Buying your first road bike can feel a little bit daunting. Especially if you’ve never really ridden bikes very much before. The sheer range of bike types, component options, and materials can get a little bit bewildering.
There has actually never been a better time to buy a new road bike. Something that should make everyone excited is the entry-level bikes and now even more value for money. All of that incredible bike technology from big bike races and big brands trickled down, and is now available for bike riding beginners.
Here are some tips and things to look for when buying your first road bike.
The very first thing you will need to do is decide how much you are prepared to spend. You can pick up a great road bike from around £250, but the more you spend, the higher quality and lighter the bike is going to be. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t get an excellent bike for cheap.
Once you have your budget, you can start researching for bikes in that price bracket. While many people just decide to head straight to the nearest bike shop and tell them how much they have to spend and walk out with a great road bike. It’s actually essential that you consider your road bike and investment.
It is worth spending time researching your options. Road bikes reviewed by Pedallers is a great place to start.
The frame is one of the most important things when you buy a new road bike. It’s actually where the majority of your budget is going to go. And bike frames come in a wide range of materials. The most common of which are steel, aluminum, titanium, and then carbon fiber.
Most frames will have common characteristics, but it’s what the designer has done with those materials that make the difference.
Aluminum – this is the most common frame material for road bikes. And there are a plethora of amazing aluminum-framed bikes, in both the under £1000 and over £1000 road bike budget categories. If you want to buy the better aluminum frames, look for ones with butted tubes. These have varying wall thicknesses. Butted tubes are usually lighter and offer more comfort for the rider.
Steel – And this was the most common road bike frame material until the 80s. And is still an incredible sturdy material. In fact, you most often find this on custom bikes, and those are designed for touring. It is heavier than aluminum but can be incredibly comfortable.
Titanium was once the most coveted material, a titanium frame is as light as aluminum and as durable as steel. Making it one of the best materials for bicycles. And the corrosive resistance of it makes it well worth the cash. However, it does come in as one of the more expensive options because it’s challenging to work with.
Carbon fiber – if you have some serious budget to blow, then a carbon fiber frame is really the best option. There is a massive difference between the cheaper and the more high-end carbon fiber. That price difference comes down to the fibers that are used. And how it is manufactured.
Although the material does make a difference, it is important that you try the bike first rather than just pick a carbon fiber frame or a titanium frame because other people you know have these.
The right size of road bike is absolutely critical. When you go to the bike shop, ask for as much advice as possible, because if you leave with your first road bike it’s too big or too small it’s going to be an incredibly uncomfortable ride.
Road bike sizes are typically given in centimeters. However, the way the frame is measured can vary between different manufacturers. Not to mention everyone has a very individual body shape, and it can make it very complicated.
The best thing to do is research the size chart on the manufacturer’s website and put your leg over any bike that you’re considering buying. If it’s possible for you to take that size bike out for a spin then even better.
Generally the rule of thumb is that you should be able to stand over the frame with a couple of centimeters between you and the top tube if you can’t it’s too big.
One of the most important areas of your new road bike is going to be the wheels and tires. The wheels will make a huge difference in how the bike responds and feels. Lighter wheels with less rotating mass are faster to spin, but the real spin will come from deep-section aerodynamic wheels. Faster and lighter tires will feel more responsive, but you’re going to have to consider the type of bike rider you are.
The wheels will take up a large amount of the overall cost of the bike, and will become an expensive part to upgrade. So make sure you research the wheels before buying anything.
There is a lot to take into account before you purchase your first road bike. The great thing is bikes can be modified and changed to your specifications. But getting the right frame from the start will make a huge difference.