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Why should I get a road bike?

EsiotrotEsiotrot Posts: 8
edited November 2013 in Road beginners
Hi all
As a long time lurker on this forum I've seen posts from many people making the move from a Hybrid to a Road bike, in fact I'm considering it myself. The question is why and what are the advantages?

I'm an older rider (much older) whose recently started cycling to regain some of my lost fitness after decades of inactivity other than walking and also to lose some weight. I started with my son's old MTB - very heavy and very hard work. I've now got a Giant Escape 2 hybrid and I'm riding once a week with a group who without exception all ride road bikes. I'm also out on my own another three days during the week. I'm obviously getting a little fitter and losing some of that weight. This last week I did my longest ride to date with 45 miles on Saturday giving a weekly total of 100miles.

However I'm still "Tail-end Charlie" on the group rides getting killed by the hills and if the speed goes up. What I'm told is along the lines of - "You will be fine when you get a road bike" Hence the question of why should I do that and why do so many others make that change. The group I should point out is not a cycling club but a locally organised "Sky Ride"

Apart from the weight of the bike which would probably be around a 3 Kg saving, I'm interested to know the other factors involved. Tyres and body position and profile spring to mind but how significant are they? What other reasons are there to make the use of a road bike faster and more efficient? What difference will I find?

Money is pretty tight so my initial plan was to stick with the hybrid over the winter and buy second hand in the spring, probably via Gumtree or E-bay. However if the reasons to change were convincing enough I might do that sooner rather than later.

My target is to try sportives in 2014 because however old you are the competitive streak never dies!!
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  • dnwhite88dnwhite88 Posts: 285
    You should find a speed increase on a road bike because of the tyres, positioning and gearing but the hybrid will serve you fine over the winter while you do your homework on what you're going to want to buy in the spring-it's worth checking the class fields on this forum from time to time as well. If you want to know what all the fuss is about, go test ride some road bikes.
    "It never gets easier, you just go faster"
  • Please bear in mind I'm not the fountain of all info on bikes, but...

    IMO, forget the weight side - that's not a massive issue for you. I started off 1.5 stone heavier than I am now, and can promise that 3kg isn't even noticable if you;re carrying a bit of excess as you imply - hell, 3kg is only 2 water bottles and a little puncture repair kit...

    However, I think the bike will be costing you quite a bit - part in position, but mainly in wheels. Next ride, sit side by side with someone on a roadie. On the ride, keep an eye out for how often you have to pedal while they freewheel. If it's quite a bit, that's effort you're spending for equivalent speed - so you could go faster on a roadie.
    One obvious change is position - you;re more upright, so will have to move more air than they do at speed. This you can probably only change this with a change in bike. The bigger factor though I think you can change - wheels and tyres. If your bike is standard, Google says it's on 32mm tyres. I run 23mm tyres, which is common, as are 25's. You run these at higher pressures, so there is far, far less rolling resistance to deal with. This will affect you in all aspects of the ride - harder to go fast, and harder to go up.

    As a test, try inflating your tyres to whatever the max is it says on the side - it might make life easier. If this works, I'd get some cheap 700x25c tyres, and see how much that helps - you might find a world of benefit for 20-30 quid.
  • WooliferkinsWooliferkins Posts: 2,060
    Nice as new shiny stuff is it is not a replacement for the good work you've already started. Losing the weight and regaining your fitness is a better way to get a bit faster. The loss of 3kg is a lot cheaper than rushing into the new steed. If the budget is tight then the wait is no bad thing. Use the time to do some good research, save some dosh then when you do upgrade you'll do it from a position of knowledge. You could use it as a reward for reaching a weight loss target.

    A road bike will be lighter and the position different, the tyres thinner so they roll better. You can sort the tyres out (presuming the Giant stock tyres?) I'd expect the rims to happily take a 700x28 slick which will speed you up a bit.
    Neil
    Help I'm Being Oppressed
  • BozmanBozman Posts: 2,570
    A mate of mine has been riding a hybrid for the last couple of years and out of the blue he's just bought himself a road bike, he can't believe the difference in pace and apparently should have done it sooner, this guy is 6'3" and 15.5st and he's happily plodding along on 23 tyres.
    The hybrid has now got mudguards on and that's his winter bike.
  • monkimarkmonkimark Posts: 737
    Any chance you could borrow a friends bike for a test ride to see if it makes a significant difference.

    I bought a road bike at the start of the year after tagging along on road rides with newbie cyclist mates using my mountain bike with slicks.
    I was fine on the MTB at first but as the rest of group developed a bit of cycling fitness I found I was stuggling to keep up (even though I'm probably one of the fitter members of the group - no great boast if you know the group). First ride out on the road bike and putting in the usual effort on the pedals, I found I was having to keep slowing down to let them catch up - the difference was really quite significant, especially towards the end of the ride when the additional effort of dragging the mtb up the hills would have been starting to show.

