What Is A Road Bike

What Is A Road Bike?

If you’re a cyclist who typically sticks to the path and rides on the road, whether you’re cycling to work, for fun, or exercise, then you should be using a Reilly road bike.

Lightweight, efficient, and fast, road bikes are referred to as the sports cars of the bicycling world - but what exactly makes our road bikes stand out from the rest?

Read on to learn more about road bikes, including what they are, what makes up a road bike, and where you can find the best road bike for you and your style.


Road Bikes: The Basics

Before we delve into the different components of a road bike, let’s start with the basics - what exactly is a road bike? Firstly, our titanium road bikes are designed for comfort and speed. We also build bespoke bikes to fit every rider.

Reilly's road bikes are designed to be ridden on paved surfaces such as roads or tarmac paths. Typically, road bikes have narrow tyres with fewer spokes than mountain bike tyres, as well as drop handlebars, and two chainrings.

When you ride a road bike, you’re usually in a position where you’re sitting higher than your hands. The overall design of the road bike hasn’t changed much in the last couple of decades - however, different materials are now used to enhance durability and strength.

Typically, road bikes consist of a frameset, chainset, cassette, wheels, and handlebars. Read on to learn about these bike parts in more detail.


The Frameset

The frame is arguably the most important part of any bicycle. Typically, road bike frames are made of either carbon or aluminium. However, some models also feature titanium frames or steel frames. Our Reilly Fusion (launched April 2022) is an advanced titanium road bike, and was recently awarded 9/10 by road.cc.

Its stand-out features include titanium aero road disc frameset, investment cast 6AL-4V titanium head tube, seat cluster, bottom bracket shell and dropouts, 3AL-2.5V tubing and aero ‘Kamm tail’ tubing. The road.cc review noted an “excellent bike with the performance and looks of carbon but the stunning comfort and longevity of titanium.”

When it comes to traditional road frames, you’ll usually find a shorter seat post and a flat top tube - however, many modern road bikes feature a sloping top tube for a more lightweight feel and compact frame.

Frames and forks as part of an all-in-one system are referred to as a frameset. The forks on road bikes can be made of different materials - however, more expensive road bikes typically feature carbon forks, and more affordable road bikes often consist of steel, aluminium, or a combination of aluminium and carbon.

Road bikes can come in all sizes, so when you’re browsing for road bikes, ensure you choose a road bike frame with the right size and shape for you to ensure a safe and comfortable ride.


The Chainset

Typically, road bikes use two chainrings - although you can find road bikes with triple chainsets (three-chainring). Most road bikes are equipped with either compact gearing or semi-compact cranks. When you’re researching road bike chainsets, know that ‘t’ refers to the number of teeth.

Three chainring chainsets give lots of range and can be found in some affordable bikes. However, they’re becoming less popular as compact cranks offer a better experience. You can also find super compact crank options with as little as 46/30t.

Single chainrings aren’t too common on road bikes, although they can be found in older models. They are much more practical than they used to be as component manufacturers are bringing out more and more cassette options.



The cassette in a road bike refers to the cluster of clogs that are attached to the rear wheel. They are powered by the chain, and essentially push you forwards when you pedal. The cassette and chain combined are essentially the powerhouses behind your bicycle, allowing you to move when riding your bike.

Typically, road bike gears are closely packed together allowing you to pedal at the right speeds. You can find high-end road bikes that feature 11 or 12 sprockets - however, the cheaper models often feature eight or nine sprockets. In road bikes, the range of sprockets is around 11-30t.

The maximum number of sprockets on any cassette is 13. Typically, in older bikes or cheaper models, you find fewer sprockets. Generally speaking, the more sprockets the better - this allows you to pedal efficiently on any terrain. As road bikes are designed to be used on even terrain, you don’t need as many sprockets for an easy ride.


The Wheels

Road bike wheels tend to feature light rims and fewer spokes, especially in comparison to mountain bikes. In some cases, the rims are deeper for a more streamlined experience, allowing you to reach higher speeds.

Road bikes used to feature only narrow rims - however, research into aerodynamics and bikes found that wider road rims offer a smoother ride, and can even lead to fewer flat tyres. That being said, road bike tyres are still skinny in comparison to other types of tyres.

Most road bikes don’t feature suspension forks and rear shocks, as they aren’t needed as much on road bikes as they are on mountain bikes, for example.


The Handlebars

Road bikes feature drop handlebars - this type of handlebar offers a variety of positions, which is perfect whether you’re riding uphill or cruising along the road. Road bikes feature a straight section of bar at the top, curving down into a drop at the ends of the handlebar.

At the top, you attach the gear hoods and the brakes. The positioning of the hoods (brake lever covers) ensure you’re in the right position for climbing out of the saddle. Road levers combine both the brake controls and shifting into one convenient unit.

You can find road bike handlebars of various widths and shapes to suit your needs - as well as different materials. Usually, road bars are found in either carbon fibre or aluminium alloys.


Reilly Cycleworks Road Bikes

At Reilly Cycleworks, our road bikes are designed and finished in the UK - by cyclists, for cyclists. The founder of the company, Mark, had close to 35 years of experience to draw upon to make frames that stand out.

All road bikes at Reilly Cycleworks are designed with your comfort in mind, for long-distance and speed. Our bikes can be customised to suit your needs and preferences, and come in different styles.

Check out our collection of road bikes here. Take a look at the Reilly Fusion, an advanced titanium road bike that launched in April 2022 - or the Spectre, a titanium road bike perfect for roads and country lanes.