So you want to know how to buy a road bike. For some people, it may be as easy as going to the store, pointing at one, and going home. If you’re like me, it takes a lot of researching, thinking, and decision making.

Here’s what you need to keep in mind when looking to buy the perfect road bike.

Buying a Road Bike

Function

What do you want to do with your bike? Do you want to commute to work, ride a century, compete in triathlons, or hit the dirt trails?

hybrid bikeroad biketri bike

There are 4 main categories of bikes:

Hybrid– a “comfort” bike; a cross between a mountain bike and a road bike. Good for casual riding, commuting, and riding on mixed surfaces.

Mountain– a heavier, sturdier bike made for dirt trails and rougher riding; tend to have a good shock-absorbing system.

Road– a lighter bike made for riding on the road. Not as comfortable as a hybrid, but tends to be faster. Road bikes traditionally have handlebars that curve under instead of straight across.

Tri– similar to a road bike, but geared specifically for triathlons. Tend to be light, aerodynamic, and have handle bars made for you to ride in an aero position {hunkered down on your forearms}.

The following is geared towards buying a road bike, but much of it can be used for picking out any type of bike.

Fit

Finding a bike that fits you is probably the most important step. Riding a poorly fit bike can lead to injury and less efficient riding, not to mention it’s uncomfortable.

The first step is to choose the right size frame. Many bike brands come with numbered measurements {usually cm}, like 50, 52, or 54. Other brands come as S, M, L, etc. A bike shop should be able to help you figure out what size frame you need.

Some bikes will just feel more comfortable than others. Choose what feels best, not necessarily what’s the most popular or sells the best.

bike fit

The second step comes after you’ve bought your bike- have your bike professionally fitted. Many shops will offer road bike fitting services- ask if it’s included with the purchase of your bike. Even the tiniest adjustment can make a big difference in your ride and comfort, including seat height and position, arm position, handlebar height, cleat placement, etc.

Frame

Now’s when you really have to start thinking. What kind of frame do you want? Aluminum, steel, carbon fiber?

Aluminum and carbon fiber tend to be the two most popular options. Some bikes have a combination of both, where most of the frame is aluminum, but certain parts like seat posts or forks are made of carbon fiber.

Carbon fiber tends to be lighter and stronger, but it’s also more expensive.

The two factors to consider when picking a frame include: function and cost.

Function: Is it important to you to have a really light bike? Are you planning on keeping this bike for a long time, or will you want to upgrade in the future?

Cost: Carbon fiber frames are more expensive. Comparing your budget to frame options can make the decision easier.

Many people say you should “buy the frame”. That means buy the best frame for your budget- you can {almost} always upgrade your components later. If you plan to buy a new bike to upgrade in the future, this may not be as important to you.

Components

{I’m out of “F” words.}

The components are the parts that make the bike work. They include derailleurs, cranks, brakes, etc. There are several different companies that manufacture components, regardless of what brand of bike you buy. {Ex. Shimano, SRAM, etc.} Most companies have a line of several different qualities of components.

part of road bike

Talk to someone at the bike shop about what level components might be good for you. If you’re just starting out, low level components might be perfect. If you’re already a serious rider, you’ll probably want something of a higher caliber. If you fall somewhere in between, then pick something in between!

bike components

As the components go up in quality, the price of the bike goes up.

Many components can later be switched out and upgraded, but make sure to factor in cost when considering that option.

Budget

Bikes aren’t cheap. Decide how much you want to spend before walking in to a bike shop. If you have a strict budget, it’s better to let them know before they have you test riding a bike you’ll fall in love with but can’t afford. You may have to adjust your budget a little bit, but it’s good to have a starting point.

budget

Also decide if you can afford the type of bike you want now, or if it’d be a better idea to wait and save more money before making your purchase.

Don’t forget to factor in accessories: pedals, helmet, shoes, water bottle cages, bike computers, gloves, sunglasses, bags, lights, bike shorts, etc. It all adds up!

 

If you’ve bought a road bike, what advice do you have to add?

 

In other news: the winner of the ZICO Coconut Water giveaway is…..

Brandi!!! Email your address so you can get your case of coconut water! Smile