How to Choose a Road Bike – The Factors to Consider

A road bike is a fun way to hit the road and enjoy the environs. They also offer riders with exercise so that they can improve their physique. Road bikes offer speed, efficiency and agility. However, some people do not get the most from their road bikes because they did not choose the right ones.  Therefore, it is important to learn how to choose a road bike so that you can buy the one that meets your needs the best. Below, we have come up with a road bike buying guide that will help you when purchasing a road bike of your choice.

The features of a road bike

Road bike is designed with the following features:

  • Lightweight frame, wheels and other parts
  • Drop handlebar
  • Narrow wheels and tires
  • Carbon fiber front fork
  • No front or rear suspension
  • Different sizes in both men and women bikes

Functions of a road bike:

  • Designed for competitions, event riders and for fitness purposes.
  • Ideal for paved surfaces
  • Enables riders to go faster and farther than other types of bikes

Although you can use road bikes for touring, it is important to note that most do not come with a luggage carrier attachment. Therefore, you may want to consider carrying your supplies in a back pack.

How to choose a road bike - Factors to consider

Frame geometry

Bike components

One of the features that you need to consider before buying a road bike is the frame geometry.  Although different road bikes may visually appear similar to one another, there are a lot of differences in the frame design.

There is a sport frame design that is usually installed on bikes that are ridden a few times a year.  This frame design has the rider sitting in a more upright design when compared to performance bikes.  In addition, the steering is relaxed when compared to that of the performance road bikes.

There is a performance geometry that has the rider stretched out to improve aerodynamics.  Furthermore, this design is more responsive to steering input and this enables riders to negotiate corners with ease. Performance bike frames have higher end components, lighter wheels, stiffer frames and higher price tags.

On the other hand, there are flat bar road bikes that are similar to sport bikes but have the rider sitting in an upright position. These bikes are ideal for those that are planning on commuting as they make it easier for the rider to observe traffic.  

  • Buying tip

If you are not planning to use the bike for competition, you should always go for the sport geometry.  

Frame material

Frame materials normally come in the form of either aluminum or carbon fiber.

Aluminum frames are popular with providing a stiff and smooth ride. However, most aluminum frames comes with a composite front fork that enables it to absorb road vibrations.

A carbon fiber frame normally provides better riding quality and shock absorption than an aluminum   frame.  In addition, they are more expensive than aluminum frames because of their manufacturing process.

  • Buying tip

If you are looking for the lightest but strongest frame, then go for carbon fiber. However, if you are just a casual rider, the aluminum frame is going to work well for you.

 Bike components

Bike components refer to all the parts that are attached to the bicycle. This includes the drive train, the wheels, brakes, handlebar, seat and pedals. Below, let’s look at the parts individually:

  • Crankset and gearing. A road bike comes with double, single or compact Crankset.  A triple Crankset has 3 gear rings, a double has two gear rings and a compact has one gear ring. If you are planning to be riding on the hills, you are better off with a triple or compact Crankset. However, if you normally ride on a flat surface, you can go for the double Crankset.
  • Wheels. Bike wheels affect the following: the weight of the bike. The acceleration and the handling of the bike. However, you do not have a choice on wheels when buying a bike. However, you can upgrade your wheels after you get the bike in order to get the desired experience. You can upgrade the wheel set to decrease weight and improve the responsiveness of the bike.
  • Pedals. There is a wide range of options when it comes to pedals. However, the best choice is the pedals that go with clipless shoes.  The higher price of the pedals indicates better quality bearings, reduced friction and lower weight.
  • Brake levers and gear shifters.  Brake mechanism is usually fused with the gear shifter on many bike models today. However, their operations vary depending on the make and model of the lever. However, with experience in riding bikes, you will develop your personal favorite. When choosing brake levers, make sure that you can get a good grip on the handlebar when braking or changing gears.  If you are not comfortable with the levers, ask whether the system comes with adjustments.  

Find the correct frame size

Road bike frame sizes come in 7 different options. This applies for both men and women bikes. It is important to choose the correct frame size based on your body geometry as this will assure your comfort when riding the bike.  The right frame size will improve how the bike handles as well.

Height (inches)Height (cm)Frame Size (cm)
4’10” – 5’3″148 – 16046-50 (Extra Small)
5’3″ – 5’5″160 – 16550 – 52 (Small)
5’5″ – 5’7″160 – 16552 – 54 (Small – Medium)
5’7″ – 5’9″170 – 17554 – 56 (Medium)
5’9″ – 5’11”175 – 18056 – 58 (Medium – Large)
5’11” – 6’2″180 – 18858 – 60 (Large)
6’2″ – 6’5″188 – 19660 – 62 (Extra Large)

Although an experienced bike salesman can tell your right size based on your body proportions, many bike stores use a bike fit kit to do the calculations.

Prices

When choosing a road bike, it is important to look at the price. The price of the bike is generally dependent on the material of the frame as well as the quality of the components. Carbon fiber frames will increase the price of a bike when compared to the ones with an aluminum frame.  Similarly, bikes with higher quality components will retail at higher prices when compared to those with standard components.  When looking at price you need to consider:

  • The amount of money that you can afford.
  • The value that quality components will add to your riding style.
  • The level of your biking.
  • Buying tip

For the long term using, it is cheaper to buy a more expensive bike with quality components that will last longer.

At the store

You can do research on what brand and model you would like to buy in internet, but for how to choose a road bike with fit with your body and cycling style, we advice you have to come to a store to make sure you choose the well fit one. Especially your first road bike.

If you buy online, make sure you understand clearly which size you need then to avoid the case of return or exchange to other size if the bike come not fit to your body.
how to choose a road bike

Take a test ride

When you identify a bike that you would get interested in, it is advisable to take the bike for testing so that you can have a feel of how it rides. You should test out several bikes and narrow down your options to one or two bikes. If the bikes you have chosen fall in the same price ranges and share similar components, test ride the bikes further. You will find that one bike feels better than the others.  

  • Buying tip

Go with the bike that feels comfortable and fine. That bike will be ideal for your current needs and will help grow your riding experience.

Get fitted to maximize on efficiency and comfort

As we stated above, it is important to have the right frame size on your bike. Have these tested and before you leave the door, let the store set the right seat height for you.  

Alternatively, you can go for professional bike fitting so that they can improve the relationship between you and your bike. Ideally, the professional bike fitters just customize the variables on your bike to meet your individual needs and requirements. The professional fitters will do calculations to set your shoe cleat position, seat height adjustment, horizontal positioning and handlebar reach for the optimum comfort. This enhances both your pedaling and handling so that you can enjoy the experience. 

Get on the road

While you must learn how bike operates on the road, it is important to master how your bike behaves so that you can get the best experience. With the right bike, you can enjoy a ride with your friends, riding companions, a club or as a member of a team.

With a road bike, you can ride for as short as 30 minutes or can stay on the road for 6 hours. Just be comfortable with your road bike and don't let tertiary conditions such as daytime, weather and other road conditions hamper your riding. And if you are new to riding, find friends or local cycling club to give you some guidance.

Conclusion

Finding the right road bike can be easy if you have the right information on the topic. With the above guides on how to choose a road bike, you can be able to find a bike that not only meets your needs but also, ensures great enjoyment. Remember, different people’s needs are different when it comes to biking.

You can refer some road bike styles below on amazon:

If you have something to add on the topic, feel free to make a comment just below this article.  We will be very happy to hear from you!

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