How to Choose Road Bike for Beginner|Buyers Guide - 2021
If you're looking to buy your first road bike, then this road bike buyers guide will help you to find the best one for you. As because there is so many things to consider if you don't know how to choose road bike.
What's the best type of bike for you? What size should you get? What determines a bike's value?the features are all important factors.
In this article, we have discussed everything you need to know about road bikes so that it's easier for you to pick the one according to your preferences and riding needs.
How to Choose Road Bike: Everything You Should Know
- How to Choose Road Bike: Everything You Should Know
- Type of Road Bike: Which Road Bike Should I Start With?
- Sizing: Getting the Correct Frame Size
- Frame Material
- Frame Geometry
- Groupset / Drivetrain
- Cranksets & Chainring Teeth
- Which Handlebars Should I Use? Flat Bars or Drop Bars?
- Bike Brake Options
- Wheels: How Do I Choose Wheels for My Road Bike?
- Tires and Tubes
- Saddle: Selecting the Correct Road Bike Saddle?
- Weight: What is a Good Weight for Road Bike?
- Pedals: Which Pedals Are Best for My Road Bike?
- Recommended Cycling Gear and Apparel
- Necessary Gear and Accessories for Road Riding
- Optional Gear
- Bicycle Maintenance Basics
- What Are the Best Road Bike Brands?
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Wrapping Up
Type of Road Bike: Which Road Bike Should I Start With?
There are different types of road bikes available in the market to cater to different terrains needs and match your versatile riding styles. Below, we have discussed them in detail so that it’s easier for you to find the best one for you.
If you want to enjoy speed, then the aero bikes are the one for you. This type of road bike is designed to effectively cut down the wind resistance to reach the top speed never felt easier.
It took many aerodynamic features from the time trial (TT) bike and incorporated them into a regular road bike frame to provide both users' best.
An aero road bike comes with an aerodynamic frame, deep-section wheels, handlebars, and other specially designed components to reduce drag and knife through the wind so that riders can enjoy increased speed quickly for a faster ride.
Gravel or Adventure Bikes
Gravel, more commonly known as all-road bikes, falls into a broad category of road bicycles that allow you to ride on all types of road and terrains without any difficulties.
Since it's a combination of all the road bikes, it's good for everyone, regardless of their riding style.
Even though a gravel bike is exceptionally similar to a typical endurance road bike, it comes with wider tires and disc brakes to ensure maximum performance in all weather conditions. Moreover, this amazing bike also incorporates lower gear ratios for easy and effortless riding.
Recreational or Fitness Bike
When comfort is your main priority, then a recreational bike is your best allay. This incredible bike forgoes the perks of a performance road bike and adopted practicality to cater to the needs of relaxed riders and new riders.
In addition to moving from point A to B, a recreational bicycle also helps you to be active and fit.
A recreational or fitness bike typically comes with a flat bar, wider tires, flat pedals, and easy-pedaling gear ratios for the ease of ridings, even for beginners.
Flat Bar Road Bike
Any road bike that comes with a “flat bar” can be considered a flat bar road bike; however, even though they fall in the same category, the quality and the purpose might vary greatly.
While some bikes will give you immense speed and fast riding experience, others might be suitable for more relaxed cruising.
As the name suggests, race bikes are made for miles and miles of riding on paved roads without any difficulty.
As this exceptional bike comes with fairly aggressive geometry, incorporates a super lightweight frame and wheels, and has less rolling resistance, you can enjoy a serious racing experience on the pavements.
Cyclo-cross or Cross Country (Xc) Bikes
Cyclocross is an “off-season” sport that usually takes place in the fall. It is an off-road racing sport that comprises of riding on an array of riding surfaces, terrain, and obstacles.
And the particular type of cycle used for this sport is known as a Cyclocross or Cross Country bicycle.
This incredible bike is specially designed with a fairly aggressive geometry; smaller, more defined gear range paired with specific “knobby” grip tires. Also includes both disc and rim brakes to handle mud, sand, dirt, and any type of pavements easily yet safely.
Sizing: Getting the Correct Frame Size
In the case of road bikes, the “one size fits all” theory doesn’t apply. You have to find the correct frame size according to your height and body geometry to easily and comfortably ride.
