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Last year I started biking again. My current ride is a quite good "cross" bike weighing a bit more than 10kg (~22lb, I didn't weigh it). Currently I'm doing around 200km (~120 mi) per week, mostly on roads. Now I'm wondering whether a road bike would be beneficial for day-trips or such. I live near the Alps in a hilly area.

  • Is there a notable benefit from the lower weight of a road bike? (I weigh 80kg, 175lb) Unless it's a really step difference or a I pay a lot for a very light bike I don't expect much benefit, but might I be wrong?
  • I wonder how notable road bike tires might be, I'm expecting way less resistance. Any way to qualify that?
  • A road bike handlebar has more ways it can be gripped, which might be comfortable on longer rides.
  • A road bike looks nicer :-p

Are there more important factors I should consider? I'd certainly keep my current bike for times where I have to carry luggage or want to stay off roads.

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When you say "cross" bike, do you mean a "hybrid"? Hybrid usually means a bar with a sort of mountain geometry but with road-wheels on it (flat handlebar). Usually when I hear "cross" I think of a "cyclocross" bike, which basically has the same kind of handlebars as a road bike... –  freiheit May 10 '12 at 22:59
    
@freiheit: Yeah, I interpret it as a cyclocross bike with an odd handlebar configuration. The 10kg weight, which seems ridiculously low for a hybrid, further justifies this interpretation. If I'm wrong, I'll adjust my answer accordingly. –  amcnabb May 11 '12 at 2:44
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Surely the only answer to any question involving "should I get" and "bike" is "yes". How many bikes do you need? One more than you currently have ... –  Unsliced May 11 '12 at 9:29
    
uhhh..yes. (i accept the down votes) –  fady May 11 '12 at 22:27
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3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted

It's all about having the right tool for the job. Road and touring bikes are designed for long rides on roads. In contrast, mountain bikes are designed to go off road, and hybrids are designed mostly for casual riding. If you're doing 200 km per week, you're serious enough about cycling to notice a serious difference when you switch to a road bike.

I recently made a similar switch. I was riding a mountain bike, which I used for commuting, off-road trails, and road rides. I eventually found that I was only spending about 10% of my riding off-road. I considered switching to thin slick tires, but it was obvious to me that I also needed more hand placement options, a more aggressive riding position, a higher maximum gear, and lighter weight. In other words, I needed a road bike. When I sold my mountain bike and got a road bike, I instantly noticed a 2 to 5 kph speed improvement for the same effort.

Since you're considering switching from a cyclocross bike to a road bike, you should expect a less dramatic change, but if you feel like you're losing out from using the wrong tool for the job, you might as well try a road bike. You could at least rent one for a day and see how it feels. Alternatively, you could consider switching just the handlebars and tires on your current bike, since it sounds like you already have a light-weight frame.

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I think you mean 90% of riding on roads, not 10%. –  Stephen Touset May 11 '12 at 17:30
    
@StephenTouset: Thanks. Edited. –  amcnabb May 11 '12 at 18:29
    
So what's the actual, notable benefit of the road bike? And well, I like the "One more than you currently have ..." comment from above, but somehow I have to quantify it "yes, I spent X thousand Euros on a bike" ...and renting, yeah, probably I have to find a place to rend some bike in roughly the price range I'm willing (able) to spend ... I think it isn't useful to get a cheap rental road bike and then being disappointed ... while that might save me money ;-) –  johannes May 11 '12 at 21:45
    
johannes, to answer "So what's the actual, notable benefit of the road bike?" can you clarify whether you have a cyclocross bike or a hybrid bike? –  amcnabb May 11 '12 at 22:00
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Purely anecdotally...

Back in 1998, a friend and I did an organized 45 mile charity ride. My friend was on a road bike and I was riding a mountain bike (with slicks). Thing is, I could not keep up.

Within a week, I owned a "road bike".

If you want to go faster, and longer, get a road bike. If not, stay with your current bike.

Should you get a road bike or not? That's hard to say.

  • wdy
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If you are committed and serious about your biking, which sounds like you are if you already ride 120 a week, I think a road bike would have more pros than cons.

Keep your other bike for the coffee shop and errands. I have a commuter hybrid bike that i dont mind locking up, getting groceries with, and such. I put on a chain guard and flat pedals and love the casual ride to the office.

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