Sportive bike vs road bike vs race bike

Following on from our look at what a sportive is, we look at the bikes you might ride in a sportive. It doesn’t really matter what kind of bike you use to ride a sportive but certain types of bike may make it easier than others. Different bikes have differing characteristics and are optimised for different purposes.

Sportive Bike

A sportive bike is just road bikes with a focus on comfort over all out speed. That’s not to say that sportive bikes are slow but any compromises made lean towards comfort. Sometimes they are called endurance bikes.

Typically they have slightly less aggressive geometry, perhaps wider tyres, and possibly some kind of technology to make the ride comfier. Not suspension like a mountain bike but perhaps some more flexibility in the frame or seat post instead of total stiffness.

Here are two example sportive bikes. The ladies Felt zw95:

Felt ZW95 Sportive Bike

Felt ZW95

And the Felt z6:

Felt z6 Sportive Bike

Felt z6

Road Bike

All bikes are road bikes, it’s not really a category of its own. If we assume that by road bike we mean a reasonably cheap generic road bike then it’s likely again that it will be more on the comfort side than the race side. This is simply because a race bike is less suited to as many people as a sportive or endurance bike.

A good, generic entry level bike is the Decathlon Triban 3:

Decathlon Triban 3 Road Bike

Decathlon Triban 3

Race Bike

Race bikes are stiffer, have more aggressive geometry and may be more aerodynamic. They prioritise speed over rider comfort. A racing bike requires a stronger, more flexible rider. You’re likely to ride in the drops and the position is likely to have you bent lower over the bike, which requires a stronger core to hold the position.

Here are two examples. The ladies Specialized S-Works Amira:

Specialized S-Works Amira Race Bike

Specialized S-Works Amira

And the Cannondale SuperSix Evo:

Cannondale SuperSix Evo Race Bike

Cannondale SuperSix Evo

Sportive Bike vs Race Bike

If we ignore road bikes because they include both sportive and race bikes, we can look at which type of bike might be right for you. The best advice we can give is for you to go down to your local bike shop, talk to them, and try out some different styles of bikes. You can’t beat trying out a bike for size and comfort.

Secondly, if you’re just getting into cycling and plan to go for some casual and longer riders, as well as a few sportives, you can’t really go wrong with a sportive bike. It’ll be initially comfier and less demanding to ride.

If you’re strong and flexible and you think you might want to try racing, then it’s worth considering a race bike.

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2 thoughts on “Sportive bike vs road bike vs race bike

  1. el

    Can you use a sportive bike to race on? I am new to road cycling and thinking of getting a B’twin road bike, however I would like to do both endurance events (such as sportives) as well as races when I get the hang of it. I don’t have the money to buy both a sportive bike and a race bike, so as I am a beginner could I still buy a sportive bike like the B’twin and still race on it?

    Thank you

    1. adam Post author

      I’m so sorry for the woefully slow reply! Hopefully you discovered that it’s absolutely fine to use one bike for riding and racing. Unless you really want to, there’s no need to splash out loads of money on the fanciest bikes or a specific for this and another bike for that, it’s totally fine to get started with what you have or what you can afford and either upgrade, replace or complement it if you feel the urge later. Best of luck.


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