Road Bike Buying Guide – 2021
Road bikes are one of the best types of bikes for the novice cyclist as they are easy to ride and require minimal maintenance, and they are also suitable for racing if you are into that. There are varieties of road bikes available in the market and here we tried our level best to outline this road bike buying guide.
Table of Content
- Road Bike Buying Guide : Everything You Should Know
- Wrapping Up
Road Bike Buying Guide : Everything You Should Know
WHAT IS A ROAD BIKE?
Road bikes, also known as racers, as the name suggests, are bicycles built for traveling at high speeds on paved roads.
They are optimized for smooth road riding supported by skinny tires with light tread. Road bikes have specially designed features that make road/paved path riding an enthralling experience.
Among the attractive road bike features include specially designed handlebars that provide comfort for long stretches but sacrifices some fine control that comes with riser and flat bars. They can ride on gravel or packed dirt oaths but harshly.
They also do some bit of off-road riding, but a mountain bike would be perfect for that, owing to their different strengths. To know more check our road bike buying guide which is full of helpful information that you need.
WHY SHOULD YOU BUY A ROAD BIKE?
There are many other bike models and types in the market. But why should you consider buying a road bike?
Why is it felt better than other bikes?
Well, here are some of the reasons you should buy a road bike.
Speed and efficiency - Bike riding is fun, but more fun when you ride quite fast. Road bikes are perhaps the quickest way of getting from one point to another.
Looking good - You will proudly parade your new road bike perfectly matching with your Knicks, jersey, and socks.
Getting out to race - If you are looking to race, road bikes are the way to go. They combine power with speed for an unforgettable racing experience.
The epitome of performance and technology - Road bikes are designed to be the most efficient, fastest and aerodynamic bike type available.
Utmost comfort - New road bike models such as the road sports style bring unheard levels of comfort to riders.
WHAT KIND OF RIDING CAN I DO ON A ROAD BIKE?
As mentioned before, road bicycles are made to provide better smooth pavement riding experience. Featuring skinny tires and drop-style handlebars, they are best for road racing. They are also lighter compared to other bike types.
Having said this, road bikes can be used for various pursuits and activities. With a good road bike, you can engage in a random road racing competition or as well, use it in your daily commute. Overall, they are highly versatile machines.
Note that some specific pursuits such as triathlons and time trials have particularly made aerodynamic road bikes that work expertly in such pursuits.
WHICH TYPE OF ROAD BIKE TO BUY?
There are several types of road bikes available on the market, making it quite daunting to select the best. We have tried our level best to mention all type of road bikes in this road bike buying guide.
However, even before deciding on the type of road bike, there are some crucial questions you ought to have them answered. They include:
- Who do you intend to ride with and what they ride?
- How much do you want to spend?
- What do you want to use the bike for?
- Any special feature you want?
Bearing this in mind, you can proceed to evaluate from the following types of road bikes.
If you are looking for performance at the expense of comfort and aggressive position, then race bikes should be your choice.
This type of road bikes generally has a low stack, long top tube, and a short head tube. Such features allow the rider to achieve more aerodynamic and racing style position.
They are sleek, fast and aggressive to fulfill the need for speed. Road racing bikes are often made of carbon fiber that is slimmed down to the lightest weight possible.
They also feature the latest aerodynamic features to go fast, climb hills efficiently and better overall performance.
Sportive or endurance bikes are designed for long day rides with the comfortable saddle which keeps your back & legs impact free while ride several hours on bumpy or rough terrain.
Endurance bikes are increasingly becoming popular due to two reasons. They are sportive, meaning they ride fast, and high endurance ability means that they can handle rough roads.
Endurance bikes have shorter top tubes and tall head tubes. Also, expect wide tires, compact chainset, and disc brakes.
These bikes are designed for running against time. That’s why it’s called a time trial bike. Mostly used this bike on flat terrain where winning or losing depends on time.
This bike features particular geometry compared to other bikes. Their handlebars are designed in a way that they crouch forward to minimize wind resistance against the body. They also have a short head tube and a steep seat tube angle.
Aero bikes, as the name suggests, are optimized to reduce drag, especially when riding at high speeds. They have a giant propel range that offers an outstanding riding performance, backed by its aerosystem shaping technology.
They have an extensive wind tunnel testing, are well balanced with lightweight and expert in handling snappy acceleration. Their geometry makes it a good bike to slice through the wind and ride faster.
If you are looking for a perfect way to move from point A to B, commuter bikes are the best choice. An ideal commuter bike hugely depends on the nature of the commute, including the journey distance, terrain, and overall taste.
Whereas there can’t be an exact type of bikes specially made for commuting, most bikes can be made into great commuters with a little modification. Such modification may include some full-length addition of mudguards that ward off foul weather, luggage carrying capability and lights for all-time visibility.
