Road bikes can be expensive, and unless you’re really rich, you won’t be changing your primary road bike for at least a few years. Therefore, you might wonder how to choose a road bike, in order to get the most value for the money you spend.
Purchasing a new road bike can be considered an investment. And with any other investments, you want to know exactly what to look for in order to get exactly what you’re expecting, without spending a lot of cash.
You’re in the right place, because, in this post, you’ll find everything you need to know about road bikes. Of course, you don’t need to know absolutely everything, but knowing the most important things and factors that make every road bike is going to pay off.
How to Choose a Road Bike?
If you’re choosing your first road bike, it might seem like science, especially if you know nothing about them. If it’s not your first bike, it’s going to be a smooth sail, but it’s still useful to be prepared.
By knowing exactly what you need and what to look out for, you won’t only get to close a great deal, but you’ll make no mistake, which is far more important.
So let’s start with the first thing, which might be a pain in everyone’s ass, but it’s better to do it now than regret it later. Of course, we’re talking here about the budget.
Setting up a Budget
You might be expected to get down to the things straight away, and if you did, you were wrong. Even though the budget is important, many people decide to ignore it at first.
By setting up a budget up front, you’re actually doing yourself a big favor.
Let’s face the reality. Road bikes can get real expensive. Even though they’re really worth the price and every one of us would love to own one of the most advanced road bikes, we have to keep ourselves down to earth and work with what we have.
Be honest with yourself and decide for yourself what’s your budget going to be. Once you determine your budget, it’s important to not cross the line.
The thing with road bikes, and probably any other product, is that you can find something you like which is exactly within your budget. But for just a little bit more money, you can find another bike that has something better.
And that’s how you might end up spending a lot more than your budget is. Determine a budget and stick to it, and thank yourself later.
Road Bike Type
You’ve probably heard of sportive, commuter, or even touring road bikes. These are all types of a road bike, and what determines a road bike type is basically the bike geometry.
Many new riders think that choosing a road bike is one of the hardest things there is about choosing a new road bike when actually it isn’t. Some people even back out of purchase just because they’re unsure whether the chosen road bike type is the right one for them.
The easiest way to choose a road bike type is to think of your riding style. What type of a rider are you?
If you enjoy long distance rides, sportive road bikes are a great choice. If you’re going to commute to your work and battle all weather conditions, commuter road bike it will be.
Attaching a few bags to your bike and travel the country? A travel road bike is probably what you’ll need.
To find more about road bike types and its specifics, read our post about road bike types.
Road Bike Size
Now if you know what road bike type is the most suitable for you, you’re just one step closer to choosing your next road bike.
Bike fit is critical, and you can think of it as shoe size. You wouldn’t wear shoes that don’t fit you properly, and you don’t want to ride a bike that’s not appropriate to your size.
We’re not saying that you should go to the shop and try every bike you like, but making sure you follow the chart down below will help you be right every single time.
You’ll need to measure your height, and then find which bike size is the correct for your height, using the chart above.
We’d highly recommend you to stick to your size, and don’t settle for a smaller or bigger bike just because it’s cheap or for any other reason.
Bike Frame Material
There are quite a few materials used to create road bike frames. What you’re watching on TV when professionals are riding, is the full carbon or maybe even titanium frame that is very light.
If your budget isn’t big, you might not be able to get a full carbon frame. Yet, you shouldn’t settle for a frame that doesn’t include at least a bit of carbon.
Steel is something that dominated road bikes before the 1980s, and even today, it’s still popular, but not very common to see on commercial bikes. You’ll often see it on custom bikes and touring road bikes.
Aluminum is one of the most popular materials used to produce road bikes nowadays, and it can be combined with carbon which is something you’ll be ideally looking for.
Carbon is very light and still durable, yet there’s even superior version of carbon which is titanium. Titanium has the lightness of carbon and strength of steel which makes it the perfect, yet pricey material for road bikes frames.
Road Bike Groupsets
Groupset is also known as a 10-speeds, which is referring to two chainrings up front, multiplied by the five cogs in the rear.
Nowadays, you’ll see most road bikes have two chain rings and 9, 10, sometimes 11, or even 13 cogs in the rear.
Determining which road bike groupset is ideal for you will depend on the road bike type you chose.
Usually, endurance bikes will have smaller gears which allow them to climb uphill more easily, while race bikes will come with larger gears for higher top-end speed.
With smaller gears, you’ll have to put in less effort and you’ll be more compact. On the other hand, you’ll have to put more effort, however, the top-end speed will be really worth it.
Road Bike Wheels and Tires
We believe that the wheels make the bike. Have you ever see the price of top-notch road bike wheels? If you have, you’ll know what we’re talking about. The price can be sometimes almost half the price of a professional racing bike.
That’s simply because wheels are very important.
Not only wheels influence the way road bike rides, but they also influence the feels and responds. You’ll quickly spin up light wheels that have less rotating mass, while you’ll experience the true speed from deep-section aerodynamic rims.
Road bike wheels and tires also depend on the road bike type you’ve chosen, and on your riding style.
Road Bike Brake Type
Time, when disc brakes were used for mountain bikes only, are long-time gone. Now, you can choose between traditional or disc brakes when purchasing a road bike.
Rim brakes are the traditional version of brakes, and they’re still lighter than disc brakes, and even are more aerodynamic. Yet, disc brakes provide better power and modulation and are less affected by bad weather, such as rain or mud.
Most importantly, if you ever ding a rim, disc brakes will still continue to work since they have nothing to do with the rim.
Discount or Service
By now, you’ve got almost everything covered. But, it’s not a bad idea to ask for a discount, or at least get a great deal on a yearly servicing.
In the end, you’ll need to maintain your bike, and it’s most likely you’ll get a great deal on service at the place you’ve bought your road bike.
Even additional features can bring you a better deal, you just have to keep an eye out for them!
Hopefully, by now, you understand exactly how to choose a road bike, what you must look out for, and how to get it right from the first time.
If you pay attention to this post and apply everything you’ve learned here, you wouldn’t even need to visit a bike shop to purchase a bike!
Of course, there are a lot more factors to look for, such as the bike color, additional features, and equipment that might come included.
If you find a great deal, such other factors will be a bonus, as long as you make sure you get a great deal. And remember, always stick to your budget.
Feel free to ask any questions in the comments, or ask for help with any part of the choosing process.
P.S. If after reading this post you think a road bike isn’t the best choice for you, feel free to read more about mountain bikes and see what suits you better.
Cover photo – from Flickr by philHendley