Road bikes (sometimes known in the UK and some other countries as "racing bikes") are lightweight bikes designed for speedy on relatively smooth terrain. These bikes are equipped with narrow wheels and tyres pumped to high pressure, and shaped (including drop handlebars) such that the rider sits in an aerodynamic, stretched-out position. Furthermore the brake-levers and gear shifters are often positioned sich that you can reach them without taking your hands off the handlebars, and hence make speedy gear changes.
Although riding one of these bikes, especially at speed, can be a lot of fun, road bikes are not usually the best choice for urban commuting. The bikes do tend to be relatively delicate, the range of gear ratios may not be sufficient if there are steep hills in your area, and the the brakes may not be good enough for emergency stops.
Another thing to bear in mind is that road bikes don't usually have mudguards, or even the capacity to attach them - as a result, you can't simply hop on your bike in your work clothes and expect the mudguards to protect them. Furthermore, road bikes made not have braze-ons for a carry rack, and even if you can attach a rack directly to the frame, you do need to remember that road bikes are not designed to carry heavy loads.
In short, if you're looking for a sturdy durable bike, then a road bike may not be the best choice for you, and perhaps you ought to consider a mountain bike or a hybrid bike. On the other hand, if you think you'll enjoy zipping through country lanes at speed, then a road bike is the ideal choice.
By S. Tanna. First published at http://www.guide2cycling.com/p1_articles_kit_road_bikes.php
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