The right size bike will evidently be easier to ride and effortless to maneuver than the ones that are too large or small for your size.
As most types of road bikes are available in various sizes, it would be easier for you to pick the one according to your needs. But how do you know which frame size is perfect for you and which to avoid?
Well, it is quite an easy process. When you sit on the seat, notice how your foot touches the ground. If the foot reaches the ground with a very slight bend, then you know that the frame is of the perfect size for you. You can also ask the salesperson to help you with the sizing before making a purchase.
The frame is the heart of any bike. Manufacturers make the frame of different types of materials and alloys to serve customers with a wide variety of choices. Let’s discuss some of the most prominent materials that companies use to make the road bikes frame.
Carbon fiber is the most coveted frame material and has become the gold standard for road bike frame material. It is super lightweight, extremely strong, and can be molded into any shape easily.
Additionally, a frame that is constructed with carbon fiber can dampen and absorb road vibrations effectively to provide a more comfortable ride for the rider.
However, carbon fiber constructed road bikes are a bit expensive compared to the others.
Aluminum is the most common material to construct a frame with. It is quite inexpensive yet is an excellent alloy to construct the cycle frame.
Even though aluminum is a super strong and sturdy material, it is extremely lightweight and, hence, helps keep the bike's overall weight low.
Moreover, because of its inexpensive price tag, aluminum construction also helps keep the bike's price affordable.
Before carbon fiber emerged in the frame construction process, titanium was the lightest material to use in the road bike’s frame. However, unlike carbon fiber, titanium cannot easily be molded and quite difficult to work with.
Moreover, even though it is lightweight, titanium constructed frames are super strong and durable and don’t suffer from rust and corrosion.
Steel is a solid material that offers excellent sturdiness and durability. Before aluminum and carbon fiber, steel was the most common bike frame construction material available in the market.
But as it is quite heavyweight compared to the other construction materials, steel is now not as widely used as it used to be once. Like titanium, steel is also used to construct bespoke road bikes.
Getting the right sized road bike with precise geometry is important if you want to enjoy your bike riding to the fullest with excellent speed and adequate comfort.
Usually, road bicycles come with 3 different types of geometry, sport (recreational) geometry, performance (race) geometry, and flat bar, so that other riders can choose the most suitable one for them.
While sport geometry has an upright riding position, performance geometry provides improved aerodynamics for a better ride. On the other hand, a flat-bar bike caters from entry-level to mid-level riders needs perfectly.
Groupset / Drivetrain
A groupset contains the brakes and the drivetrain and is considered as the bike's engine room. The drivetrain includes the cranks, chainrings, chain, cassette, derailleurs, and shifters; it determines performance, efficiency, and durability.
Below, we have talked about the most common groupset/drivetrains used in road bikes for your better understanding.
Being the market leader, Shimano comes with the largest range of road-specific groupset and drivetrains to cater to every type of riders' needs with every experience level. In addition to regular bicycles, it also produces groupsets for professional bicycles.
Most of the Shimano groupset is designed to work together to ensure optimal performance. The most popular groupset from Shimano are:
- Claris: Entry-level groupset with an 8-speed cassette.
- Sora: Entry-level groupset with a 9-speed cassette.
- Tiagra: General use level groupset with the 10-speed cassette.
- 105:Mid-level groupset with an 11-speed cassette.
- Ultegra: High-end enthusiast groupset.
- Dura-Ace: Pro race-level groupset.
Campagnolo is the oldest groupset manufacturer in the market that has been actively innovating to make your riding experience phenomenal. The most popular groupset/drivetrains from this amazing company are:
- Centaur: A groupset for recreational and entry-level cyclists.
- Potenza: A mid-level groupset with our-arm crank and re-designed derailleur.
- Chorus: A groupset for sophisticated cyclists.
- Record: A professional-caliber groupset with 12-speed shifting.
- Super Record: An elite performance groupset for improved performance.
Similar to Shimano, SRAM is also one of the most popular groupset/drivetrain manufacturers in the market. Some of the most prominent groupset/drivetrains from SRAM are:
- Apex: General use level groupset with the 10-speed cassette.
