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Are you interested in cycling and would like to try it out for yourself? Or are you already an enthusiastic road cyclist but are looking for a new bike because your current one just doesn’t meet your expectations? Then you’ve come to the right place with our road bike guide!
In our road bike test 2023 we have compiled detailed background information on the subject of road bikes. You will also find answers to frequently asked questions and we present some types of road bikes in more detail. In addition, we provide you with some criteria that you should pay attention to when buying a bike.
- With the purchase of an individually optimised road bike, you can achieve very high speeds and a good aerodynamic posture, while certainly not missing out on riding fun. Therefore, it is very important that you take enough time to make the right decision.
- Basically, you can distinguish between normal road bikes, triathlon bikes, fitness bikes, speed bikes and cyclocross bikes. All types of road bikes are available with different equipment and in different designs.
- When deciding what to buy, you should always bear in mind your purpose and the goals you want to achieve with your road bike. Often there are small but very subtle differences in equipment, design and construction that make a big difference.
The Best Road Bike: Our Picks
Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a road bike
What are the advantages of a road bike?
Depending on the equipment and type of racing bike, however, the racing bike not only excels on road-like surfaces, but also on poor surfaces and in ice, wet and slippery conditions.
Due to the aerodynamic posture and the well-built geometry, the grip positions as well as the seating positions can be changed discreetly, so that riding fun is often not neglected for hours. The road bike is the perfect companion for long, extended tours that can never be completed in such a short time on another bike.
What performance level is the road bike suitable for?
Which road bike frame suits me best?
Many manufacturers now produce road bikes with a frame specifically for women, which optimises the seating position for women compared to a universal road bike.
What is the correct posture on a road bike and is it the same on every bike?
By stretching, you bring your spine into the physiologically correct position and at the same time protect the lumbar vertebrae and neck area. A pleasant side effect: This posture makes pedalling more efficient and thus improves aerodynamics.
Many cyclists round their backs when riding. To avoid this, you need to bend your pelvis slightly forward on the saddle. This creates a greater reach, which leads to a stable posture.
For many, the healthy posture is uncomfortable, so they automatically hunch over on the bike, which can lead to long-term back problems.
Rather than accept back pain, you should train your back and abdominal muscles and stretch regularly to keep your pelvis tilted forward for as long as possible.
In addition to the correct posture, the correct saddle height and handlebar height are of course also important. There are various formulas on the internet that you can use to determine the right height.
How heavy is a road bike?
What do I need for road cycling?
You also need the right clothing for riding a road bike, which is essential in bad weather and keeps you warm and dry.
A water bottle, which can be fixed in a holder on the frame and should hold at least 500 ml, should never be forgotten on your road bike tour.
If you are already somewhat experienced in road cycling, suitable road cycling shoes with clipless pedals are very advantageous in order to be able to transfer the power optimally to the road bike.
If you are riding at night, you will of course need a light system and reflectors.
To be able to see your own performance and progress, you can install a bike computer, with or without navigation depending on the equipment. These are the basics, i.e. the most necessary parts that you need at the beginning of road cycling.
This list can be extended almost infinitely, as there are many tuning parts and changeable settings.
What accessories are necessary for the road bike itself?
A tyre can blow out faster than you think. And if you don’t need the spare tube yourself, someone else on your bike tour might. If a spare inner tube is used, you will of course also need an air pump to inflate the tyre.
On the road, you always need to be prepared for minor repairs. With a multitool you can, for example, readjust the saddle or adjust the gears.
You will need a saddle bag to store your repair accessories. You should also attach a drink holder to your bike so that you always have quick access to drinks.
Who buys road bikes?
Why is a road bike faster and so expensive?
Especially the precise manufacturing process with sophisticated technology and the high-quality materials used make a racing bike seem not quite cheap. In return, you get a real racing bike, the purchase of which you will never regret due to the high level of riding pleasure.
When is the best time to buy a road bike?
In spring, all new models of road bikes are released, which means that the price is often the highest on the market.
What do I have to pay attention to during assembly?
