Road cycling

Road cycling is the most widespread form of cycling in which cyclists ride on paved roadways.[1] It includes recreational, racing, commuting, and utility cycling. As users of the road, road cyclists are generally expected to obey the same laws as motorists, however there are certain exceptions.[2] While there are many types of bicycles that are used on the roads such as BMX, recumbents, racing, touring and utility bicycles, dedicated road bicycles have specific characteristics that make them ideal for the sport. Road bicycles have thinner tires, lighter frames with no suspension, and a set of drop handle bars to allow riders to get in a more aerodynamic position while cycling at higher speeds.[3] On a flat road, an intermediate cyclist can average about 18 to 20 mph (29 to 32 km/h), while a professional rider can average up to 25 mph (40 km/h).[4] At higher speeds, wind resistance gets stronger and the light, aerodynamic road bikes that have developed over the years ensure that most of the riders' energy is spent propelling the bike forward.[4]

A road cyclist.


In 1817, Karl von Drais created the first bicycle which used heavy steel and wood, but since then, the road bicycle industry has adopted aluminum, carbon fiber, and titanium as the main materials for production.[5] The first steel bicycles weighed as much as 80 pounds,[5] whereas the lightest carbon fiber road bikes now can weigh as little as thirteen pounds.[6]

On May 31, 1868, cycling officially became a sport with the first race occurring at Saint-Cloud Park in France.[7] While this first race was not considered a road race, road cycling races began to pop up throughout Europe in the 1870s.[7] Road cycling as a form of recreational activity as well as a way to commute began to gain traction shortly after these first road races.[7] Since its origins, millions of people have adopted road cycling for either recreation or commuting.

In 2020, it was estimated that about 44.5 million people worldwide participate in road cycling, which is an increase of about five million people since 2019.[8] Demand for road bicycles as well as other types of bicycles continued to increase throughout 2021. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the cycling industry saw a massive increase in sales which amounted to a worldwide market size of $57.5 Billion USD, about 35% of which can be attributed to road cycling. [9][10] Partially due to this increase in popularity as well as supply chain issues, the cycling industry saw a global bicycle shortage in the second half of 2021.[11]

Riding SafetyEdit

In the United StatesEdit

Sharing the roadways with other motorists is an unavoidable aspect of road cycling, so road cyclists are generally expected to follow the same laws as their motorist counterparts. That being said, road cyclists also have the same fundamental rights as motorists.[12] In the U.S., laws for cyclists vary by state, so it is important to keep up to date on your state's road cycling laws.[13]

You can find a breakdown of all cycling laws by state here.


While laws on wearing helmets vary by state in the United States, helmets significantly reduce the risk of serious injury and death in the event of an accident.[14]

Helmets significantly reduce the risk of serious injuries when cycling.
Helmet Laws By State
State Helmet Laws
Alabama Under 16
Alaska Under 18
Arizona Under 18
Arkansas No law
California Under 18
Colorado No law
Connecticut Under 16
Delaware Under 18
District of Columbia Under 16
Florida Under 16
Georgia Under 16
Hawaii Under 16
Idaho No law
Illinois Under 17
Indiana No law
Iowa No law
Kansas Under 16
Kentucky Under 18
Louisiana Under 12
Maine Under 16
Maryland Under 16
Massachusetts Under 17
Michigan Under 18
Minnesota No law
Mississippi No law
Missouri Under 17
Montana Under 16
Nebraska No law
Nevada Under 17
New Hampshire Under 16
New Jersey Under 17
New Mexico Under 18
New York Under 14
North Carolina Under 16
North Dakota No law
Ohio Under 16
Oklahoma Under 18
Oregon Under 16
Pennsylvania Under 12
Rhode Island Under 16
South Carolina No law
South Dakota No law
Tennessee Under 16
Texas Under 18
Utah No law
Vermont Mixed laws
Virginia Under 15
Washington All ages
West Virginia Under 15
Wisconsin Under 17
Wyoming No law

Crash PreventionEdit

In 2019, 846 cyclists were killed in road related accidents in the United States.[15] Most fatal bike crashes were caused between 6 P.M. and 9 P.M. and about 78% of fatal crashes in 2019 were in urban areas.[15]

Some tips for crash prevention are: [15]

  • Check to make sure that your brakes work.
  • Wear reflective gear as much as possible.
  • If you have shoe laces, make sure they are tied so they do not get caught in the drivetrain.
  • Plan your route with caution.
  • Use bike lanes as much as possible.
  • Invest in a rear tail light.

Road Cycling IndustryEdit

Some of the major companies within the road cycling industry are: [16]

Road Cycling RacesEdit

Bicycle racers at the 2005 Rund um den Henninger-Turm in Germany

See Road bicycle racing.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "6 Types of Cycling you Should Try". Total Women's Cycling. Retrieved 2021-10-03.
  2. ^ "Bicycle Safety | NHTSA". Retrieved 2021-09-26.
  3. ^ Arthurs-Brennan, Michelle (2019-01-21). "What to look for in your first road bike". Retrieved 2021-09-26.
  4. ^ a b Reynolds, Hannah (2020-03-19). "How to cycle faster and increase your average speed". Retrieved 2021-09-27.
  5. ^ a b "Science of Cycling: History of Bicycle Frames | Exploratorium". Exploratorium: the museum of science, art and human perception. Retrieved 2021-09-26.
  6. ^ "14 of the lightest road bikes — take a look at these featherweight rides". 2021-09-08. Retrieved 2021-09-26.
  7. ^ a b c "cycling - Competition". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2021-09-26.
  8. ^ "Road biking participants US 2020". Statista. Retrieved 2021-09-26.
  9. ^ "Bicycle Market Size, Growth & Trends Report, 2021-2028". Retrieved 2021-09-26.
  10. ^ "Bicycle Market Size & Trends | Global Industry Analysis [2027]". Retrieved 2021-09-26.
  11. ^ Faithfull, Mark. "Wheels Risk Coming Off As Booming Bike Industry Can't Keep Up". Forbes. Retrieved 2021-09-26.
  12. ^ "Bicycle Safety | NHTSA". Retrieved 2021-09-26.
  13. ^ Szczepanski, Carolyn (2013-05-18). "State Bike Laws". League of American Bicyclists. Retrieved 2021-09-27.
  14. ^ "Bicycle Helmet Laws". Retrieved 2021-09-26.
  15. ^ a b c "Bicycle Safety | NHTSA". Retrieved 2021-09-26.
  16. ^ "Bicycle Market Size, Growth & Trends Report, 2021-2028". Retrieved 2021-09-26.