How to Choose a Road BikeRoad bikes are designed for racing or training on the road. In the quest for comfort and efficiency, bike designers strive for low weight, aerodynamics, lateral stiffness, and vertical compliance. The correct combination of these variables equals a bike that translates rider input directly to the road while absorbing enough shock and vibration to reduce fatigue.
Carbon Fiber frames show up most often in high-end road and race bikes because it has a few distinct advantages over other common materials: a superior strength-to-weight ratio, longer fatigue life, and increased vibration-damping. Carbon bikes tend to cost more, but the price is worth it for the serious cyclist.
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Aluminum frames have their own advantages. The first is cost. Aluminum frames are less expensive to make and, as a result, less expensive to buy. Aluminum’s other advantage is its stiffness. While this stiffness means you’ll feel more road vibration, it also means that every ounce of power is put directly to the road.
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A lot of cycling lore surrounds titanium. A titanium frame’s real advantage is its incredible fatigue strength—a good titanium frame will easily outlast its owner. It also means that a frame can be made to flex slightly, which lends the frame a lively, springy feel. You’ve heard the old adage about titanium bikes: if you find one for sale, buy it.
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