Ribble Buying Guide - Road Bikes
So, tarmac is your thing. Road bikes are designed to travel over tarmac without fuss and efficiently. When choosing the best road bike for you, there are some important considerations to be made. First of all, what do you intend to use the bike for?
Competition/Fast Social Rides
If competition is your thing then you are really looking for something lightweight, stiff and with agile handling. Carbon fibre provides plenty of stiffness and lightweight and frames such as the Ribble R872 or Aero 883 are designed to be great round the corners. When building the bike then Shimano 105 is a great place to start from and work your way up. Spending slightly more will give better gear shifts and save a lot of weight. It’s worth paying close attention to the wheels. You’ll want something lightweight with good stiffness. Wheels with slightly deeper profiles carry speed more efficiently, especially on the flat, but there is a weight penalty; with wheels you need to consider rotating weight, so if you’ll be doing lots of climbing – look for lighter wheels with shallow profiles.
If you are competing in triathlons or time trials, then Aero/TT bikes are likely to be what you want. Suited mostly to competition, these are really race day bikes. TT bikes are designed to cut through the air as efficiently as possible and have a very aggressive riding position. Carbon dominates this area as it allows the bikes to be sculpted more efficiently – like F1 cars.
Whether riding distances alone, with friends, or taking part in sportives, a ‘Sportive’ or Gran Fondo’ style bike might be most suited to you. These bikes roll as efficiently as ‘pure’ racing bikes but have a slightly less aggressive riding position. This is particularly more forgiving on the lower back, helping with a comfortable ride. These bikes are also designed to provide slightly more stability through the corners where comfort takes priority over racing through the bends.
Road bikes make great commuters – eating up those miles to and from the office. Commuter bikes have to deal with all conditions because, let’s face it, Britain doesn’t have the best record! Mudguards are a great idea for keeping you dry and clean, so look out for a bike with mudguard eyelets. Our best-selling Winter 7005 is a great example.
You also want the bike to be reliable. Getting a puncture when already running late to work is never much fun. Consider speccing some hard wearing tyres such as the Continental Gatorskins in the online Bikebuilder. Tyres such as these are designed to work in all conditions and are less prone to cuts from debris.
There are a number of different frame materials to choose from when selecting your ideal partner, but what are the differences? Here’s a simple run through:
Carbon fibre is seen by many as the ultimate frame building material. It has a number of advantages over traditional materials such as steel and aluminium. Carbon fibre is very lightweight, yet has a high strength – it’s why carbon is used in building F1 cars and aeroplanes. This is a huge advantage when designing racing bikes as you can create a very lightweight bike with very efficient pedalling efficiency.
Another benefit of carbon fibre is that it will dampen vibration travelling through the material offering a more comfortable ride. This is one of the reasons that you will often find carbon fibre forks and seatposts on bikes. These are two ways that we deliver more comfort to a bike while also offering advantageous weight savings.
Aerodynamics in recent years have played a significant role in bike design. We now find aero bikes on the road such as the Aero 883 along with full blown TT machines like the Aero TT. Carbon fibre helps to deliver far more aerodynamic shapes which are honed in the wind tunnel. Unlike with metal tubes where sculpting frames is restrictive, bike designers have almost free reign when using carbon meaning you get a much faster bike!
Aluminium took over from steel as the material of choice for professionals until carbon fibre took over in more recent years. Aluminium delivers a light frame at a far more cost effective price than carbon. In the last two years, the material has undergone a bit of a resurgence as frame builders have managed to drop more and more weight from frames with the introduction of new alloys.
Being lower in cost to produce than carbon frames, aluminium bikes are great places to start for people coming into the sport. Aluminium doesn’t quite have the same vibration dampening properties as say carbon or steel, so ours a matched with a carbon fibre fork, but consider a carbon seatpost also.
One of the more exotic and hard-wearing materials used in bike design. Titanium is often hailed as being the most comfortable material to ride with an almost ‘springy’ ride quality. As titanium doesn’t corrode, titanium frames are typically finished ‘raw’ to show off the exotic finish.
Due to the springy nature of the material, titanium is best suited to long distance machines designed for increased comfort, like the Ti Sportive Racing. Buying into this category puts you in a special club!
Steel is the traditional frame building material. Steel is heavier than aluminium, titanium and carbon and was replaced in the pro peloton some time ago. Steel however, continues to be a popular choice. Not only is it simple to work with, making frames almost bombproof, it also delivers a surprisingly smooth ride. Nowadays, it is commonly used for town and city bikes, comfortable audax style machines such as the Ribble Reynolds 525 Steel and touring bikes.