A beginner’s guide to choosing a road bike

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Looking to get your first road bike or perhaps upgrade to something fresh? Welcome! In this article( and video) we’ll discuss the broad steps to consider in your research, and hopefully, restricted your focus in what can be an extremely overwhelming purchase decision.

This article doesn’t go into specifics of exactly what bike you should buy. Rather we conjure the common questions a good motorcycle supermarket work may ask if you walked in and said: “I want to buy a superhighway bike”.

We’ve broken this guide into three paces( with a fourth as a nice to have ), and you’ll find that these steps are often intertwined. Let’s get started.

Step 1: What type of road razzing are you planning to do?

The first thing to answer is why you’re interested in a street motorcycle- and it’s important to be honest with yourself. Is it for competitive scooting and fast bunch drive, or for more soothing recreational ride to get the heart rate up? Are you looking to travel to work, or solely go out on weekends when the forecast is nice? Or maybe you’re intrigued by longer journeys and gravel roads, in which case, perhaps something like a gravel bicycle may be a better choice?

Road cycling can imply different things to countless people. There’s too a great deal of difference in what your regional roads may be like. Certainly riding pristine tarmac mountains in Switzerland is different to tackling backcountry roads in Australia.

To add to that not everybody shares the same fitness, flexibility, or athletic clevernes. The bicycle manufacture caters to almost everyone, but that doesn’t mean that every bike is right for you.

Differing roads, travelling modes, and person forms have all led to a great deal of diversification in the modern road bike. In the simplest sense most labels have their superhighway bike scopes divided into three key categories:

All-around race

A modern all-around race bicycle is the type of motorcycle you’d often see in the alps during the Tour de France, and as a result, some people call them climber’s bikes or general category bikes. It’s a bicycle that aims to balance lightweight, stiffness, convenience( sometimes ), and often aerodynamics- all in the name of covering alternate streets as efficiently and effectively as possible.

The Giant TCR is a good example of a modern all-around race bike. It has a low-grade heavines and high stiffness as its priorities, but then coalesces in some drive comfort and aerodynamic intend, too.

These bike types often feature fast handling and aggressive fits that help more experienced and/ or athletic riders. They’ll also often feature 25 or 28 mm wide tyres and taller gearing. Almost every firebrand selling artery bikes has a bike like this, but favourite instances include the Giant TCR, Specialized Tarmac, Trek Emonda, Cannondale SuperSix, Scott Addict RC, Merida Scultura, BMC Teammachine, and Canyon Ultimate.

Aero artery race

Sharing same manage and is in accordance with the all-round racer, the aero street bike often sells in ultimate low force for aerodynamic gain. These motorcycles are generally the most efficient choice on flat or going terrain, and normally a good option for most powerful equestrians. As most all-around race bikes have become increasingly more aero, the dedicated aero hasten bicycle has lost some appeal.

Cervelo’s S5 is a machine purpose built for get fast. Aerodynamics come at the expense of increase force, reduced journey consolation, and well, increased cost.

Specific examples of aero road bikes include the Trek Madone, Giant Propel, Merida Reacto, Scott Foil, Ridley Noah, and Cannondale SystemSix. This vogue of motorcycle is also often considered a premium product and so won’t be suitable for more meagre plans.

Endurance road

The modern strength street bike aims to take the jaunty nature of the All-round racer and make it more accessible, comfortable and versatile. The fit is more loosened, the trip is often more compliant, the gearing is lower( for easier descending ), and the steering characteristics are often less fearful, too. These are road bicycles for the masses.

It’s worth noting that not all endurance road bikes are the same( too for artery race bikes ). Some are more tightened and recreational in designing, while others trend closer to race bikes.

Endurance road bikes exist at all price stations, however, you’ll find that most entry-level road bicycle options often tend toward being a bike of this variant. Some popular examples of endurance road bikes include the Trek Domane, Specialized Roubaix, Cannondale Synapse, Giant Defy( and Contend) and Focus Paralane.

The Trek Domane Al Disc is an example of how endurance-style road bikes are changing. The Domane is ready for desegregated surface travelling.

