Road bikes are much older than their cousins, the mountain bikes. They trace their lineage all the way back to the original bicycles that were invented during the Renaissance. The modern road bike looks even less like its ancestors than the modern human does. The first bicycle looking machines were built in the early 1800’s.
They featured no pedals, or gears, or chains, but rather were propelled by running while straddling the bike. It was not until a quarter century later that someone added pedals to a bike, and nearly ninety years passed before bicycle pedals were connected to the wheels via a chain, rather than directly mounted to them. This puts the forerunner to modern road bikes a sprightly 120 years old.
The modern road bike has much more technological innovation in it than the average person realizes. For starters, a road bike’s frame has evolved to be rigid enough for riding, but extremely light at the same time. To accomplish this, metals have shifted from steel to the lighter aluminum and from there to more exotic materials such as titanium or carbon fiber. Kevlar, the same material used in bulletproof vests, has also been used to make bicycle frames.