- Rival: Mid-level groupset with 11-speed cassette.
- Force: High-end enthusiast-level groupset.
- Red: Pro race-level groupset.
Cranksets & Chainring Teeth
A road bike either comes with a compact, double or triple crankset to carter to different riders needs. These cranksets refer to the number and size of chainrings included in the chain.
A compact crankset is primarily common in recreational road bicycles and includes 50 / 34 chainrings. It mostly offers high velocity with a range of 20 gears and provides a better heel clearance.
On the other hand, a double crankset that usually comes with39/53 chainrings is better suited for the high speed of racing and is mostly favored by racing cyclists.
Similarly, a triple crankset that incorporates 3 chainrings 50 / 39 / 30 is an excellent option for fast riding in hilly terrain and provides a great range of 27 gears for phenomenal velocity.
Which Handlebars Should I Use? Flat Bars or Drop Bars?
The handlebars is a super important aspect to consider because it determines the comfort of your hands and palms and affects your bike's control. Generally, road bikes come with 2 types of handlebars, which are:
The flat bar handlebars are specially designed to combine performance and comfort for better riding. As it offers a slightly more upright riding position, this handlebar ensures that your back doesn’t hurt because of bike riding.
The upright position also allows you to see the road in front clearly and spot potential hazards quicker than others.
On the other hand, drop bar handlebars are designed aerodynamically to be lightweight and easy to maneuver. Moreover, this type of handlebar is intended for riders who want to enjoy top speed and seeks top-class efficiency.
Drop-bar handlebars offer a great variety of riding and hand positions for effectivity and convenience.
Bike Brake Options
The braking mechanism of a road bike is one of the essential features to consider because it ensures the riders' safety.
Most commonly, road cycles come with 2 different types of braking systems to choose from. We have discussed them below for your better understanding.
The rim brakes are the most traditional and popular option for road bikes because of their extraordinary stopping power.
In a rim braking system, the brakes apply force directly to the rim or sides of the wheel to stop them instantly and avoid any type of accidents or injuries.
Disc brakes are gaining immense popularity because of their phenomenal stopping power than wheel rim brakes. Unlike rim brakes, the disc brakes make sure that the bike stops immediately, even in the worst riding conditions, to avoid accidents at any cost.
They do this by taking the rotors help attached to the wheel hubs that halts the bike instantly as soon as you pull the brake levers.
You must keep an eye on the brake levers before buy because a brake lever not only determines how quickly you can stop the cycle but at the same time, also ensures how smoothly you can shift between gears to acquire your preferred speed.
Wheels: How Do I Choose Wheels for My Road Bike?
The wheels plays a significant role. They not only determine how well you can ride as they are always in direct contact with the ground, but the wheels also influence the bike’s response and feel.
And that’s why you must be extra careful while choosing the ultimate pair of wheels for your road bike.
Road bikes usually come with 700c sized wheels to provide an excellent riding experience. However, in recent times, riders started preferring the 650b sized wheels on their bike to enjoy greater convenience and comfort while riding.
The reason for gravitating towards the smaller 650b wheel size is that it offers you to use a much wider tire in your road bike.
Wide tires come with more air volume and provide more cushioning and comfort to the riders, especially on rough, unpleasant terrains.
Tires and Tubes
You should choose the right tires for your bike based on the type of riding you will do and terrain type.
Manufacturers offer 3 different tires to choose from according to your needs and comfort level; between clincher, tubular and tubeless tires, you always have the opportunity to pick the right one for you.
Most of the road bicycles in the market include clincher tires around the wheels. These tires need an inner tube to hold air and get going.
Similarly, the tubeless tires are effectively clincher tires without the inner tube. These special kinds of tires ensure a better grip and can be rolled with lower air pressure for a comfortable and safe riding experience.
On the other hand, tubular tires are upgraded tires and are often reserved for sponsored professionals for hardcore racing in any type of pavement and surface. They are incredibly lightweight can gain speed super quickly.
Saddle: Selecting the Correct Road Bike Saddle?
