour De France and take the same care with your Road Bike and how you go about your journeying and like Marco Polo you will make epic journeys and have years of trouble free riding fun and happy memories of your trips.