You may have noticed that most road bikes do not come with suspension systems. While this may seem curious, there is a fundamental reason for this difference between road bikes and other bikes. So, the question is – why don’t road bikes have a suspension?
In most cases, road bikes do not have a suspension system as they are geared towards fast movement. Suspension systems add weight and slow down a bike, which can impact the bike’s feel on the road. However, suspension systems can be added if you prefer.
At the end of the day, there is a lot to learn about suspensions and bike riding, and you are in the right place to find out more! In this article, we will look at why road bikes don’t have suspension systems, the pros and cons of such systems, and the types that are available!
- Why Don’t Road Bikes Have Suspensions?
- The Benefits Of Suspension
- The Drawbacks Of Suspension
- Types Of Suspension Available
- Can You Add Suspension To A Road Bike?
- The Difference Of A Bicycle With Suspension VS Without
Why Don’t Road Bikes Have Suspensions?
We often imagine sleek, fast, and durable bikes when we think of road bikes. Road bikes are designed for speed and efficiency, and suspensions can hinder both factors. A suspension system adds weight to the bike, making it harder to accelerate.
In addition, suspensions can cause a loss of energy as the bike moves over bumps; this is known as “pedal bob.” This may be a beneficial addition for some people using the bike, but in general, it can cause the bike to lose balance and become more dangerous.
Finally, suspensions can make steering less precise, which is particularly problematic at high speeds. For all of these reasons, most road bikes do not have suspensions.
However, some riders prefer the comfort and control that a suspension provides, and there are now a number of “suspension-corrected” road bikes on the market that are designed to address these issues. Whether or not to add a suspension system is ultimately a matter of personal preference.
Road bikes also don’t come with kickstands or disc brakes.
The Benefits Of Suspension
So, we know now that suspension is generally not recommended for road bikes, but since some people prefer this system, what does it have to offer? To understand that, we need to look at the benefits of using a suspension system on a road bike. Here are the best ways that a road bike can be improved with a suspension system:
They Make It Easier To Go Down
The biggest benefit that a suspension system brings to the table with a road bike is that it makes it a lot easier to go downhill. This is because the suspension will allow you to have greater control over the bike, which can be a godsend as you navigate the path down a hill and are being hit with the force of gravity.
However, it is not just that. Suspension is also excellent when you are going off-road. If you are on a track with plenty of bumps or cracks, suspension can help protect you and the bike and help you feel far more relaxed than a bike without suspension.
They Improve Handling
A suspension system also goes a long way to improving the handling of your bike. The suspension will ensure that the wheels stay in contact with the ground and maintain traction, allowing you to turn more easily and get more grip on the road.
This is why suspension is so common when people are riding in off-road racing events because it allows the bike to handle in ways that would otherwise be impossible.
They Make Your Ride More Comfortable
The final benefit that a suspension system brings to your bike is that it makes it a lot more comfortable. The jarring effect of riding over bumpy roads is reduced or eliminated, which means you will be much less uncomfortable than if you were riding without the suspension system.
So there you have it – the benefits of suspension on a road bike. Whether or not to use one is ultimately up to you, but knowing these benefits should help you make up your mind.
The Drawbacks Of Suspension
You heard the benefits of suspension; now let’s get into the real deal – why suspension can end up becoming a bigger problem than an asset when used on your road bike. In fact, here are just some of the drawbacks you may experience when you use your road bike with suspension:
It Is Harder To Gather Speed
When you are using your suspension, the fact that it makes the bike heavier means it is harder to gather speed. As discussed earlier, this is because of how the bike moves over bumps and around corners.
The quick movements that are responsible for speed simply cannot be done as easily with a heavier bike, so you end up with a slower bike.
It Makes Your Bike Less Stable
Using suspension also makes your bike far less stable. This is because the suspension can absorb impacts, making it harder for you to control and steer your bike, even when you are going straight.
If you want stability, suspension is not the way to go. In fact, using suspension can actually place you at risk if you are not a more experienced biker.
Suspensions Add Weight To The Bike
We have already mentioned how adding a suspension to your road bike will make it heavier, but this is not the only thing that can add weight to the bike.
You see, suspension systems are actually a lot more complex than you think, and this complexity can add quite a bit of weight to your bike. If you want to keep your road bike as light as possible, the suspension will only hold you back.
The better approach is to use a bike without suspension to keep it light and easy to maneuver.
Moving Uphill Is Harder
The weight of the suspension can make it harder for you to move your bike up a steep hill, and this is not just the case when moving slowly.
