Fitness: A Mini-revolution In Bicycle Design

Features, Lifestyle I By Tom Martin I April 14, 2021

Editor’s note: Winding Road is adding bicycle coverage. This is in large part because many experienced track and race car drivers have found that cycling is a great fitness approach. It works on health, endurance, strength and hand-eye skills. It is fun and you can do it regularly, which is key to fitness regimes. 

The bicycle as we know it was invented about 140 years ago. This was about the same time as the car was invented. One could argue that the bike has changed far less than the car, because bike design is simpler, but also because bike design is measured in incremental units. Cycling is also very tradition-bound. That is changing but needs to change more.

The article below explains well how the gravel bike phenomenon has been a kind of slap in the face for the industry, in a good way. I would simply add that another slap is needed.  The people responsible for road bike  design (product managers) are pretty stingy with room for bigger tires. Not gravel bike big, but road bike right. From my testing, room for 35mm tires is key. Designers almost always stop at 30 or 32mm and act as if these tires were huge. I get that 32mm seems a lot bigger than 25mm, but I say not enough to really make a comfortable drop-bar urban bike for serious fitness riders (chip/seal, pavement breaks, potholes, uneven asphalt, some gravel between rideable sections). And I don’t see that allowing room for 35mm tires is that hard because it isn’t going to radically change the geometry vs 30mm or 32mm. 

(Note: 35mm is 50% bigger than 28mm volumetrically. 32mm is 30% bigger than 28mm. 30mm, which is sometimes marketed as a big deal, is 15% bigger than 28mm.)

My basic argument is that gravel as a bike category was a great realization that “road” riders weren’t always on roads. But to really do gravel you need to go to 42 or 47 mm tires. Or you need an MTB. Those are different bikes geometrically (and maybe groupset-wise) than the real long-distance urban/suburban drop-bar bike that most riders need for group rides and weekend training. This latter urban road bike is pretty much what Trek builds with the Domane and Giant with the Defy/Contend, so it does exist. It is just weirdly rare because the industry doesn’t have a name for it with a clear use case. It should.

Read more on the strangeness of bike category-think here.


The Guide to Road Racing: Winding Road Magazine's ultimate guide to getting your start in racing.

Table of Contents

Related Articles

Iconic 1934 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Lungo Spider with Original Coachwork Heads to Auction

Boasting long-term ownership and meticulous maintenance, this 8C is a highly respected, very pure example of the legendary “2.3” and will cross the block in…

July 18, 2024
Super 3 Origins: Celebrating Super 3 Inspirations with Nine Limited-Edition Commissions

Morgan is celebrating the original inspirations for its rebellious Super 3 with a limited-edition series of commissions known as Super 3 Origins. The collection features…

July 10, 2024
The Bugatti Tourbillon: An Automotive Icon ‘Pour L’éternité’

Molsheim, France, 21 June 2024 – In 2004, the reborn Bugatti brand transformed the world of automotive performance and luxury with a 1,001 hp hyper…

June 21, 2024
The 1000 Miglia 2024 Has Started

BRESCIA, Italy, June 11, 2024 – The 2024 edition of the Red Arrow started at 12:30 pm from the Viale Venezia platform. Shortly before the start, a thunderstorm had threatened…

June 11, 2024
LBI Limited Offers Rare Alan Mann Heritage Edition – 2022 Ford GT

1 of only 30 examples Produced PONTIAC, Mich., June 6, 2024 – LBI Limited, specialists in the sales, brokerage, and collection management of collectible vehicles offers…

June 06, 2024


Get the latest driving and racing news straight to your inbox.

no thanks

Begin typing your search above and press return to search.