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Old 04-26-13, 11:01 AM   #1
Wilfred Laurier
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What is a road bike?

From a thread on brakes from a week ago:

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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.
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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?
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Old 04-26-13, 12:05 PM   #2
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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.

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Old 04-26-13, 12:25 PM   #3
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Much more important than being a road bike is that's it's a ridden bike.
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Old 04-26-13, 12:35 PM   #4
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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.
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Old 04-26-13, 12:41 PM   #5
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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.
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Old 04-26-13, 12:56 PM   #6
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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.
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Old 04-26-13, 01:06 PM   #7
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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".
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Old 04-26-13, 01:10 PM   #8
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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.
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Old 04-26-13, 01:17 PM   #9
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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.
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Old 04-26-13, 01:33 PM   #10
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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.
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.
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Old 04-26-13, 01:41 PM   #11
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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.
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Old 04-26-13, 02:19 PM   #12
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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.
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Old 04-26-13, 02:21 PM   #13
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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.

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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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Old 04-26-13, 02:43 PM   #14
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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.
You just had to wait a few years.

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Old 04-26-13, 03:01 PM   #15
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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'.
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Old 04-26-13, 05:28 PM   #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!
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Old 04-26-13, 07:40 PM   #17
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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:

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Old 04-26-13, 08:02 PM   #18
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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:

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.
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Old 04-26-13, 08:14 PM   #19
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Why does it matter?
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Old 04-27-13, 05:28 AM   #20
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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.

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Old 04-27-13, 05:44 AM   #21
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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.
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Old 04-27-13, 05:51 AM   #22
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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.

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Old 04-27-13, 05:58 AM   #23
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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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Old 04-27-13, 06:32 AM   #24
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Or does it matter?
Bingo.
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Old 04-27-13, 09:09 AM   #25
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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.
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