Types of Road Bikes: Different Kinds of Racing, Recreational and Multi-Terrain Bikes

This article is all about the various types of road bikes. It's a comprehensive list that will give you an idea of what kind of road bicycle is best for you.
John Watson
John Watson
John is an experienced cycling enthusiast and a great asset when it comes to writing skills. He's a Bachelor of Arts and a talented journalist. John is in charge of our blog read more
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Jessica Kingston
Jessica Kingston
Expert Consultant
Jessica is our expert consultant on all things connected to biking - gear, technique, you name it. Being a pro cyclist in the past, she knows exactly how things work in and read more
Last updated: August 09, 2023
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The United States cycling road network continues to expand every year. in 2021 alone, more than 2900 miles were added to the National Bicycle Route System Trusted Source Cycling is on a roll Extensive new trails added to the U.S. Bicycle Route System in five states are an infrastructure boon for bicyclists. www.washingtonpost.com in the West and Midwest. Other parts of the country have not been left out either.

With such an intensive biking route system, you might be motivated to get a bike for commuting, recreation, racing, and any other reason. But what type of road bikes should you purchase? As you might probably know, you can’t just buy a bicycle blindly. There are many different types of road bikes available on the market, and they are all made for specific uses. Some are designed for racing, while others are geared towards recreational riding or other purposes.

Well, in this article, we’ll take a look at the most popular types of cycling bikes. We’ll also discuss how they differ from each other and why you might want to consider buying one.

Different types of road bikes explained

Just as their name suggests, road bikes are made to handle roads. They’re usually built with drop bars, flat pedals, disc brakes, and wide tires. Road bikes can be categorized into three main groups:

  • Race-oriented – Professional cyclists often use these types of road bikes. These bikes are generally lighter and faster than regular road bikes. Their frames are typically stiffer and more robust. They come with narrower rims and wider tires. Just like their name suggests, bikes are intended for racing events like criteriums and time trials.
  • Recreational – Recreational road bikes are the most common road bike. They’re meant for everyday use. They’re usually heavier than race-oriented road bikes but still much lighter than mountain bikes. They’re equipped with flat pedals, clipless pedals, and narrow rims.
  • Multi-terrain – These bikes are the heaviest category of road bikes. As their name suggests, their frame geometry is optimized for all types of terrains. Some are usually equipped with suspension forks and shock absorbers. They come with fenders, racks, and panniers. These bikes are great for long rides over rough terrain such as gravel roads, trails, forest tracks, byways, bridle paths, and so forth.

Below we explore the different road bikes that fall under the three categories.

Race bikes

Types of Road Bikes: Different Kinds of Racing, Recreational and Multi-Terrain Bikes
Racing bikes are typically equipped with flat pedals, disc brakes, wide tires, and sometimes even clip-in pedals.

Once popularly known as a ten-speed bike, a racing bike is a bicycle made for competitive road races. They are usually made for short distances. Racing bikes are made of lightweight carbon fiber and have high-end components, aerodynamic designs, and quick-shifting mechanisms. Their wide tires are more resilient to any speed. They are also more comfortable and aerodynamic, and roll faster compared to other types. Wide tires also have the best cornering performance. 

Those with clip-in pedals prevent your feet from slipping off as you apply pressure to them. They also allow you to pedal more fluidly as they will be more of an extension of your feet. Power transfer will be at its maximum with such pedals.

Most racing bikes are made for sprinting on paved surfaces. However, they can also be used for off-road events. For example, cyclocross racers may choose to ride their racing bikes on dirt courses.

Race bikes are usually costly due to their advanced technology. They’re also quite heavy compared to standard road bikes. So if you plan to buy a racing bike, make sure it fits your budget and physical capabilities before purchasing. If you are looking for a reasonably priced model, the Trinx TEMPO1.0 700C Road Bike Shimano, 21 Speed Racing Bicycle might be a good choice for you. The bike is an entry-level model with most of the features you will find in high-end racing models.

Gravel bikes

Types of Road Bikes: Different Kinds of Racing, Recreational and Multi-Terrain Bikes
Most types are equipped with wide tires and drop bars. They also have low stand-over heights.

A gravel bike is a type of hybrid bike explicitly designed for riding on unpaved surfaces. It is usually not as fast as a racing bicycle, but it does offer better traction and control. Gravel bikes are built with rugged frames and tough wheels. They are made to withstand bumps and shocks while being able to handle rough roads.

Some gravel types have suspension forks, disc brakes, and Shimano hydraulic brake levers like mountain-type bicycles. These road bikes are perfect for those who want to do more than commute from A to B via rugged roads. Gravel types also tend to cost less than race or touring types because they don’t feature as many advanced components (such as carbon fiber frames). So if you plan to ride on rough terrains, they should fit your bill.