First of all, it is important that you have the right tools at home. Once you have all the important tools, you should first turn your attention to the frame and adjust it individually. In the second step, it is advisable to assemble the wheels and then attach the handlebars, brake levers and brakes. This is followed by the assembly of the shifting components and then the saddle, the tyres and the handlebar tape.
In order to adapt the road bike perfectly to your individual needs, there are various formulas on the internet with which you can calculate your suitable handlebar and saddle heights so that you can adopt a stable and healthy posture on the bike.
How do I properly clean and maintain my race bike?
To clean it, you need a bucket of warm water with some washing-up liquid, a soft cloth and a household sponge. An old toothbrush is recommended for small gaps. You can also use cleaning spray. For the chain, you should also get some chain wax and a brush to apply it.
Before you start cleaning your bike, you should remove all moving parts and clean them separately with a little water. Use only a damp cloth, especially for the speedometer. If the cloth is too wet, it can get damaged.
To clean the frame in detail, it is advisable to remove the wheels. To do this, open the brakes. On most models this is easily done with a switch or lever. To remove the rear tyre easily, you should use a high gear so that the chain is on the outside.
The brakes should always be clean so that they grip at all times. Especially when riding in the rain, dirt can quickly collect on the brake pads. Dirt also settles on the brake body. If it is very dirty, this can impair the function of the mechanics. You can clean the brake parts with a household sponge, water and washing-up liquid.
Dirt in the chain should also be removed. If the chain is not very dirty, it is sufficient to rub it with an old T-shirt and then smear it with fresh wax or oil. For stubborn dirt, you can use a cleaning spray. Afterwards, however, you must coat the chain properly with wax or oil. You can clean the spaces between the chain with a toothbrush.
The wheels can easily be cleaned with a sponge and water. The sprockets, hub, spokes and rim must be clean, otherwise the braking effect may be reduced.
Check the bolts on your road bike and tighten them if necessary. Also check your tyres for grip and pressure
Over time, even the most well-maintained bike will show some signs of wear. Therefore, you should check your bike regularly, preferably every time you clean it. This will help you get to know your bike better and prevent major repairs.
How much does a road bike cost?
Bicycles are available in a price range from 300 euros to around 5000 euros in all price categories with different adaptations and variants. If you are focusing on a road bike with which you want to cover many kilometres in a year with good equipment, you should expect to pay between 2000 and 4000 euros.
In comparison, you can get a mountain bike or a normal bike for less than 1000 euros. Optimal offers often result from last year’s models of road bikes, which can be obtained at significantly lower prices in sale offers.
Can I buy a road bike second-hand?
The most important thing before buying a road bike is always to test ride it! Pay attention to noticeable noises and difficulties with steering and shifting.
It is also important that the frame of the road bike is adapted to your size. Therefore, you should find out which frame size you need before test riding.
You should also check the bike for dents and scratches. Look especially at the area between the crank and the frame. If there are some scratches there, it may be an indication that the chain often jumps out.
It’s better to stay away from bikes that have been raced a lot.
Which manufacturers and brands of racing bikes are known?
Bergamont is a German manufacturer that has been around since 1993 and is based in Hamburg. The company works closely with the University of Hamburg and always tries to stand out from the crowd – in terms of technology and appearance.
The Bicycle Manufacturing Company (BMC) was founded in 1986 and is based in Switzerland. BMC is the main sponsor in professional cycling and has already won various design awards for its technically and visually successful bikes.
Pinarello, founded in 1952 by Italian cyclist Giovanni Pinarello, specialises in road and track cycling. Pinarello is a sponsor for companies such as Telekom, Movistar and Sky.
Liv belongs to the Giant Group and produces its bikes exclusively for female riders. The anatomy of women is taken into account directly in the development of the bike and adapted accordingly.
Cannondale has been in existence since 1972 and is based in Bedfort/Pennsylvania. Since 2010, the majority of the bikes are produced in Taiwan. For years, Cannondale was a pioneer in aluminium frame construction. Even today, the manufacturer still offers a lifetime warranty on material and manufacturing defects in the frame. Cannondale is also a sponsor of several successful teams.