Even when you are moving fast, the added weight can make your bike harder to climb, leaving you feeling frustrated and discouraged.
This is because suspension gives you more inertia, which means you will have to work harder to overcome the force holding you in place. Your speed, especially uphill, will be drastically impacted due to this change.
Suspension Is Difficult To Maintain
Suspension systems don’t just make it difficult to maintain speed. The system itself can be a difficult component to maintain over time.
You may have to come to the point of replacing, fixing, and re-using the system, again and again to get it to work right. If you are not familiar with the system, the suspension maintenance process can be difficult and may cost you more money in the long run.
The Cost Can Add Up
Speaking of adding costs, the cost of having a suspension system added to your road bike is no joke. Not only will you have to purchase the suspension system initially, but you will also have to pay for the maintenance and all of the work that it may require over time. If you want to upgrade your road bike, you are better off looking at a different option.
Take a look at this video about suspension on road bikes as you read ahead:
Types Of Suspension Available
There are many different options available when it comes to suspension for bikes. They are generally broken down into three different types: hardtail, rigid, and front.
Hardtails tend to be the most common type of suspension for mountain bikes because they cost less than full-suspension models, and they’re easier to maintain. When you purchase a hardtail bike, it will have no rear suspension at all.
While this may seem like a disadvantage, it will make you a better rider. This is because it forces you to learn how your bike moves and how to effectively use your legs’ power instead of relying on other forms of suspension.
Because hardtail mountain bikes don’t have rear suspension, they can also be fitted with bigger tires without having clearance issues like full suspension bikes. This makes them much more suitable for off-road use.
While hardtails are the most common type of mountain bike, there are still a number of people who prefer to ride with front or rigid suspension instead.
Front suspension models will have an extra shock in the forks on the front wheel which helps to absorb bumps and impacts. This makes them a good choice if you aren’t looking to spend as much money or need a bike that is more suitable for riding on the road as well as off.
Rigid bikes don’t have any suspension at all and are generally more lightweight than other options, making them well-suited for cross-country rides or racing.
While they are the lightest option, they can be quite uncomfortable on rough terrain and for this reason, aren’t as popular.
Can You Add Suspension To A Road Bike?
If your road bike does not have an existing suspension system, you can add one yourself. The most popular method of adding suspension to a road bike is by purchasing a suspension seat post or installing a suspension fork.
When looking for the right suspension system, you’ll want to consider your budget and the type of riding you do. Investing in high-quality shocks may be a good idea if you frequently ride on bumpy terrain. If you want to start small, consider purchasing suspension seat posts, which are relatively inexpensive and simple to install.
To install the suspension seat post on your bike, first examine your road bike’s frame to determine where you will place it.
The rails of your saddle need to be able to slide over the top of the seat post, so be sure to choose a location that is clear of any cables or other parts of the frame. Once you’ve determined where the suspension seat post will go, remove your current saddle and slide the seat post into place.
Tighten the bolt on the base of the post until it’s secure, then use a wrench to tighten down any additional bolts or clamps that hold the suspension in place.
If you do not want to spend a lot of money on a suspension seat post, another option is to install a suspension fork on your bike. This will require some basic tools and mechanical knowledge, so it’s important to carefully read the instructions with your fork before beginning the installation process.
If you are still unsure about adding suspension to your road bike, ask a professional to give you some advice on which system would be best for your needs and budget.
The Difference Of A Bicycle With Suspension VS Without
When a bike has a suspension system, it will be able to absorb shock while riding over an obstacle and rough terrain.
This will help in preventing damage or injury to the rider, especially during a crash. Bikes with suspension can be used for different purposes and it is important for riders to understand the benefits of having them on their bikes.
On the other hand, some bikes do not come with suspension systems, and for good reason. For example, a fixed-gear bike or road bike may not have suspension as it can add extra weight and reduce performance.
Additionally, many riders prefer to use a bike with no suspension for competitive races or indoor cycling classes. Not having a suspension system gives the rider the benefit of feeling more connected to the bike, allowing them greater control and maneuverability.
Ultimately, whether you choose a bike with suspension or one without will depend on your individual needs and preferences. If you are looking for a comfortable ride on rough terrain or are seeking added stability, then a bike with suspension may be the right choice for you.
However, if you prefer a lightweight and fast ride or want to take your bike on competitive races, then a bike without suspension may be the better option. Regardless of your choice, it is important to do your research and find the right bike for you.
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.