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What is a Road Bike?

Last Updated 2021.01.22

What is a Road Bike?

01-aicache-roadbike
A road bike is a bicycle that specializes in driving at high speed or long distances on the on-road (paved road, etc.) among bicycles.
Because it is made for the purpose of racing or long-distance bicycle travel, the weight of the bicycle itself is also lightweight, and it is characterized by feeling lighter than running on an ordinary bicycle.
You can use a wide range of road bikes for hill climbs, long rides, races, cycling, potting, and cycling.

History of road bikes

It is said that the prototype of the road bike was built for competition around the 1900s.
At that time, the road bike had no brakes, and it is said that the road was running on a road that stepped on the soil.
In the 1910s, a drop handle was developed that can be said to be a feature of today's road bikes.
From there, the evolution of road bikes was interrupted by World War II, but in 1947, when the famous Tour de France resumed, technological innovations continued to advance, with the introduction of front gear shifts and the shifting of wheels from wood to metal.

In the 1970s, Shimano launched Dura Ace. Against this, Campagnolo also released a super record. The road bike industry is evolving at once.

Evolution of road bikes

Road Bike Double Lever
Even in the past, when I first got on a road bike, in the 1980s, a part of the frame called the down tube of the road bike frame was called a double lever, and the left was the gear shift on the front side and the right was gear shifting on the rear side.

Shimano Dual Control Lever

In 1991, Shimano developed a dual control lever called STI (Shimano Total Integration) that can change gears (shift changes) at the brake lever part by changing to a double lever, and can change shifts without lifting your hand from the steering wheel.
This was very groundbreaking. I am also riding a road bike equipped with this Shimano STI dual control lever now, but when I think back to the load of the double lever in 1980, the shift operation of the road bike now is easy and I do not take my hands off the steering wheel, so I think it is very good in terms of safety.
The method of shift lever operation is front gear shifting on the left hand side and rear gear shifting on the right hand side.
If you click inward for each brake lever on the left hand side, the front gear will be called the outer and the front gear will shift to a heavy gear, and if you click the lever only inside the brake inward, the front will shift to a light gear.
If you click inward for each brake lever on the right hand side, the rear gear will shift to a light gear called an inner, and the rear will shift to a heavy gear by clicking the lever only inside the brake inward.
Gear shifting is the opposite in the left hand shift operation and the right hand side shift operation, but the operation is easy enough to be able to move at a level that you can quickly get used to while riding.

Following Shimano's STI dual-control lever system, Italy's Campagnolo will develop the Ergo system.
Campagnolo is an Italian bicycle parts manufacturer before Shimano's appearance in the road bike industry.
Almost all of the parts used in the Tour de France were shared by Campagnolo, but with the rise of Shimano, Shimano is now 60% of the world and Campagnolo is about 20 to 30% of the world.
Due to this shift change mechanism with the brake lever, the double lever gradually disappeared and was no longer used in the world of road racing.

In the 2000s, the electrification development of shift changes will become active.
In 2001, Shimano announced a Digital Integrated Intelligence (Di2) system that can change shifts by electric power.
In 2009, Shimano's Dura Ace flagship model was first unveiled with the Di2.
Campagnolo also announced electric components in 2010, and the world of road bike racing will be electric shifted at once.

Since the electric shift is an option of the flagship model, it is a very expensive one and is a flower of Takamine for hobby users, but the feeling of the shift operation seems to be very light with a feeling of ticking lightly compared to the wire type.
I would like to ride an electric shift road bike once, but now that the electric shift is evolving, I would like to try it when the price becomes cheaper to the level that is popular in general.

Road bike frame also evolved

Road bike frames are also evolving.
Road bike frame blueprint
The image above shows a rough frame design.
A frame designed so that the top tube part is parallel to the ground is called a horizontal frame.
The frame design of the old road bike was mostly this horizontal frame.
There are still many lovers who like this horizontal frame, and there are still many manufacturers who make road bikes made of chromoly material with horizontal frames.

Slowing Frame Road Bike
If you look at the road bike in the figure above, the top tube is lowered diagonally toward the saddle (seat) different from the road bike frame above.
These frame shapes are called slowing frames. Originally said to have started with the frame of a mountain bike, the manufacturer giant of the photograph adopted the slowing frame for the road bike.
Giant is a Taiwanese bicycle parts manufacturer, and in the past it was a subcontractor OEM for the manufacture of frames of other bicycle manufacturers, but using its know-how to launch a brand called GIANT, it is now one of the world's leading comprehensive bicycle manufacturers.
Actually, my road bike is also this Giant's road bike.

