Street Sweethearts: The 6 Best Road Bikes
There has never been a better time in history to be a bicyclist. New laws are being implemented to protect pedalers from those vicious motorists who seem to think the road was made for them. Bicycle repair shops are cropping up like weeds, and these days it is almost as sexy to walk into a bar with a bike helmet under your arm as it is to roll in with a guitar.
Once you decide to take the plunge and get yourself a road bike, there is a lot to take into consideration. Modern options aren’t like the 10 speed you had as a kid. These are advanced pieces of equipment with extensive hardware. You’ve got to choose the right size for your body, the proper gear system depending on how much abuse you need it to be able to take, and the type of frame you need for both weight and toughness. No matter what kind of rider you are or are going to be, one of our 6 best road bikes will get you on the street and ready for action.
Beginners and Budget Shoppers: Don’t break out in a cold sweat if you’ve never heard the name Vilano before. They’re new, they’re niche, and that is the only reason that they haven’t taken over yet. You’ll want to snap up a Shadow before they hit the mainstream and you’re paying 2 or 3 times more. It uses a 6061 aluminum frame that is a little on the heavy side at 24 lbs. but that just means it can take more punishment. The integrated handlebar shifters are easy to learn and simple to use on the fly, even for someone who has no experience. They use caliper rather than disc brakes that grab on tight and give you a smooth stop that won’t send you flying. The shifters and the derailleurs are all Shimano, which has few rivals and is second to none of them. [Purchase: $288]
Scott Addict SL
Lightweight: Admittedly, this isn’t the absolute lightest bike you can buy, but unless you’re trying to float away like a red balloon, it’s as light as you could need. It tips the scales at about 13 lbs. depending on size and options, yet it still has all the strength that the Addict line has come to stand for. The light frame is carbon-fiber, as you would expect. The shifters, derailleurs, chain, and cassette are all Sram Red22’s while the hubs are Syncros RL1.0. The fork is a light and tight 1 1/8″ – 1 1/4″ carbon. You won’t get the most speed out of the Addict, but the reduced weight will let you maneuver like a pro and take on hills with less strain and limited pumping. [Purchase: $3,600 – $12,650]
Parlee Z5 SLi
Tri-Athletes: The SLi from Parlee is built with one purpose in mind: To let everyone else at the Ironman know who’s going to be crossing the finish line first. This 2-wheeler was built for endurance with classical lines that discard neo-classical tube shaping, aero remodeling, and anything else that was cooked up in a lab and doesn’t actually give you an edge when speed and endurance are what you crave. The frame is compatible with all the best derailleur and shifter kits from Sram, Shimano, and Campagnolo so you’ll never want for quality accessories. The bike is stiff for enhanced handling and uses full carbon construction to keep the weight at the bare minimum – usually around 15 lbs. The one issue that some riders have is with the classic rounded tubing which marginally increases wind resistance over aerodynamically cut frames. [Purchase: $5,000 – $12,800]
Bianchi Infinito CV
Total Comfort: The Infinito is built with commuters and rough riders in mind. It strives to make sure that your giblets stay where they are supposed to even when taking on the meanest of streets. They use a carbon-fiber frame for both lightweight and shock absorption, but they have also taken it one step further and added in a viscoelastic material material that cuts down on vibrations an estimated 75% over standard road bikes. They use very slender seatstays and a skinny top tube that wiggle out the worst vibrations before they ever reach your sweet seat. All the gear is Shimano Ultegra, meaning failure is not an option. Unless you pick the most compact version, expect it to tip the scales closer to 20 lbs. It is built for commuters and endurance, so you won’t be taking home any blue ribbons from street races. [Purchase: $4,600+]
Speed Freak: This is the only one that you will want to use as a getaway vehicle when you execute your poorly-planned bank robbery. They have completely redesigned the body with both speed and comfort in mind so that you can shave precious minutes off your daily commute, or capture a really bitchin’ high-speed crash with your action camera. The derailleurs are Shimano Ultegra as is the shifter and cog set. The aerodynamic body is clocked at 30% faster than standard round-tube bodies. The hubs, rims, and handlebars are all 3T Accelero 40 Team Stealth. Expect the 40-millimeter-deep 3T wheels to buzz when you hit the road, but be wary of wind. Speed does not equate to pristine handling. Each cable is routed internally so there is 0 drag against the carbon body. The overall weight will be a whisker over 16 lbs. [Purchase: $6,200]
Volagi Viaje Ti
High Endurance: The entire frame of the Ti looks like abstract art done mid-way through an acid binge, but there is method to this madness. It is meant to ride like a soft-tail mountain bike instead of a standard road bike so that you can do things with it that you wouldn’t have dreamed possible. The seat blends directly into the top bar, bypassing the seat tube entirely. It is titanium, which weighs more than carbon, but can also stand up to more punishment. Overall it hits at just over 18 lbs. but it is the first most-terrain, 4×4 (or 2×2) road bike. You can mount it with either Campy EPS or Shimano Di2 depending on your preference. The LongBow Flex Suspension helps keep your money-maker cushioned no matter where you take the Ti. [Purchase: $3,345+]