Road Bikes Buying Guide

Road bikes are mean, lean, speed machines perfect for touring or racing on smooth, flat, long roads. They cut through wind on super-light frames, with dropped handlebars and narrow, smooth tires. Or on heavier frames, with wide handlebars and thick tires. The choices are endless but the sleekness is the same. ! Keep in mind that road bikes are not the way to go if you are looking for a budgetbikes'>comfort bike.

Types of Road Bikes

'''What kind of riding will you most do?''' * Road racing ''Racing'' (Light, stiff, hairpin handling, high performance climbing) * Long distance riding ''Touring'' (Comfortable, strong, tons of gears, built to carry equipment) * Some long distance riding, some speed ''Sport'' (Between the racing and touring models: both comfort and performance) * Marathon speed racing '' Triathlon'' (Aerodynamic, ride practically parallel to the ground) * Offangled frame, durable) * Closed ''Track'' (Single speed, light, stiff, aggressive angles on frame) ''For comfortable city riding, look into a mountain bike.''

Primary Features

Choose a type of bike and keep your needs in mind when going through the factors below. * '''Price''' ** Under $1000 (entry level). ** $1000-$2500 (fun). ** ''$''2500-$5500 (hardcore). ** $5000+ (off to the pro races). * '''Frame''' (your bike's skeleton; more below) ** Aluminum (or Alloy) *** Pro: Light, stiff, large tubes, more durable than carbon, cheaper than carbon. *** Con: Not as light as carbon, harsh ride, limited life. ** Carbon Fiber *** Pro: Used by the pros, extremely lightweight, flexible stiffness. *** Con: Delicate, very expensive. **** Carbon is so expensive you'll often only see it composing parts of the frame, like the seatstays, and not the entire frame. ** Steel (or Chromoly) *** Pro: Stiffest of all, strongest of all, inexpensive, can be repaired if broken. *** Con: Heaviest of all, harshest of all, rusts. ** Titanium *** Pro: Strong, light, forgiving, stiffer than aluminum, more durable than aluminum. *** Con: Very expensive. ** Combo (Aluminum mainframe with carbon seatstays, for example.) *** Same pros and cons relate, in proportion. * '''Components''' ** Major brand (Shimano, Campagnolo, etc.) *** Pro: Reliable, proven, light. *** Con: Expensive. ** Non-major brand *** Pro: Cheaper. *** Con: Slower, heavier, lower performance (braking, shifting, bearing), less durable.

Secondary Features

* '''Pedals''' **'''Toe stirrup or straps a rider slips his or her foot into. *** Pro: Flexible, easy to use. *** Con: Inefficient, possibility of slipping. ** '''Clipless''' a binding system where the cleats on a rider's bike shoes lock into the pedal. *** Pro: Efficient, no slipping, used by the pros. *** Con: Requires special shoes and getting used to. ** '''Flat''' no binding or strapping system. *** Pro: Familiar, easy dismount. *** Con: Inefficient and plenty of slipping. *sprockets make up the front gears, and thus, how many speeds you'll have. ** '''Two-chainring''' (double) *** Pro: Traditional choice for racing, lighter, standard on many high-end models. *** Con: Little help on very steep climbs and long trips. ** '''Three-chainring''' (triple) *** Pro: Great for steep hills, touring. *** Con: Adds some weight, shifts a bit slower, requires upgrade on high-end bikes (cheaper at purchase). * '''Tires''' ** Thin (20c or 23c) For all types of racing; stiff ride; a 23c is the popular size. ** Thick (25c or 28c) road; a comfortable ride.

More on Frames and Ride Quality

As discussed, a frame's material determines many of the bike's most important qualities, including weight, degree of stiffness and strength. '''Stiffness''' !A bike's stiffness is related to its flex, which is how much energy it absorbs. The more energy a bike absorbs, the more comfortable your ride since it takes the hits for you. But a bike that takes energy into its frame is also wasting that energy, instead of passing it off to the wheels and producing more power and speed. Stiffness is determined by the bike's material and by the diameter of its tubing. Fat frames tend to be harsh (mountain bikes, which have thickpressure tires are stiffer). ! How much harshness you should withstand depends on how fast you want to go. Racers prefer stiff bikes. Sport and touring riders like some flex. ! '''Weight''' !With road bikes, a light weight increases performance. All the construction values of a frame go into determining how heavy it's going to be, from the thickness of the tube and the walls to the types of components that complement it (high quality components are always lighter). '''Strength''' !The wallwalled steel frame is also deadly heavy. It's an eternal battle between strength and weight. Choose your sides based on how long you plan to own the bike, and, again, on what type of riding you expect to do. !

About Fit

No matter how good your bike, it will do you no good if it doesn't fit your body. Some bike shops will calculate your ideal bike size for you, at a fee of about $50. But you can also just figure it out yourself. ! * Bike '''size''', a single number, refers to the length of the bike's seat tube, in inches. * Your true fit is not entirely dependent on the bike size. How to find a good fit: * Standing up, there should be an inch or two of clearance between the top bar and your crotch. * Sitting down, you should feel comfortable reaching the handlebars.

Major Brands for Road Racers

* Airborne * Bianchi Veloce * Campagnolo (parts) * Cannondale R900 * Giant * Marin San Marino * Schwinn * Scott * Shimano (parts) * Specialized bikes'>Tricross

Top Picks Gallery

'''Less Than $1000 '''



Related Guides