I'll go back to the story.
This slowing frame was very silly when the Giant announced it. This is because it was common for road bikes to have horizontal frames.
In addition, the slowing frame was originally derived from mountain biking, and mountain biking was home to the United States.
Because of these circumstances, the slowing frame may have been unacceptable in Europe, which originated from road bikes.
In Japan, giant stores opened in Tokyo's Niko Tamagawa, and Giant road bikes appeared, but at that time, giants? It was an image that it was somehow sad when riding a giant selling a cheap road bike.
Giant still offers road bikes at a lower price than other European road bike manufacturers, but now the image of giant has changed completely, and cospa is a manufacturer selling good quality road bikes.

Slowing frames have advantages over horizontal frames.
By making the frame smaller in structure, it was the perfect structure for road bikes with improved frame rigidity, weight reduction, and low center of gravity.
In addition, there is an advantage on the user side, and even a user who is short can ride with a foot well, and the manufacturer has to expand the size finely depending on the height of the user in the horizon frame, but in the slowing frame, there is an advantage that the tolerance of the user's height expands and the size expansion is small, In the world of road bikes, slowing frames became popular at once.

Road bike materials are also evolving.
Currently, there are three main materials for road bikes.

  • Chromoly (Chrome Molybdenum Steel)
  • Aluminum
  • Carbon

There are advantages and disadvantages depending on the material.
Chromoly is a so-called iron frame with a material that has been used since the early days of road bikes.
The advantage is that it is flexible and moderately absorbs the impact from the road surface and reduces the burden on the user, and there is no sudden crack like carbon that breaks.
In long-distance cycling, there is a certain layer of chromoly road users because this flexibility makes it difficult to get tired.
The disadvantage is weight. Even if the frame is thin because of iron, the weight will inevitably become heavier than aluminum and carbon. Therefore, chromoly is almost never used in the current road bike racing scene.

Aluminum has become popular because it can be made lighter while maintaining strength compared to chromoly.
Since it is resistant to rust and can make frames at low cost, there are many models that still use aluminum for the frame of the introductory road bike.
The advantage is that it can be made lighter than the load of the chromoly, but in order to maintain some strength, the frame tends to be thicker than the chromoly.
The disadvantage is that aluminum has a progress of metal fatigue in the life of the frame (it is said that metal fatigue is not possible if it is a small load even with a chromoly), so it is said that the life of the frame is shorter than that of chromoly.
I think that the manufacturer is also designing the frame so that a fatal defect such as suddenly the frame is cut off occurs, but the more you ride, the more metal fatigue the aluminum frame becomes, so the ride taste changes, and there may be a sense that the force escapes even if you turn the pedal.

The carbon frame is the newest material on road bikes.
In the mid-1980s, road bikes with carbon first appeared, but at that time, carbon technology was still under development, and it seems that there were few people who had it even for general users.
Today, carbon molding technology has matured and is filled with road bikes with various frame designs.
Even in road bike racing scenes, almost 100% carbon frame road bikes are raced.
The advantage is that the design of the frame has a high degree of freedom, and the lightweight and rigid one can be made. In addition, since vibration absorption is high and there is no deterioration of materials such as metal fatigue, I think that we will announce many carbon road bikes from each manufacturer in the future as the most optimal material for road bikes.
The disadvantage is that the material is expensive. Therefore, even if you buy a road bike for the first time, I think that you will hesitate because the carbon road bike is a little expensive.
However, there are road bikes that can be purchased if there is a budget of about 200,000 yen for carbon road bikes such as Giants and Merida, so 200,000 yen for road bikes? ? You may think, but if you think that it will last for a long time, I think that it is better to try a little hard and buy a carbon road bike.
Another disadvantage of carbon is the breaking of carbon due to a strong impact that is not found in metal, but the frame will not break unless you drop it in such a way that it bumps into a car.
Due to the nature of the material, it is weak to strong impact, but there is no need to worry unless you have a large-scale drop.
However, if you do not pay attention to the torque to tighten each part unlike metals when tightening with screws, etc., there is a possibility that cracks will enter the carbon from the tightening part of the screw.
You only have to pay attention to that when you do the maintenance yourself.

Learn about the components that are an important part of choosing a road bike. Shimano, Campagnolo and SRAM are mostly famous around the world. We will explain the characteristics and merits of each.


Learn the basics of road bike wheels, the characteristics of each manufacturer's wheels, and how to choose wheels that are easy to understand even for road bike beginners. It mainly features Shimano Campagnolo Fulcrum Mavic.

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