Road Racing Bikes
You'll have seen these in the Tour de France. Racing bikes (also known as road bikes) are designed to go as fast as possible on tarmac. Everything is pared down as much as possible to save weight and improve aerodynamics. Racing bikes have quite a lot of gears, but they are very close together so the rider can choose a gear which perfectly matches the conditions. The riding position is quite hunched over to cause less wind resistance, and the drop handlebars give a choice of riding position depending on conditions. Tyres are very thin and at very high pressure.
Types of Road Racing Bike:
The bike for most road riding. The riding position is quite aerodynamic, but not so much that you cannot see where you are going.
Time Trial -
Time trialling is riding as fast as possible around a circuit on a closed-off road. Time trial bikes are designed to go as fast as possible, and riders adopt a very hunched over position, using extensions on the handlebars to bring their hands forward. Bikes often have smaller front wheels to get the riding position even lower.
Most racing designs are regulated by the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) - the international cycling body. They set down exact guidelines of what is allowed and what is not for a bike to be used in different types of competition. This can cause a lot of arguments! For example, Recumbents are generally faster than racing bikes, but they were banned by the UCI in 1928.
On tarmac, road bikes are very fast. The slick tyres mean there's very little drag on the road, and your aerodynamic position keeps wind drag to a minimum.
Because racing bikes are very skinny (especially the saddles) they can be uncomfortable. On cobbles and rough surfaces, the high-pressure tyres don't absorb much of the vibration, and the hunched-over riding position can be sore on neck, back and wrists.
Expect to Pay...
Basic "Sports" bikes start from around £150 but if you want to race, you would most likely need to spend a minimum of £300. The sky is the limit in terms of top prices!
Image CopyrightsImages depict bikes manufactured by Specialized.
Road racing bikes are available from a number of other manufacturers and use of Specialized bicycle images is in no way an endorsement of their product for this purpose.
Permission for use of the images has been sought from Specialized Bikes UK and copyright over these images remains with the respective supplier.