Advantages of a Road Bike if riding for fitness?



jpwkeeper

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Jul 25, 2004
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At some point I'm going to have to replace (or at least supplement) my Diamondback XL hybrid bike with something a bit better. I ride, so far, entirely on the road, although I suppose that could change, but if it did I always have my old bike for that.

So here is my question: Is there any advantage to a road bike if your primary goal is fitness?

So to be clear, I'm not training to race. Just to not die of a heart attack and to help strengthen my bad lower back.

Yes, I know road bikes are faster. But to get fit I'm still going to have to put out the same number of watts over the same time period as I would on the hybrid, so I don't really see that as a "get fit" advantage, unless I'm missing something.

And while I'm not sporting clipless pedals, I am using PowerGrips. But I could easily go clipless on this bike (my buddy did just that on his hybrid), so it's not really a unique selling point of the road bike.

Conversely, what are the disadvantages of a road bike if you're biking primarily for fitness? Like Cost, maintenance (like having to glue the tires), etc?
 

danfoz

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Apr 12, 2011
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If your goal is fitness, any bike that inspires you to ride regularly, whatever that bike is, is the key. Some of that may transale into rider comfort.

If you want to ride fast on the road buy a road bike, if you want to do some trail riding get an MTB, if you want to get in shape, just ride regularly. Don't worry about tubulars and gluing tires on, unless you get tubbie wheels. They are designed for a niche croud and plenty of folks roll out of bike shops across the nation on $5-10k road bikes with the same clincher technology on your hybrid.

All bikes need maintenance. A little more if ridden in the wet.

Buy the bike that makes sense to you as a rider, you are the one that will have to ride it. But some considerations should be made... i.e. that mountain bike may have looked cool but as all your friends have road bikes, it may not be condusive to group rides, with those friends. You may now need to find some new friends, or settle for a road bike. See where this is going.

Finally, there are differences even between "road" bikes, not only materials, but frame geometry. That sexy racer that just won yesterdays stage in the Tour may have you drooling, but the short head-tube and agressive geometry may have your lower back groaning. Thankfully bikes these days are designed with our riding preferences, and our physical enablers/limiters in mind. Get thee to your LBS and let the dialoque begin...

Good luck.
 

Dave Cutter

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Jan 15, 2012
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Originally Posted by jpwkeeper .

So here is my question: Is there any advantage to a road bike if your primary goal is fitness?

So to be clear, I'm not training to race. Just to not die of a heart attack and to help strengthen my bad lower back.
If you're not looking for cycling fun... you might want to look elsewhere. Maybe a spin class at a local gym?

People will sometimes refer to my cycling as exercise... or on occasion make a reference to me prolonging my my life by cycling. I try to regularly refute both accusations. I've only been injured once from a tiny little crash. But I've had a couple close calls... that could have ended my cycling career... or caused my wife to become a widow. Does the element of risk in cycling out weight the benefits? I don't know.

I bicycle for fun! I can't even imagine spending the hours I spend on my bike... if it wasn't all pleasure.
 

alienator

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Jun 10, 2004
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Like Danfoz said, not all road bikes are the same. There's entire segment of road bikes made up of "comfort bikes", "sportive bikes", and the like. All of them have more comfy ergonomics--like more upright positioning--and rides compared to harder edged road bikes. The advantages of road bikes are that if all else is equal, you'll go a bit faster on a road bike and be more comfortable doing so than you would on a hybrid. Hybrids aren't built to go fast comfortably. They're built to be comfortable at slightly lower speeds. All else being equals, road bikes will be a bit lighter than hybrid bikes, which means that going up hill is easier and can be done faster at a given power output. Road bikes can have gearing as low as or nearly as low as hybrids, depending on the component group spec'd on the bike or chosen by the rider. Road bikes tend to have narrower tires than hybrids. The disadvantages to a road bike are that it's likely less suitable to go off road than a hybrid. With its more narrow tires, it may ride a bit more rough (but you can put fatter tires on and ride with lower pressure = more comfort). As with any bike, if the fit isn't good and you're not comfortable, you won't like the ride and won't want to ride (That's why test rides are so important). If you really foresee going off road, you might also want to consider a cyclocross bike. The have geometry to make them more stable off road. They also use fatter tires that provide more comfort, and they tend to have more upright positioning than road bikes, all else being equal. With all that said, I'd suggest you visit a number of bike shops to test ride different road bikes to see what you think. Tell the LBS sales people what you're looking for, a comfortable road bike for fitness riding. FYI, most road bike riders are likely riding for fitness and fun.
 

jpwkeeper

Member
Jul 25, 2004
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Originally Posted by Dave Cutter .


