Road bicycles are designed primarily for speed and distance.
These bicycles have very skinny, smooth, high-pressure tires for less rolling resistance. They use drop handle bars so that the rider is more aerodynamic with less wind resistance.
This all makes for easier pedaling but the down side of this position is it can be uncomfortable for some people.
It's all about weight with road bikes and designers are continually striving to find new materials and configurations that will reduce weight while maintaining the structural integrity and performance of the bike.
Road bicycles have light frames made of cro-moly,(a steel alloy), aluminum, or carbon. The cro-moly is the heaviest and least expensive, the aluminum is a bit more expensive and lighter, but may be a bit stiffer, and give a bumpier ride.
The higher end bikes use carbon frames and some carbon components to reduce weight to a minimum and maximize the ride and handling qualities.
The frame material is the biggest factor effecting the weight and the price. This is especially true with carbon frames.
Generally speaking, the lighter the bike the better the quality of the components and are more likely it is to perform better and last longer.
They use the thinnest saddles of any bike which enables the rider to pedal faster with less friction and apply more power to the pedals. They are not designed for riding off road or on any rugged terrain.
Road bikes can be a blast to ride but can be tougher on boomer's bodies than most other bikes.
But,if you are the kind of rider that wants to go far and fast, or if your intention is to ride with a group of roadies, this is the bike for you. These bikes are for the bicycle "purist" and many roadies don't consider anything else a "real bike":)
The vast majority of road bike riders use bike shoes and clipless road bike pedals for maximum efficiency but, if you are new to road bikes you should probably start with standard platform pedals until you gain some experience.
Looking for other bicycle designs? Go here
Return from road bicycles to choosing a bicycle.
The Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute has everything you should know about helmet safety
Expert repair advise from Alex Ramon's bicycle tutor has an extensive text and video library of great information on bicycle repair.