If you picture a road bike, you’re probably thinking of famous races like the Tour de France, and wondering whether those kinds of bikes are all a bit serious for your kind of riding. Until recently, you’d have been right – road bikes were mostly designed for the needs of competitive racers. The everyday bike rider hasn’t spent years honing their body for the aggressive position and big gearing of the pros, and race geometry road bikes aren’t the best choice for most people.
Luckily, for those looking for some intoxicating speed and excitement in their riding, a road bike isn’t simply a road bike these days. The market has started dividing into sub-categories, and here we take a look at the two main styles of road bike now available in our new Vantage range: the race bike Vs endurance style.
In broad strokes, the differences between a race road bike and endurance road bike are along the lines of geometry, comfort, clearance, braking and gearing.
Race bikes get a bit of a bad wrap as being twitchy, or fast-handling – which is great when you’re jostling for position in a race.
Endurance road bikes, like the Vantage Endurance 3.0, dial these characteristics back, with lower bottom brackets and slacker angles making for a more stable, predictable bike for everyday riding – whether your day’s riding is carving your way down a descent, weaving through peak-hour traffic, or holding a wheel in a beach-side bunch ride (or all of the above).
An endurance road bike such as the Vantage Endurance 3.0 has a longer headtube, which means that the handlebars are higher than on the more race oriented Vantage Comp model. This puts less strain on the back, and also reduces the reach to the bar – meaning you’re able to ride further, in greater comfort.
This also makes for a friendlier introduction to road riding if you’re new to the activity, with a relatively neutral riding position that will have you hitting a new smiles-per-hour record in no time. Endurance road bikes also tend to be designed to have a little more ‘give’ in the frame, without sacrificing much efficiency, while little touches like gel bar tape add to the feeling of plushness.
On a race bike, spec decisions were made to optimise for speed meaning that the bike won’t be as comfortable but will take off and sprint quicker.
Wider tyres are more comfortable, and also give better grip and handling – but you will add rotating mass that will take off some speed. Endurance road bike frames are built to allow more clearance for bigger tyres than what you commonly find on a race bike. All bikes in our Vantage range come fitted with 25c tyres but allow for clearance at least to 28c.
In practical terms, wider tyres mean the bike gives you the added versatility to dive down a gravel detour, soak up the potholes of the urban jungle or glide over cobblestones and tram tracks.
For a bike to be legal to race on, they need to fit into some pretty narrow technological boundaries imposed by the governing body of the sport (UCI). Controversially, one of these rules prohibits the use of disc brakes.
Endurance road bikes, however, are usually designed for the non-racing majority – so you get to enjoy better braking than the pros. Disc brakes aren’t affected by wet weather or dirty conditions – they’re predictable, powerful and offer finer control regardless of how dusty or damp your ride gets.
Because of the undeniable benefits of disc brakes on road bikes, we’ve fitted our full Vantage range with discs across the board, from best-in-class brand TRP.
Test rides are available at most stores. A good fit is critical on a road bike so always ask your local stockists beforehand.