Your perfect bike
The expertise of cycling for different purposes has developed into new bicycle categories for different users with different needs.
An inexperienced cyclist will hardly notice any differences between the road bikes on TV, beyond some changes in the shape of the tubes or the different colours that decorate the frames of the teams’ bikes.
In fact, the reality is that currently a cyclist from any pro team can use up to 4 different bicycle models in a grand staged tour for different purposes.
Therefore, there are 4 different bicycle models on the market from which we have to choose when we are going to buy or rent a bicycle.
The Cycling Friendly Team will help you differentiate the bikes and choose the best for each cycling style.
- Gran Fondo
- Climbing Bike
- TT Bike and Triathlon
- Your perfect bike in figures
- And what about women?
They are the most suitable bicycles for long-term, resistance routes and high mileage. Whether you want to cycle a lot or just a few miles, they’re ideal for cyclists who want comfort above all on a road bike.
In this case, comfort translates in many cases into more speed and more resistance.
An amateur cyclist, not used to aggressive riding positions, will always be more efficient in a conservative position typical of these long-distance bikes since his body can express itself naturally. In addition to the fact that he will always be able to cycle harder and longer, his technique and safety will also increase exponentially.
Back, wrists, arms, neck, buttocks… beginner cyclists who have the possibility of choosing this type of bike characterized by a less aggressive geometry, allows the back to be slightly straighter, and therefore in a more natural posture for the body.
This is mainly achieved by positioning the handlebars higher, thanks to a slightly longer head tube, and with the frame top tube shorter for a less “racing” reach to the handlebars and longer chainstays to enhance control.
To improve the cyclist’s comfort, they also have different bump absorption systems, as well as components in which the filtering of impacts and vibrations act as comfort elements.
We insist, this comfortable position should not be confused with lower average speeds, because, for most users, it is really the position that allows the majority of the cycling population to express their full potential on a bike, as the more open angles of the hips and back generate better muscular sequence, that is, you can involve many more muscles in each pedal stroke.
DISADVANTAGES: Logically, a well-trained and adapted cyclist will perceive an unaerodynamic, upright position, and in high-speed spurts will lack development.
YOUR PERFECT CYCLIST@: It’s really not so much a question of the level of the cyclist, but of the approach to the route. If the goal is to cycle comfortably for many hours on a road route at medium paces, it is always the best option.
They are the racing bikes par excellence, the most versatile with a sports base and in which the engineers and product managers of each brand strive to enhance the classic values of lightness and sportiness in their angles and general geometry.
These are the most popular models with the general public, ranging from €700 in aluminum and with basic transmissions to over €10,000 for the most advanced models with carbon frames and electronic transmissions.
They are characterised by being the bicycles with the best “ratio” of stiffness and lightness on the market. Weight savings are present from the manufacturing process of the carbon frame to the smallest detail: wheels, groupset, saddle, handlebars…
These are ideal bikes to climb in the best personal time, but also to be competitive on all types of routes, since their geometry will place us on top of the bike more aggressively than on Gran Fondo bikes, with the back more horizontal with respect to the ground, with a tighter hip angle, a wider grip on the handlebars and in general, you will be more stretched on the bike.
These bikes are designed to go very fast and above all to react very quickly. For these reasons, it should never be forgotten that they require the same technical level of cycling, that they don’t filter the irregularities of the terrain and the constant level of concentration must always be high.
In this sense, thanks to the arrival of disc brakes and the fact that they allow larger tyres, it is now also possible to obtain a more comfortable touch by slightly reducing tire pressure for a smoother ride and more stable cornering with better braking performance.
DISADVANTAGES: Their search for sportiness involves more aggressive geometries, in high-speed conditions they require experience and a minimum knowledge in driving techniques.
YOUR PERFECT CYCLIST@: They are the favorites of the most experienced cyclists because, with an acceptable physical condition, they combine all the possibilities to be fast on all terrains. These are the road bikes that offer the best general sensations and their evolutions, with an acceptable physical level, allowing to climb and descend at all speeds.
