Which bike should I choose to start Road Cycling?
WHICH BIKE SHOULD I CHOOSE TO START ROAD CYCLING?
WHICH BIKE SHOULD I CHOOSE TO START ROAD CYCLING?
ROAD CYCLING IS A FANTASTIC WAY TO GET FIT, EXPLORE NEW PLACES AND MEET NEW PEOPLE!
HOWEVER, IT CAN BE A LITTLE DAUNTING IF YOU DON'T KNOW THE EQUIPMENT YOU NEED TO GET STARTED.
IN THIS ARTICLE, WE'LL TOUCH ON THE KEY ITEM YOU'LL NEED TO GET STARTED - THE BIKE!
Most people already know how to ride a bicycle for leisure or commute, but may have never ridden for a longer distance and higher speed on public roads.
Riding a road bike is a totally different ball game as compared to a city or hybrid bike. How many speeds do you need? Why are the handlebars in a funny shape? Should I choose an aluminum or carbon frame? How wide should my tires be?
In this article, we will try our best to explain the different features of a road bike and whether someone just starting the sport should invest in them or only upgrade later on in their road cycling journey. Read on!
Road bikes are probably one of the most advanced forms of bicycles that one can find in the cycling world today.
They are usually designed to be light, efficient and aerodynamic and are one of the fastest human-powered vehicles on the planet.
But to get started, we would advise beginners to focus on other aspects like comfort, ease of use and stability.
At Decathlon, road bikes are divided into 2 practices - Road Cycling and Road Racing under the Triban & Van Rysel labels, respectively.
In this article, we will mostly discuss features found on the Triban series as they are designed specifically for comfort, ease of use and stability.
One of the first things you will notice about a road bike are the curved handlebars, also known as drop bars.
The lower part of the curved sections allow a rider to hold onto for a more efficient and aerodynamic position.
But you will spend most of your time in the higher position – the "hoods" where the brake and shifter controls are.
A popular sub-segment of road bikes are "flat bar" road bikes that use a straight handlebar with mountain bike-style levers such as the Triban 100 FB.
This can be a good option for new cyclists who might not be comfortable adapting to drop bars.
The size of road bike wheels, known as 700c (which translates to roughly 700mm together with the relatively narrow tyres) help the bike to keep the momentum once you're up to speed while staying aerodynamic.
Tyre widths vary between 21mm to 32mm, and manufacturers will denote them with descriptions like 700X21C which describes a tyre that is approximately 700mm in diameter and 21mm wide.
These days, wider widths have become popular as they have actually been found to provide greater efficiency, but at the detriment to aerodynamics. They are also more comfortable as slightly less air pressure can be used.
The Triban 100 road bike comes with 32mm wide tyres which are better suited for beginners just getting into the sport due to those characteristics.
While handlebars and wheel designs don't vary greatly between different road bikes, frames and forks are where they start to diverge quite a bit. The material it's made from is probably one of the biggest differentiating factors. There are two common materials used for road bike frames that you can find in most bike shops – aluminum and carbon.
There are of course, more exotic materials like titanium, steel and bamboo (!) but we will focus on what's commonly available. Aluminum is a fantastic material; its light, rigid, and easy to manufacture, thereby bringing costs down. Carbon is even lighter, can be made both rigid & flexible in optimal places within the same bike frame, but much more labour-intensive to work with, making them a fair bit more expensive, easily twice or even three times as much as an aluminum frame from the same manufacturer.
The Triban Regular, RC 120, 500 & 520 come with an aluminum frame and carbon fork to add some comfort to the front end while maintaining a reasonable price.
While riding, switching between different speeds or gears allow your legs to pedal at an ideal pace and intensity, regardless of the speed you are travelling at.
Most road bikes come with 2 gears in the front and between 8-11 gears at the back. Multiplying the front and back gears gives you the total number of possible combinations.
However, having so many combinations can be daunting for a beginner. This is why the entry-level Triban 100 comes with 6 gears at the back and only 1 in front. This means the rider only has to focus on shifting the rear derailleur to switch speeds.
But as you progress, you will start to find that you might like a bit more choice between gears, to let you pedal at a pace or intensity that is just right. Such riders might then want to consider going for a bike with at least 8 to 9 speeds, like the Triban RC 120 or RC 500.
For the longest time, there was only one choice when it came to brakes on a road bike – the classic U-shaped caliper rim brake which is basically a pair of oversized tweezers and rubber pads squeezing the rims to slow the bike down.
However, disc brakes are becoming more common on road bikes now. They are much stronger but slightly heavier than caliper brakes. They are also more complex to manufacture, and require compatible frames and wheels, therefore making them the more expensive choice.
That being said, caliper brakes are perfectly serviceable and still slow you down – it's only under wet conditions that the difference between the two is truly realized. So if you only intend to ride in fair weather and not very aggressively, caliper brakes would suffice.
But if you just prefer the extra security of being able to stop on a dime and are worried about wet weather performance, it could be worthwhile to invest in a disc brake-equipped bike like the Triban RC 500 and 520.
That wraps up our article on which features you should prioritise when choosing a bike. We hope you found this article useful, and stay tuned for the next part!
In the meantime, feel free to check out the rest of our Cycling sports advice section!
DIGITAL SPORT LEADER, CYCLING