Recent times have accompanied gravel bikes boom and superhighway auctions dropped. As a outcome, many of the latest endurance road bikes are attempting to tread the fine line between a artery motorcycle and a gravel bike. Sadly the “endurance” category has lost some of its light with purchasers, and so in some cases( not all ), the all-road branding is the bike industry’s way of computing back a little sparkle.

All rounders, all-road, and how to tell them apart

While most road bikes fit into one of the three categories above, there’s certainly some clear convergence happening. Many hasten bikes now offer generous tyre authorization, wider gearing reaches and even some decent ride comfort to be more appealing to a larger market. A number of labels have built their all-around race bikes more like their aero racers, and even loosened the fit and handled with these bikes, extremely. And as only included, some have propagandized their fortitude street bikes toward gravel subject.

The Cervelo Caledonia is an example of a modern all-rounder. It’s an endurance bike with scoot bike characteristics. An increasing number of brands are offering do-it-all road bikes like this.

There are a few ways to help you cut through the marketing chaff and read where each bicycle sits. A enormous tool is the “trail figure” of a bike which gives an indication of how quickly it steers. The lower the number, the faster the handling. Very broadly speaking( there are many other factors involved that can impact this ), a trail figure under 59 mm intimates the bicycle is intended to feel quick and race-like, while 60 mm and over should have the motorcycle feeling a touch more pliant.

Maximum earmarked tyre permission and broth diameter can be quite telling for the bike’s intended purpose too. Most modern race bikes are likely to be gave with 25 or 28 mm tyres, while tenacity and all-road-style bikes will typically be fitted with 30 -3 2 mm. Fender compatibility will also assist in whether the bike is drawn for racing or recreation. And the same goes for whether the motorcycle has an easy-spinning sub-compact or pact crank( 48/32 or 50/34 respectively ), or more race-like gearing( 52 or 53 T big hoop ).

It’s also worth becoming acquainted with the bike’s stack and reach figures( covered in step three ).

The ability to run full-length fenders is often a must-have for those that live in wet climates. Most tenacity road bikes are designed to work with full-length fenders, while such a feature is rare on dedicated hasten bikes.

Step 2: What’s your budget?

This second pace will most likely has become a key choose taken into account in the bike you end up with. So how much are you willing( or capable) to expend?

In the simplest sense spending more will got to get a higher-performing bike that is lighter, likely more aerodynamic, more durable, and perhaps even more comfy. However, there are obvious objections to this, and no doubt the laws of diminishing returns play strongly in the road bike world.

Below are some key elements to consider. Many of these are far larger topics that each offer a rabbit defect of studies.

Frame material

A more meagre plan is likely to keep your buying decision to an aluminium formulate, or perhaps something made of steel. A bigger fund will open you up to carbon fibre or titanium.( Price ranges varies considerably from one local market to another .)

What’s important to note is that the exact type of material exerted topics a whole lot little than how the material is used. A wonderfully engineered aluminium enclose can be far more enjoyable to ride than a inadequately designed carbon frame, and the same applies for all fabric alternatives.

Carbon fibre offers some impressive engineering capability. Most undoubtedly it can be formed into influences that would be extremely difficult with metal, while the directional nature of the material can be used for tailoring stiffness and comfort. Still, time because a make features carbon fabric doesn’t mean it’s better.

Put another way, almost all of the staff at CT would rather ride a great aluminium enclose than a mediocre carbon form. And generally speaking, you should invest in a good frame( with the claim fit) before am concerned about the roles bolted to it.

Brake type

The question of rim brake versus disc damper is one of the most fiercely raced debates in modern road bicycles. In a nutshell, the most difficult brands in the motorcycle industry have deemed rim restraints as aged technology and almost all investment in product development is being put into progressing disc brakes.

Rim restraint remain the lighter option and will provide you with a lighter bicycle for the same money. Meanwhile, disc brakes aim to offer increased stopping button( especially in wet necessities ), open up clearance for wider tyres, and are fast becoming the only alternative on a number of popular bikes from big firebrands.

For more, check out our complete FAQ to road disc dampers.

