|cassette||what it's good for|
|11-21||stronger/competitive riders on flat courses|
|12-23||stronger/competitive riders on varied terrain|
|12-25||a combination that begins to favor climbing|
|12-27||offers significantly easier climbing gears|
Not too long ago, when you bought a new road bike, you got fairly run-of-the-mill wheels comprised of decent rims, spokes and hubs. These wheels were reliable and worked just fine. But, they didn't really add any pizzazz to your new two-wheeler.
All that has changed. Today, many if not most road bikes feature wheels that are marvels of engineering. They're prettier, more aerodynamic, durable and lightweight, sometimes superlight. Why is this important, you ask?
Because when you cut wheel weight, you drastically improve a bike's climbing, acceleration and handling. This happens because wheels are rotating weight. And this type of heft is felt most by the rider. In fact, a few-hundred grams reduction at the wheels feels more like a few pounds reduction. On the road, it's an amazing feeling, like suddenly dropping 10 pounds of body weight.
Box vs. Aero Section Rims
One difference in these new wheels is rim type. There are two basic designs named after their cross sections: conventional box-section rims (square or rectagonally shaped) and aero-section rims (triangularly shaped).
Box-section rims are lightweight, accelerate quickly, and provide the most comfort. Aero-shaped rims are stronger, have less wind drag, and are stiffer (less comfortable). It's important to consider wheel feel when you're test riding bikes. You might prefer one type to another.
When choosing a rim or wheel type it's important to consider where and how you ride, as well as how much you weigh. For example, a 140-pound rider who spins leisurely mostly on rough pavement, will probably prefer a box-section rim for its additional comfort. But, a competitive 200 pounder on smooth roads will much prefer the stiffness and speed of aero-section hoops.
There are many wheelsets on the market designed for general and specific types of riding. Most use minimal spoke counts (traditional wheels have 32 spokes), which cuts wind drag and wheel weight. Superlight wheels are excellent for climbing. Aero wheels are usually a little heavier and intended to cheat the wind for an advantage during long rides and time trials.
Bike companies use a variety of different tires on their road models and usually, the tires are good for 1,000 to 2,000 miles, depending on your weight, riding style, and whether the tire is located on the front or back. So, the chances are pretty good that you'll be fine riding on the tires that come stock on your new bicycle.
You might consider upgrading however, if the tires are the wrong size or design for your predominant type of riding. One important difference is bead type. Beads are found in both edges of the tire. They're the parts that grip the rim to hold the tire on the wheel. Less-expensive tires use wire beads, which add weight (remember that rotating weight is the most important kind). Better models have Kevlar (a super-tough fabric) beads.
Tires with Kevlar beads are called "folding tires," and they're a great upgrade if you want lightweight wheels and lively handling. These tires cost more, so expect to pay for them. But, the additional expense is worth it if you want optimum performance.
Another reason to swap tires is to get a different width. Tire width determines how much air it holds, which in turn decides ride softness. It also affects how the bike handles, rolling resistance and durability.
You'll find the tire's size written on its sidewall as "700 x XX," where XX is the tire's width in millimeters (700 refers to the nominal outside tire diameter in millimeters, a European standard called "700c"). We're happy to discuss tire differences with you. Here's how the sizes compare:
|size||what it's good for|
|700 x 20||thin, primarily for time trials and lighter riders|
|700 x 23||normal, for most conditions, racing and training|
|700 x 25||thicker, longer wearing, more shock absorption|
|700 x 28||thick, longest lasting, ideal for touring, commuting, heavier riders|
The two companies selling road groups are Shimano and Campagnolo and each offers 5 different levels of components. A group is comprised of brakes, hubs, chain, cassette, bottom bracket, crank, derailleurs, shifters and headset (sometimes a seatpost is included, too).
As you spend more money, parts get lighter and bearing quality (bearings are what the hubs, headset, pedals and crankset spin on) improves. Higher-level components shift and brake slightly better, too -- though even entry-level braking and shifting is exceptional on modern systems.
So, how do you decide what to buy? It comes down to your price range and which group offers the features you want (i.e. weight, number of gears, appearance, quality). Usually, you can narrow it down to a couple of groups. And, at that point, a great way to decide is to ride and compare. If you can feel a difference in braking and shifting, go with the bike you like better.
To help you understand what's what with modern parts packages, here's an overview:
|entry-level||Campagnolo||Mirage||double or triple w/9 cogs||fine function; some steel parts|
|enthusiast-level||Campagnolo||Veloce||double or triple w/9 cogs||nice function; less steel; better finish|
|serious-level||Campagnolo||Daytona||double or triple w/9 or 10 cogs||most affordable 10-speed group|
|race-level||Campagnolo||Chorus||double or triple w/9 or 10 cogs||almost Record quality and finish|
|pro-level||Campagnolo||Record||double or triple w/9 or 10 cogs||world's lightest group|
|entry-level||Shimano||Sora||double or triple w/8 cogs||some steel; shifts and brakes great|
|enthusiast-level||Shimano||Tiagra||double or triple w/9 cogs||less steel; more interchangeability|
|serious-level||Shimano||105||double or triple w/9 cogs||great price; hollow crankarms|
|race-level||Shimano||Ultegra 600||double or triple w/9 cogs||almost D-A quality; hollow arms|
|pro-level||Shimano||Dura-Ace||double or triple w/9 cogs||Lance's group; superlight|
We've asked you to think about what you'd like in a bike and what you'd be comfortable spending. Now that you have an idea how to decide what type of road machine to get, it's time to come into our store and do some tire kicking and test riding to see how the models compare in person. This will complete the picture and give you a chance to see what you get at the various price points. Here are a final few helpful tips:
We're sure you'll enjoy your shopping experience with us. Come in today to check out our selection of road bikes and get to know our professional staff!