Can I use a road bike for commuting?
If you have been thinking of commuting on a bike you probably are thinking of what type of bike would be best to buy. Most people prefer to commute to work on cheap hybrids or road bikes but the big question is that is the best choice?
Is a road bike suitable for commuting?
Road bikes are excellent for commuting particularly since they are designed for speed. They will usually be able to get you to work fast particularly if you are riding on paved roads.
While they may look fragile most road bikes can take a lot of punishment with proper maintenance and you can ride them on both long and short commutes.
However, it is important to note that while road bikes are not designed to be ridden in the city but rather for long rides, they can still be great as commuter bikes.
If you are riding on relatively smooth roads and relatively straight routes a road bike is a perfect bike. However, you will be probably better off with a gravel bike or hybrid bike on curvier or bumpier routes.
What is the best road bike for commuting
If you will be commuting long distances, road bikes are among some of the best commuters that you can buy. Given that they are designed to be ridden on the tarmac, the best road bikes are built for riding on smooth paved surfaces in the city.
Still, it is important to take into account the terrain on which you will be riding your bike. If your commute is in poor weather, rough terrain, and on a road full of potholes, the road bike will deteriorate faster without proper care and maintenance.
The best road bike for your commute will be something that is not as expensive as a bike ridden by professionals. Something as cheap as $600 with a high spoke count wheelset, dependable groupset, and mudguard eyelets should be good enough.
Even though carbon fiber road bikes offer stiffer and lighter rides, longevity and value for money should be your biggest concern if you are shopping for a commuter bike.
Proas of road bikes as commuter bikes
One of the main reasons people decide to bike to work is being frustrated by vehicular traffic. Bike commuting can save rides a lot of time as compared to commuting by car due to a range of aspects such as:
Road bikes are the fastest bikes out there that could go as fast as 25 mph and even more. The aerodynamic riding position significantly reduces drag allowing one to ride faster without expending too much energy as compared to other types of bikes.
The road bike is made for speed and hence comes with a variety of gears allowing for higher gear ratios. It also comes with slick and thin tires which reduce rolling resistance significantly.
Road bikes tend to be lightweight bikes with the typical one coming at between 18-22 lbs. Even the cheaper road bikes on the low end tend to be significantly lighter as compared to mountain bikes or hybrid bikes.
Road bikes are reliable and sturdy bikes if they are maintained regularly. The bare minimum is usually lubing and cleaning the cassette and chainrings.
This type of maintenance is particularly important during the wet season when these parts may collect a lot of gunk.
When well-maintained road bikes are smooth bikes that will ride well for a long time.
Cons of road bikes as commuter bikes
While there are many positives to road bikes as commuter bikes, they also have some disadvantages that include:
Given that road bikes are made for speed rather than comfort, they tend to be spartan. They usually come with thin tires and no suspension forks which means that you will feel every slight bump in the road which can be tiring.
The aerodynamic position can also be tiring for people without a strong core and especially beginners that may complain of numb hands. In addition, the position also makes it harder to turn around and check for traffic as compared to other bikes.
- They are very Barebones
Most road bikes come with very few components with some brands not bothering to include pedals in the box. As a commuter, you might thus be forced to purchase the bottle cage, fenders, lights, and pedals.
- No Mounting Points for Racks
Most road bikes do not come with mounting racks which makes mounting normal fenders or regular racks very difficult.
- Handling in Heavy Traffic
The narrow handlebars and rider position makes maneuvering at low speed quite a challenge. In bumper-to-bumper traffic in the city, cruising can be difficult. This can be quite frustrating and tiring if you commute in a city with heavy traffic.
Shiny new road bikes are a favorite target for bike thieves who have been known to take them when they are parked outside. Riding in a city makes this problem just more acute thus requiring one to invest in antitheft measures such as a bike lock.
Commuter bike vs road bike
A commuter bike is designed for reliability, durability, and comfort rather than speed. As such a commuter bike might be preferable to a road bike since they tend to be stronger and heavier which makes them last for longer.
They can also take a lot of punishment in the city such as potholes and bumper-to-bumper traffic while providing relative comfort.
A road bike comes with all manner of features and mechanisms intended to make the bike as fast as possible which makes the road bike a great racing bike.
If you have a long commute on smooth paved roads, they are the best as they will get you there faster than the commuter bike which can be slow and clumsy.