Is Road Bike Good For Long Rides? (Beginners Guide)

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Road bikes are generally enjoyable if you have experience with them and have the bike set up for your size. However, you may be riding the wrong bicycle for your long-distance or touring journey.

Unlike other types of bikes, road bikes are fast and efficient on pavements or smooth roads. Though this is good quality, it is difficult to ride on the wrong terrain.

This article explains if road bikes are also sufficient for long-distance riding.

Road bikes are suitable for long-distance riding but specifically on paved roads. However, they do not do very well on rough or mountainous terrain. Good long-distance bikes for different trails include Gravel, Cyclocross, Adventure, or Mountain bikes.

What Is Long Distance Cycling?   

Long Distance Cycling

Long-distance cycling is a bike-riding sport that covers a standard distance of 100 miles and 124 miles.

However, the general definition of long-distance cycling usually varies for different cyclists.

What you might consider a long-distance cycle can be a short one for another cyclist.

If you are a beginner, half of a standard mile will be long-distance cycling for you.

However, if you are a consistent cyclist, though you would consider 100 miles a typical long-distance cycle, a 200 or 400 miles cycle will be a longer-distance cycle for you.

However, to go on a long-distance bike ride, you will need some specific gear, a repair kit, and a first aid kit.

Gear To Wear on a Long Distance Ride

Before going on a long-distance bike ride, your comfort and safety should be one of your top priorities.

If you are not comfortable riding long distances, you might not achieve your set riding goal. Riding kits usually take a while to get comfortable in. Some of the necessary riding kits you should have are:

#1. Bib Shorts

You should wear these shorts close to your skin. They are comfortable for long-distance riding as they stay snug and light against your skin.

Unlike bib shorts, regular shorts could cause chafing against your body. Trust me, this is the worst! However, to prevent chaffing, you can apply Sudocrem to the areas that might be affected before wearing your shorts.

#2. Jersey

Jerseys are more comfortable for your long-distance cycle as it allows ventilation during cycling. It is also made to fit and stretch around your body.

Unlike cotton T-shirts, they do not get clammy from heat. A riding jersey has about two to three pockets to hold necessities like snacks with a zipper at the front for ventilation.

#3. Eyewear

Protective eyewear or tinted glasses can protect your eyes from the sun, wind, or foreign particles like insects or dust.

#4. Mitts

If your bar handles or grips are comfortable and smooth, you might require this gear.

However, you might need it to protect your palm from chaffing by providing padding to your hands during long-distance riding.

And instead of keeping your palms sweaty by wiping them against your face during cycling, a pair of mitts can come in handy.

#5. Cycling shoes

Shoes for riding long-distance have stiff and strong soles for efficient pedaling.

They also have clips in the soles to hold your foot steady on the pedals and keep your shoes from slipping off while riding. This also helps you pedal as efficiently as possible.

It is crucial to determine what riding kit is comfortable, including the gear durability during different weather.

What To Take on a Long-distance Cycling

So what else do you take with you? Your bike might suffer damage during cycling, especially if you also ride on off-road trails.

So, pack a repair kit before going on a long-distance bike ride. Your repair kit should contain three spare tubes, a derailleur hanger, a tire pump, some spokes, and tire levers.

This can help you repair your bike in case of any damage during the ride, specifically in remote areas.

You might also need a spoke key, a multitool, a chain breaker, and quick links to repair broken chains.

If you ride for the whole day, you should also pack batteries and cables to charge your bike lights and phone.

Ensure to secure your electricals in a waterproof bag to protect them from rainy weather.

Your credit card is also essential for getting yourself out of sticky situations, so bring it along but keep it outside your wallet.

What Is Considered a Long Road Bike Ride? 

A long road bike ride is 100 miles long for an ardent cyclist, also known as a century. This also depends on how much you have attempted to cover during your long-distance bike rides.

If you are a beginner, you will consider a century a very long bike ride. Therefore, what you might consider a long-distance ride might be 20 to 40-miles.            

Are Road Bikes More Difficult To Ride? 

Road Bikes More Difficult To Ride

Road bikes are difficult to ride on off-road and on rough terrains though they are easy to ride on paved roads.

Road bikes are quick and light, thus ensuring efficient long-distance riding but only on paved roads. However, the low drop riding position is rather hard to maintain and uncomfortable for long rides.

Riding a road bike gets easier as you get accustomed to it, though it could take a while. However, the road bike is challenging to learn with, lean on, and can take a toll on your back.

Also, as a new rider, using a road bike might be uncomfortable as you will have to get used to its drop handlebars, the forward-leaning posture, shifting with a brifter lever, and its narrow tires.

Road bikes are mainly made for smooth paved roads and gravel roads. Therefore, riding a road bike on rough terrain might be slower and more complex. 

Mountain or Cyclocross bikes can serve you better on coarse trails.

Pros and Cons of Riding a Road Bike On A Long Ride

Although fast, light, and efficient, road bikes can also be challenging to handle if you are a new rider. It is also made for a particular trail, so riding it on rough terrains can be difficult for you.

Below are some of the benefits and disadvantages of riding a road bike:

Benefits of Riding a Road Bike

The design of road bikes maximizes qualities like lightweight frames, speed, and efficiency. Some benefits of road bikes include:

#1. Lightweight Frames

Road bikes have light frames to enable efficient movement on smooth, hard road surfaces. This includes concrete, gravel, or asphalt smooth road surfaces.

Because of the lightweight frames in road bikes, you cannot ride them on rough or rocky paths. However, you can ride other bikes through rugged terrains, like the mountain bike.

#2. Speed

Due to its speed, the road bike is usually the best option for racing bikes. It has narrow tires with relatively large wheels that help with its swiftness during rides.

Also, since the tires are slim, it gives the road bike wheels a light feel which assists its aerodynamics.

Unlike alternative bikes, these qualities allow you to ride fast and smooth on a paved road with less drag.

Disadvantages of Riding a Road Bike On A Long Ride

#1. It Might Be Uncomfortable for a While

Road bikes are not made to be comfortable during rides, as you would have to lean forward while riding, which may also take a toll on your back.

A touring or hybrid bike will be more comfortable for long rides.

#2. Drop Handlebars Are Difficult To Handle

Drop handlebars will feel different and strange after riding bikes with flat handlebars. Put your hands in a pull position against the handlebars, unlike the push position of flat bars.

Conclusion

To sum it up, a road bike is only appropriate for long rides if you are an experienced cyclist and you are riding on smooth pavement.

A standard long-distance bike ride is a 100-mile ride, though it might vary with your level of training. Road bikes are relatively fast and light but demanding if you are an entry-level rider.