    That's MTB - Road bike. I guess you're somewhere in the middle on a hybrid but I'm sure you'd still feel the difference.
    Whether it's worth the money for you is something only you can say.
  • I guess if you're aiming for second hand, and not in a rush there's good bargains to be had.

    If its not for you, sell your new purchase on and you shouldn't be out of pocket.
  • Mikey23Mikey23 Posts: 5,028
    My first 'adult' bike was an escape and it's a nice bit of kit. It still comes out regularly and has been touring in France. Missus uses it when she accompanies me. Seems a good plan to work on fitness over the winter and look around for a bargain at the same time
  • Thanks for the replies guys.
    I particularly like the idea of changing the tyres to decrease rolling resistance. I'll check to see what profile will fit on the Giant wheels.
    Funnily enough I had noticed that on the flat the roadies freewheeled more than me but hadn't analysed the reason.

    It looks like the wait for the spring will give me time to get my thoughts straight.
  • JayKostaJayKosta Posts: 635
    In addition to more narrow 'road' tires (e.g. 23 - 28 mm), I suggest (if possible) that you try lowering the stem / handlebars to achieve a more forward leaning position. The lessened wind resistance from a lower position will make a bigger difference, And it will also show you if such a position is comfortable for you.

    Jay Kosta
    Endwell NY USA
  • Esiotrot wrote:
    on the flat the roadies freewheeled more than me but hadn't analysed the reason.
    Laziness :)
    Is the gorilla tired yet?
  • lotus49lotus49 Posts: 763
    It all comes down to having the right tool for the job. Hybrids will work moderately well in most situations but they are a compromise.

    Buying a road bike will not turn you into Chris Froome but you would definitely notice the difference. I think the biggest benefits to a road bike are the wheels and tyres and better aerodynamics (mostly as a result of better positioning).

    Do you know anyone about your size whose bike you could borrow for a day or so? If not, have you thought about trying to hire a road bike for a few days? If you cannot do either of those, Colinthecop is right. If you buy a fairly cheap second hand bike, you won't lose much selling it on again a few months later.

    I bet you'll keep it though.
  • BarteosBarteos Posts: 657
    Any bike (even MTB) with fast rolling tyres, ridden in an efficient aero position will practically as fast as a road bike within tenths of a 1mph but drop bars will be much more comfortable on longer rides.

    Upgrade the tyres to something like GP4000s, lower the handlebars and see how you get on.
    If you still struggle to keep up it'll be you not the bike :wink:
  • KajjalKajjal Posts: 3,404
    Barteos wrote:
    Any bike (even MTB) with fast rolling tyres, ridden in an efficient aero position will practically as fast as a road bike within tenths of a 1mph but drop bars will be much more comfortable on longer rides.

    Upgrade the tyres to something like GP4000s, lower the handlebars and see how you get on.
    If you still struggle to keep up it'll be you not the bike :wink:

    My mountain bike is a hardtail XC one and while fast off road is hard work on road compared to my road bike. You are right about tyres and aerodynamics but also the suspension, heavier bigger wheels, overall heavier bike has a bigger impact than you would think.
  • BarteosBarteos Posts: 657
    Kajjal wrote:
    Barteos wrote:
    Any bike (even MTB) with fast rolling tyres, ridden in an efficient aero position will practically as fast as a road bike within tenths of a 1mph but drop bars will be much more comfortable on longer rides.

    Upgrade the tyres to something like GP4000s, lower the handlebars and see how you get on.
    If you still struggle to keep up it'll be you not the bike :wink:

    My mountain bike is a hardtail XC one and while fast off road is hard work on road compared to my road bike. You are right about tyres and aerodynamics but also the suspension, heavier bigger wheels, overall heavier bike has a bigger impact than you would think.

    Weight (especially in the wheels) is vastly overrated. A few pounds isn't going to make any significant difference rotating or not). Many MTB wheels aren't much heavier (if at all) than road ones, anyway.

    Road bikes may feel and look fast, responsive and agile but really don't posses any magical properties and don't increase anyone's power output.

    If someone struggles or can't keep up on an optimally set up bike with road tyres, then a road bike isn't going to change it.
  • monkimark wrote:
    Any chance you could borrow a friends bike for a test ride to see if it makes a significant difference.

    This may not be the solution to your problem.