If you're not looking for cycling fun... you might want to look elsewhere. Maybe a spin class at a local gym?

People will sometimes refer to my cycling as exercise... or on occasion make a reference to me prolonging my my life by cycling. I try to regularly refute both accusations. I've only been injured once from a tiny little crash. But I've had a couple close calls... that could have ended my cycling career... or caused my wife to become a widow. Does the element of risk in cycling out weight the benefits? I don't know.

I bicycle for fun! I can't even imagine spending the hours I spend on my bike... if it wasn't all pleasure.
I do ride for fun and relaxation, but also for exercise. My point was, I'm don't (currently) have goals that include competition, so if you eliminate that is there an advantage?

Danfoz made a good point about needing to gear with whatever group you're riding with. Right now the group I'm riding with all ride hybrids, so that would argue for staying there. We do have a local bike club, but even the rides tagged as "base miles" on the list look to be a bit more than I can handle at the moment, even with a road bike, so maybe someday. Given that all out for 10 miles on my hybrid is about 15Mph average over what I consider rolling terrain, I doubt a road bike will get me up to the 18Mph these guys average over a much longer distance.

I found Alienator's breakdown very helpful as well. I hadn't thought of Cylclocross bikes, which now that you mention it do look like something much closer to a road bike than a hybrid. That might end up being the best of both worlds.

Thanks for all the input guys.
 

Dave Cutter

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Jan 15, 2012
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Originally Posted by jpwkeeper .

I do ride for fun and relaxation, but also for exercise. My point was, I'm don't (currently) have goals that include competition, so if you eliminate that is there an advantage? Danfoz made a good point about needing to gear with whatever group you're riding with. Right now the group I'm riding with all ride hybrids, so that would argue for staying there.

I found Alienator's breakdown very helpful as well. I hadn't thought of Cylclocross bikes, which now that you mention it do look like something much closer to a road bike than a hybrid. That might end up being the best of both worlds.
Both Danfoz and Alienator made good points and shared great information (they always do). And... I think you're right as well. If you're cycling with some friends and having a good time.... what more could you possibly want. Cycling is many things to many different people... cycling is a competitive sport as well as a heck of a lot of fun. For many... the sport is the fun part. Whatever floats your boat keeps your head above the water.

I love road cycling.... period. But... I try not to advocate it or at least I try not to overstate road cycling as the "only" way of cycling. We need exercise as part of fit lifestyle. The people I've known in my life that have been successful at keeping active have found activities they truly enjoy. I think the idea of broadening your experiences with various types of cycling is a good one. I often think of buying a mountain bike... to try that out as well.
 

alfeng

Well-Known Member
Jul 23, 2005
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Originally Posted by jpwkeeper .

At some point I'm going to have to replace (or at least supplement) my Diamondback XL hybrid bike with something a bit better. I ride, so far, entirely on the road, although I suppose that could change, but if it did I always have my old bike for that.

So here is my question: Is there any advantage to a road bike if your primary goal is fitness?

So to be clear, I'm not training to race. Just to not die of a heart attack and to help strengthen my bad lower back.

Yes, I know road bikes are faster. But to get fit I'm still going to have to put out the same number of watts over the same time period as I would on the hybrid, so I don't really see that as a "get fit" advantage, unless I'm missing something.

And while I'm not sporting clipless pedals, I am using PowerGrips. But I could easily go clipless on this bike (my buddy did just that on his hybrid), so it's not really a unique selling point of the road bike.

Conversely, what are the disadvantages of a road bike if you're biking primarily for fitness? Like Cost, maintenance (like having to glue the tires), etc?
FWIW. I must be the ONLY person on this Forum who actually loves Hybrid bike frames ...

BUT FIRST, ALL bikes need some maintenance ...

IF the object of the question is to determine whether buying a new bike is actually necessary, or not, because YOU would like to log more miles per ride then, IMO, the DISADVANTAGE & ADVANTAGE of what you are referring to as a Road bike vs. your Hybrid may mostly be the DROP handlebars ...


THE DISADVANTAGE

Some people hate Drop handlebars ...

  • both the sitting & fitting on a Road bike can be more critical on a bike with Drop handlebars because of the weight distribution, or lack of, of the rider on the bike ...
  • which may-or-may-not be exacerbated by a poor saddle choice ...
  • additionally, some people find the forward leaning riding position to be uncomfortable ...


