Like all cycles, Road bikes have an appearance which is particular to them and a product of very deliberate engineering.

For those who are interested I thought it would be a nice idea to talk a little bit about the design and engineering that goes into road bikes and why they look the way they do.

The characteristic design of a road bike has evolved through a desire to make the bike and cyclist comfortable.

You’ll notice the saddle is typically positioned high, with the handlebars level. This is to force the rider into more of a racing position with head down. This position is more aerodynamic than if the cyclist were sitting upright, which means they can travel faster if required.

Tyres on a road bike are very thin and slick (no tread). This is for minimum contact with the road and to make the wheels ‘slice’ through the air. Tread on a tyre causes friction with the road and would slow the bike down.

Most advanced road bike frames are lightweight. They are made of aluminium, or carbon, or a mix of both. Some top end frames are high density weave, which removes any additional material from the inside of the frame, making it lighter still.

cycling road race bike infographic

There are some key characteristics applied to road bikes to aid maneuverability:

  • Relaxed seat tube for a comfortable pedal stroke
  • Wide handlebars. This aids breathing
  • Relaxed head angle. This dictates the angle of the front forks
  • The angle of the forks offers stability

These characteristics conspire to push the cyclist’s weight into the pelvis to help avoid aches and pains in the shoulders and neck.

Road cyclists wear cycling shoes with cleats that clip into the pedals. This gives traction, connecting the cyclist to the cycle gaining more speed.

Add to this an aerodynamic helmet, skin-tight lycra clothing, hair removal, and other ‘tricks of the trade’ and it’s no surprise road cyclists can reach speeds of 30mph or so.

There’s another breed of road bike which is the road race bike. The engineering of road race bikes has been tweaked for more advanced cyclists to gain greater speeds and with a tight head angle for quick cornering, but hey, that’s another blog post.

For more information and friendly advice about road bike engineering, please get in touch with the team at Global Bike or leave a comment below.