Road bikes explained
When it comes to speed, style and efficiency, a road bike is hard to beat. Road bikes typically have narrow tyres and large 700c wheels with drop handlebars. Wiggle’s range of road bikes are lighter and faster than other styles of bikes making them the ideal choice for many different cycling activities.
Beginner Road Bikes
Frame: Beginner road bike frames are mostly aluminium or steel in construction. Aluminium is relatively light, strong and affordable. Steel is a comfortable and robust frame material.
Transmission: The transmission on an a beginner road bike is likely to be fitted with an 8,9 or 10 speed cassette on the rear wheel, and most likely a compact style chainset.
Wheels: Non-deep section wheels are common on entry level road bikes. A benefit of these wheels is that they offer good comfort, as they have longer spokes than a deep section wheel and these absorb shock.
Who are you? A beginner to cycling or road cycling. A first timer or returning to using a road bike and wish to commute to work, complete your first sportive or cycle for fitness and fun.
Intermediate road bikes
Frame: Carbon fibre frames are very popular in this category due to their excellent stiffness and lightweight characteristics. Steel and aluminium frames are also used for mid-level road bikes.
Transmission: 10 and 11 speed rear cassettes are standard. Shimano 105/Ultegra, Campagnolo Centaur/Athena/Chorus and Sram Rival/Force are very popular groupsets used on these bikes.
Wheels: You start to see entry/mid level wheels on mid-level road bikes. Brands such as Shimano, Mavic, Fulcrum and Campagnolo are a popular choice of wheel brand in this category.
Who are you? Sometimes classed as a weekend warrior. A regular sportive rider who can be found reading forums for advice on equipment and discussing training methods and plans.
Advanced level road bikes
Frame: Carbon fibre frames are the most popular frame material for advanced level road bikes. The way in which the carbon is "laid up" is an important part of the manufacturing process and gives the frame its characteristics.
Transmission: Look out for Shimano Ultegra/Dura-Ace, Campagnolo Chorus/Record/Super Record and Sram Force/Red. Di2/EPS electronic gear shifting is also available.
Wheels: Deep-section (aero) wind-cheating wheels become commonplace, alongside shallow section lightweight offerings on advanced level road bikes.
Who are you? You are a regular cyclist, setting targets in races/sportives, perhaps taking a holiday in the Alps with your bike. You know your SIS from your SLR.
What materials are road bikes made from?
Carbon Fibre: This is a very lightweight and stiff material. As a non metal there are huge design advantages when using carbon fibre to build bikes. The material can be manipulated into aerodynamic shapes and fine tuned for increased stiffness and strength.
Steel: A very popular and traditional material for building bikes. Steel frames are renowned for their comfort, strength and durability. Steel can also be easy to fix as dents or bends can be repaired.
Titanium: Titanium bike frames are extremely lightweight and offer a smooth ride that is similar to the ride quality of a good steel frame.
Aluminium: This material is extremely stiff, lightweight and strong. Aluminium bikes have a reputation for having excellent power transfer and stiffness.
What kind of riding can I do on a road bike?
Road Race Bikes: Road bike geometry is designed to be efficient on road, so they may initially feel unusual compared to the upright position of commuter or mountain bikes. At the upper end of the market, bikes tend to either be very aerodynamic or very light, or a combination of the two.
Time Trial Bikes: Time Trial (TT) and Triathlon bikes are built with speed in mind. Since TT courses and most triathlon bike stints have little in the way of hilly terrain these bikes can weigh slightly more than road bikes and the rider’s position on the bike is optimized to cut through the air.
Touring Bikes: Touring bikes are similar to road bikes but generally more relaxed in geometry to make longer distances more comfortable. Their frames are often designed to accept mudguards and panniers.