Touring bikes are yet another specialty of road bikes designed to be ridden on pavements but durable for use in long-distance riding. They come in handy if you are planning a multi-day adventure where you can travel as far as you can ride.
Touring bikes feature all the necessary mounts and cargo racks as well as fenders for carrying any luggage you have. They have a drop handlebar with a relaxed frame design that gives riders an upright position and comfort for long-distance riding.
They also have a low gear range compared to normal road bikes that allow carrying of heavy loads up steep hills.
Any person looking to enjoy bicycle riding certainly looks for a lightweight bicycle. They are perfect for maneuvering all kinds of trails. These bikes are engineered with extraordinary lightness, finely balanced and superb ride quality for superior handling.
They are perfect for nearly all situations including climbing mountains and those looking for a lightweight advantage on home roads. They elevate ride performance to a whole new level.
Single Speed Road Bike
Single speed bikes, as the name suggests, is a type of road bicycles with a single gear ratio. Unlike other types of gear levers, it lacks derailleur gears hub gearing or other methods used to vary the gear ration in bikes.
These bicycles have a front and back break. They are not built for racing, and sometimes house mudguard and pannier mounts. This makes them ideal for commuting. They have a low maintenance cost because they lack a cassette, cables, and derailleur.
Flat Bar Road Bike
If you are looking for a technologically advanced bike with maximum performance yet requires an aggressive riding position, the flat bar road bike should be your choice.
Flat bar road bikes are like other normal road bikes, only that they have flat handlebars, instead of the conventional drop handlebars.
They provide a good way of enjoying riding fun and exhilaration, especially with their lightweight nature. These handlebars not only offer a comfortable ride but also better visibility. Its defining features include a lightweight frame and fork, fast wheels, sensible gearing and mountain bike controls, and gears.
Gravel / Adventure bikes / Cyclocross Bike
Adventure or gravel road bikes are a new category of road bikes, sometimes called any-road or all-road bikes. They are assumed to be the most versatile sub-category of road bikes with multiple uses. This bike feature drop handlebars and wide tires. They also have a long and upright frame geometry compared to cyclocross bikes.
On the other hand, cyclocross bikes are specially designed bicycles to be raced on mixed surfaces – perhaps a combination of unpaved trails, gravel, grass, and pavements. They feature drop handlebars but have wide tires to accommodate off-road action.
Recreational or Fitness Bike
Fitness bikes are considered to have the most benefits of regular road bikes. This includes their lightweight frames, narrow tires for efficient pavement ride and either a flat or upright handlebar. They are specially designed for riding enthusiasts looking for a light but high performing bikes.
Fitness bikes have great similarity with flat-bar road bikes and hybrid bikes. This is because most of them often accept wider tires, making them suitable for unpaved trails. They also provide the ability to mount cargo and fenders, making them good commuter alternate options.
Recumbent Road Bike
Recumbent road bikes are often described as the most basic level of biking, that place the rider in reclined positions. This is opposed to the upright riding position common with the normal road bicycles.
From their position, recumbent bikes vary in their design. However, they remain favored due to their ergonomic design which reduces the stress placed by rider’s weight on various points of contact of the bike.
These bikes spread the rider’s weight to large surface areas unlike normal models where rider’s weight comes down to three contact areas; sit bones, hands, and feet.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MEN’S AND WOMEN’S ROAD BIKES
Men and women, from the start, are built differently, and so their bikes ought to accommodate their differences in anatomy.
Distinctions between men and women’s bikes are often found in the geometry of the frame and contact points. These differences may not be easily visible to the naked eye but are felt in the saddle.
Significant differences are noticed in the top tube, head and seat tube angles, crank lengths, handlebars, grips, and brakes. Men have wide shoulders. Therefore, all the changes tend to accommodate this as women’s bikes compensate for their short nature.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN OTHER TYPES OF BIKES
Nearly all the bicycles share some similar aspects, but not all of them. Outlined below is how road bicycles differ from other bicycle types.
Road Bike VS Hybrid Bike
As mentioned before, road bikes are designed explicitly for paved roads with distinguished lightweight frames and skinny tires that maximize efficiency and speed. Road bike’s geometry also provides a forward-leaning and aerodynamic riding position.
On the other hand, hybrid bikes also called cross bikes, have flat handlebars and wide seats to offer more comfortable upright riding position.
They have a slightly heavier frame and wide tires, perhaps more robust than road bikes to provide confidence over rough terrains and less-perfect/poor roads. They are good for trail riding and have a wide gear range to help in climbing hills.
Road Bike VS Mountain Bike
Road bikes have far many differences with mountain bikes. Mountain bikes are ideal for off-road use and rugged terrain whereas road bikes are for paved riding.