Carver is a German exclusive brand of Fahrrad XXL with headquarters in Frankfurt. The manufacturer offers a good price/performance ratio and a 10-year warranty on the frames. Carver bikes are suitable for beginners as well as for advanced riders.
Trek is one of the largest bicycle brands worldwide. The company was founded in 1976 in Waterloo. Trek started the first series production of bikes with carbon frames in 1992. The brand offers customers a lifetime warranty on the frame and fork.
What are the alternatives to road bikes?
Nevertheless, there are different types of racing bikes, which usually only differ in minor details. There is the normal racing bike, the triathlon bike, the fitness bike, the speed bike and the cross bike. You can find out what the differences are and what advantages and disadvantages each type of racing bike has in the decision section.
Decision: What types of road bikes are there and which is the right one for you?
You can distinguish between very different types of road bikes, whereby there are five main groups:
- Normal road bikes
- Triathlon bikes
- Fitness bikes
- Cyclocross bike
All types are often distinguished by minimal changes that are made by different manufacturers to create a good racing bike. The perfect road bike does not really exist. Every cyclist differs in the way they use their bike, their riding style, their goals and their physical conditions.
Every purchase of a racing bike requires a good study of the subject in order to guarantee the purchase of a good racing bike with a good price-performance ratio.
In the following we will introduce you to the five main groups to help you with the first basic question, the decision for a road bike. We will help you to find out which bike you should focus on when buying because it suits you best.
What is a normal road bike and what is it best suited for?
The normal road bike is the bike that is best suited for road cycling and differs from mountain bikes, city bikes and trekking bikes due to the lack of racks, mudguards and lights. As with all road bikes, the frame has the shape of a triangle and is made of steel, aluminium, titanium or most often carbon.
Normal racing bikes are made by all the usual manufacturers such as CUBE, GIANT, KTM, CROSS, SPECIALIZED and many more, of which some manufacturers make special frames for women. This racing bike is particularly suitable for newcomers to racing cycling as well as for professional athletes.
What is a triathlon bike and how does it differ from a normal road bike?
At first glance, the normal road bike and the triathlon bike show only a very slight variance in construction. However, if you take a closer look at a few areas, you will notice striking differences. The weight of a triathlon bike is slightly higher than a normal road bike and the comfort and aerodynamics are higher than a normal road bike.
Especially the horn-shaped handlebars and the construction provide a careful aerodynamic feeling. The range of use of this road bike is specifically for all athletes who ride triathlons of medium and long distances.
What is a fitness bike and for whom is this bike particularly suitable?
Compared to the triathlon bike and normal road bike, the fitness bike is certainly more comfortable due to wider tyres and primarily foregoes aerodynamics. The handlebars are also built differently and resemble a mountain bike more than a racing bike. The fitness bike’s design makes it compatible on roads as well as gravel tracks, poor dirt roads and forest paths.
Especially in the rain, fitness bikes that include mudguards and lights but still allow you to keep a sporty stance are a faithful companion on the road – and you don’t have to worry if you suddenly find yourself in front of a stony surface and have to ride over it.
What is a speed bike and who needs one?
Speed bikes are a combination of a road bike and a mountain bike, although it most closely resembles a road bike with the worst equipment. Just like a road bike, there are no suspension forks, shocks or suspension seatpost – all elements that make up the comfort of the off-road mountain bike.
The handlebars of a speed bike have not been adopted from a road bike, which is why you will find straight handlebars. The tyres of a speed bike are narrow, similar to those of a road bike, in order to achieve top speeds on lightly treaded roads.
Speed bikes are particularly suitable for hobby athletes and their use in leisure time, who do not want to do without high speeds on roads, but who cannot cope optimally with the handlebars of a racing bike. In addition, the speed bike can be optimised for everyday use compared to a road bike by attaching lights and mudguards.
What is a cyclocross bike and who is it particularly suitable for?