THE ADVANTAGE

Drop handlebars allow the rider to achieve a more aerodynamic riding position

  • the more aerodynamic riding position typically translates as increased rider speed if all other things are equal due to less aerodynamic drag ...
  • Drop handlebars allow for multiple locations for the rider to put his/her hands which means that it is possible to avoid-or-limit potential hand fatigue on long(er) rides ...
  • consequently, you may ride more often, too ...
  • longer rides may-or-may-not result in more watts burned

The foregoing was hardly comprehensive ...

BUT, if you are ever inclined toward a Road bike because you want to use Drop bars, then YOU don't actually need to buy a new bike ...

If you prefer, then you (and, every other Hybrid bike owner) can fit Drop bars on your Hybrid bike ...

  • of course, IMO, the least expensive way to change your bike is to buy the Drop bars whose width & shape works FOR YOU (not necessarily an easy decision) + a set of Campagnolo shifters (which will work with a large variety of Shimano derailleurs & Cassettes)

This is a relatively straightforward process ... the DIY skill level is modest ... so, if you are ever inclined toward a bike with Drop handlebars then it's mostly a matter of deciding between a potentially fancy-schmancy new bike (potentially, a good thing) [COLOR= rgb(24, 24, 24)]or only spending a couple of hundred dollars to amend your bike's components (also, [/COLOR][COLOR= rgb(0, 128, 0)]a good thing![/COLOR][COLOR= rgb(24, 24, 24)]).[/COLOR] [COLOR= rgb(24, 24, 24)] [/COLOR]
  • of course, IMO, the least expensive way to change your bike, then is to buy the Drop bars whose width & shape works FOR YOU (not necessarily an easy decision) + a set of Campagnolo shifters (which will work with a large variety of Shimano derailleurs & Cassettes).

Optimum tire choice will be dictated by the type of surface YOU ride on ... you can probably fit 700x28 tires on a relatively wide rim (622-20, maybe a 622-22) ... some 700x32 tires are an "okay" compromise for pavement & hardpacked roads ...

OR, you can get a second set of wheels which have narrower rims (622-15 +/-) to use 700x28-or-narrower tires.

Here's a 90s vintage Hybrid which I reconfigured with Drop bars, etc.



A Rigid fork is lighter than a suspension fork, BTW.

FYI. About 10 years ago, I set up a Marin Hybrid frame with a KESTREL Carbon Fiber Road fork --[COLOR= rgb(24, 24, 24)] the combination resulted in a very nice riding Road bike, IMO ...[/COLOR]

  • I used a standard V-brake caliper on the rear because I was not aware of mini-V-brakes (which may not have existed at the time) ... not ideal since the brake pads were relatively close to the rims (about the distance that MANY people apparently like to have their pads set on their Road bikes!)
  • the Road fork resulted in steeper-by-about-a-degree head & seat tube angle which basically resulted in Road frame angles ...
  • the Road fork meant that I could use a standard Road brake caliper & it could be set up like any other Road brake

Without changing to a CF fork, if you DIY & get the shifters off of eBay, then your cost (exclusive of tires & tubes) should be under $200.

IMO, if YOUR Hybrid currently has a Suspension Fork, then changing to any type of Rigid fork will probably be beneficial to your riding experience.
 

Nukuhiva

Well-Known Member
Jul 14, 2004
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If you're in it mainly for the calories burned, nothing does that more effectively than running or cross-country skiing.
Or chopping wood.
 

alienator

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Jun 10, 2004
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Nukuhiva said:
If you're in it mainly for the calories burned, nothing does that more effectively than running or cross-country skiing. Or chopping wood.
You can burn just as many calories cycling. All that matters is the effort, no matter the activity.
 

jpwkeeper

Member
Jul 25, 2004
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Originally Posted by Nukuhiva .

If you're in it mainly for the calories burned, nothing does that more effectively than running or cross-country skiing.
Or chopping wood.
Running: Bad back (so weight bearing exercises are not good), flat-ish feet, not happening. I hate, and I mean hate, running and always have. I remember gym class where they'd make us run a mile every Friday. I'd clock times around 12-13 minutes.

Cross-country skiing: Exercising once a year (since I'd have to travel a few hours to get somewhere I could do this in the winter, much less in the summer) is not likely to burn very many calories on average. Sure, I could burn like 10,000 calories in one week, plus the loss of calorie intake while I'm lost in the woods in the winter with no food could as much as double that, but average that over 52 weeks and it's not looking so good anymore.

