A road bike, as the name suggests is for riding on the road or on smooth paved surfaces like country lanes and cycle paths. They are designed for speed so are lightweight and aerodynamic often with dropped handlebars. Traditionally, road bikes were made of steel. Carbon fibre has been used more recently, but titanium road bikes are fast becoming a popular choice. Read on to find out why.
What Does a Road Bike Look Like?
Here is a basic run down of the part of a road bike.
Frame & Forks
A road bike frame still uses the traditional two triangle design. Modern road bikes have a sloping top tube to create a lighter frame. Racing road bikes tend to have a longer top tube and low at the front to increase aerodynamics.
When choosing a road bike, it is essential you are sized correctly. Riding an ill-fitting bike makes handling difficult and could cause injury over time. Your frame size will correspond to your height. All manufacturers have slightly different frame specs so always check their size guide first.
Frames can be made of steel, aluminum, carbon or titanium. Forks, on the other hand, are generally made from carbon. This minimizes the overall weight of the bike. The frame and fork together are known as a frameset.
Handlebar and Stem (Cockpit)
Road bikes have dropped handlebars. This gives the rider several riding positions. On the drops or hoods for a more aerodynamic position or on top for a relaxed, upright ride. The hoods are the lever covers. Levers combine shifting and braking controls into one unit.
This is the term given to a group of components on your bike. It includes bike levers, the chainset, the cassette, the chain, the derailleur and the brakes.
There are two types of brakes – rim brakes, also known as calliper brakes, these slow the bike by clamping the wheel rim and disc brakes. Disc brakes are located closer to the bike’s axle and use a rotor attached to the hub as a braking surface. Disc brakes are generally more powerful and provide more accurate stopping which can be an advantage in wet weather.
Most road bike wheels are 700c. The rims can be made of aluminium or carbon although the latter is lighter and more costly. The rims are laced to hubs using spokes made from steel or carbon. Nowadays wheels are mass-produced yet the true bicycle connoisseur will probably opt for a set of handbuilt wheels. Although they will cost a good wedge of cash artisan wheel builders can create a bespoke product that can exponentially compliment your bike and riding style.
Road tyres are narrow with a smooth tread known as slicks. They offer good levels of rolling resistance and grip. The typical width for a road bike tyre is 23 – 25 with a pressure of between 70 and 120 psi.
Chainset (also known as Crankset)
This is the unit that includes the chainring and the pedal arms.
Road bikes have two chainrings with 53 and 39 teeth or T. This set-up is referred to as the standard double crankset. A 50 / 34 T combination is known as compact. Nowadays it is common to find a combination of 50 and 36 with the new SRAM 12-speed offering 50/37, 48/35 and 46/33.
Single chainring cranksets do not need a front derailleur and offer a reduced range of gears.
This is the row of cogs attached to the rear wheel. The difference in the size of these cogs affects how easy it is to turn the pedals. The maximum number of sprockets on a cassette is 13 yet 12 and 11 are also popular.
Controlled by the shifters the derailleur, also known as mechs, enable you to change gear. The front derailleur pushes the bike chain from one chainring to the next while the rear pushes the bike chain across the sprockets. More expensive bikes have electronic derailleurs.
Road bike saddles are narrow with minimal padding to avoid excess weight on the bike.
Why is Titanium a Good Material for a Road Bike?
Titanium bike tubes are lighter than steel and stronger than aluminium which makes them the perfect metal for a road bike. A properly engineered titanium frame can last a lifetime due to its durability. Titanium tubes are flexible with shock-absorbing properties therefore a titanium road frame offers a smooth yet nippy ride. Titanium will not rust and finally, titanium is sexy, sleek and desirable.
Titanium vs Carbon Road Bike
Titanium offers a long lifespan while carbon frames typically last up to 10 years. Because of this titanium is more cost-efficient.
Titanium frames are durable and can survive impact although they can be harder to repair. Carbon frames break more easily but can be patched. Carbon frames can crack unexpectedly.
Titanium ride quality is high as Ti bikes are more comfortable with excellent dampening properties. Carbon frames are stiffer but very responsive.
Titanium is not as light as carbon. Carbon frames usually weigh around 1lb less than a titanium ones.
Titanium can be recycled. Carbon fibre cannot be recycled therefore not an environmentally friendly option.
Titanium frames are hand-welded giving a more individual feel. Carbon frames come from a mould making each one identical.
Reviews of Titanium Road Bikes
Reilly Cycleworks Fusion
“While there is rightly going to be a lot of attention paid to the sleek design, the Fusion also features some sensible stuff such as the T47bottom bracket. This is a threaded design and should make for a quiet life for the end-user. There is also space for wider road tyres.” Road.cc
Moots, Vamoots Disc RSL frame & Fork
“A big investment, but the performance, precise handling and beautiful titanium feel will see you smiling every ride” road.cc
Van Nicholas Ventus
“Entry-level price for a titanium bike, but with high-end performance – a real joy to ride” road.cc
Ribble Endurance Ti Disc
“A mile-eating road machine with looks to match” road.cc