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Can You Convert a Racing Bike Into a Comfort Bike?

by
author image Max Roman Dilthey
Max Roman Dilthey is a science, health and culture writer currently pursuing a master's of sustainability science. Based in Massachusetts, he blogs about cycling at MaxTheCyclist.com.
Can You Convert a Racing Bike Into a Comfort Bike?
A woman is riding a bike on the road. Photo Credit Volha6622/iStock/Getty Images

Finding comfort on longer rides can be a challenge, especially if you're using a racing bike. These bikes are designed to maximize efficiency, but that can come at the cost of comfort for less-experienced riders because the aggressive riding position is less than gentle on your body. You can't truly convert a racing bike to a comfort bike because of the frame geometry, but you can take steps to make your racing bike considerably more comfortable.

Tired of Discomfort

The first step you can take to make your road bike more comfortable is to swap in some wider tires. Most road bikes use a 700c wheel size with a 23mm width, but modern road bikes can often accommodate much larger tires, as wide as 32mm. These wider tires will deform more to smooth out the bumps and vibration of the pavement, reducing the impact on your rear and your hands and making longer rides more comfortable.

Setting the Bar

Changing the position and style of your handlebars can help you avoid the punishing positioning common with racing bikes. A riser stem will place your handlebars up a few inches, which will let you lean back further and open up your chest for greater riding comfort. You can even swap out your racing-style drop bars for a flat or mustache-style handlebar and some new shifters. This conversion will have to be done at a bike shop, but the more relaxed riding position of the flat handlebars will reduce your riding strain and make the bike feel a little bit easier to control.

Swapping Your Seat

A traditional road bike seat has extremely firm padding and a narrow shape to provide a good platform for aggressive riding. However, these seats are hardly comfortable for a casual rider. Swap out your racing seat for a more comfortable saddle designed for a comfort bike, with greater padding and a wider base. This saddle will allow you to sit back in your seat to reduce strain on your lower back and neck without risking any soreness or numbness in your pelvic region.

Spring in Your Step

A suspension seatpost is a great addition to your road bike for a large increase in comfort. These seatposts compress to absorb vibration and shock during longer rides, making your bike far more resilient to rough pavement. A suspension seatpost can use a spring or hydraulic pump to compress under load, but some also feature a high-strength polymer block that deforms to absorb impact. Be sure to clean out your seat tube before installing the new seatpost to prevent any corrosion.

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