The saddle determines how comfortable you will be on the bike and that’s why it is important that you pick just the right saddle you feel comfortable on. Many bicycles come with adequately cushioned saddles, whereas some have fewer padding.
It’s always suggested to prefer the one with well-padding because it helps to absorb shock and ensure comfortable riding.
You can also make your bike seat comfortable by adding saddle cover.
Weight: What is a Good Weight for Road Bike?
The weight of the road bike itself is quite an important aspect to keep in mind before purchasing because it affects the maneuverability and your control over the bicycle. Moreover, the weight also has an impact on the speed of the bicycle.
Experts suggest choosing a road cycle between 17 - 17.5 pounds of weight for the best riding and control; anything lighter than this might be fragile and break off quickly, while a cycle heavier than this weight range will be difficult to maneuver.
Pedals: Which Pedals Are Best for My Road Bike?
Even though most riders, especially beginners, tend to overlook the pedals while buying a bike, remember that it is also an important aspect to consider before buy. An excellent set of pedals not only offers greater pedaling efficiency but at the same time also ensures a secure hold for better riding.
Most basic models incorporate platform pedals with toe cages to provide additional safety to the users. The toe cage holds the feet in place and doesn’t let them slip so that there are fewer chances of accidents.
On the other hand, high-end road bicycles come with no pedals. This might sound a bit weird but if you think deeply, it has a point. Most serious and expert riders already know which pedals are the best and most comfortable for their riding style.
No matter how well-made and versatile pedals a manufacturer inserts, they will always change them according to their needs.
Recommended Cycling Gear and Apparel
Even when you have the best quality road bicycle, it’s not enough to deliver you the type of riding experience you are looking for. Besides the cycle itself, you also need some other accessories to enjoy a safe yet enjoyable bike riding session.
It doesn’t matter if you are riding your cycle for recreational purposes or racing. It is highly mandatory to take all safety precautions to keep yourself safe from any potential falls or accidents. And that’s why a helmet is a must-have accessory to adopt when riding.
An excellent quality helmet will provide safety and protection to your head while riding and make sure that your skull remains intact no matter how fatal the accident is. Your skull remains intact and doesn’t suffer from any deadly injuries.
It’s not always mandatory that you have to wear cycling shorts while riding your road bike, but you can wear them for the best performance. Even though cycling shorts look goofy and unappealing to many, you cannot deny their benefits.
One of the most prominent advantages of cycling short is that it lets your body breathe.
As it is usually made from moisture-wicking technical fabric (Lycra, spandex, nylon, and polyester), it soaks the sweat and moisture from your skin, preventing chafing, rashes, and itchiness.
Moreover, cycling shorts also offers flexibility; you can pedal fast and enjoy a full range of motion without any difficulty.
If you want to enjoy additional comfort while riding, then it’s the best option that you pick a pair of cycling gloves for your hands.
An incredible pair of gloves not only makes sure that your palms don’t suffer from fatigue or numbness but at the same time, also provides excellent grip over the handlebars for a safe cycling session.
You can always go for a spin without cycling shoes. But these particular types of shoes undoubtedly enhance your riding feel.
For starters, shoes specially made for only cycling purposes are super comfortable for pedaling and transfer energy to the pedals more efficiently so that you can enjoy a smooth and speedy riding session.
These shoes also grip on the pedals precisely so that there are zero chances of feet slip and accidents.
Necessary Gear and Accessories for Road Riding
Road riding doesn’t always mean that you will cruise around the neighborhood and come back home. Road riding is far more.
With a road cycle, you can go for off-road ridings, racing, and trail ridings effectively. When you go for such trips, you need some accessories and gears to carry with you for convenience and they are:
A water bottle should be at the top of your list. Cycling is an enjoyable activity, but it can be tiresome. That’s why it is super important to carry a water bottle with you to keep you hydrated and energetic during longer rides.
However, we would suggest you pick up a bottle that is lightweight yet sturdy. A heavyweight, fancy bottle can add to the bike's overall weight and might slightly make it challenging to maneuver.
Bike theft is a common thing, especially if you park it outside. If you don’t want to fall victim to bike theft, then it’s a must to use a good quality lock to keep thieves at arm’s length.