    When I changed from a hybrid to road bike I found it took a while to adapt to the road bike geometry - new bikes often take a bit of getting used to.The road bike is much more comfortable over longer distances, mainly due to the greater range of hand and body positions offered on a road bike - my hands and shoulders would ache after 35+ mile rides with the hybrid.
    Another point to consider is that not all road bikes are "nose to the stem" race bikes, e.g. a Cannondale Super Six or a Scott Foil have a more aggressive geometry than a Cannondale Synapse or a Scott CR1.The more relaxed set up of the latter may suit you better.
  • Many thanks for all the responses.

    I went in to my LBS this morning (Evans in Reading) and asked whether it was feasible to fit smaller profile tyres on my existing wheels to replace the 32mm on there at the moment. Basically the answer was probably not as the rims are too wide and that I might get away with 28mm Tyres but any improvement would be marginal.

    He did however suggest dropping the bars to change my position on the bike which confirms what several of you guys have suggested. So that's tomorrows job.

    I think I will stick with this bike for now, get more miles in my legs and look at a road bike in the spring.
  • After a bit of research I found http://www.sheldonbrown.com/tire-sizing.html which covers in mind-boggling detail which tyres will go on which rims.

    Looking at my wheels the rims are 19-622 and the tyres 32-622 which according to the tables are an acceptable match and the smallest tyres that will fit those rims is 28mm.

    So chapeau to my friend at Evans.
  • StillGoingStillGoing Posts: 5,207
    I started out on a hybrid around 2006 which had road rims and a compact groupset. Not having any prior knowledge of cycling or knowing anyone into cycling at the time, I thought it was all I needed. As my rides grew longer, the pain in the wrists and shoulders began and with no way of relieving my hand positioning on the bars, decided to buy a road bike. The bike was lighter with the same compact groupset and wheels, but the choice of hand position made the ride much more comfortable. It was quicker too probably just from being in a more aerodynamic riding position. Hybrids are fine as commuters or pootling along with the family, but for serious mileage, comfort and speed, I'd always plump for a road bike.
    I ride a bike. Doesn't make me green or a tree hugger. I drive a car too.
  • ai_1ai_1 Posts: 3,060
    Esiotrot wrote:
    After a bit of research I found http://www.sheldonbrown.com/tire-sizing.html which covers in mind-boggling detail which tyres will go on which rims.

    Looking at my wheels the rims are 19-622 and the tyres 32-622 which according to the tables are an acceptable match and the smallest tyres that will fit those rims is 28mm.

    So chapeau to my friend at Evans.
    I started riding on a second hand Specialised Tricross (Cyclocross bike) with it's original 32mm tyres which were not big nobbly off-road tyres. They had a smooth centre section and small lugs at the shoulders but seemed pretty smooth rolling. However after a few months I realised I was riding entirely on the road and may as well go with full road tyres. Like you I had 19-622 rims so I went with 28mm UltraGatorskin slick tyres. I was surprised how much difference this change made. I was training based on heart rate and following the change I noticed my speed had definitely increased for similar heart rate and there's no way improving fitness was more than slightly responsible. I was surprised that the difference was clearly measurable (Typically about 1.5 to 2km/h increase in average speed on flat roads IIRC)
    I don't believe the width of the tyre is the important factor. It's the thread and tyre flexibility. Rolling resistance does not necessarily reduce with tyre diameter. Aerodynamically a narrower tyre is an advantage but it's not a big difference and hardly worth considering for non-competitive cyclists IMO.

    If your tyres are tough and heavily threaded, I reckon you'll notice a significant difference in both comfort and speed if you switch to more supple slick tyres.
  • On my old hybrid, I found a world of difference between the stock knobbly 32mm tyres that came with the bike, and a pair of smooth 32mm tyres that cost not a lot from Decathlon. The new tyres could also take a higher pressure which, once I realised this, resulted in another modest increase.
  • Ai_1 wrote:
    I had 19-622 rims so I went with 28mm UltraGatorskin slick tyres. I was surprised how much difference this change made.
    My current tyres, while not "knobbly", do have a strong tread pattern and when this is combined with the recommended tyre pressure of 65psi I came to a similar conclusion i.e. that the slick tyres combined with the increase in tyre pressure with 28mm Gatorskins (or similar) should make an appreciable difference.

    So that's the plan this morning.
  • secretsamsecretsam Posts: 4,549
    The answer is simple.

    n+1

    That is all.