Do not confuse a gravel bike with a mountain bike, as the two are different. The latter is a type of bicycle that’s designed for climbing steep inclines. It is usually made for off-road activities. Hence its body consists of steel frames and rigid suspensions. The gravel bike vs. mountain bike comparison doesn’t end there,

Mountain bikes are usually equipped with front and rear suspension systems. Front suspension allows the rider to maintain balance during turns and jumps. Rear suspension helps absorb bumps and shocks. It also provides stability and comfort. Due to their high-quality build and additional features, they are more expensive than their counterpart. There are several gravel bikes under 1000 dollars that you can purchase for off-road riding.

Sportive/endurance bikes

Types of Road Bikes: Different Kinds of Racing, Recreational and Multi-Terrain Bikes
The sportive types are explicitly made for long-distance rides.

If you’re looking for the best types of road bikes, endurance types are great options because they provide comfortability and stability during long rides while handling paved roads or gravel paths with ease. They may not be as fast compared to race types, but their enhanced ergonomics makes up for it. They feature light frames, wide tires, and drop bars for an aerodynamic position. Their flat handlebars allow the rider to assume a more comfortable riding posture while reducing wind resistance. The bikes also come in various sizes and shapes. Some are designed to accommodate larger riders, others to fit smaller people.

Various comfort features have been installed on these bikes. For instance, most of these types have fender mounts, seat-stays, forks, vibration-dampening springs, and so forth. Their comfortability comes in handy during extended periods of use.

Many sportive/endurance bikes also have internal gear hubs.

This feature protects your gears from external elements such as rust, dust, and so forth. You also don’t need to pedal while changing gears. Making a start from a dead stop will be easier as you can switch to whatever gear fits you before even pedaling.

This type of bicycle is suitable for long-distance racing. Whether the terrain is hilly or flat, this bike will be the best fit as it provides you with the much-needed comfort in a long ride. Do not buy this bike if you purpose to use it for short distance races that require a blast of adrenaline.

Aero bikes

Types of Road Bikes: Different Kinds of Racing, Recreational and Multi-Terrain Bikes
With this bike, everything ahead of you will disappear smoothly, except you and the road ahead.

Aero types are made for racing purposes. They usually have an aerodynamic bike frame styles, thin tires, and drop bars which help reduce wind resistance while increasing speed. The design of these types allows the rider to assume a more aggressive riding position that reduces air turbulence around their bodies. In other words, this is an “arrow” bike that cuts through the air seamlessly.

Since these types of bikes are designed for speed and efficiency, they are typically lightweight and have a low center of gravity. The aero bike has tires weighing as low as 2 pounds Trusted Source Making the world's 'most aerodynamic road bike' - CNN Giant’s bikes are made from millions of carbon fibers, each thinner than a human hair, cut by machines and sewn together. edition.cnn.com which contributes to its lightweight. Their bodies are also made of millions of tiny carbon fiber strands sewed together by a machine.

Aerodynamic bikes can be equipped with either rim or disc brakes depending on preference. You can easily differentiate them from others by checking out the shape of the head tube frame. Most aero bikes have a sloping top tube and a straight down tube. The head tube angle is also set at a lower value.

If you want to hit upcycling competitions or participate in races, you would like to have this kind of bike. Its aerodynamic road bike frame type, thin tires, and speed-boosting components will not disappoint when it comes to performance. The one is more expensive compared to other road bike styles. But if you’re aiming for top speeds on the racecourse, it is worth checking out. Note that you will need some time getting used to its body shape if you’ve never used it before. So don’t push yourself too hard during the first few rides on this type of bike.

Commuter bikes

Types of Road Bikes: Different Kinds of Racing, Recreational and Multi-Terrain Bikes
Commuter bikes are perfect for those who want to get from point A to B without sacrificing performance. These types have a relaxed geometry and are built with a more robust frame and better quality materials.

The wheels of these bikes are often made of aluminum alloy instead of steel. The pedals are attached to the crank arm using a quick-release mechanism. A typical commuter bike has a front suspension fork, rear shock absorber, and rack and fenders. It doesn’t have drop bars, so it requires you to assume a more upright position.

Most bikes of this type have fender mounts that keep your ride clean even if it’s raining outside. They also feature integrated rack mounts under their top tubes where riders can easily attach baskets or pannier bags for grocery shopping without needing an additional bike rack attachment. For extra convenience, commuter bikes may be equipped with a rear-mounted or a front bike rack that allows you to carry your shopping easily. Other features include a water bottle cage, lights, and a bell.

A commuter bicycle is perfect for those who want a bike they can use every day without worrying about the amount of damage it will take during storage or transport. As noted above, the commuter type is built for durability and convenience. It will not disappoint when it comes to performance either, as long as the speed isn’t your number one concern. If you are stuck on which commuter bike you should purchase, the 6KU Track Fixed Gear Bicycle must be perfect for you. According to most user reviews, the model is fun to ride and offers excellent value for your money.

Note, however, that this bike is not designed for rugged or hilly terrain. It is only perfect for you if you live in a city with paved roads and no hills. If you live in a place with lots of hills or rugged terrain, you should opt for a mountain or gravel bike.

