What is a Road Bicycle?

A quick guide to defining the popular high-speed bicycle


Road bicycles are a specific type of bicycle built to ride on pavement and roads at a higher speed. They are able to travel at higher speeds than other bike types because of their lighter frames and narrow tires. Although road bikes range in styles and accessories, they all share a few common characteristics

1. Narrow Tires. Road bike tires are commonly sized 700C, or 700 millimeters in diameter. They range in width from about 18 to 23 millimeters. This is much thinner than mountain, hybrid, and even touring bicycle tires.

2. Lightweight Frame/Components. Road bike frames are usually aluminum or carbon with more compact geometry to create a smaller and lighter frame. The wheels and other components are also lightweight.

3. Drop Handlebars. Road bikes have drop handlebars which are curled in style. This is to create a comfortable position that supports your upper body without any added strain. Drop bars help to distribute your weight while you ride to allow faster riding.

Related: How to Replace Your Handlebar Tape

4. Derailleur Gears. Most simply put, derailleur gears are what is commonly referred to as gears. This allows the rider to control the gear mechanism to higher and lower resistances to increase speed.

The style of road bikes has not changed much in the past decades. And vintage road bicycles have become a popular item for collector’s.

It proves to be a terrific bicycle for recreation or performance. Depending on frame types, certain road bikes appeal to certain types of riders. For example, the more competitive racer would choose a road bike with a stiffer frame.

Although road bicycles can not hold heavy loads, they can travel very long distances and are great for road touring. Along with hybrid bicycles, road bicycles are popular for commuters, and are commonly seen in major cities.

If you are in the market for a new bicycle, entry-level road bikes are the place to start. They are light, compact, and get you where you need to go quickly.

Click here for the best bikes of 2014


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