There are different types of locks for cycle available in the market with various benefits. Among them, U, or D locks are the most popular types of locks because they are difficult to break.
Moreover, you can team them up with a cable lock threaded through the wheels to make it more difficult for bike thieves.
A serious biker should never leave for riding his/her bicycle without a spare tube. Even though nobody plans a tire puncture, it is something you often experience, especially on off-road ridings. And to tackle such situations tactfully, a spare tube is your best allay.
A fresh spare tube will ensure that you can still ride without any difficulty, even after you have a tire leak.
When you own a bike and ride it regularly, you know the teeny-weeny troubles it goes through while riding. From tire leaks to tinkering to tweaking the gears and a loose saddle, there might never be the end of such minor problems.
And to get rid of them successfully, you must always carry a multi-tool with you whenever you wish to ride.
A multi-tool is the equivalent of a Swiss Army knife. It comes with the miniature version of all the tools you need to adjust and tweak your bike for worry-free, smooth-riding.
A seat bag is an essential accessory for a bicycle. As there is no storage feature, a seat bag allows you to store your necessary items whenever you go for a long ride. From essential repair tools to your personal items, you can easily carry anything you want in a seat bag.
You must know that your bicycles tires will not stay inflated forever. At some point in time, they will flatten down, making it extremely difficult to roll forward.
To avert this situation and ensure that the tire pressure stays at a safe level, you will need to pump them from time to time. And pump them regularly; it’s the best that you own a mini pump for yourself.
A mini pump will help you keep the tires in good condition but is extremely convenient because of its mini size.
Riding with lights is extremely important. This lights not only help you to see the road ahead clearly, especially in poorly lit areas or after dark but at the same time also ensure that others can spot you quickly to avoid accidents.
It is always recommended that you use both front and rear cycle lights for the best convenience and safety. Otherwise, you won’t be able to enjoy the benefits of “be seen or to see with” properly and might suffer from misfortunate events.
Besides the accessories discussed above, you might also need some extra gear to make your bike riding experience even more delightful.
Even though a bike computer is not an essential item to have, it’s nice to have one.
From monitoring your speed to keeping track of how far you have traveled, cycling computer monitors and displays all the necessary data you need to know while riding.
If you want to see what’s behind you when riding, then there is nothing better than a pair of bike mirrors. These front-mounted glasses help you see everything behind you without turning the head so that you are safe and avoid accidents successfully.
Bicycle Maintenance Basics
Maintaining a road bike is not as tough as you might imagine if you know the basics. To prolong the life of your bike, never forget to clean it thoroughly.
Cleaning the drivetrain and keeping it well lubricated will ensure a smooth ride and increase cycle life. Also, make sure that brakes are adjusted correctly and the nuts and bolts are tightened to avoid any kind of accidents while riding.
It doesn’t matter the amount of money you spent on a road bicycle, but you expect it to last for an extended period when you buy one.
We would suggest you check the warranty period before purchasing because it reflects how long a cycle will run without any problems.
An extended warranty period ensures that a bicycle is well protected and would be replaced as soon as you find it faulty.
What Are the Best Road Bike Brands?
The market is full of companies that manufacturers road bikes for their customers. But all of these manufacturers don’t market excellent quality. Below, we have listed and discussed the most prominent brands so that it's easier for you to pick the best one for you.
Based in Morgan Hill, Calif, Specialized offers a great variety of bicycle types and models to its customers.
In addition to manufacturing excellent quality road bicycles, this company also produces BMX, mountain, road, street (fitness, comfort), women's,and children bikes in different price ranges to have the flexibility to choose the one according to their needs.
Founded in 1976 and based in Waterloo, Wis. The Trek Bicycles Corp also manufactures a wide range of bicycles to meet its customers' ever-growing demands.
From excellent quality road bicycles to mtb, urban, children’s and women's bikes, it supplies every type of cycle to market.
Headquartered in Bethel, Conn and owned by Dorel Industries. Cannondale is a bicycle producer that designs and manufactures a wide range of versatile bicycles at its factory in Bedford, Pa including mountain, road, specialty, urban, fitness, and women's bikes so that its customers can find what they are looking for easily.
