What are sportives?
Sportives have become one of the most popular forms of cycling across the country. They are fantastic events because they serve as a great way for cyclists to move onto a different level and take part in organised rides without having the hassle of having to plan a route yourself. Sportive events run all over the country on pretty much every weekend of the year.
Most sportives have pre-event entry making the pre-organisation easy. Many events will provide pre-ride and post-ride refreshments at the start and finish locations. Routes are fully signposted and feed stations are provided along routes. There are various distance options to choose from so that you can choose according to your ability level. Most sportives offer chip timing so you can track your performance and most also provide medals, certificates and goody bags at the end of the route.
What bike do I need for a sportive?
As long, often all-day events, sportive bikes need to be built for comfort as well as speedy and efficient. For most cyclists, a road racing bike doesn't necessarily fit the bill. Endurance bikes are a better fit for sportive events. For this reason, endurance bikes are now widely recognised as sportive bikes.
Sportive bikes need to be able to cope with all sorts of surfaces, such as cobbles. Therefore, a sportive bike needs to have some compliance (flexibility) to reduce the impact of vibrations from the road. This improves comfort and also lessens fatigue.
The geometry of sportive bike frames tends to feature relaxed angles to the head and seat and slightly extended head tubes. This enables a more upright riding position to be achieved. This is not only more comfortable, it also helps to ensure more stable handling of the bike. Sportive bikes feature larger cassettes and more compact chain sets to make steep climbs that little bit easier. Tyres tend to be a bit wider than on conventional road race machines.
The vast majority of leading manufacturers cater for the needs of sportive riders. Names such as Cannondale Synapse Sora, Giant Defy, Felt Z85 and Specialized Allez Elite are mid-priced machines that come recommended as entry-mid level sportive bikes.