There are many different types of road bikes on the market today. Some lean a little more to the road side while others are truly meant for gravel. I’ll break down the different types of road bikes, who they might be good for, and the advantage each type of bike provides. Here are the four types of road bikes this guide will cover:
- Time Trial
What Are Endurance Road Bikes?
An endurance road bike is designed for distance riding. It is more comfortable than a race bike. It will be somewhat heavy, and that is ok. Usually endurance road bikes have a fork and seatpost dampening technology. It adds weight, but it smooths out the ride so you are comfortable to remain on the saddle longer.
There are different types of endurance road bikes. For example, a Trek Domane SL 6 is an endurance road bike. By definition it is exactly what an endurance road bike should be. Upgrade to the Trek Domane SLR 7 and you now have a race bike. The rear IsoSpeed on the SLR 7 is tunable so you can set it for comfort or performance.
Getting hung up on the type of road bike you have is not something that should happen. Consider how you will use the bike and buy the bike that fits best for that discipline. I live in Colorado. If I wanted a bike to climb mountains I would buy an Emonda. If I wanted to race road in Kansas I would buy the Madone. Get the bike that matches what you aspire to accomplish because it will keep you motivated.
Tri, TT and Ironman Bikes
Tri-Bikes or Time Trial bikes make a huge focus on aerodynamics. On flat ground no bike will be faster. They are one of my favorite types of road bikes to admire because of their looks.
Triathlon bikes not only look cool, they perform well. This is due to their frame geometry. For example, if you look at Trek’s TT bike, the Speed Concept, you will see the geometry favors a shorter wheelbase putting you closer to the front of the bicycle. It allows you to maximize speed when tucked. This also forces your hips forward allowing for a better transfer of energy to the drive train.
What Is The Lightest Road Bike?
A climbing bike like the Trek Emonda is going to be the lightest bike in a manufacturer’s lineup. The performance advantage on light bikes gets greater as the incline gets steeper. That’s why climbing bikes are always incredibly light, while a race bike will balance light weight with aerodynamics.
In general, carbon fiber frames are going to get you lighter road bikes. Also, the higher you climb in groupset the lighter the components will be. A SRAM Red, or Shimano Dura Ace groupset weighs less than SRAM Force or Shimano 105. A bike with Red or Dura Ace on it will already be carbon fiber too.
What Race Road Bike Is The Fastest?
If you visit the USA Cycling website its easy to find a road bike race every weekend. The fastest bike will depend greatly on the type of race. Within a single brand there could be multiple bikes capable of winning races. For example, with Trek the flagship race bike is the Madone. It may win many races throughout the year, but races with a lot of climbing in the mountains may easily be won on a Trek Emonda.
In other words, there is no fastest road bike. The Madone is Trek’s most popular race bike because its the most well rounded of their top of the line bikes. With Specialized the Tarmac is a popular race bike. Who is riding it will also make a difference. For example, I could ride a Specialized Tarmac SL7 and Tadej Pogačar could be riding a Trek FX 2 and the Trek FX 2 will be the fastest bike, in this instance. (Read: Trek FX 2 Review)
What Is The Best Road Bike For Beginners?
The best road bike for beginners will be something in the endurance category. This will give you a comfortable bike to ride while you decide if cycling is for you or not. Many endurance bikes are capable of racing in disciplines outside endurance, and they still perform admirably. It’s a bike that is good at everything and great at long distance cycling.
Pay attention to total weight when you are bike shopping. Many time cyclists worry too much about weight. This is true when buying upgrades. The time to focus on weight is when you buy your bike. If you buy a light bike you can always add accessories.