The cyclocross bike, also known as a racing bike for off-road use, looks the same as a racing bike at first glance, but differs from the normal racing bike in a few small details that are not immediately obvious. The cross bike has different tyres and a higher bottom bracket to excel on more difficult surfaces.
In addition, cyclocross bikes have a different brake system and a more stable frame than normal road bikes. The tyres can be changed seasonally, so that in the warm months it resembles a road bike, although it is also somewhat heavier. Thus, the cross bike shines with its versatility and is a good alternative to a road bike.
It is suitable for newcomers as well as hobby athletes who want to reach high speeds on road-like surfaces as well as progress off-road on poorer surfaces. The cyclocross is a loyal companion, especially in adverse weather conditions such as rain, slippery roads and ice.
Buying criteria: These are the factors you can use to compare and evaluate road bikes
In the following section, we will show you which factors you can use to compare and evaluate road bikes. This should make it easier for you to choose the right road bike.
In summary, these are the following technical factors:
- Suitable for whom?
- Frame material
- Frame size in inches
- Gear system
- Brakes front / rear
- Reflectors & Accessories
- Component group
In the following paragraph, the individual factors are explained for you. Often, especially as a newcomer to cycling, some technical data will not mean anything to you at first glance – therefore it is important that you inform yourself about it and do a lot of research before buying the racing bike.
Who is it suitable for?
Further up in this text you will find the respective suitability already for the respective road bike – see decision. It is very important that you research and look at the right racing bike in advance, as there are often big differences between the individual types.
There is of course a reason why there are special racing bikes for beginners, hobby and amateur athletes, and even for professional athletes. With a racing bike for a professional athlete, you won’t benefit much from it at the beginning as a beginner and will lose the fun and joy of racing cycling pretty quickly.
A professional athlete regularly participates in big races, which means that he or she has much less air resistance due to an individually adapted racing bike and can therefore achieve great placings. In addition, this racing bike ultimately has to do many more kilometres than a racing bike for a beginner or beginner.
The difference between a racing bike for beginners and professional athletes clearly lies in the design and equipment and the different target orientation.
The frame material varies greatly from one racing bike to the next and, due to the use of different materials, has a significant influence on the weight of your racing bike. You can read about the different frame materials in the decision section above.
Our presented road bikes are all made of an aluminium frame, which is the most commonly used material for racing bikes. In combination with this material, good, lightweight road bikes can be built so that high speeds can be achieved.
Frame size in inches
Depending on your height, you will need a different frame height for your individual bike. This will also vary depending on the type of bike. Below you will find an approximate table which should help you to choose the right frame size.
|Body height||Mountain bike frame height||Trekking bike frame height||Road bike frame height||Triathlon bike frame height|
|155 – 165 cm||35 – 38 cm||47 – 50 cm||48 – 51 cm||46 – 48 cm|
|165 – 170 cm||38 – 41 cm||50 – 52 cm||51 – 53 cm||48 – 50 cm|
|170 – 175 cm||41 – 43 cm||52 – 55 cm||53 – 55 cm||50 – 52 cm|
|175 – 180 cm||43 – 46 cm||55 – 58 cm||55 – 57 cm||52 – 55 cm|
|180 – 185 cm||46 – 48 cm||58 – 61 cm||57 – 60 cm||55 – 56 cm|
|185 – 190 cm||48 – 53 cm||61 – 63 cm||60 – 62 cm||57 – 60 cm|
|190 – 195 cm||53 – 56 cm||63 – 66 cm||62 – 64 cm||60 – 62 cm|
|195 – 200 cm||56 – 58 cm||66 cm and taller||64 cm and taller||62 cm and taller|
You will need a folding rule and a spirit level to determine the frame size. If you don’t have a spirit level, you can also use a book or a ruler. You should take your shoes off when measuring and the top of the measuring instrument should be parallel to the ground.
Then use the folding rule to measure from the floor to the top of the spirit level (i.e. to the end of the step). The value you get here is your stride length (stride height).
If this calculation is too complicated for you, just look at the table and calculate your height. This is an approximate calculation of your frame size.
