If you’ve been thinking about getting a road bike to replace your regular bike, but are unsure about it, here’s your cue to get it. But how long does it take to get used to a road bike?
With the right bike and if you are a cyclist, we are sure you will adapt in 2 or 3 weeks. However, it may take a little longer if you have no bike experience. Either way, you should try to cycle more than once a week, even if it’s just small excursions.
Changing to a new type of bike can take some time, so let’s see how to speed things up.
Is Riding A Road Bike Difficult?
Road bikes are easy to ride once you’re accustomed to them. However, they’re more challenging to learn than regular bikes. New riders may struggle just a little to get comfortable with using them.
Road bikes are designed to be ridden fast on smooth pavement. They have smooth, skinny tires and “drop” handlebars and can be used for on-road racing. They are usually lighter than other types of bicycles. You can ride them on paved trails, but most people find them uncomfortable and unstable on unpaved trails.
Many challenges arise with the task of riding a road bike and mastering it. Among the hardest of them are the following:
Road Bikes Have Narrow Tires
Road bike tires have gotten wider over the past decade, but they’re still far narrower than other bike tires.
This demands extra care around potholes, gravel, or other obstacles.
That’s because the air inside a tire acts as a suspension, and narrow tires have less air volume. That means less of a suspension effect, so you can’t plow through rough patches that a hybrid bike could comfortably conquer.
The Ride Can Be Uncomfortable
If you’re new to road bikes or cycling in general, the forward lean of most road bikes will feel strange.
This approach to bicycle geometry aims for maximum power and aerodynamics, with only enough comfort to be bearable, so don’t expect to feel right at home on your first ride.
What’s more, the aggressive riding position means things like saddle position, crank length, and stem length play a huge role in comfort. Proper, in-person bike fitting will help you get these things right, thus avoiding joint issues or other unnecessary discomfort.
Quite frankly, most cyclists don’t benefit from the deep forward lean that racing-style bikes require.
Getting Used To The Handlebars
If you’ve ridden a bike with flat or swept-back bars, your first time on drop bars will be an odd sensation. For instance, even if you cycled your entire life before buying your first road bike, you might still feel wobbly and unconfident when you first take it for a spin.
Part of the reason is that your weight is quite far ahead over the front wheel. That’s not challenging in and of itself, but it’s a different sensation that takes a bit to adjust to.
The bigger factor Is that drop bars—unlike any others—put your hands in front of the stem rather than behind it. To some extent, it’s like pulling or guiding the handlebars rather than pushing/twisting them like you might be used to.
But at the same time, the steep head tube angle and forward weight distribution make the bike quite responsive to leaning with your body.
As a result, road bikes feel less responsive to handlebar input but more responsive to body input.
Beware Of The Toe Overlap
Toe overlap (also called “toe-clip overlap”) is when your foot strikes the front wheel while turning. The shorter the wheelbase, the likelier it is.
Road bikes tend to have shorter wheelbases than other bicycle types, so toe overlap is especially common—even on larger sizes where you wouldn’t otherwise expect it.
Keep in mind you have to turn the wheel fairly sharply before it happens. Perhaps 30 degrees or more, depending on the frame design, tire size, and/or presence of the fender.
You can’t turn that sharply at high speeds, so the likelihood of a major crash is near to none.
But it can frequently happen at lower speeds, like when you’re weaving through traffic or between pedestrians in town. Even then, there’s almost no real risk, but it’s a nuisance that some cyclists find highly disconcerting.
With practice, you’ll figure out how to minimize the contact by timing your pedal strokes around the sharpest part of a turn.
If you’re just starting out with a new bike, here’s a video to ease you into it:
Getting Used To Road Bike Position
We’ve listed a few ways to feel at ease riding your bike.
Relax your shoulders and bring them down and away from your ears. If you have been pushing hard on a climb, you may notice your shoulders stiffen and start to creep up again.
Lowering your shoulders away from your ears will free up your head, making it easier to turn and look for traffic and helping you stay more alert!
Bend your elbows
Like on a mountain bike, riding with relaxed, bent elbows allows your arms to act like suspensions. If you hit a pothole or bump in the road, your arms can help you absorb the impact.
Unlike the mountain bike body position, your elbows should be tucked into your sides rather than out wide, like wings. Keeping your elbows bent will also reduce strain on your shoulders and allow you to ride with less pressure on the hands.
There should not, however, be a bend in your wrists. Maintain a straight line from your elbow to your fingers on the brakes. If this is hard, it might be a bike setup issue. Discuss the brake lever and hood position with your professional bike fitter.
Maintain A Neutral Spine
What does that mean? Well, it’s like yoga. If you’re familiar with the Cat and Cow positions in yoga, either of those positions while in the saddle could cause pain down below and inefficiency on the bike. Your back should be relaxed, keeping a straight line between your hips and shoulders.
The best way to check this position while riding is to ask: Is my core engaged? If your abdominal muscles take a break while cycling, it could result in a slouched riding position that could put pressure on your hands, shoulders, or parts of your crotch.
Ensure your knee is tracking over the ball of your foot/pedal. If your knees are bowing out to the side when you ride, it may look a little funny and cause inefficiency and pain.
You can get used to riding a road bike in a few weeks if you go out riding more than once a week. Road bikes are different than regular bikes since they are made to be used on smooth pavement rather than in rough terrain.
I always had a thing for cycling sports and love almost anything that involves bikes and boards. I work part-time as a designer in the tech industry and work on my blogs whenever I can.