Touring bikes

Types of Road Bikes: Different Kinds of Racing, Recreational and Multi-Terrain Bikes
Touring bikes come with low gear ratios that make pedaling up steep hills easy and fun.

Touring bikes are types of road bicycles that road bike enthusiasts use for long-distance cycling. These types have a comfortable geometry and can handle heavy loads without sacrificing performance. Since they are designed to offer superior comfort, their tires usually feature a larger diameter than other types. They also feature mudguards, so riding in wet conditions on roads is not hazardous at all.

If you’re planning to pack your bike for a road trip, this is the type of bicycle you should get since it can handle heavy loads, such as camping equipment or luggage bags.

However, it’s worth noting that touring types are not designed to offer superior performance compared to racing bikes. For example, you will find them slightly heavier than most types which means they won’t accelerate quickly. They will only carry more weight (including passengers) over long distances efficiently and smoothly without requiring frequent stops along the way.

A touring bike is a perfect choice for you if you love long-distance cycling, want to carry lots of weight comfortably, and travel on all types of roads. However, many models do not have any suspension systems. So if you plan to travel through rough and rocky terrains, make sure you choose a different model.

Triathlon bike

Types of Road Bikes: Different Kinds of Racing, Recreational and Multi-Terrain Bikes
The bikes have an adjustable handlebar stem with drop bars, so you can assume different positions while riding to prevent fatigue during long races or hours of cycling exercises.

Triathlon types are road bikes that both professional and amateur cyclists can use for racing purposes. They feature a lightweight frame, aerodynamic design, wide tires, and carbon fiber forks capable of absorbing shock quickly.

These types have front disc brakes, which means they require less effort to stop when compared to rim brakes types. Most also come with 25mm wide rims combined with 23c tire size suitable for high speeds on flat terrains where wind resistance is not as big of an issue. The seat tube angle is steeper than usual, making it easier for athletes to stand while sprinting.

The aerodynamic features of this bike include large steep frames, hidden cables, and a geometry design that puts the rider in a low forward position. Its aero bars extend out forward, which makes the rider lean more and become narrower. When in this position, the rider can cut through the air with much ease.

Triathlon bikes are made specifically for endurance events such as marathons and Ironman competitions. Everything in this type screams speed and racing. It is, therefore, the best type of bike for people who love to compete in triathlons.

However, it’s worth noting that the majority lack fenders, making them dangerous wet conditions since water and mud end up flying everywhere in the process. They are also not suitable for carrying heavy loads since they have an average weight compared to other types listed above. If you are a greenhorn in racing, you might also have problems using a high-end model. So, it is always a good idea to start training using triathlon road bikes for beginners.

Hybrid bike

Types of Road Bikes: Different Kinds of Racing, Recreational and Multi-Terrain Bikes
The hybrid bike has a similar design to mountain bikes, but its frame is lighter and narrower than a regular mountain bike. Its wheels are more expansive and feature smoother treads instead of the knobby surface found on the latter.

Hybrid bikes combine the best qualities of mountain bikes and road bikes into one. This quality makes them ideal for commuting, recreational riders, and even competitive racing. Some hybrid bikes are often equipped with a rack for carrying items such as groceries or luggage. Others can have integrated lights and reflectors to improve visibility in dark places.

Talking about off-road features and performance, this type of bike has front suspension forks. The quality lessens vibrations when traveling over bumpy surfaces or unpaved trails, especially if you’re not an experienced cyclist yet. Still, it is one of the best road bikes for riding on rough and bumpy roads. This bike also comes with rear shocks, making them suitable for extreme off-road adventures like mountain biking.

Bikes with both front and back suspensions systems are slightly heavier than other types listed in this article.

If you plan on using your type only around town, then this weight difference won’t be significant at all since hybrids can carry heavy loads. If you plan to use it for racing, it might not perform better than all the other bikes in this listing (except touring bikes).

Hybrid bikes are great for daily errands, shopping purposes, commuting to work or school, and cycling on paved roads. If your model has a suspension system, it can perform well when used off-road. Those that lack the system are not suitable for off-road biking or long road trips since they cannot absorb vibrations from the ground.  Unabsorbed vibrations can make your journey tiring overtime during a journey.

Final thoughts

There are several types of road bikes, as seen in this article. Each one is designed for a different purpose or terrain. For example, if you ride your bike to work every day, you may want to invest in an upright bike with fatter tires. On the other hand, if you’re looking for something more lightweight and fast-paced to take on some mountain trails, then you should consider buying a racing-style bicycle instead.

Don’t forget that regardless of the type of road bikes you choose, make sure their components will withstand your riding style before purchasing. Also, keep in mind how much weight each model can handle, so you don’t end up buying something too big or small for your needs later on down the line.


Cycling is on a roll
Extensive new trails added to the U.S. Bicycle Route System in five states are an infrastructure boon for bicyclists.
Making the world
Giant’s bikes are made from millions of carbon fibers, each thinner than a human hair, cut by machines and sewn together.

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