If you do recreational riding, the first thing that needs to understand about road bikes is that they are not all created equal. The following are standard road bikes that fall into three broad categories: “road racing” or time trial type bicycles; mountain biking style bicycles; and hybrid bicycles. Each class has its unique characteristics and uses. Let’s briefly examine each in turn.
1. Aero Road Bike
Aero bike has been around since the early 1990s when it was first introduced in Europe. It features an aerodynamic frame design that helps reduce drag on the rider while also providing better handling characteristics. The typical Aero road bike uses carbon fiber or aluminum frame tubing and other lightweight frame components such as wheels, rim brakes, handlebars, seat post, etc. This makes them lightweight compared to traditional steel frames.
2. Bikepacking Road Bike
A hybrid between touring and racing that combines some features from both worlds. The goal here is to have an efficient ride on long distances while still racing or competing in shorter races. Bikepacking Road bike has been popularized by Chris Boardman, who rode his Specialized Roubaix around Europe during the 1990s. It was also featured prominently in Lance Armstrong's Tour de France victories.
3. Commuter Road Bike
A commuter bike is designed to get you from point A to B in comfort on your daily commute or errands around town. It may have some features that make it suitable for longer rides, too, such as racks, fenders, lights, etc., but its primary focus will always be getting you where you need to go safely and comfortably. The frame geometry should be relatively upright so that you don't feel fatigued after long periods spent sitting down.
4. Cyclocross Road Bike
A cyclocross race uses dirt roads that are often very bumpy and uneven. Cyclocross bike races also use lots of hills and climbs. A cyclocross bike was designed specifically for this type of racing. It has shorter chainstays, wider tires, and longer cranks. The frame geometry is usually similar to an endurance or hybrid bike. This means it will have a slightly lower stand-over height, which makes climbing easier.
5. Dual-Sport Road Bike
A dual-sport or adventure road bike is designed specifically for off-road use on dirt trails, single-track roads, etc., while still being able to handle pavement conditions. These are often called “all-mountain” style bicycles because they have similar geometry characteristics to those found in cross-country racing bikes. The main difference between this category and other categories is that it has been optimized for trail riding rather than flat ground commuting.
6. Hybrid Road Bike
Hybrid Cycles combines elements from mountain biking and road cycling into an all-around great ride that works well on pavement or dirt trails. The frame design allows riders to use either drop bars or flat handlebars depending upon preference. Hybrid bicycles are typically designed for comfort over speed, so they tend to have longer top tubes and shorter chain stays than other road bike styles. They also often feature wider tires and lower gearing ratios. This makes them ideal for long rides where rider fatigue isn't much of an issue.
7. Endurance Road Bike
Endurance Road Bikes feature an upright riding position that allows riders to maintain good posture while pedaling over long distances. The frame geometry also helps prevent fatigue from sitting down on your seat too much or leaning forward excessively. This design makes endurance cycling easier because you don’t have to adjust yourself throughout the ride constantly. Endurance bicycles are often built using steel tubing, which provides strength and durability.
8. Electric Road Bike
These are often called “e-Bikes” or “pedelecs” because they have no pedals. They use an electric motor that powers the rear wheels instead of your legs. These bikes are designed primarily for commuting and errands around town. The battery life varies from about 20 miles per charge up to 100+ miles depending on how much power it needs to get through traffic jams. Some models also come with regenerative braking, which helps recharge the batteries when slowing down.
9. Gravel / Adventure / All-Road Road Bike
The gravel road bike was designed specifically for gravel roads / off-road use. It has wider tires that are better suited for loose surfaces such as dirt roads or trails. The frame geometry may also have been optimized for this kind of terrain. Gravel bikes tend to weigh less than other road bikes because they don’t need all the extra components required on an “all-rounder” style road bike.
10. Racing Road Bike
The racing road bike has been around since the early days of cycling when it was all about speed on flat paved roads. It still exists today in some form or another, though its popularity has waned somewhat over time. The main difference between this type of road bike and other styles is that they are designed specifically for racing. They have shorter chain stays, narrower tires, lighter frames, stiffer forks, etc., compared to non-racing road bikes.
11. Time Trialing (TT) / Triathlon Road Bike
This type of road bike has been designed specifically for time trialing or racing in an endurance event such as a half Iron-man distance race. It will have a longer top tube length than other road bikes, which allows it to fit into narrower frame sets often found on TT bicycles. The frame geometry also tends towards being slightly shorter head tube angle and lower bottom bracket height.
12. Track / Fixie Road Bike
This type of road bike was designed specifically for track racing in Europe. Track bike has an upright position that allows riders to maintain good posture while pedaling on the straightaways. The frame geometry also provides excellent stability when cornering or sprinting. Track frames are typically made from steel tubing and have dropouts similar to those found on mountain bikes. They usually come with disc brakes and flat handlebars.
13. Touring Road Bike
A touring bike is designed to carry loads over long distances on rough roads or trails. It will have racks, fenders, mudguards, panniers, etc., all built into it. The frame geometry may also be slightly longer to accommodate this type of use. A typical touring road bike might weigh around 20 pounds less than its racing counterpart.