Road bikes feature small, light tread tires which provide good traction over paved trails whereas mountain bikes have fat, knobby and shock absorbing tires that offer great mountain trail traction.
Whereas road bike doesn’t have a suspension system that reduce bumps on rough terrain. Also, mountain bike has a wide gear range than a road bike to ride on downhill & uphill’s terrain.
Because of this suspension system, mtb’s are heavier than road bikes but undoubtedly comfortable for off-road biking.
ANATOMY OF ROAD BIKE
Bicycles are made from different frame materials. Some of the commonly used road bike frame materials include:
Carbon has been the number one frame material of choice for most road bikes due to its lightweight nature and ability to form non-traditional frame shapes that enhance the bike’s aerodynamics. Bikes made from carbon fiber are more comfortable with vibration-absorbing properties compared to aluminum frames.
However, they are more expensive due to the labor-intensive manufacturing process. Nonetheless, they provide a quality ride, which often varies depending on the design of the specific frame.
PROS: High Stiffness to Weight Ratio, Low Thermal Expansion, Corrosion Resistant, Durable and Strong.
CONS: Labor Intensive, Expensive
Aluminum made bicycles are probably the most common bikes in the modern industry. This material is used for the manufacture of various bicycle components too. Aluminum isn’t dense, thus can be formed into lightweight structures, including bicycle frames.
Aluminum frames are cheap, especially when compared to carbon fiber frames. They provide a smooth ride, and frames feature a composite – carbon fiber front-fork that absorbs road vibrations for an improved riding experience.
PROS: Not Expensive to Manufacture, Lightweight, High Strength to Weight Ratio and Corrosion Resistant.
CONS: Short Fatigue Life, Difficult to Repair if Damaged.
Titanium shares quite a lot properties with steel but is comparably lighter, durable and more resistant to corrosion.
It provides an excellent balance of features for frame building, coupled with durability and lightweight nature. Titanium made alloys are half the stiffness of steel but also half-dense.
On the downside, titanium is more expensive and labor intensive. This implies that it takes quite some time to produce high-quality titanium bike frames compared to aluminum and steel. Nonetheless, it has a better stiffness to weight ratio compared to steel and offers quite similar compliance as carbon fiber.
PROS: Strong, Durable, Corrosion Resistant, High Ride Quality, and Lightweight.
CONS: Relatively Expensive and Difficult to Manufacture.
All brands of steel have similar inherent stiffness and weight. Steel made bicycles were common in the early 1990s but is still an excellent choice owing to its strength and durability.
It also results in comfortable ride quality. There are two types of steel used in the bicycle industry.
The first type, high tensile steel, is a cheaper grade steel common in cheap bicycles. It offers a lower strength to weight ratio. On the other hand, high-end steel bikes use Chromoly, which is alloyed steel for superior strength properties.
PROS: Inexpensive, Durable, Easy to Repair, High Stiffness to Weight Ratio.
CONS: Quite Heavy, Not Corrosion Resistant.
Road Bike Frame Types
Though quite difficult to differentiate, there are various road bike frame types. They include:
Sports bikes are perhaps the most common and loved bicycle geometry available in the market. As the name suggests, these bikes are suited for recreational riding and other sportive activities.
These bikes have a shorter top tube and a slightly taller head tube that allows the rider to sit in upright positions, exerting less stress on the lower back.
Longer chainstays make the bicycle’s rear triangle more vertically compliant, which enhances comfort by reducing the constant road vibrations. Additionally, their overall wheelbase is quite long, which makes the bike more stable.
Performance geometry appeals to any competitive riders probably because they are engineered with competitive racing in mind. They are lightweight and prioritize efficiency over the comfort of the bike.
For optimum riding power transfer, racing bikes feature extra stiff frames with seemingly long top tubes, short head tubes, steep head and seat angles among other features enhancing its race performance.
Riding these bikes is generally recommended for experienced riders because the rider ought to be more flexible and stretched out completely to improve aerodynamic performance.
The bike’s shorter wheelbase and slightly steeper head tube angle makes steering edgy.
As mentioned before, flat bar bicycles have flat handlebars and provide a casual riding position. They are better suited for recreational and commuter-riding purposes, as opposed to racing models that maximize speed and efficiency.
They have similar features with sports geometry but only differ in that they encourage a more upright position. Commuter riding is easy with these bikes as riders can easily observe traffic. Flat bar road bikes feature entry to mid-level components.
Wheels of any bicycle have a significant impact on the weight of the bike, riding comfort, braking, how well the bike accelerates and carries momentum and the bike’s aerodynamics and handling of wind. This is why you ought to find a road bike with suitable wheel size.
There are various types of wheels available for road bicycles today. You should prioritize wheelsets that are made of either carbon fiber or aluminum and uses a minimal number of spokes.