Chopping Wood: Bad back (see above) and lack of coordination complicated by love of my lower limbs makes this a non-starter. I think a kicker in Tennessee (or was it Jacksonville?) learned this the hard way, didn't he?
 

Dave Cutter

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Jan 15, 2012
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Originally Posted by jpwkeeper .
Bad back (so weight bearing exercises are not good), ......... I remember gym class where they'd make us run a mile every Friday. I'd clock times around 12-13 minutes.
Before I returned to cycling this last time.... I owned a used cruiser bicycle I bought cheap and was riding it a bit. Then a friend that was moving gave me his extra road bike. He had converted the road bike to a more upright style by putting mustache style handlebars on it.

Both bikes caused my old arthritic back to hurt after a few minutes of riding... very much like my riding lawn mower does.

Then I got an idea and put the [correct] bull horn style handlebars on the road bike. The difference on my lower back was as dramatic as night and day. Sharing some of that [extra] upper body weight with my arms/shoulders did wonders to reduce the pain caused by the shock from bumps... and even from just sitting. I went from 20 minute rides to riding for hours.... and with no back pain.

I now ride a Fuji newest 3.0. It has a relaxed geometry (as they call it) and an adjustable extension tube. I do NOT have it adjusted in a very aggressive riding position... my handlebars are barely lower than my saddle. Although I generally have my hands on the hoods..... even with my hands on the tops I would guess 40% of my upper body weight is supported by my arms. I don't think I would have ever been able to ride for long periods with any other style bike [except maybe a recumbent].
 

Wolfie303

New Member
Jun 9, 2012
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I'm probably not as qualified to respond in this thread, but I'll throw in my thoughts for whatever they are worth. Now, I've never tried a road bike, but I'd like one in the future, especially after this evening. I did, however, choose a hybrid as my bike right now, and it isn't top of the line (Trek 7300) but it gets the job done, and for me... it's the perfect setup to discover new paths and try new things. Like tonight... I went to a trail I thought I'd researched well and failed. Turned out to suddenly become a mountain biking trail (I went straight when I should have turned and joined a whole new sport my bones can't take). My hybrid managed on it (my butt, knees, and back are a different story!) but I watched another guy on a road bike not make out so well (he'd made the same mistake as me, only he didn't bring tools and needed mine). Now I know - the hard way - that this may not be the trail for me! But I know me well - this was bound to happen and was going to happen eventually, and I went hybrid because I road bike around the house, but I am far too "bored now" to not explore. So for me, I needed something that could handle the road as well as whatever path I threw myself on at any given time. And truth be told... as much as I'd like a road bike... it's sort of like... I'd like a Corvette... but my car, much like my bike, finds dirt and gravel far too often, so it may not be the right choice.

Basically... look at yourself. Do you go mainly roads? Do you like a little dust and gravel? Are you like me and get bored too easily for your own good and find random trails to abuse your bike on? The answers to those questions will answer your initial question.
 

nislambkpl

New Member
Jun 15, 2012
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Road bikes are helpful for fitness. I found no disadvantage of a road bike.

One thing I can suggest you here that, Do not work hard for that but only your mind satisfaction.
 

Dave Cutter

Well-Known Member
Jan 15, 2012
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I certainly didn't mean to imply that any carnation of a road bike could be the Swiss Army Knife of bicycles... all styles/designs of bikes have limits.

I've never owned a mountain bike... but that doesn't mean I never will... I think about buying one often. I've lost a bunch of weight and increased my core strength. I think I could better handle a few bumps and such now. A more upright bike for rides on the weekend with the wife.... going out for an ice cream or coffee... would be more than worth the cost of ownership. I find myself looking at tandem bicycles on Craigs List as well.

It's true... I do have an emotional attachment to my road bike and to riding it as well. But there are.... NO BAD bicycles out there.
 

el gato

New Member
Jun 30, 2012
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I used to do a round trip commute of around 30 miles on a non-suspended MTB with road tires. I could put a rack on back and carry my stuff. Effective but what a drag compared to my road bike. I don't consider myself a hardcore rider but log 150 miles per week with around 10,000 ft of climb. Climbing comes with the terrain here. I recently purchased a carbon framed endurance bike to replace my CAAD 5 Cannondale and am amazed at how comfortable it is. The relaxed geometry of an endurance bike will get you in the comfort range of a hybrid and the extra acceleration and speed will make for a more fun ride.
Drop bars give three hand and body positions where a hybrid only allows one. Getting and staying fit will be more likely if you're having fun doing it and riding a lively, fast bike, is enjoyable. Fast is fun.
 

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