Road Bike Buying Guide


Road bikes are lightweight, fast and very efficient. With drop handlebars, rigid frames and narrow tyres, they cut through the air like a hot knife through butter and roll faster, further and for longer than any other bike.

What do road bikes
look like?

You can spot a road bike from it's drop (curved) handlebar, skinny tyres with little or no tread pattern, and the thin & lightweight looking frame.

Most road bikes you see still use tin rim brakes, but nowadays there are lots of road bikes with disc brakes, just like the ones you see on mountain bikes.

Road bike gears

Like mountain bikes, road bikes are available with a variety of gearing options. To change gear on a modern road bike, the brake levers are clicked inwards with your hands, so you don't have to let go of the handle bars.

Road bikes are typically fitted with either a triple, standard double or compact double chainset, however modern 11 speed cassettes mean some road bikes may be fitted with a single chainring.

Single ring chainsets

Single ring chainsets are fairly uncommon on road bikes, but can be found on some high-end time trial bikes where the absolute best aerodynamic performance & minimum weight is needed.

Double ring chainsets

Standard double chainsets have two front chainrings, usually with 39 and 53 teeth, providing the rider with close, high ratio gears for pedalling at speed.

Compact double chainsets have two chainrings, usually with 34 and 50 teeth, giving the rider a wider range of low speed gearing. Compact chainsets are preferred by those who regularly ride steep hills as a wider gear range is available.

Triple ring chainsets

Triple chainsets are great for those searching for very low gears, making them ideal for extremely hilly terrain or first time road cyclists. 

What are the different types of road bike available?

At first glance most road bikes look very similar to each other. Take a closer look and you'll see some small features which make each type of road bike feel very different to ride.


Fast | Agile | Aerodynamic

Road bikes intended for racing are lightweight and aerodynamic. The geometry requires the rider to be bent over in order to achieve an aerodynamic and pedalling efficient position. These road bikes are fitted with a standard double chainset in order to achieve the highest speeds possible.


Relaxed | Comfortable | Endurance

Sportive road bikes are designed to be ridden long distances and provide the rider with ample comfort. Sportive bikes seat the rider in a more upright position, increasing their comfort and allowing them to see more of the road ahead. For gearing, many sportive bikes use a compact double chainset, although triple chainset versions are available.

Disc brakes are becoming increasingly common on sportive road bikes too, as their braking power and endurance surpasses that of many rim brakes. Manufactures recognise the versatility of sportive bikes; many come pre-fitted with mudguard and pannier rack eyelets, making them ideal for commuters.

2016 Giant Defy 1 Disc Endurance / Sportive Road Bike


Ultra-Fast | Aerodynamic | Aggressive

The main focus of time trial (TT) and triathlon bikes is to be ridden as fast as possible. Compared to standard road bikes, these bikes have an extremely aerodynamic frame, fork, seatpost and wheels in order to minimise air resistance. TT & triathlon bikes are mainly ridden on flat roads and use standard gearing for optimum speed.

Time trial bikes are usually equipped with clip-on aero bars, placing the rider in the most aerodynamic position. The frames are strong and stiff for maximum pedalling efficiency, allowing the bike to make the most of each pedal stroke; this does however sacrifice rider comfort

2016 Cube Aerium C:62 SLT Triathlon Bike