Flat spokes are often preferred over round spokes for better aerodynamic properties.
Wider wheels are increasingly becoming popular, perhaps due to their additional stability and enhanced pedal efficiency. The wheelset also contains rims, which adds to the aerodynamic efficiency of the bicycle. Serious racers should consider shallow rims that allow easy maneuverability.
Tires provide a point of contact with the trail. Thus special attention should be paid when searching for a road bike. As mentioned, road bike tires are often skinny to provide enough traction. However, having wider tires won’t be of any harm.
Tire range often begins from 19mm to 30mm. Beginners will find the 23 – 25mm range tires perfect for their riding escapades. However, experts prefer the 29mm tires that provide much traction, especially if you intend to convert your road bike into a racing/ sports model.
If you decide to go for a wide tire, ensure that your bicycle frame is tough enough to handle such clearance.
Also called the crankset, the chainset represents the chainrings and accompanying crank arms that turn them. Different chainsets result in the difference of the character of your bike and the feel when riding. Most road bikes feature double chainsets, meaning that they have two chainrings.
Note that larger chainrings make it harder to turn gears and a larger pedal per revolution while smaller chainrings make it easier to shift gears, but a shorter distance per revolution. Small chainrings are ideal for lower speeds while large chainrings are suited for higher speeds.
Drop handlebars could be a defining characteristic of good road bikes for many people. This is perhaps because these handlebars facilitate a lower aerodynamic riding style that gives a choice of three-hand position.
On the other hand, flat bar tops are ideal for relaxed riding and rough road surfaces. Riding with hands in the hoods is perfect for cruising along and climbing out of the saddle, as wrists lean on them and hands hooked over.
When choosing your bike’s handlebars, always consider the width, reach, materials, shape, and drop.
A comfortable bike saddle often differentiates between a dream riding experience and nightmares. While a comfortable saddle may make your whole riding escapade one remember, an uncomfortable bike saddle may turn your cycling experience miserable. It can also result in injuries.
The perfect saddle varies from one cyclist to another. This is declared by various terms including the anatomical differences, particular riding style and everything in between. Always wade through the multiple options available, testing them before settling on one.
Out of the three contact points between you and your bike – including the saddle, handlebars, and pedals, the pedals have the most work to do.
Besides keeping your feet in place, they provide a solid platform for pushing against to generate the much-needed power to propel your bike forwards.
There are various pedal types on the market. Clipless pedals, where a cleat of the rider’s shoes attaches to the pedals are the most efficient and conventional type. The idea of the pedal being attached to the feet may make it appear daunting, but it surprisingly releases your feet easily.
Number Of Gears
Bicycle gears are essential for any riding enthusiast. They make the whole riding escapade not only easy but also enjoyable. Modern road bikes typically have two chainrings that are combined with a rear cassette. They offer 9, 10 or 11 sprockets.
Note that gears are available to enable the riders to maintain a comfortable pedaling speed regardless of the terrain or gradient of the trail. The highest or biggest gear on a bicycle is arrived at by combining the largest chainring size with the smallest rear cogset/sprocket and vice versa.
Type of Gear Shifters
Shifters play the vital role to change speeds on Road bike. You need a good shifter when you want to change speeds as per your need. If you don’t have such good shifter then you can’t enjoy bike riding.
Road bike used two types of shifter electrical or mechanical for smooth gearing. The mechanical shifters operated by pulling cables that indicate the derailleur’s & chain to go into different sprockets.
On the other side, Electrical shifting is getting popular in road bike sector. it similarly works like mechanical shifter but instead of using pulling cable it provides the electric signal that indicate triggers to shift derailleur positions.
Brake levers are attached on the handlebars so the rider can easily pull the brake lever by hand. They can be distinct or integrated into the bicycle’s shifting mechanism.
It transmits the force applied by the rider through hydraulic or mechanical mechanism to halt the bike.
SHOULD I BUY A ROAD BIKE WITH RIM OR DISC BRAKES?
Conventional road bikes have been using rim brakes for decades. However, there has been a recent surge in the use of disc brakes. What is the difference?
Rim brakes are activated by simply pulling the lever that increases cable tension, forcing the caliper to make contact between the brake pads and the rim, thus a stop. They are light, easy to adjust and have minimal maintenance costs.
On the other hand, disc brakes are common with mountain bikes and use a motor rotor located on the wheel’s pub with a fixed caliper that compresses the rotor. They can either function hydraulically or mechanically. Choose either depending on your riding anticipations.
After went through this enhanced article about road bike buying guide I think you’ve got enough information that you’re looking for which will help you to land your first road bike. If so then feel free to share your opinion below & share this helpful article through social media to help beginner cyclist all over the world. Happy Pedaling!