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Road BikeShopper

The road bike is back - no more sloppy ten speeds here - we are talking high tech and a whole lot of fun. Our manufacturers offer more models today than ever in a wider variety of price points and categories. Today's components are an exceptional array of top-notch wheels, brakes and shifting systems that operate like never before. For example, it's possible to get 27-speed drivetrains that shift blink quick, and wheelsets so light pedaling is nearly effortless. In fact, there are so many attractive choices today, that it can get overwhelming.

Choice is a good thing, so long as you know a little about what's available. If you already know more or less what you want, click through the categories and levels to see the best deals, pricing and availability.

At City Bikes, we are experts in helping you find that perfect bike just for you, whatever it takes. We explain the choices you will need to consider and offer advice on everything from frame materials and wheels to gearing and component choice.

Do you have what it takes?

Racing Bikes

 

Built for speed, these lithe bikes are second to none in speed and performance. They typically have steeper frame angles and a short wheelbase for nimble handling, and skinny tires for minimal rolling resistance.

If you are interested fast-paced fitness riding alone or in a group, the lightweight and smoothness of a racing bike will get you in the saddle more often.

See all of our Racing Bikes>

What is the best material?

    More about frame materials

Touring Bikes & Sport Road

 

Although they look like racing bikes, they featuring more relaxed geometries for a more comfortable ride and better handling with heavy loads. Touring bikes are slightly heavier than a racing bike, have a much wider gear range, and wider tires. Great for around town or day long tours.

Touring bikes are called all sorts of other things these days, like "sport road" or "comfort" road bikes. The more upright riding position and relaxed frame geometry is a touring trademark, and it is comimg back after many years of exile from cool. These sport road bikes may not have all the bells and whistles of the traditional tourer, but they are comfy!

See all of our Touring & Sport Road Bikes>



Road bikes tend to be much more precise in fit, so it is really important to take the time to get fit for your bike.
Find out more about
bike fitting
.

Cyclocross

 

Cyclocross bikes are designed for a form of racing (usually in the winter) on an off-road course that has technical sections that require getting off and carrying the bike.

Cyclocross bikes have wider knobby tires (although not as wide or knobby as mountain bike tires) traditional drop handlebars, and powerful cantilever brakes. The extra durability of cyclocross bikes make them great for winter road riding or biking to work.

Many of cyclocross frame design features can be seen in other road variants - like Cannondale's Road Warrior series.

See all of our Cyclocross Bikes>


Exploratorium's
Science of Cycling

This informative site is a great primer on the technical aspects of bicycling.

Track Bikes (aka fixed gear)

 

One speed - no brakes - use your legs to brake. Originally designed for closed velodrome racing, now they are popular for around town riding with some couriers

See all of our Track Bikes>

Triathlon

 

Triathlon bikes feature steeper seat tube angles, a shorter wheelbase and smaller, 650cc wheels for tremendous acceleration when it is you against the clock

See all of our Triathlon Bikes>

 
Choosing Gearing
Selecting the correct gearing means easy pedaling and happy knees.
Regardless of what bike you choose it won't be much fun riding it if the gearing isn't appropriate for your fitness level and where and how you pedal. Fortunately, all component groups offer a variety of different gearing options. And we can also modify things if needed to suit your needs. Here's what's involved:

Chainrings and Cogs
There are sprockets on the front and back of the bike. The fronts are called "chainrings" and they're located on the crankset, the part that the pedals are attached to. The crankset comes with 2 (called a "double") or 3 chainrings (called a "triple"). Triple cranksets include a small inner chainring (sometimes called a "granny") that offers easier hill-climbing gears.

The sprockets on the rear of the bike are called "cogs," or, if you're referring to the entire cluster of gears, it's called a "cassette" or "freewheel." The cassette is attached to the rear wheel to drive it as you pedal. Depending on the components on the bike, there will be from 8 to 10 cogs on the rear cassette.

How Many Gears?
To figure out how many total gears are on a bike, simply multiply the number of chainrings by the number of cassette cogs. For example on a model with a triple crankset and a 10-cog cassette, you have 30 gears -- quite an upgrade from the 10-speeds so popular years ago.

How many gears to get depends on how and where you ride. If you're reasonably fit and bike in flat to rolling terrain, you'll probably be fine with a double chainring and 8 to 10 rear cogs. If it's hilly and you're getting into shape, consider a triple chainring and its easier gears.

When considering how many rear cogs to get, keep in mind that you'll have plenty of gears even if you get an 8-cog cassette. If you go to more cogs, you can either get a wider range of gears or more-closely spaced gears. The latter is excellent for racing and training because it makes it easier to fine-tune pedaling effort. Wider gearing offers easier low gears so it's ideal for mountainous riding and for when you're not in tip-top shape.

