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  1. #1
    Senior Member Wilfred Laurier's Avatar
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    What is a road bike?

    From a thread on brakes from a week ago:

    Quote Originally Posted by Me
    The problem I am having is that the light aluminum fork shudders terribly under hard braking with traditional cantilevers on my road bike. I am under the belief mini v brakes will solve this problem.
    Quote Originally Posted by SomeoneElse
    ...maybe you need a proper Road bike?
    My bike has an aluminum 'touring' frame, Mafac cantilever brakes (for now), drop handlebars, and bar-end shifters, and 700C X 25mm tires. Does that sound like a road bike to you? The implication from the above quote by someone else is that bikes with cantilever brakes are not 'proper' road bikes. Does this mean that the only bikes that are proper road bikes are road 'racing' bikes that have caliper brakes and a maximum tire width of 23mm?

    BITD I thought that way - that a 'road bike' was a road racing bike. Touring bikes were a totally separate entity, and road-sport and older 10 speed bikes were just poor imitators. CX bikes were not at all common where I lived back then.

    Are there certain characteristics that a bike must have to be called a 'road bike'? Drop handlebars? Then what about flat-bar road bikes? Skinny tires? Than what about road-sport bikes that can fit 32mm tires or older bikes with more clearance?

    Just what does one mean when one refers to a 'road bike' in 2013?

  2. #2
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    When someone says "road bike" to me I typically think of something used for racing or fast club rides, versus a city bike, touring bike, mountain bike, cruiser, folding bike or cross bike.

    Cantilever brakes were typically used on cross bikes, touring bikes and the early mountain bikes.

    I don't think there is really a set definition, just whatever that person thinks it is, ask for clarification.

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

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  3. #3
    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    Much more important than being a road bike is that's it's a ridden bike.

  4. #4
    absent Ferrous Bueller's Avatar
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    I lump any bike with drop bars and smooth tires into the road bike category.
    Most languages I know differentiate between 'race' bikes and touring.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Nermal's Avatar
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    And I consider a touring bike to be a sub class of road bike - not that it's important enough for an argument.
    Some people are like a Slinky ... not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you shove them down the stairs.

  6. #6
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    No such thing as a flat bar road bike except in the wet dreams of hybrid marketing men.

    Road bikes probably still encompass drop-bar tourers. Cyclocross bikes? Maybe, but they came along a bit later and are probably now a class of their own.

    Definitions overlap. It doesn't really matter, as long as you like what you are riding.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  7. #7
    Carpe Velo Yo Spiff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
    No such thing as a flat bar road bike except in the wet dreams of hybrid marketing men.
    Why not? If it is designed with the intent of being ridden on pavement, I would consider it a road bike.

    I guess it really depends in how you define the term. If it is originally designed for use on pavement, I consider it a road bike and a road RACING bike is a subcategory of that. On the other hand, when talking to others, I don't put my Schwinn Crosscut or my hybridized drop bar MTB in the road bike category. I think many define the term with the implied "racing" after it. Best answer is "it depends".
    2000 Bianchi Veloce, '88 Schwinn Prologue, '88 Trek 900, '92 Trek T100, 2000 Rans Tailwind

  8. #8
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yo Spiff View Post
    Why not? If it is designed with the intent of being ridden on pavement, I would consider it a road bike.
    All bikes are designed to be ridden on pavement. Some are designed to be ridden on other surfaces as well, but none are not pavement-compatible.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  9. #9
    absent Ferrous Bueller's Avatar
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    ^^See? It's just this sort of rancor that's keeping English speakers behind the rest of the world.
    We should do as the others and call them racing, touring, or hybrid bikes.

  10. #10
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ferrous Bueller View Post
    ^^See? It's just this sort of rancor that's keeping English speakers behind the rest of the world.
    We should do as the others and call them racing, touring, or hybrid bikes.
    Rancor? No rancour here. As it happens, when I was growing up in the UK (before the term "hybrid bike" had been invented) there were just "bikes". People differentiated between "racing bikes" and "bikes". Some maunfacturers talked about "roadsters". Simpler world.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  11. #11
    absent Ferrous Bueller's Avatar
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    In the 70s, everyone knew what a 'ten speed' was.
    Everything went to pieces when some genius added that sixth cog.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Wilfred Laurier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
    All bikes are designed to be ridden on pavement. Some are designed to be ridden on other surfaces as well, but none are not pavement-compatible.
    All bikes are designed to be ridden on pavement but some are designed to be ridden exclusively on pavement. Touring and road-sport bikes are not really intended to go anywhere rougher than a gravel road. Road racing bikes are generally completely out of their environment on any loose surface.

