In a world where we have bikes targeted at every conceivable type of terrain and rider, it’s easy to overlook the fact that the humble road bike can do much more than you might think. A few tweaks can open up new roads, experiences and opportunities.
Road Bike TT
This year the governing body of Time Trials in the UK, the CTT, introduced a Road Bike category for all open time trial events. This has enticed lots of riders to test themselves without the need for a specialist bike or the very latest kit. So, it is relatively easy to begin time trialling with your existing road bike – see the full details on the CTT Road Bike web page here. However, once you head down the competitive route, you might want to maximise your road bike speed potential with a few tweaks.
Tri Bars are the single biggest speed gain you can add to a standard road bike to race against the clock. Simple clip-on extensions, such as the Token Alloy Aero bars offer a cost effective and comfortable upgrade. If you decide to race time trials with tri bars, then you will not be allowed to race in the Road Bike category, you will be riding with time trial specialists. Over shoe covers are a simple, lightweight way to make your lower legs and shoes more aero. Spatzwear Windsock 2 are proven to be very fast, they are used by the Alpecin Deceuninck team, including star rider, Matheiu van der Poel. Faster tyres, such as the Continental GP5000 S TR, will provide lower rolling resistance and light weight. They can be set up tubeless or with inner tubes.
Get Packed & Get Gone…
Bikepacking is a great way to get away from your usual rides and explore somewhere new. Wider, heavy-duty tyres, up to 30mm – if your bike will allow, can add comfort as well as ‘bullet proof’ reliability. Fatter, tougher tyres such as the Schwalbe Marathon Plus Smartguard, will enable rougher road surfaces to be tackled with confidence. The popularity of bikepacking and gravel biking has resulted in a wide range of bike bags which attach and remove using straps. The Restrap Canister bag is a great option for mounting on the handlebars. The bag can fit essentials to keep close at hand such as technology, wallets or spare clothes & food. If you are heading further afield and need extra storage capacity, the BBB BTL-18S storage bottle is a great option, adding waterproof storage for valuables or tools & spare tubes.
Tweaking your road bike with a few choice components can add that new-bike ‘zing’ to your machine. Fresh tyres with a higher thread count (TPI) can improve the ride qualities and handling of your bike. Vittoria Corsa G2.0 tyres have a 320 TPI casing reinforced with Kevlar for improved sidewall protection and a comfortable ride even on less than perfect roads. New bar tape can transform your bike for minimal cost. Deda tape is cost effective and high quality, ideal for a budget, mid-year makeover. BBB Aluboys ceramic Jockey wheels offer a low friction (slight mechanical drag saving) and low noise alternative to standard original jockey wheels.
Set your road bike up to cover slightly rougher terrain or even smoother gravel by fitting bigger volume tyres, such as the Panaracer Gravel King 32mm. Tyre clearance is the limiting factor with all-roading your road bike. Check your bike can handle wider tyres before heading down this route. To make doubley sure, google search the internal width of the rim, width of tyre and model of bike – the chances are somebody will have already done the same thing. Thicker bar tape will give comfort to hands and wrists when travelling over rougher surfaces. Lizard Skin DSP is available in varying thickness up to a pillow-like 4.6mm thick. Make sure your water bottle cages hold the bottles tightly too, aluminium ones, like the sturdy BBB Fuel Tank, these can be adjusted (pushed in slightly) to hold the bottle tighter over rougher roads – nobody likes losing their bottle.
The beauty of a road bike is that once you have had your Touring ride, Race or TT fun, your road bike is still there and ready to return to its regular service. If your wander into other cycling worlds has left you wanting more, a specialist bikepacking / gravel bike, TT or Race bike could be the way to go. Either would offer substantial improvements over an adapted road bike and would take you further into each genre of bike riding. It’s always best to keep your good old road bike though – you never know where it might take you next…