How the Gears Feel
To figure out how easy it is to pedal the gears, you have to know a little more about the chainrings and cogs. They are referred to by the number of teeth on them. So, you might read in bike specifications about 39/53 chainrings and 12-23 cassettes. This means that the small chainring has 39 teeth and the large has 53 teeth and that the cassette has a small cog with 12 teeth on it and a large one with 23. To know the size of every cog, you usually have to count each one (usually cogs and chainrings are marked, but, the marks can be hard to see).

Know Your Numbers
Don't let the numbers confuse you. The key thing to know is that for chainrings, larger numbers mean it's harder to pedal and vice versa. For cogs, it's the opposite: the larger the number, the easier it is to pedal and vice versa. By keeping these rules in mind, you can quickly see that a 30/42/52 triple crankset and a 12-30 cassette will offer much easier gearing than a 39/53 double with a 12-23 cassette.

Pondering a Triple
Many people wonder whether or not they need a triple crankset. Our advice is that it depends a lot on how and where you ride. If you like the hills, ride fairly long distances, sometimes carry gear and aren't training all the time to be in optimum fitness, a triple is a great thing to have. Even if you don't use the small chainring all that much, it can be a lifesaver at the end of a long ride when a tough climb stands between you and home.

Even some competitive riders favor triples, though if you're really strong, you may decide to forgo the additional grams of a third ring. Also, a triple-chainring drivetrain shifts slightly more slowly than a double, which is a consideration in a race when a slow shift can cost you a podium spot.

If you're not sure which is right for you, we recommend coming in and trying a triple to feel how it works for you.

Cassette Considerations
You also need to decide on the range of gears on your rear cassette. Here's a guide to some commonly available sizes and what they're designed for:

cassette what it's good for
11-21 stronger/competitive riders on flat courses
12-23 stronger/competitive riders on varied terrain
12-25 a combination that begins to favor climbing
12-27 offers significantly easier climbing gears

Wheels And Tires
Modern wonder wheels are veritable wings for your bike.
Not too long ago, when you bought a new road bike, you got fairly run-of-the-mill wheels comprised of decent rims, spokes and hubs. These wheels were reliable and worked just fine. But, they didn't really add any pizzazz to your new two-wheeler.

All that has changed. Today, many if not most road bikes feature wheels that are marvels of engineering. They're prettier, more aerodynamic, durable and lightweight, sometimes superlight. Why is this important, you ask?

Because when you cut wheel weight, you drastically improve a bike's climbing, acceleration and handling. This happens because wheels are rotating weight. And this type of heft is felt most by the rider. In fact, a few-hundred grams reduction at the wheels feels more like a few pounds reduction. On the road, it's an amazing feeling, like suddenly dropping 10 pounds of body weight.

Box vs. Aero Section Rims
One difference in these new wheels is rim type. There are two basic designs named after their cross sections: conventional box-section rims (square or rectagonally shaped) and aero-section rims (triangularly shaped).

Box-section rims are lightweight, accelerate quickly, and provide the most comfort. Aero-shaped rims are stronger, have less wind drag, and are stiffer (less comfortable). It's important to consider wheel feel when you're test riding bikes. You might prefer one type to another.

When choosing a rim or wheel type it's important to consider where and how you ride, as well as how much you weigh. For example, a 140-pound rider who spins leisurely mostly on rough pavement, will probably prefer a box-section rim for its additional comfort. But, a competitive 200 pounder on smooth roads will much prefer the stiffness and speed of aero-section hoops.

There are many wheelsets on the market designed for general and specific types of riding. Most use minimal spoke counts (traditional wheels have 32 spokes), which cuts wind drag and wheel weight. Superlight wheels are excellent for climbing. Aero wheels are usually a little heavier and intended to cheat the wind for an advantage during long rides and time trials.

Tire Talk
Bike companies use a variety of different tires on their road models and usually, the tires are good for 1,000 to 2,000 miles, depending on your weight, riding style, and whether the tire is located on the front or back. So, the chances are pretty good that you'll be fine riding on the tires that come stock on your new bicycle.

You might consider upgrading however, if the tires are the wrong size or design for your predominant type of riding. One important difference is bead type. Beads are found in both edges of the tire. They're the parts that grip the rim to hold the tire on the wheel. Less-expensive tires use wire beads, which add weight (remember that rotating weight is the most important kind). Better models have Kevlar (a super-tough fabric) beads.

Tires with Kevlar beads are called "folding tires," and they're a great upgrade if you want lightweight wheels and lively handling. These tires cost more, so expect to pay for them. But, the additional expense is worth it if you want optimum performance.