  13. #13
    The Recumbent Quant cplager's Avatar
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    I always considered any diamond frame with drop bars to be a road bike, including both touring and cyclocross bikes (particularly when it has slicks). I don't get upset when people don't consider the latter two (touring and cyclocross) however.

    Quote Originally Posted by Looigi View Post
    Much more important than being a road bike is that's it's a ridden bike.
    Wouldn't that be "rode bike".
    Last edited by cplager; 04-26-13 at 02:28 PM.
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  14. #14
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ferrous Bueller View Post
    In the 70s, everyone knew what a 'ten speed' was.
    Everything went to pieces when some genius added that sixth cog.
    You just had to wait a few years.

    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

  15. #15
    Senior Member Wilfred Laurier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by caloso View Post
    You just had to wait a few years.
    What you are referring to are actually twenty or thirty speed bikes.

    Sram only missed going back to ten speeds by one generation of mountain bike components. Since so many people still call drop-bar bikes 'ten speeds', perhaps they will start calling all terrain bikes 'eleven speeds'.

  16. #16
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    Bicycle definitions are slowly beginning to blur and morph into something they never used to be. For example, some of yesterday's mtbikes look like today's hybrids. Some dual suspension hybrids look exactly like certain 29er ht mtbikes to me. I always thought that a road bike had drop handlebars and skinny tires. However, if you look at the salsa fargo with its fat tires...Is that really a road bike?

    Look at the now defunct trek sawyer. It looked more like a cruiser, but it was considered a mtb. Sheesh!

  17. #17
    rebmeM roineS JanMM's Avatar
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    Don't know when the term 'road bike' came into common usage, but I think probably only in the last decade or so. It means whatever the person using it thinks that it means.
    One of my road bikes that I ride only on the road:

    RANS V3 (steel), RANS V-Rex, RANS Screamer

  18. #18
    Senior Member Wilfred Laurier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JanMM View Post
    Don't know when the term 'road bike' came into common usage, but I think probably only in the last decade or so. It means whatever the person using it thinks that it means.
    One of my road bikes that I ride only on the road:

    Trying to imply that recumbents are actually 'bikes' is a whole 'nother argument.

    Also, I competed in road races in the late 80s through mid 90s and we called the bikes we had 'road bikes' even beck then.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Why does it matter?
    "Would a rose by any other name smell so sweet?"

  20. #20
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wilfred Laurier View Post
    Trying to imply that recumbents are actually 'bikes' is a whole 'nother argument.

    Also, I competed in road races in the late 80s through mid 90s and we called the bikes we had 'road bikes' even beck then.
    I raced back in the 70's we had race bikes and training bikes, then there was everything else.

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
    I raced back in the 70's we had race bikes and training bikes, then there was everything else.

    Aaron
    When I started racing in 1965, we had road bikes and track bikes. I raced on the road with a Helyett track bike, which the ABL allowed at that time (as long as the track bike had "one working brake," to quote the ABL rule book). No touring bikes; at least, that term didn't come into use until the mid-'70s, as I recall.

  22. #22
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trakhak View Post
    When I started racing in 1965, we had road bikes and track bikes. I raced on the road with a Helyett track bike, which the ABL allowed at that time (as long as the track bike had "one working brake," to quote the ABL rule book). No touring bikes; at least, that term didn't come into use until the mid-'70s, as I recall.
    I trained on a track bike...no brakes I do recall a couple of guys racing on track bikes and they would fit a single front brake. I had a Bob Jackson touring bike in 1974, along with a Cinelli and a Teledyne Titan (purchased in late 1974) don't recall the make or model of the track bike, I know the frame was really beat up.

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
    _Nicodemus

    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred
    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
    _krazygluon

  23. #23
    Chainstay Brake Mafia
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ferrous Bueller View Post
    I lump any bike with drop bars and smooth tires into the road bike category.
    Road bike? or Mountain bike with drop bars and smooth tires?




    Or does it matter?
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  24. #24
    The Recumbent Quant cplager's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frantik View Post
    Or does it matter?
    Bingo.
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  25. #25
    rebmeM roineS JanMM's Avatar
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    When was Road Bike Action first published? Mountain Bike Action existed quite a while before RBA hit the stands. Near as I can recall.
    RANS V3 (steel), RANS V-Rex, RANS Screamer

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