Rotations matter

After the enclose, it’s likely the motors( and tyres) that are able to start the biggest difference to the ride. It can take an experienced nose to tell the difference between rotates, but some key things to look for are rim extent( the trend is toward rims of at least 19 mm extent ), a high-quality build with even spoke tensions, and reputation for centre soundnes( e.g. DT Swiss and Shimano ).

Wheelset weight can also be a factor in how lively the bike feels. Approximately speaking, artery motor places over 1,600 g are considered on the ponderous side, and it’s common to see wheelsets over 2,000 g on entry-level bikes.

Shifting type and ingredient degrees

Typically the more you devote the more paraphernaliums the bicycle will have and the smoother they will function. And as with most things in cycling, there’s an inverse relationship between component weight and premium.

The vast majority of road bikes on the market today feature Shimano constituents, with challengers SRAM and Campagnolo appearing on higher-end bikes. Shimano’s component hierarchy, from cheapest to more expensive get as follows: Claris, Sora, Tiagra, 105, Ultegra, and Dura-Ace. SRAM’s road hierarchy is Apex, Rival, Force, and Red.( It’s rare to find Campagnolo on terminated bicycles ).

Shimano Tiagra is a moderately entry-level groupset, but its shifting function is impressively good. The most obvious disadvantage is verified on the scales.

Those looking at Shimano Ultegra-level bikes or above will likely need to decide between mechanical versus electronic transfer( follow the link for a full discussion on this topic ).

It’s worth noting that the frame and wheels will dally a greater role in how much you enjoy the motorcycle versus what factors are bolted to it. If given the choice, invest in a better chassis and rotations before going with better derailleurs and shifters.

Place of acquisition

The internet age has led to a relatively new decision for bike buyers: buy from a local motorcycle patronize or do it yourself online? The former renders you hands-on service and perhaps be made available to a neighbourhood drive parish, while the latter more than likely has a price advantage.

Buying consumer-direct likely means you’ll be getting a motorcycle in a container. The assembly and setup is one reason to go through traditional paths, but ensuring you get a chastise fitting bike is the most critical reason.

Personally I is confident that to purchase a bike online is best left to those who know exactly how they like their bikes to fit and are able to do basic upkeep themselves. For everyone else the hands-on experience and assistance a good neighbourhood bike browse can provide has the potential to make a substantial difference to your joy in cycling.

New or abused

Closely following the last point is a decision over brand-new and used. No mistrust your fund can go further with a use motorcycle, but there are always likelihoods associated with this. Much like the final point, I’d suggest that buying squandered is only a good impression if you’re confident in your bicycle fit and understand basic maintenance in order to gauge what surrounding the motorcycle is in.

Budget for addeds

If you’re new to cycling then be sure to budget for all the addeds that are required to get pedalling. Almost all new motorcycles don’t include pedals, and you’ll likely too demand some shoes to go with them.

Then expense of all the other must-have items will rapidly creep up too: a helmet, cycling short-spokens/ bibs, bottle enclosures, gives to fix a flat tyre, a spout- the schedule gone on.

Step 3: Fit is critical

Road cycling can be quite a fixed-position play and you’ll tend to ride with a pitch posture for long periods. Gone are the days of a artery bicycle being an ache to razz – you should be able to pedal without any ache. Get the wrong size or wrong setup though and you won’t only be painful, you may be putting yourself at risk of injury. Because of this it’s critical to ensure the bike fits you correctly.

Here it’s important to be realistic about your flexibility and athletic ability, and pick the suitable bike. If you can’t remember the last time you touched your own toes then an aggressive race bike is likely not ideal. Endurance-style bikes are designed for the masses and most riders are likely to be most comfortable on this vogue of bicycle which provides for a more relaxed going situation.

Racing bikes are intended to keep you in an vigorous razz predicament with a reduced frontal chart to the wind. By contrast, endurance-style bikes are more upright and with lower levels of a elongate to the bars.

If you’re unsure of where to start then I’d strongly recommend obtaining yourself a good local bicycle store. Experienced bike shop staff will be able to advise you on the rectify length bike and mode for your needs.

When comparing across several symbols it’s important to know that there are no industry standards for how bicycle sizes are labelled. A 54 cm frame in one brand may be equivalent to a 56 cm in another, and the same applies for those named with big, medium and sizable.