These bikes have appeared in recent years and are gaining popularity by leaps and bounds, and there is no brand that does not have a model in its catalog that meets the requirements to be considered aero, because the factor that most affects performance from 30 km/h is wind resistance.
Due to their aggressive shapes and the design of their tubes with the most aerodynamic shape possible, in addition to benefiting in many cases from a very racing and spectacular aesthetic, rolling on the flat or downhill, these bikes allow higher speeds, use less energy to go at the same speed as a road bike and benefit from the wind conditions to even gain speed compared to a traditional bike.
That doesn’t mean you can’t get top performance climbing the mountain passes, as the geometry is generally the same as the climber’s version and even a bit lower.
In exchange, they are usually somewhat heavier than the road bike versions and in many cases the increase in the volume of their shapes usually translates into greater rigidity of the set.
The downside comes from crosswinds, where these bikes, which are usually fitted with high profile wheels (50mm or more), become more unstable and you have to control them. In this sense, don’t confuse handling with speed, i.e. in crosswinds you might notice the bike moving a bit more, but actually it’s always faster.
Another point that is boosting their success is that they are perfect for the beginner in Olympic triathlon, as well as for those who combine triathlon and cycling and can’t/want to have two bikes, as with a coupling on the handlebars you can go really fast.
DISADVANTAGES: Extra weight and in many cases more complex to adjust due to all their specific and aerodynamic integrated elements.
YOUR PERFECT CYCLIST@: Good level cyclist able to adopt an aerodynamic position consistent with the use of the bike, with a preference for an explosive pedaling style when tackling short climbs and always looking for the best average speed.
On time trial bikes, the body position is the most aggressive of all, way forward on the bottom bracket so that the trunk can be very flat and aerodynamic, but without the quadriceps hitting the diaphragm in the highest phase of pedaling.
For this reason, in order to avoid this uncomfortable effect, the majority of leading brands are fitting increasingly shorter cranks, 170mm at the most, the road standard being 172.5mm.
They are initially uncomfortable bikes compared to a traditional bicycle, which require a period of adaptation physically and also at a technical level to feel safe.
It is easy to perceive its power to roll and reach very high speeds on straights from the first kilometers, since the back is completely parallel to the ground, the arms are glued and the head is aligned with it, or that is the theory.
Most of its components, as well as its accessories, are 100% designed with aerodynamics in mind, from the lenticular wheels, high-profile rims, to the wiring completely hidden inside its tubes.
ADVANTAGES: If the profile of a route is mostly flat, it is very easy to observe your average speed increase by more than a kilometer or two per hour just because of your position on such a bike. The arrival of disc brakes on this type of bike has also added an extraordinary measure of safety.
DISADVANTAGES: They are very technical bikes that make sense “only” if your sporting goal is to prepare for a long distance triathlon. They are less stable bikes due to their aggressive stance and handlebar grips, and they require great skill and experience. Before getting on such a bike, you must have accumulated a lot of kilometers on a road bike or an aero bike with extensions, then take the step towards a 100% long-distance bike.
YOUR PERFECT CYCLIST@: Obviously, for a long-distance triathlete who has to complete a route of more than 100 km alone, this is practically the only option, either to get the best time or to at least reach the running race with less energy consumption than with a traditional racing bike.
It is not a fashion, but a logical evolution of road cycling that limits its use exclusively to asphalt, to now be able to enter the tracks and increase the field of action and fun on a bike with road handlebars.
Controversy arouses among users who claim that MTB bikes already exist to ride on roads, but the reality is that using road handlebars on tracks and easy trails increases the ability to lean on the handlebars until three-point compared to an MTB, a quality that allows you to relax the position in different sections and be even more effective and faster.
The universe of options for using these bikes is “infinite” as they allow routes and training without having to avoid roads or tracks in good condition (or roads in poor condition).
