A professional bike differs from an amateur one not in price or body kit, and not even in frame material. The difference lies in the smallest nuances that only the pros will understand. For an amateur, winning 5 minutes in a 200 km race does not matter. For those who participate in competitions, this gap becomes critical.
Frame – the basis of the foundations
Road bike frames are made from aluminum, titanium, carbon, and iron. None of these materials has undeniable advantages, so manufacturers are ready to offer any material to choose from. In the recent past, professional road bikes were made of steel. The famous “Start-highway” of the Kharkiv plant was produced for several decades, and even now it is popular with amateurs. Its steel frame weighs only 2.2 kg.
A few years ago, carbon was at its peak. Excellent composite material allowed us to reduce the weight of the frame set to 800 grams. Carbon has another advantage. This is the elasticity of the material, which smooths out the bumps in the road. But carbon fiber also has disadvantages – the price and the inability to resist side impacts.
Although Chinese manufacturers have dealt with the first problem, cheap Chinese frames for $200 are not recommended. Low workmanship and low reliability cross out all the advantages. Few people want to fall on the asphalt at a speed of 40 km / h.
The compromise was aluminum. Reasonable price, small weight, durability, and reliability. Butting technology allows the tubing to be thicker in critical areas and save on weight where appropriate.
Titanium would be the ideal option if not for its price. Rare metal is very expensive, and in itself, it is not elastic enough. Therefore, titanium frame sets are rarely found.
Bike body kit
Almost all professional road bikes that you can buy at the moment are equipped with Shimano or SRAM body kits. Occasionally you can also find equipment from the Italian company Campagnolo.
For road or track racing use 2 sprockets in the system and 8 to 11 in the cassette. A three-speed system is used to overcome mountainous areas, but this is extremely rare. Excess weight in a key place of application of forces does more harm than good. The choice depends on the characteristics of training and competition:
- 53\39\30 – triple system for mountain stages;
- 50 \ 34 – universal lightweight;
- 46 \ 34 – for cyclocross.
The latest highlight of professional cycling is the Shimano Dura-Ace 9070 Di2 electronic shifting system. Judging by the reviews, the quality of the electronics is admirable, there has never been such clarity of the switches. That’s just the price of 140,000 rubles for a complete body kit makes you think about another option.
Professional road bikes – wheels make all the difference
Whatever the advantage, a deformed wheel will nullify it. And the cost of a top wheel is so high that you can buy a better carbon frame for that money. But on the other hand, the wheels can be upgraded without problems, in extreme cases, you will have to throw the cassette.
The only difference for professionals is the ability to use a solid rear wheel. But this only makes sense in indoor racing or calm weather. Lateral drift will nullify all the benefits.
The choice of tires deserves a separate discussion. Rain and mud will force the bike to change into sharper tires, although a smoother surface gives better rolling. But tires are essentially a consumable item, and it will not be difficult to change them just before the start.
Road bike for various sports
There is a joke that famous athletes shave their legs before they start to improve their aerodynamics. The bike is chosen in such a way as to maximally adapt it to specific conditions – aerodynamic, weight, and maneuverable.
Despite the variety of cycling races, they can all be divided into two groups. The first includes those where the athlete spends a significant part of the race in a group or “on the wheel” with a colleague. In this way, up to 40% of energy is saved, but the bike is required to have increased maneuverability. Blockages often occur in a group, which must be immediately bypassed.
For a group start, a short-frame bike is ideal, comfort is achieved through a carbon frame that absorbs bumps.
The second group of competitions is raced with a separate start and a triathlon. Here the participant has to go the entire distance on his own, it is forbidden to approach the opponent. And the bike for cutting has its characteristics:
- Extended frame. It allows you to improve aerodynamics due to the low landing.
- There are no hard weight requirements. An extra couple of kilograms does not matter, since there are no spurts and breakaways.
- Airbags are allowed.
- Increased requirements for comfort, since much more forces, are expended to overcome the distance.
That is why special bikes are made for triathletes and dividers. For example, the Russian development of the Titan Bike is already equipped with a sunbed in the basic configuration, and the frame geometry is fully adapted for the triathlon distance.
What professional road bike can be bought in Russia
Now manufacturers are ready to offer many options for professional bikes at prices ranging from 30 to 500 thousand rubles. Unfortunately, they do not always indicate for which discipline the projectile is prepared, and until you try it, it will be difficult to find out.
Super projectile weighing only 6.5 kg on a carbon frame weighing 850 grams. The braking system was provided by the Italian company Campagnolo, and the transmission was provided by Shimano. Even the Kevlar tires couldn’t make the bike heavy, but they provide reliable protection against punctures.
An ideal bike for professional athletes, because for an amateur, the price of 429,000 will be an unaffordable pleasure.
Cervelo P5 Six MTN Team
A bike that will not go unnoticed on the track. Everything is subject to the requirements of aerodynamics, round tubes are replaced by carbon triangles. The Shimano Ultegra Di2 electronic shifting system is used here, and all other components are fully in line with the needs of professionals.
But the price again makes you think, but if we are talking about the sport of great achievements, then the amount of 629,000 ₽ should not be embarrassing.
Merida RIDE DISC
Very rarely do manufacturers put disc brakes on road bikes. However, Merida, in its RIDE model, decided to change this rule and release the original bike. There is no doubt about the effectiveness of the disc brake system, but it adds extra grams to the weight. For mountain stages, effective braking will not be a bonus at all.
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This projectile from Merida attracts an unusual design. Although the frame is made of aluminum, the bulging upper edge of the triangle resembles a carbon monster. According to the developers, such geometry can significantly improve aerodynamic properties. And the price of 70,200 rubles looks quite democratic compared to analogs.
Unusual model, with its zest. If the rest of the bikes are supplied in the form of a constructor, which the athlete must bring to mind on their own, then everything is already included in the basic package.
Shimano’s 16-speed drivetrain and Promax brakes aren’t surprising, but the pre-installed removable GTM bed and JUNSD computer are rare. The price of 40,000 rubles for a road bike on an aluminum frame, completely ready for racing, makes you carefully consider the offer.
Although it must be taken into account that this bike was originally intended for triathletes, and athletes and organizers from the Titan club took part in its development.
If we approach strictly the concept of “professional”, then absolutely every road bike can be attributed to this category. These bikes are so original that there are no other options. Fans are more likely to choose MTB, cyclocross, or niner. Since there is no need to get used to contact pedals and ride on a narrow tire.