    It's just a hill. Get over it.
  • I'd hinted that I needed an n+1 however my wife set out last night that s=n+1 :(
  • topcattimtopcattim Posts: 766
    The first thing I noticed when I started riding a road bike wasn't anything to do with position, weight, gears etc, but instead to do with power transfer/stiffness. Until I had a road bike that properly transferred the rotational movement of my pedals into forward movement of the frame along the road, I hadn't realised just how much energy was wasted in "bouncing" the frame up and down. This was on an old bike with no suspension. When I moved to a road bike, I just had a sense of how my pedalling energy was being transferred much more efficiently into forward movement. This both felt more efficient and was a whole lot more fun as the bike felt more responsive.
  • topcattim wrote:
    The first thing I noticed when I started riding a road bike wasn't anything to do with position, weight, gears etc, but instead to do with power transfer/stiffness. Until I had a road bike that properly transferred the rotational movement of my pedals into forward movement of the frame along the road, I hadn't realised just how much energy was wasted in "bouncing" the frame up and down. This was on an old bike with no suspension. When I moved to a road bike, I just had a sense of how my pedalling energy was being transferred much more efficiently into forward movement. This both felt more efficient and was a whole lot more fun as the bike felt more responsive.

    That was the main difference I noticed when moving from Aluminium to Carbon. That the power I was putting in was pushing the bike forward far more efficiently, so I was faster even though the weight was the same.
  • Esiotrot wrote:
    After a bit of research I found http://www.sheldonbrown.com/tire-sizing.html which covers in mind-boggling detail which tyres will go on which rims.

    Looking at my wheels the rims are 19-622 and the tyres 32-622 which according to the tables are an acceptable match and the smallest tyres that will fit those rims is 28mm.

    So chapeau to my friend at Evans.

    I seemed to experience a notable difference when I moved from 32 to 28 tyres on my hybrid (before I sold it after 4 months to get a road bike).

    But...I'd agree with the others as regards to waiting until spring. The heavier hybrid will help you lose weight easier than a lightweight road bike (this was my experience) and you'll have more time to save up for a good one ;)

    For me, apart from the weight issue (you can get lightweight hybrids too) the big difference was in the wind and hand positions, but if you're not commuting every day and can pick and choose your rides then this may not be a big problem at the moment...
  • The heavier hybrid will help you lose weight easier than a lightweight road bike...

    This is suggested often, but it's nonsense. Weight is not very important. The vast majority of your effort is spent pushing air out of the way. Do you get a worse workout if you leave your water behind? Unless you're lugging panniers of bricks up hills, it's not going to make an appreciable difference. The same logic might sanction only riding into fierce winds, setting brake pads to rub and opting for sub optimal bike fit. If you want to be a stronger cyclist, cycle more.

    The issue that many have is that they cannot differentiate between 'perceived' and 'actual' speed, and because their new road bike feels nimble it must be jet propelled. It is the positioning on the road bike that makes the difference; hybrid bikes are generally designed for a comfortable, upright position.
  • ai_1ai_1 Posts: 3,060
    The heavier hybrid will help you lose weight easier than a lightweight road bike...
    If you're riding purely to lose weight or gain fitness, it doesn't matter much what bike you're riding as long as it's a good fit and mechanically sound. All that matters is how much energy you expend and at what rate. A faster bike may take less effort to ride at a given pace but there's nothing to stop you riding faster for an equal effort - you'll just cover a little more distance for the same impact on weight loss/fitness. The only difference a faster/slower bike makes in this respect is psychological. I certainly find it more satisfying and enjoyable to ride quickly in a somewhat aero position on a lightish road bike as compared to cycling slower with an upright position on a hybrid or mountain bike. More enjoyable = likely to spend more time on the bike. To say a heavy bike is better for weight loss is not correct.
  • The heavier hybrid will help you lose weight easier than a lightweight road bike...

    This is suggested often, but it's nonsense.

    Maybe you could try including a little more of CookeeeMonster's quote......... :roll:
    The heavier hybrid will help you lose weight easier than a lightweight road bike (this was my experience)

    Now rather than 'nonsense' it becomes 'sense'
    "You really think you can burn off sugar with exercise?" downhill paul
  • The heavier hybrid will help you lose weight easier than a lightweight road bike...

    This is suggested often, but it's nonsense.

    Maybe you could try including a little more of CookeeeMonster's quote......... :roll:
    The heavier hybrid will help you lose weight easier than a lightweight road bike (this was my experience)

    Now rather than 'nonsense' it becomes 'sense'

    The only characteristic he has specified is the weight. What he thinks his experience is is also irrelevant. Modern hybrid bikes are not much heavier than modern road bikes; I wouldn't expect one to weigh 15kg, and even if it did, that still isn't going to give you a significantly better workout. I can't think of any other reason why a hybrid bike would help one lose weight more easily than a road bike; if anything, I would expect the road bike to get used more at greater intensity for longer periods of time.
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