Sportive and Endurance Bike of the year

And the winner is… has tested and reviewed a range of sportive and endurance bikes during 2017. Here are the best long distance road bikes from the past 12 months; find out which one wins: The Results

Buy it Now and Ride a Winner

The winning bike is available from Blazing Saddles. Our ex demo Specialized Roubaix Expert is a steal at £1800 and our Specialized Roubaix Expert Di2 is is reduced by over £1000 to £3299. Light, stiff and comfortable, the Roubaix with its Future Shock delivers an impressive ride.

These bikes are tailored for mass-start, non-competitive events: sportives, gran fondos and Audax rides. They’re great for general road riding like club runs and longer commutes too.

Sportive bikes are designed to be more comfortable for long rides by cyclists who don’t have pro-level flexibility and team masseurs.

A wider and lower gear range than you’ll find on a race bike is almost universal, with compact chainsets standard.

There’s room for at least 25mm tyres to improve shock absorption and grip, and many recent sportive bikes will take 28mm tyres.

Disc brakes are becoming increasingly common because they offer improved stopping power, and are less affected by rain and wheel misalignment.

Sportive bikes — also known as endurance bikes — are ‘softer’, more comfortable versions of race-orientated road bikes. They have slightly more relaxed handling, frames tuned to smooth the ride and capacity for wider tyres along with a less stretched-out riding position. They’re ideal for events and long distance rides where the extra comfort is a valuable benefit.

That makes them ideal for British riding conditions. Extra comfort from the frame and larger volume tyres (25mm and up) smooth out rough roads, the longer wheelbase makes them more stable, and the higher handlebar position reduces the strain on your back and neck. Some bikes also have shorter top tubes to bring the handlebars closer to the saddle.

One of the big changes occurring on bikes in this category is the rapid adoption of disc brakes. Discs offer increased stopping power, better all-weather performance and lower maintenance. Disc brakes really suit endurance and sportive bikes as these are the sort of bikes likely to encounter a myriad of weather and road conditions, whether in a sportive or if you simply ride year-round. And as these bikes are unlikely to be used in a road race, they don’t have to conform to the rules that currently forbid disc brakes on race bikes.

What makes an endurance road bike?

In essence, an endurance road bike is very similar to a road race bike, but with geometry, specification and frame materials tuned to make them more comfortable over longer rides and rough roads.

A longer wheelbase is common, both to create space for the wider tyres and also to produce a more stable ride, especially useful over choppy surfaces. Many endurance road bikes also have a taller head tube and shorter top tube to create a more comfortable fit over longer distances. There is no fixed formula though, and details differ between manufacturers. Some offer much taller and short frames while offers opt for longer top tubes with marginally taller head tubes, so you’ve a wide range of choices.

Many offer frames designed to provide a smooth ride, through the carbon fibre layup, tube shaping or both. Taking things a step further, companies such as Specialized incorporate elastomers in their endurance bike frames to help smooth the ride.

All these bikes have space for wider tyres. Most are sold with 25mm tyres as standard, but many will take a 28mm tyre which offers far more cushioning than a 23mm tyre. You can run them at lower pressures and benefit from a smoother ride without sacrificing speed.

Whether you’re planning a daily commute, a sportive or charity event, or just long Sunday rides, an endurance road bike is probably ideal for you. Unless you’re racing, there’s little compromise in choosing an endurance road bike and taking all the benefits they offer.

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