The weight varies depending on the equipment and the use of different materials and is therefore decisive for very high speeds. Here again, your goal orientation plays a role when buying. If you are a professional road cyclist, this is a very important criterion for you. Often in the hobby sector, the weight for road cycling only plays a limited role.
Here on our site you will find different weight classes for road bikes, one of which is even under 10 kg. Considering the weight, this falls under a perfect racing bike. Racing bikes weighing up to 11 kg are super suitable for professional sport, whereby a minimum of 6 kg must not be undercut.
Every bike is equipped with a special and different gear system that makes the road bike special. Most rear derailleurs come from the manufacturer Shimano in a wide range of equipment.
Our road bikes also have different gears. On some road bikes, the gears are located on the handlebars for aerodynamics. You have to decide for yourself what you like more and what you can handle better.
Front / rear brakes
To ensure safety, almost all road bikes are equipped with V brakes front and rear. The brake levers are located in different places and depend on the position of the handlebars. Most brakes are made by Shimano or Campagnolo or XLC.
When buying a brake, it is not so much the price that determines the quality, but the brake pad. The clever combination of caliper and pad can drastically increase the performance of any brake. Especially in the rain, studies and test results have shown the Shimano ten-speed Dura-Ace (R55C2) to be extremely powerful.
Road bikes come in a wide variety of designs and colours. However, colour should not be the most decisive criterion for buying a road bike and should never take precedence over quality.
If the equipment fits and the quality meets your wishes, you can decide on the design and the colour. If you don’t like the design at all, you can always consider repainting the bike.
Reflectors & accessories
Real road bikes almost never have reflectors or lights for road traffic. In many cases, you can upgrade the lighting on a racing bike with special dynamos. However, you only need to do this if you ride your road bike in the dark at night.
A few of our road bikes in the comparison already have a luggage rack and existing lighting. Especially some of the Da Vinci brand are often suitable for night riding due to their already existing accessories.
Wheel sets are available in various designs and price ranges. You can buy anything from a sturdy starter set to a high-end carbon wheelset.
Most inexpensive road bikes are sold with correspondingly poor wheels. This makes it possible to keep the sales price very low.
What should you keep in mind? The lighter and stiffer the wheelset, the better, but also more expensive the material. Basically, a distinction is made between climbing wheels, aerodynamic wheels and training and winter wheels.
Climbing wheels are specially made for riding in the mountains. Stiffness and light weight are particularly important. A climbing wheel made of carbon is best. In addition, these wheels should be equipped with disc brakes because, although they are heavier than rim brakes, they can achieve better braking performance.
Aerodynamic wheels are best the larger the surface area of the rim, as a large surface area reduces air resistance. High rims have less drag than low rims, so the aerodynamic advantage only comes into play at high speeds.
Training and winter sets only have to do one thing: last a long time. With these wheels, values such as stiffness or weight are not important, but only durability and weather resistance. These wheels are mostly used by racers who want to use their good wheels in training or in bad weather.
A component group always consists of the brakes and the drive. The drivetrain also includes the crank, chainrings, chain, cassette, derailleur and shift lever. A component group is therefore always a self-contained system that a bike needs to move forward and stop.
With groupsets, too, a higher price also means better quality. If you spend a little more, you will also get efficient, durable groupsets with low weight and light shifting.
The Danish company CeramicSpeed is known for wanting to reduce friction losses. Now they have removed the chain completely. Alternatively, a drive shaft made of carbon is driven via 21 ceramic ball bearings. This form of drive is said to be 49% more efficient than conventional drive systems with a chain.
A distinction is made between mechanical and electric shift groups. With electric shifting, the shifting process is more precise and the shifting is easier to operate. It is very user-friendly and has a high level of functionality. You can program circuits and also download them to evaluate the switching behaviour. However, electric circuits always need a charged battery and are heavier than the mechanical version.
Mechanical shifters are operated by cables. The cables connect the shift lever with the rear derailleur and the front derailleur. Depending on the manufacturer, they either run along the frame or through it. The shifting mechanism is triggered by a lever that changes the tension of the cables. The advantage of this variant is clearly the lighter weight. However, it is important that the cables are always maintained so that the shifting mechanism functions properly.
