How To Choose The Best Road Bike: Everything You Need To Know
There’s never been a better time to treat yourself to a new road bike, or to start road cycling for the very first time. Thanks to the latest advancements in bicycle technology, today’s road bikes are lighter, stiffer, more comfortable, and better performing than ever before. “Road bike” has become somewhat of a catch-all term that refers to bicycles that are most commonly ridden on paved roads, or possibly on gravel roads and smooth dirt paths, depending on the specific model. Most avid cyclists will agree that the definitive attribute that all road bikes have in common is a drop-style handlebar (with ends that swoop backwards toward the rear wheel). This handlebar configuration has been popular for decades because it provides the rider with a variety of hand positions for finding his or her best body position and level of control, whether while climbing or descending hills, sprinting, or cruising with friends. In short, road bikes are those bicycles you see racing in the Tour de France, parked outside your local coffee shop, or rolling out from your neighborhood bike shop and onto the streets.
Determining the best road bike for you will depend on a variety factors. Chief among these are your personal riding goals. Are you looking for a healthy lifestyle or aiming to become a fitter athlete? Are you interested in riding with your friends and expanding your social circle? Are you interested in pinning a number to your jersey and trying your hand at racing? Other factors that will help you narrow your search for the perfect road bike include the locations in which you’ll most commonly be riding, along with your previous experience. Your personal tastes should come into play, as well, in terms of your bike’s contact points like the saddle, as well as what type of braking and shifting components feel tactilely best to you. And, of course, don’t discount aesthetics and how a certain paint scheme or silhouette appeals to you. You should seek out a bike you’ll love and want to ride as often as possible. To help you in your search, let’s break down our three core road bike platforms (along with two others for those seeking an even more versatile experience).
AR: PURE SPEED & PERFORMANCE
The AR is our most advanced road bike to date, and that’s because of its incredible aerodynamic efficiency. Whereas more traditional road bikes feature round tube shapes and straight lines, the AR is comprised of flattened tubes and unique angles, all of which were created together using the latest aerodynamic software and wind tunnel testing -- the very same process used to create Formula one race cars and aeroplanes. Why did we create a bike using such means? Speed. This bike is for the racer. If you’re looking to show up at your local race and test yourself against a field of competitors, then this is the bike you want. In addition to increased speed thanks to its aerodynamic efficiency, the AR also boasts impeccable handling for maximum control when the bike is flying down the road.
FR: DO-IT-ALL RIDING
The FR is our flagship road bike, and with good reason. It’s no slouch in the speed department, but doesn’t offer the same aerodynamic advantage as the AR. But it’s stiff in all the right places, meaning that it offers incredible pedaling efficiency, so all of your hard work turning the gears equates to maximum forward momentum. Combined with a lightweight construction, this makes the FR the choice for fans of steep hills and long climbs. In fact, many of our professional riders choose it for races up into the mountains. If you’re itching to spend a day exploring mountain roads, or if you live in a significantly hilly area, this is the bike for you. And when you get to the top of the summit, you’ll need to ride back down, right? Well, thankfully, we designed the FR with incredible handling to give you total control while descending. The FR can do it all: climb, descend, sprint, and cruise. That’s why it’s our flagship bike and the one we most often recommend to a variety of riders. Here are some great options:
FR | ADVANCED | ULTEGRA Di2 in our new, signature aquafresh color. This particular model rolls on carbon, tubeless-ready Reynolds wheels for a fast-rolling ride and instant acceleration under power. A carbon fiber cockpit component selection from Devox completes the build.
FR | ADVANCED | ULTEGRA in our new, svelte plasma red color. There’s a reason that the Ultegra level of components is Shimano’s best-selling. Each and every Ultegra piece offers rock-solid dependability. This particular model comes with Shimano Ultegra mechanical shifters and derailleurs, and it rolls on carbon, tubeless-ready Reynolds wheels.
VR: ALL-DAY COMFORT
The VR was designed for the rider looking for maximum comfort, or who is looking to ride all day long. Compared to the AR and FR, the VR provides riders with a slightly more upright riding position, which many long-distance cyclists prefer. Likewise, the VR’s unique construction and architecture allow it to soak up more vibrations from the road, mitigating the effects of bumps or cracks found in paved surfaces from impacting the rider. Whereas the racy AR and the all-around FR have handling characteristics more attuned to the needs of aggressive cyclists or those who prefer a more nimble steering feel, the VR offers a very stable platform that inspires incredibly confident handling. Along with all of these fantastic benefits for riders looking to extend their regular riding habits and achieve maximum comfort, the VR also offers all of the performance credentials that longtime fans of Felt have come to expect. It has an efficient pedaling interface that allows it to keep pace when other riders start raising the tempo of the group ride.
BROAM: MULTI-SURFACE & EXPLORATION
Building on the VR’s reputation as an incredible endurance road bike, the Broam takes things a step further. Its riding position is even more upright to help enhance comfort across a long day of pedaling, and it features plenty of room for large-volume tires. There’s been a growing cultural interest in outfitting road bikes with as large a pair of tires as possible, and the Broam is among the most capable anywhere. What do large tires mean for you? All things being equal, a larger tire can performance exceptionally well when the pavement gets super rough, or even simply ends and a dirt road emerges. This is the bike for getting off the well-worn path, so to speak, and is truly built for adventure and exploration. It’s decked out with a variety of mounting points to integrate various accessories like racks to carry groceries or camping gear, fenders to help combat rainy conditions, and extra spots to carry additional water bottles to help you stay hydrated. If you’re the type of rider looking for maximum versatility and a bike that can go anywhere, the Broam is for you.
BREED: READY FOR ANYTHING
The Breed is our most exciting, and newest, road bike. It matches all of the versatility and multi-surface capabilities as the Broam, but in a slightly more performance-oriented package. It’s fit and feel while riding is more akin with the VR endurance road bike and the FR all-around road bike. But it features the massive tire clearance also found on the Broam, meaning that the Breed is capable of running some oversize tires for more control and comfort when the pavement ends and gravel or dirt begins. It’s also the bike of choice for tackling “gravel grinder” events, which are exponentially growing in popularity. Equal parts multi-terrain explorer and all-around road cycling wonder, the Breed is of a variety all unto its own.