Thankfully there is a pretty good guide for how a motorcycle will fit and are comparable to other bicycles: load and contact figures. These two chassis remain the most robust way of likening the actual sizing between various bikes. We have a dedicated essay about the importance of stack and reach in motorcycle sizing.

Geometry maps offer insight on the sizing and handling of a bicycle. Some important component are the stack, reach and trail figures.

Step 4: Evaluation journey if you are able to

This final step is something I would have strongly suggested in the past, but current pandemic meters have all but made this impossible.

Bike availability is so restraint at the moment that bike patronizes are no longer carrying demo sails like they would have in the past. If you can manage a move around the block or even something longer, that’s huge, and I’d encourage you to do precisely that. However, there’s a good chance you’ll need to buy your next bike without having researched it. If this is the case then listen to beliefs from beings you trust.

Case Studies

Below are some imaginary specimen based on non-fictional happens.

The first time beginner: Paul

Paul recently dusted off his old department store mountain bike after constantly listening from his production peers about how huge cycling is. Paul did two moves and then connected his employment peers on a road ride, he got wearied, then came discontinued, and then pretended his bicycle had undermined so the sting would aim. Paul is now haunted with cycling and misses a more appropriate bike for artery bunch journeying. He’s not interested in commuting and won’t be ride when it’s raining. Paul has a US $1,500 budget to do everything.

We believe Paul should look for an entry-level aluminium road bike with an endurance-type fit. Having wider tyres may be somewhat slower but they’ll offer more restrict and consolation. As Paul is a fair-weather rider and on a tight plan, then rim brakes are likely to be a fine starting point. Motorcycle like the Specialized Allez, Giant Contend SL, Scott Speedster and same should be on Paul’s radar.

Rediscovering road cycling: Sandra

Sandra used to be a competitive superhighway cyclist but altered into running for a number of years. Sandra’s running is causing knee pain and it was suggested she dust off the scooting motorcycle and get pedalling. Sandra has a competitive being and good fitness. That age-old motorcycle still operates but feels tired. It doesn’t feel comfy anymore or are confident. Sandra is willing to devote US $4,000 for a new bicycle.

Sandra is likely the title applicant for a lightweight all-rounder race bicycle. These brand-new bicycles may not be lighter than her old one, but they’ll surely has become still more comfy, more confident, and exactly easier to travel. Bike like those covered in our recent all-rounder race bike Field Test are well importance a review.

Keen to explore: Leo

Leo is an enthusiastic mountain biker looking to gain some fitness during the week when it’s not time-efficient to hit the trails. He’s expressed interest in exploring some of his local gravel loops and is open to the idea of overnight undertakings. However, Leo also wants to join his friends who ride road bikes in a group. Budget isn’t such an issue, but Leo wants one bike to do it all.

Leo is much like a number of riders looking to either simplify their bike accumulation or expand what cycling means to them. In Leo’s case, his demand for group road riding intends he’ll be best served by a bike that’s still sporty and efficient to pedal. There are currently two routes here.

One option would be to get a modern endurance road bike that offers charitable tyre authorization for the periodic gravel undertaking. Many of these motorcycles can now fit 32 -3 5 mm tyres without issue, and that’s fairly for most publicly accessible dirt roads. Bikes like the Trek Domane, Specialized Roubaix, or Cervelo Caledonia are well worth considering here.

The alternative is a fast gravel bike that was built with racing in recollection. The Cervelo Aspero comes to mind as a popular pick in this space, and is wonderfully quick on the road with the appropriate slick tyres. The Trek Checkpoint, Canyon Grail Al or same are also well worth looking at.

If the versatility of a gravel motorcycle appeals to you then be sure to check out our usher to choosing a gravel bike.


Hopefully this article has mounted you on a footpath to acquire the right road bike. To recap, find a bike that’s suitable for how you want to razz and make sure it fits you accurately. If you’ve got further questions, be sure to visit your neighbourhood bike supermarket, chat to a cyclist you trust, or question us in the comments section below. Good luck and joyful drive!

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