Facts worth knowing about road bikes
Disc vs. rim brakes: Which is the right one for me?
Disc brakes, also called disc brakes, are being used on more and more road bike models. However, some road cyclists find disc brakes too big and heavy. On the other hand, disc brakes have a slightly better braking performance than rim brakes. Especially on longer descents and in wet conditions, this type of brake has a shorter braking distance and other advantages.
However, disc brakes also have their disadvantages. The brakes often squeal and can cause grinding noises. Maintenance is more complex and change times are also longer when racing. In addition, racing bikes with disc brakes have somewhat poorer aerodynamics.
Rim brakes have a good braking effect especially in dry weather and are easy to maintain as the brake pads can be changed very easily. In wet conditions, the braking effect of the rim brake decreases. Rim brakes also often cause grinding noises because the brake pads are in contact with the rim. This often leads to rim wear.
You have to find out for yourself which brake is better for you. The best thing is just to try it out!
Sporty or comfortable: Can a road bike be both?
A road bike can be both sporty and comfortable. If you value comfort, you should look for an endurance road bike. Endurance bikes are particularly suitable for long-distance riders who often ride on poor roads.
The good thing about it? It has a comfortable saddle and a comfortable, upright riding position, and also offers great stability.
The only disadvantage is the relatively heavy wheel. It is also less suitable for road cyclists with race ambitions.
What is the Ultegra class?
Ultegra refers to a racing bike group from the Shimano brand. Ultegra stands for Ultimate Integrated. The Ultegra class is recommended for ambitious hobby athletes, but can also be used for cycling races.
The Ultegra is equipped with a two-speed crank and an 11-speed cassette and is more robust due to its slightly higher weight. Ultegra models are available with a mechanical rim brake or a hydraulic disc brake. In terms of price, you have to reckon with about 2,000 to 3,500 euros, depending on the frame material.
Who invented the road bike?
The running wheel, the forerunner of today’s bicycle, was invented by the German baron Karl Friedrich von Drais. Through numerous changes and immense technical advances, the running wheel was constantly improved and was equipped with a chain drive, whose inventor was the Frenchman André Guilmet.
Through further technical improvements, the wheel evolved into a bicycle, which eventually became the racing bicycle.
How often should I oil the chain on a road bike?
The chain should be checked, cleaned and polished approximately every 300 kilometres. When it is clean, you can drip the oil directly onto the inside of the chain so that the chainrings and cassette are lubricated at the same time.
What is the best way to train for road cycling?
If you are a newcomer to road cycling, it is advisable to undergo a sports medical examination with a sports scientist as a first step. This will give you the confidence that you can achieve your goals along with your physical condition.
After that, you start with the basic training, where you slowly introduce your body to higher loads. The extent of your basic training ranges between 2-3 times per week for 2-5 hours each time.
This is followed by strength endurance training, where your leg muscles in particular should be strengthened through a lower cadence. By training 1-2 times per week for 2-3 hours each time, you will gain good strength endurance.
When you have trained enough strength endurance, you start to simulate riding games in order to trim your condition to a maximum and to simulate a race. In this phase you train only once a week for about 2-4 hours.
A balanced diet and sufficient recovery phases contribute to an optimal training plan. After some time and adherence to the training plan, you should be able to complete long distances in a good time.
The next step in your training plan is interval training, which improves your maximum oxygen uptake and your recovery. You should alternate load and unload to achieve the best results. Interval training should be done once a week for about 2-3 hours.
When should I change the brake pads?
In most cases you will find a mark on the brake pads indicating where you should and can wear the pad. Then it is essential to replace them.
Where can I ride my road bike?
In principle, you can ride a road bike anywhere where there are long, asphalted routes and roads. There are many countries and holiday regions that are ideal for perfect training or an unforgettable sports holiday.
Even in winter, there are countries to the south that allow good preparation for road cycling due to the milder temperatures.
Photo source: Pixabay.com / wiggijo