They usually have a fairly absorbent frame, especially in the rear triangle, to make rides more comfortable by avoiding vibrations and smoothing out the bumps with tyres with soft tread, bulkier and less pressure.
Within this range there are also subcategories, from high-performance models assembled with top-of-the-range components and sometimes weighing below 7 kilos, with disc brakes in any case, to hard and heavy bikes, designed to anchor racks to the frame and opt for a more relaxed geometry for bikepacking.
Tyre widths ranging from 35c to 55C and wider are most commonly found, with models that opt for slightly smaller 650b wheels instead of 700c wheels, allowing them to be fitted with large volume tyres similar to those of an MTB.
You can find them with steel and titanium frames as very high-end options in the latter case, although the big manufacturers are focusing their efforts on aluminium and carbon fibre, as in the rest of the categories.
Some brands like Cannondale have gone a step further and have created more MTB-like models, even including suspension forks (with 3.5 cm of travel) and active rear suspension systems. The reality is that anyone who tries gravel, due to its fun and high degree of satisfaction in all areas, can hardly resist not joining this discipline for life.
ADVANTAGES: It’s a bike made for versatility and unifies much of the best worlds of MTB, road, adventure, and more. It is a bike that conquers any cyclist in many facets. If you haven’t tried it, you should do it now.
DISADVANTAGES: Obviously their universality also implies a lack of maximum specialisation in a technical sense, they are not very light and are neither the fastest on tarmac nor the most efficient on rough roads.
YOUR PERFECT CYCLIST@: Due to its ability to improvise, you can do whatever you want at any time. It’s a perfect bike for the cyclist who likes to change registers continuously without having to change bikes and who values reliability and quality of the cycling experience.
However, although historically it has been cataloged as a winter sport for road cyclists, many users have acquired it as a fixed alternative throughout the year, to practice something similar to a light and super-fast MTB on easy tracks and trails, thanks to the arrival of disc brakes they can also use it as a road bike, changing the wheels for asphalt wheels.
As in XC MTB, reactivity and quick reactions prevail, so the geometry is more aggressive than a gravel, with more vertical angles and shorter chainstays, and giving comfort a secondary role.
Not only is the geometry specific, but these bikes also have some structural adaptations. They are usually designed to be worn over the shoulder, an essential aspect in any competition, so they avoid cables and guides in the upper tube of the frame, in addition to having little sloping. They have traditionally used cantilever brakes, which are more powerful than horseshoe brakes and with fewer problems in mud, although nowadays disc brakes are almost mandatory due to their greater performance in wet and muddy conditions.
They have tyres with less balloon than a gravel bike and in this sense it is important to be aware of this limitation.
ADVANTAGES: They are the maximum expression of track speed, they can be as light as road bikes and the feeling is super sporty. Its geometry almost matches that of many competition road bikes and by changing the wheels or tyres for tarmac ones, you get a very interesting two-in-one.
DISADVANTAGES: The gearing is a little shorter than on road bikes and although you will only appreciate this in very high speed situations, that is something to consider.
YOUR PERFECT CYCLIST@: Many top athletes have made it a strategic tool in their preparation, which also allows them to vary their outings and get out of the monotony of always riding on the same roads.
Scores (from 1 to 10)
It’s an interesting topic and one that always generates a great debate. There are brands that work on specific geometries for women, but in this continuous evolutionary process, many brands have realized that by offering a good range of sizes and specifying suitable components (saddle, handlebar width, crank length, etc.), women feel fully cared for and comfortable, especially because of the available offer.
From the Cycling Friendly technical team it is something in which we fully agree, at least in sports use, of whatever level, basically because the offer of specific peripherals for women and the wide variety of options in handlebar sizes, types of saddles and especially in textiles adapted to the morphology of women, it does not make much sense to make bicycles with specific geometries for them.
As we have seen in this article, the variety of bikes by style of use is already a huge base and then with a personalized biomechanical adjustment, for men or women indistinctly, it is already a total guarantee that the cyclist will always be able to find the perfect bike.