The skeleton around which the road bicycle is built, frames are made from a wide variety of metals and other materials. Aluminum, titanium and various grades of chromoly steel are the metals of choice in today's road bicycle frames. Scandium, a high-tech metal, is a rare choice. Carbon fiber has gained in popularity due to its shock- and bump-absorbing qualities.
The two major brands in road bicycling components today are Shimano, a Japanese manufacturer, and Campagnolo, an Italian component maker. With different levels within each maker's roster, a road bike can save weight depending on what "groupo" is used. Shimano's hierarchy of quality goes Sora, Tiagra, 105, Ultegra and Dura Ace, with Dura Ace the best and Sora at the lower end.
Campagnolo's, or "Campie's" hierarchy of quality is Veloce, Centaur, Athena, Record and Super Record.
How a road bike performs is directly affected by the wheel. A lighter-weight wheel gives what is called a lower "rotating weight." With road bicycle wheels, it is better to have more of the wheel weight centered to the inside of the wheel, giving a more efficient roll. Using a lighter inner tube or tubeless tires on a road bike reduces rotating weight.
Stem and Seat
Road bike seats are hard and narrow. Going against intuition, a harder and narrower seat gives less injury to riders as there is less surface area for rider/seat contact than large seats. Hardness reduces friction and prevents chafing.
With all the pieces in place, the road bike is complete. The last key with a road bicycle is size and fit. Higher-end bicycle shops will typically have fit machines to give a rider a perfect fit on the bicycle.
Article Written By Eric Cedric
A former Alaskan of 20 years, Eric Cedric now resides in California. He's published in "Outside" and "Backpacker" and has written a book on life in small-town Alaska, "North by Southeast." Cedric was a professional mountain guide and backcountry expedition leader for 18 years. He worked in Russia, Iceland, Greece, Turkey and Belize. Cedric attended Syracuse University and is a private pilot.