Giant Bicycle is a Taiwanese company that also has its operation in the US. Situated in Newbury Park, Calif, Giant Bicycle is yet another company that manufactures all types of bicycles for its customers.
From different models of road bicycles to BMX, children's fitness, hybrid, lifestyle, mountain,and women's bicycles, this company ensures that its users have a variety of options to choose from at every price level.
Headquartered in Givisiez, Switzerland, Scott is yet another non-US company with a very successful operation in the US.
It has been one of the country's most famous road bicycle brands because of its amazing craftsmanship and affordable price range. Scott makes each of its cycles with utmost precision and cares so that they are durable and comfortable.
Unlike many other brands in this list, Kestrel bicycles is an all-American bicycle brand that thrives on producing only the best quality, high-end road racing and triathlon bikes.
Established in 1986, this company has been manufacturing top-quality bicycles ever since. However, as it has a limited range of products, you cannot get all types of cycles from Kestrel.
Diamondback Bicycles is undoubtedly one of the most popular and successful bicycle brands in the US. Located in Washington DC, it offers super high-quality bicycles at a cheaper price tag to its customers compared to its close competitors.
Even though Diamondback produces a wide range of cycle lineup, it is known widely for its famously lightweight road bicycles.
One of the biggest names in the bicycle industry, Schwinn, is a Pacific Cycle brand that offers only its customers the best.
Its wide range of product lines includes different BMX models, children's, comfort, cruisers, mountain, and road bikes so that customers with every budget range find the best bicycle for their nest riding sessions.
Based in St. Augustine, Florida, Vilano Bikes was founded by 3 best friends to offer high-quality bicycles at a super affordable price tag to the masses. In addition to manufacturing excellent quality road bicycles of different models, this company also makes other bikes including hybrid, mountain, folding, electric, and kid’s bikes, to satisfy its various users needs.
Founded in 1899 in Japan, Fuji is another company that makes and sells bicycles in the US. Based in Philadelphia, Fuji has a wide range of product lines that it offers to its customers.
Some types of bicycles it produces are BMX, children's, lifestyle, mountain, road, and women's bikes to cater to the needs of its different customers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I Get a Carbon Frame Road Bike?
The answer is both “yes and no.”
If you have a quite higher budget, then it’s the best option to buy a carbon frame road bicycle because of its endless benefits convenience.
However, we would suggest avoiding carbon road bicycles if you have a tighter budget.
Inexpensive cycles tend to have cheap carbon frames that don’t serve the purpose of carbon at all. They are not durable and tend to break off easily.
Differences between Men’s and Women’s Road Bikes
The main difference between a men’s and women’s road bicycles is the fit. As generally, women are shorter than men, their bike models come with shorter stack heights than the men’s ones.
Also, because a female body has a shorter torso length, women’s bicycle models tend to have shorter reach lengths compared to men’s ones.
What About Road Bikes for Kids?
Like men’s and women’s, road bicycles also come in kid’s models. They also come in different sizes to accommodate various-sized kids perfectly so that kids can also enjoy the benefits of riding.
What Are Recumbent Road Bikes?
A recumbent road bike is a special kind of bicycle that comes with a super comfortable seat with a backrest to provide a laid-back reclining riding position. The seat ensures full support to the riders back so that it doesn’t hurt even if you ride for hours.
Even though this bike ensures comfortable riding, it doesn’t mean that this cycle is not efficient. It provides excellent cardiovascular exercise and helps to keep your body fit and active.
What Do I Eat and Drink on Long Bicycle Rides?
The key to keeping you hydrated and energized during long rides is food and drink. Eat as much as you want the night before you are planning to take a long ride. Also, don’t forget to enjoy a healthy breakfast; it will provide you the energy you will need for the upcoming riding.
As like food, don’t skip the water. Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water the day before.
Additionally, don’t forget to periodically stop and drink water during the ride to keep you well-hydrated for the rest of the ride.
In the above article, we have discussed everything you must know how to choose road bike.
If you are new and haven’t tried a road bike before, this article will guide you and help you find the best one in the market. We can assure you that, with this tell-all guide, you will never be disappointed.