HomeBuying GuideRoad​ ​Race:​ ​How​ ​to​ ​Choose​ ​a​ ​Road​ ​Bike​ ​for​ ​Racing​ ​Success 

Road​ ​Race:​ ​How​ ​to​ ​Choose​ ​a​ ​Road​ ​Bike​ ​for​ ​Racing​ ​Success 

With​ ​drop​ ​handlebars​ ​and​ ​skinny​ ​wheels,​ ​road​ ​bikes​ ​are​ ​already​ ​built​ ​for​ ​speed.​ ​But​ ​when​ ​it​ ​comes​ ​to racing,​ ​not​ ​just​ ​any​ ​road​ ​bike​ ​will​ ​do.​ ​At​ ​Hargroves​ ​Cycles​ ​we’re​ ​here​ ​to​ ​help​ ​you​ ​work​ ​out​ ​what’s​ ​best  for​ ​you.

Road​ ​bike​ ​racing​ ​is​ ​becoming​ ​increasingly​ ​accessible​ ​across​ ​all​ ​levels.​ ​British​ ​Cycling​ ​offer​ ​coached sessions​ ​to​ ​help​ ​you​ ​get​ ​started;​ ​and​ ​if​ ​you’re​ ​already​ ​stuck​ ​in​ ​and​ ​progressing​ ​through​ ​the​ ​ranks,​ ​there are​ ​more​ ​races​ ​than​ ​ever​ ​to​ ​choose​ ​from.​ ​Whatever​ ​stage​ ​you’re​ ​at,​ ​a​ ​machine​ ​built​ ​for​ ​purpose​ ​will  help​ ​to​ ​reveal​ ​your​ ​maximum​ ​potential.​ ​Race-specific​ ​bikes​ ​look​ ​similar​ ​to​ ​more​ ​generalist​ ​road​ ​bikes, but​ ​with​ ​relatively​ ​aggressive​ ​geometry​ ​and​ ​aerodynamically​ ​shaped​ ​tubes.

MATERIAL​ ​WORLD

First​ ​up,​ ​you​ ​need​ ​a​ ​fast​ ​and​ ​efficient​ ​frame​ ​to​ ​get​ ​ahead​ ​in​ ​the​ ​pack,​ ​and​ ​the​ ​most​ ​obvious​ ​variable​ ​is  weight.​ ​Aluminium​ ​frames​ ​are​ ​light,​ ​and​ ​with​ ​high-grade​ ​alloy-framed​ ​models​ ​with​ ​decent​ ​spec available​ ​under​ £1,500, ​a​ ​great​ ​choice​ ​for​ ​racing​ ​on​ ​a​ ​budget.

Carbon​ ​fibre​ ​frames​ ​hold​ ​the​ ​edge​ ​over​ ​alloy​ ​in​ ​terms​ ​of​ ​lightness,​ ​and​ ​they’re​ ​stiffer​ ​too,​ ​generally  delivering​ ​better​ ​power​ ​transfer,​ ​important​ ​for​ ​efficiency,​ ​speed​ ​and​ ​minimising​ ​unnecessary​ ​fatigue, and​ ​vital​ ​for​ ​performance​ ​when​ ​attacking​ ​and​ ​sprinting.​ ​Carbon​ ​also​ ​generally​ ​offers​ ​greater​ ​comfort​ ​by absorbing​ ​more​ ​road​ ​vibration,​ ​so​ ​–​ ​if​ ​you​ ​opt​ ​for​ ​alloy,​ ​your​ ​fork​ ​should​ ​be​ ​carbon​ ​at​ ​a​ ​minimum​ ​to  stay​ ​smooth,​ ​as​ ​found​ ​on​ ​the​ ​£1,399​ ​alloy​ ​Cannondale​ ​CAAD12.

The​ ​CAAD12’s​ ​quality​ ​alloy​ ​frame​ ​even​ ​rivals​ ​some​ ​carbon​ ​competitors​ ​in​ ​its​ ​lightness​ ​and​ ​stiffness. And,​ ​packing​ ​a​ ​Shimano​ ​105​ ​groupset​ ​and​ ​a​ ​Mavic​ ​Aksium​ ​wheelset,​ ​it’s​ ​a​ ​perfect​ ​starter​ ​race​ ​bike. We have​ ​highlighted​ the​ ​cantilever​ ​rim​ ​brake​ ​version,​ ​but​ ​most​ ​now​ ​have  disc​ ​brake​ ​options​ ​which​ ​we​ ​also​ ​stock​ ​at​ ​Hargroves.