Another reason to swap tires is to get a different width. Tire width determines how much air it holds, which in turn decides ride softness. It also affects how the bike handles, rolling resistance and durability.

You'll find the tire's size written on its sidewall as "700 x XX," where XX is the tire's width in millimeters (700 refers to the nominal outside tire diameter in millimeters, a European standard called "700c"). We're happy to discuss tire differences with you. Here's how the sizes compare:

size what it's good for
700 x 20 thin, primarily for time trials and lighter riders
700 x 23 normal, for most conditions, racing and training
700 x 25 thicker, longer wearing, more shock absorption
700 x 28 thick, longest lasting, ideal for touring, commuting, heavier riders


About 650c Wheels
Some time-trial bikes, as well as some compact, smaller models come equipped with 650c wheels, which are smaller diameter than 700s. These are a little lighter and slightly stronger, and they accelerate faster than standard 700 wheels. But, 650c wheels sometimes ride a bit rougher (smaller, lighter riders can compensate by dropping tire pressure slightly), lose momentum a bit faster and cover less distance per revolution (strong riders will require taller gearing). So, if you're comparing bikes with both wheel sizes, be sure to test ride them to feel for yourself the differences. That's the best way to decide.

Component Groups
30 gears. Foolproof bearings. Awesome braking.
Today's componentry will amaze you!
The two companies selling road groups are Shimano and Campagnolo and each offers 5 different levels of components. A group is comprised of brakes, hubs, chain, cassette, bottom bracket, crank, derailleurs, shifters and headset (sometimes a seatpost is included, too).

As you spend more money, parts get lighter and bearing quality (bearings are what the hubs, headset, pedals and crankset spin on) improves. Higher-level components shift and brake slightly better, too -- though even entry-level braking and shifting is exceptional on modern systems.

So, how do you decide what to buy? It comes down to your price range and which group offers the features you want (i.e. weight, number of gears, appearance, quality). Usually, you can narrow it down to a couple of groups. And, at that point, a great way to decide is to ride and compare. If you can feel a difference in braking and shifting, go with the bike you like better.

To help you understand what's what with modern parts packages, here's an overview:

Level Brand Group Drivetrain Comments
entry-level Campagnolo Mirage double or triple w/9 cogs fine function; some steel parts
enthusiast-level Campagnolo Veloce double or triple w/9 cogs nice function; less steel; better finish
serious-level Campagnolo Daytona double or triple w/9 or 10 cogs most affordable 10-speed group
race-level Campagnolo Chorus double or triple w/9 or 10 cogs almost Record quality and finish
pro-level Campagnolo Record double or triple w/9 or 10 cogs world's lightest group
entry-level Shimano Sora double or triple w/8 cogs some steel; shifts and brakes great
enthusiast-level Shimano Tiagra double or triple w/9 cogs less steel; more interchangeability
serious-level Shimano 105 double or triple w/9 cogs great price; hollow crankarms
race-level Shimano Ultegra 600 double or triple w/9 cogs almost D-A quality; hollow arms
pro-level Shimano Dura-Ace double or triple w/9 cogs Lance's group; superlight
Shopping Tips
Price Particulars
We've asked you to think about what you'd like in a bike and what you'd be comfortable spending. Now that you have an idea how to decide what type of road machine to get, it's time to come into our store and do some tire kicking and test riding to see how the models compare in person. This will complete the picture and give you a chance to see what you get at the various price points. Here are a final few helpful tips:

Shopping Guidelines
  • Buy once. It's less expensive to get the frame, wheels and components you want initially than to upgrade later.
  • Proper fit is much more important than getting a good deal. And only by coming in to see us can we size you and ensure that you're looking at the right size bicycles. As one master framebuilder says, "Anyone who suggests that you can be fit over the phone or internet is just demonstrating their misunderstanding of the topic."
  • Be wary if a deal sounds too good to be true. Manufacturers pack as much value as they can into each bike model. But, they also want to sell things. Sometimes compromises are made in component specification or frame quality to reach a more attractive price point. If a bike you're interested in has parts or features that appear to be uncharacteristic for its price, try to figure out what corners were cut. Or ask, and we'll explain.
  • Pick out the features and components that best meet your needs, then see what the bike costs. This way you'll know if your performance expectations match your budget.
  • Be prepared to spend a little extra because usually you'll want a few important accessories with a new bike such as a water bottle and cage, a cyclo-computer, a new helmet, etc.

  • You're Ready To Come In And Look At Some Bikes!
    We're sure you'll enjoy your shopping experience with us. Come in today to check out our selection of road bikes and get to know our professional staff!