History and Types of Racing Bicycles

Bicycles of many types are used for many sporting events that required different bicycle designs. Motocross events need to be driven with strong, agile and lightweight so that they could be carried by drivers over short distances, BMX’s are focused on preforming tricks and driving across rough dirt tracks, Mountain Bikes are used in many disciplines, including downhill races and endurance races.

However, the most popular and oldest bicycle sports were focused on road racing. Today these bicycles have morphed themselves into three specific categories that all cater to several different racing sports. The governing body for the road racing bicycles is Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) which provides oversights and creates specific set of rules for all of its disciplines.

  • Road racing bicycles are of course most popular, featuring very lightweight frame, drop handlebars that are lowered to be below saddle, multiple gears and very thin and slick tires. Frames of these bicycles follow the traditional diamond shapes, usually made from steel, aluminum, titanium alloys and carbon fiber composite materials. Modern carbon fiber frames weight less than 1 kg. Their focus on performance also touches their wheels who are almost always 622 mm wide, with tires that are only 20-25 mm wide. Wheel spokes are as less present as possible so that their air resistance can be reduced.
  • Time trial bicycles are much more focused on aerodynamics, with modified frames, wheels, handlebars, driver gear and driver seating positions that differs from ordinary Road racing bicycle races. The most distinct changes on them are higher gearing which is more suited for maintaining high speeds, deeper wheel rims and disk wheels that improve airflow, bicycle frame tubing has aerodynamic shape and finally their handlebars feature very specific hand rests position.
  • Triathlon bicycles differ from ordinary road or time trial bicycles. Some of the competitions allow drafting (bunching of the competitors in groups), while others are requiring users to have “individual time trial” races. All triathlon bicycles are optimized for speed and not endurance, with aerodynamic parts and seating position that takes full advantage from the special Triathlon handle bars (or aero bars) in which hands of the driver are pushed forward and are resting on special handlebar structure. This type of handlebars also has a non-standard position for shift levers.