When​ ​it​ ​comes​ ​to​ ​maximising​ ​comfort,​ ​the​ ​carbon​ ​Cube​ ​Agree​ ​C:62​ ​Pro​,​ ​£2,099,​ ​is​ ​an endurance​ ​race​ ​bike,​ ​meaning​ ​it’s​ ​built​ ​to​ ​go​ ​fast​ ​–​ ​while​ ​serving​ ​up​ ​comfort​ ​over​ ​long​ ​stints​ ​in​ ​the  saddle.​ ​The​ ​tapered​ ​head​ ​tube​ ​and​ ​integrated​ ​seat​ ​clamp​ ​encourage​ ​aerodynamics,​ ​and​ ​the​ ​frame​ ​is Di2​ ​ready,​ ​so​ ​if​ ​you​ ​want,​ ​you​ ​can​ ​upgrade​ ​to​ ​electronic​ ​gears​ ​later.​ ​With​ ​excellent Shimano​ ​Ultegra​ ​components,​ ​including​ ​Ultegra​ ​rim​ ​brakes,​ ​and​ ​an​ ​aerodynamic​ ​Mavic​ ​Cosmic​ ​Elite  wheelset​ ​with​ ​bladed-spokes,​ ​this​ ​bike​ ​is​ ​not​ ​just​ ​speedy,​ ​but​ ​built​ ​with​ ​quality​ ​to​ ​stand​ ​the​ ​test​ ​of​ ​time,  too.

GEOMETRY​ ​&​ ​AERODYNAMICS

Of​ ​course,​ ​your​ ​frame​ ​choice​ ​shouldn’t​ ​be​ ​determined​ ​on​ ​materials​ ​alone,​ ​but​ ​also​ ​by​ ​its​ ​shape​ ​and  geometry.​ ​Aero​ ​road​ ​frames​ ​feature​ ​wind-cheating​ ​tapered​ ​tubes​ ​and​ ​rounded,​ ​tear-shaped​ ​contours; typically​ ​adopting​ ​technology​ ​and​ ​techniques​ ​from​ ​their​ ​time​ ​trial​ ​and​ ​triathlon-focused​ ​stablemates.

Cannondale’s​ ​CAAD12​ ​Ultegra​ ​Black​, ​£1,899​ ​screams​ ​serious​ ​race​ ​appeal,​ ​twinning​ ​a  full​ ​Ultegra​ ​groupset​ ​with​ ​an​ ​A1​ ​alloy​ ​frame​ ​that’s​ ​light,​ ​stiff​ ​and​ ​smooth​ ​feel.​ ​The​ ​American​ ​brand’s been​ ​busy​ ​upgrading​ ​the​ ​aerodynamics​ ​on​ ​their​ ​ever-popular​ ​CAAD​ ​–​ ​the​ ​tubes​ ​for​ ​this​ ​year​ ​are  sleeker​ ​than​ ​previous​ ​iterations;​ ​down​ ​and​ ​top​ ​tubes​ ​are​ ​more​ ​flowing,​ ​the​ ​top​ ​tube​ ​flattens​ ​out  towards​ ​the​ ​rear​ ​and​ ​the​ ​carbon​ ​fork​ ​is​ ​slimmer,​ ​improving​ ​compliance​ ​and​ ​comfort.​ ​The​ ​geometry lends​ ​itself​ ​to​ ​an​ ​efficient,​ ​aero​ ​position​ ​while​ ​the​ ​frame​ ​stiffness​ ​responds​ ​well​ ​to​ ​putting​ ​down​ ​the  power.

Cannondale CAAD 12 Ultegra

Its​ ​700C​ ​Mavic​ ​Aksium​ ​wheels​ ​are​ ​popular​ ​for​ ​their​ ​strong,​ ​stiff​ ​and​ ​relative​ ​lightness​ ​at​ ​1880g​ ​for​ ​the pair.​ ​Their​ ​anodized​ ​black​ ​finish​ ​suit​ ​this​ ​stealthy-looking​ ​machine​ ​–​ ​it’s​ ​got​ ​way​ ​more​ ​bang​ ​than​ ​it​ ​asks for​ ​in​ ​buck.

