We’ll admit we’re biased, but there are few better ways to get in shape or maintain your fitness than riding a bicycle. However the big question when getting a bike is what to go for.
The modern bicycle is being used in all manner of ways from commuting to work, going for some light shopping and becoming fit. Given the many uses that bikes are being used for, bicycle manufacturers have been coming up with different types of designs with specific functionalities. This makes it harder to choose between the many different models.
In this article, we will be looking at the differences between the fitness bike and the road bike and what you should get depending on your health, sex, age or the goal of buying the bike.
What are Road Bikes
True to their name, road bikes are intended to be ridden on roads – typically on pave surfaces. Given their skinny tires, lightweight frames, dropped handlebars that provide an aerodynamic and efficient riding position, road bikes are designed for maximum speed.
The gearing on a road bike is also designed for speed as the typical road bike will have a front crankset that comes with two gears. With one having 54 teeth and the other 39 teeth the gear shifting on a road bike is smooth and makes shifting a breeze. Since they are also more relaxed and easier to pedal given the better efficiency, they are best used for long rides with friends even though they are also great for commuting.
However, it is critical to take into account that since they have drop bars for aerodynamic riding, they can be uncomfortable especially for beginners or elderly riders that may need something that allows them to have a more upright position.
What is a Fitness Bikes
A fitness bike is a bike made from a traditional road bike platform that has relatively narrow tires that provided better grip on pavement, upright or flat handlebars and lightweight frames for better aerodynamics. Fitness bikes will sometimes be referred to as performance hybrid bikes or flat bar road bikes.
Fitness bikes are road road bikes that typically sacrifice performance for comfort. They are usually made from the traditional road bike platform coming with a lightweight frame and thin fast rolling 700c wheels.
However, while your typical road bike comes with a drop bar, the fitness bike comes flat handlebars. The flat handlebars make for a comfortable upright position and better control making this bike better for commuters as it is easier to look over the shoulder while riding in traffic.
Fitness bikes are typically designed for people that are either beginners or the elderly and the physically unfit who do not have the fitness or bike handling proficiency to spend hours in the hunkered down position on a road bike. Nonetheless, many people who are fit still go for the fitness bike for its comfort. Moreover it is more efficient as say a mountain bike would be on a road.
Standout Features of the Fitness Bike
- Disc Brakes – One of the best things I love about fitness bikes is the disc brakes. While these may cost more than rim style brakes, they are very effective and offer better precision and control particularly in wet conditions. Moreover, since they do not call for a lot of hand strength they are good for beginners and the unfit.
- Right Gearing – Fitness bikes typically come with two chair rings in the front cassete and between nine and eleven in the rear. With more gears in the rear, shifting is a breeze and regardless of the train, maintaining a regular cadence is easier.
- Internally Geared Hubs and Belt Drives – Some fitness bikes come with internally geared hubs and belt drives which make them incredibly clean and reliable which makes them great as a commuter bike. Moreover you can change gears using one shifter and even at a stop unlike other types of bikes where you have to be riding to shift gears.
Fitness Bike vs Road Bike for Fitness
While you may think that fitness bikes are better suited for fitness, road bikes are actually a better fit if you are looking for fitness. Since they are smaller than mountain and hybrid bikes, they are usually smaller and with their higher pressured and thin tires they have less friction and less contact with the road which makes them a better commuter bike.
Moreover these bikes are intended for long distance training which will allow for weekends of long riding with friends which can burn a lot of calories. As such these bikes can be difficult yet easy to use making for a great workout on long and intense training sessions.
Fitness bikes will also provide a good workout but since they are not so streamlined, they will usually make you tire faster than a road bike. Still fitness bikes will be better for fitness as say a mountain bike or a hybrid bike given that they are made from the base of a road bike. However, the flat handlebars makes decreases their performance as compared to road bikes.
Road bikes are excellent for exercise since they are easy to control and manage over long and intense exercise. Since the riding can be for longer periods and be more intense you can get a good workout from a road bike.