Lance Armstrong once wrote an autobiography entitled It's Not About the Bike. And he was right … it was about the drugs and the blood transfusions. But for the rest of us who test clean, a fabulous road bike can absolutely make or break a ride.
If you haven't checked out road cycles for quite a while, you might be surprised to find they've come a long way since the time of heavy steel frames, clunky Sturmey Archer gears, and brakes with little sense of urgency.
Contemporary top-of-the-range road cycles are incredibly sophisticated pieces of kit. With their high-tech carbon fibre frames and hand-built carbon wheels, most tip the scales at less than seven kilograms.
Former Tour de France cyclist and Olympic Gold Medallist Stuart O'Grady told Executive Style he is shocked by the changes to cycling technology over the past 15 years.
"My first race bike was a red Elizabeth Star with ten gears and weighed around 15kgs," he says. "Now we have batteries on our bikes with electronic gearing, even disc brakes if you want them. Today's bikes are super light, super strong and super fast."
Today's bikes are super light, super strong and super fast.Stuart O'Grady
Rob Arnold from Ride Cycling Review agrees. He says due to the limits applied by the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) consumers can buy a better bike than those ridden in the peloton, especially when it comes to weight.
"The UCI imposes a 6.8 kilogram minimum weight limit, it's pretty common for the test bikes we get at RIDE to be well under that limit," says Arnold. "In the last issue of our magazine we had three bikes with frames that weighed less than 800 grams; we've had magazines that weight more than that!"
Arnold reckons there are big things just around the corner when it comes to bike technology. He says a whole lot of new product will be released over the next couple of months, including a revolutionary braking system by Specialized that will see the rear brake caliper mounted on the seat tube.
Other innovations include a road cycle by Cannondale with a distinctive 'lefty' fork, and a new frame by Bianchi that will utilise carbon technology developed by NASA, to create a lightweight and shock absorbing ride.
"However the true revolution in road cycling is the new gear system with wireless electronic shifting by SRAM," says Arnold. "That's groundbreaking and it's ready for release later this year."
What's the best road bike on the market? Let us know in the comments below.
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