To​ ​achieve​ ​speed​ ​on​ ​a​ ​wider​ ​variety​ ​of​ ​budgets,​ Specialized’s​ ​Tarmac​ ​range,​ ​features  signature​ ​arched​ ​top​ ​tubes,​ ​which​ ​flatten​ ​towards​ ​the​ ​seat​ ​tube.​ ​The​ ​Sport​ ​version offers​ ​a​ ​carbon​ ​frame​ ​and​ ​Shimano​ ​105​ ​groupset​ ​for​ ​£1,750,​ ​while​ ​a​ ​step​ ​up​ ​to​ ​the​ ​Specialized​ ​Tarmac Comp​ £2,600,​ ​delivers​ ​Shimano​ ​Ultegra,​ ​an​ ​aggressive​ ​16cm​ ​head​ ​tube​ ​and​ ​excellent  handling​ ​that’s​ ​built​ ​to​ ​succeed.

COMPONENTS​ ​CHOICE

Our​ ​range​ ​features​ ​groupsets​ ​from​ ​all​ ​the​ ​leading​ ​manufacturers​ ​who​ ​offer​ ​race-quality​ ​parts​ ​at accessible​ ​price​ ​points.​ ​Shimano’s​ ​performance​ ​groupset​ ​is​ ​considered​ ​to​ ​start​ ​at​ ​105,​ ​while​ ​SRAM’s Rival​ ​is​ ​their​ ​ready-to-race​ ​option.​ ​Electronic​ ​gears​ ​(Shimano​ ​Di2,​ ​SRAM​ ​eTap,​ ​Campagnolo​ ​EPS​ ​and  the​ ​emerging​ ​FSA​ ​K-Force​ ​WE)​ ​are​ ​UCI​ ​legal,​ ​and,​ ​as​ ​long​ ​as​ ​you​ ​remember​ ​to​ ​charge​ ​them,​ ​serve​ ​up  superbly​ ​smooth​ ​performance.​ ​These​ ​high​ ​level​ ​groupsets​ ​will​ ​help​ ​your​ ​performance,​ ​but​ ​you​ ​can​ ​still  race​ ​on​ ​more​ ​basic,​ ​but​ ​still​ ​good​ ​quality,​ ​componentry​ ​(e.g.​ ​Shimano​ ​Tiagra​ ​or​ ​SRAM​ ​Apex),​ ​and  heavier​ ​parts​ ​only​ ​serve​ ​to​ ​make​ ​you​ ​stronger.

When it comes to choosing your wheels, deeper rim options perform well for racing because they experience less drag, although it’s worth considering the fact that there is usually a small weight penalty. 30-40mm depth is often considered a good racing compromise, and more experienced racers often have multiple wheelsets to get the best advantage in different conditions.

However​ ​deep,​ ​or​ ​shallow,​ ​your​ ​rims,​ ​you​ ​need​ ​your​ ​wheels​ ​to​ ​be​ ​as​ ​light​ ​and​ ​aerodynamically​ ​efficient  as​ ​possible.​ ​As​ ​with​ ​frames,​ ​alloy​ ​is​ ​a​ ​great​ ​choice​ ​for​ ​wheels​ ​on​ ​a​ ​budget​ ​while​ ​carbon​ ​wins​ ​on​ ​weight  and​ ​power​ ​transfer.​​ ​​​ ​The​ ​great​ ​thing​ ​about​ ​wheels​ ​though,​ ​is​ ​that​ ​you​ ​can​ ​upgrade​ ​them​ ​at​ ​any​ ​time;​ ​so  it’s​ ​a​ ​good​ ​idea​ ​to​ ​spend​ ​on​ ​the​ ​frame​ ​and​ ​groupset​ ​and​ ​follow​ ​up​ ​later​ ​with​ ​a​ ​wheel​ ​upgrade.

At​ ​Hargroves​ ​we​ ​have​ ​a​ ​variety​ ​of​ ​race​ ​bikes​ ​to​ ​suit​ ​any​ ​budget​ ​and​ ​taste.​ ​When​ ​choosing​ ​your​ ​next​ ​–  or​ ​first​ ​–​ ​race​ ​bike,​ ​make​ ​sure​ ​your​ ​head​ ​rules​ ​your​ ​heart,​ ​but​ ​let​ ​them​ ​both​ ​a​ ​have​ ​a​ ​look​ ​in!

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