Road bikes suck for commuting. They just do. They require huge amounts of maintenance, they’re uncomfortable, you have to wear special clothes, they generally don’t have built in lights, they’re magnets for thieves. They just don’t tick the boxes for most commuters.
In general, with a commuting bike, you want something that is reliable, durable, practical in terms of storage as well as built in lighting. Unless you’re commuting more than 10 miles, I wouldn’t even think about using a road bike. And even then, now we have e-bikes, you can have speed and comfort, so why would you ride something that’s going to be painful on your backside and your hands, is totally impractical and has a pretty good chance of being nicked.
I was watching an episode of Japan Railway Journal a few months ago now when I started writing this post and saved it as a draft. It’s an NHK World show about the incredible Japanese railways. In this episode, they were showcasing a special train designed to take road cyclists and their bikes from Tokyo out to the seaside in Chiba, the neighbouring prefecture.
The train was kitted out with everything a cyclist could want including dedicated hanging bike storage for every passenger. But as much as I loved the train and the concept, the thing I want to talk about is what they called the bikes on the show. They didn’t call them road bikes. They called them Sports Bikes. What a great name for them. The term road bike is a pretty stupid one really. We ride all sorts of bikes on roads.
When you talk about Mountain Bikes, you know what that term means. It generally means a bike for serious off-road riding for either professionals or amateurs with a serious interest in that type of riding. Sports Bike would be the equivalent for performance tarmac machines. I think that’s why Gravel Bike is also a better name that most of us previously thought. The more obvious the name, the better.