Bicycle frames are constructed from materials which place emphasis on being strong, lightweight and stiff to aid power transfer. Aluminium, titanium, steel and carbon are widely used in all levels of frame production.
Brake and gear cables are traditionally attached to bicycle frames with lugs on the outside of the tubing, this is known as external routing.
Recent advances in technology have allowed manufacturers to route the cables through the inside of the tubing, this is known as internal routing. Internal routing gives a very clean appearance, can increase the stiffness of the frame due to additional channels and in some cases may provide aerodynamic benefits too.
For certain applications, including full suspension bikes and cyclocross bikes, manufacturers use an outer cable along the full length of the cable to protect the inners from mud, water or accidental damage, this is known as full outer.
Major bike manufacturers produce a new range of bikes on an annual basis and this determines the model year of a particular bike. This annual turnover is fuelled by advancing technology, industry trends and customer demand for a particular feature or style of bicycle.
Road bikes are sleek lightweight machines that are primarily built for riding on tarmac. They are designed for speed and as a result have narrow tyres, and large 700cc wheels. To give the rider the optimum aerodynamic position, road bikes come equipped with low drop handlebars.
At the casual end of the road bike spectrum are recreational and touring bikes with frame room for bigger tyres and fitting eyelets for racks and mudguards. More competitive road bikes weigh less, usually cost more and have gearing aimed at riders who can push hard on the climbs.
There's a very fine line between recreational and competitive road bikes, with hybrid and cyclo-cross styled bikes getting a look in for riders wanting a single bike for everything. Aluminium framed bikes are often the cheapest, but there are plenty superb ones too. Titanium framed bikes, valued for their tight and resilient ride, vary in price almost as much as carbon, and a new generation of high quality steel frames are making their presence felt. Recreational road bikes have easier gearing and more relaxed geometry than competitive bikes. Please consult Wiggle’s bike buying guide to learn more about identifying the bike for you.