Road Bikes: Bicycle Racing Requirements

Road Bikes: Bicycle Racing Requirements

“To possess a bicycle is to be able first to look at it, then to touch it. But touching is revealing as insufficient; what is necessary is to be able to get on the bicycle and take a ride. But this gratuitous ride is likewise insufficient… these trips themselves disintegrate into a thousand appropriative behavior patterns, each one of which refers to others. Finally, as one could foresee, handing over a bank note is enough to make a bicycle belong to me, but my entire life is needed to realize this possession.”

—Jean-Paul Sartre, “Being and Nothingness: An Essay on Phenomenological Ontology”
People riding bicycle on the street.

Cycling down a quiet and breezy afternoon is one of the nicest things in the world. Having been around for close to two hundred years, bicycles remain one of humankind’s favourite mode of transportation, wherever it is possible. In Japan, one could find many bikers even in city centres cycling from one place to another, with just as many bicycle parking spaces. Germany and some Scandinavian countries beat Japan with more than 60% bicycles per capita, topped by the country of cyclists, the Netherlands, with 99% bicycles per capita, which means almost everyone owns a bicycle, and one out of four trips, including trips to work, are by bike. However, the bikes you see on the road are not road bikes, ironically, since road bikes are used for racing, in contrast to regular bikes.

“Strong. Light. Cheap. Pick Two。”

—Keith Bontrager, motorcycle racer-turned pioneering inventor of mountain bikes, on bicycle and accessory manufacturing
The parts of a bicycle

There is a difference between riding a regular bike on the road and racing competitively on a road bike. You can’t just ride your regular bicycle and expect to be able to compete with those on road bikes, and most certainly not with the particularly dangerously-modded “basikal nyamuk” (“mosquito bikes”) that we hear about on the news. While regular bikes are designed primarily for comfort and affordability, road bikes—also known as racing bicycles—are designed for competitive road cycling. As such, road bikes sacrifice a lot of comfort for speed and handling, and more expensive materials are used to produce a lighter yet stronger frame able to withstand the rigours of road racing. Let’s take a look at some of these other differences and see how they affect bicycle racing.

Frame

Bicycle frame.

The main body of the bicycle is the frame. According to the regulations set by Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), a bicycle frame must have a “main triangle” which consists of a top tube, down tube, and seat tube. The frame can be of any material, but most modern road bikes use carbon fibre composites to greatly reduce the weight of the frame without sacrificing durability, resulting in frames that weigh less than 1kg. However, these carbon fibre frames are quite expensive, costing upwards of RM3,000 to over RM50,000 without including the wheels and tyres, handlebars or other necessary components.

Handlebars

Bicycle handlebars

The handlebars of a road bike are typically drop handlebars positioned lower than the saddle in order to position the rider in a more aerodynamic posture. However, depending on the preference of the rider, some feature flat bars like those on a mountain bike.

Wheels and Tyres

Bicycle wheels and tyres

You will notice that road bikes have a very narrow set of wheels, and they appear to not have any traction at all on the tyres compared to the tyres of regular and mountain bikes. This is intentional, as they are all designed for optimal weight and aerodynamics, as well as to reduce air resistance and rolling resistance on the road. These are definitely not for regular use as these prioritise speed over safety.

Suspension

Bicycle suspension

Traditionally-designed road bikes do not have a suspension built in due to their negative effect on handling and aerodynamics. However, modern road bikes have them, but due to their unique design specifically tailored for road bikes. These not only provide improved comfort for the rider, but also allow for a bit of synergy between the rider and the ride. The frameset of modern road bikes with suspensions would cost about RM20,000 by itself.

We could go into more detail about the differences between road bikes and regular bikes, but these are the basic differences. With that being said, bicycle racing can be a very exciting affair, especially when you’re competing with other cycling enthusiasts from all over the world!

Le Tour de Langkawi 2020

Incidentally, Le Tour de Langkawi, an annual event for the past 20 plus years, will be kicking off on 6 February with the Malaysian International Criterium Race in Kota Kinabalu, which targets riders under 23 (U23) from all across the globe with a UCI elite-racing license. This is followed by the multi-stage bicycle race, starting in Kuching on 7 February and ending in Langkawi on 14 February, with a total distance of 1,114.9km over 8 stages of the race. And finally, on 15 February, there will be the Malaysian International Classic Race, the “Race of Champions” where national champions from all over the world come together and take part in this professional one-day race covering a distance of 160km in Langkawi.

For more information on Le Tour de Langkawi 2020, check out their website here.

So, what do you think? Are you going to spectate the race? Or would you be participating in them? Let us know in the comments section below!

Your Gateways to Getaways,
FlyKLIA

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Written by FlyKLIA

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