It may seem like a simple task, but selecting the perfect road bike, particularly for a beginner, can be a little overwhelming. Thankfully we’ve put together this handy guide to help you navigate the complexities of purchasing a road bike so you can hit the ground racing.
A Beginners Guide to Buying a Road Bike
What are your cycling goals?
Most people would assume that most bikes do the same thing, particularly when looking at the lightweight, aerodynamic road bikes that are built for speeding along the tarmac. But there are many variables when it comes to selecting the perfect bike and the first step in this journey is deciding what your goals are.
Are you planning on competitive racing, or simply looking at raising your heart rate via some recreational riding? The road types in your local area will also decide whether a road bike is suitable for you, or if you’re better off with a different type of bike altogether.
Different roads, body types and preferred riding styles can mean that many different types of bikes may be suitable for you and your road cycling goals. Most brands split their bikes into three core types:
- All-round Racing Bikes
You’re probably familiar with the look of these bikes, they are what most people think of when you mention road bikes. They’re often used during the Tour de France as they aim to balance weight, comfort, and aerodynamics to help cover a variety of roads in an efficient manner due to lower air resistance. You will find that these bikes offer fast handling and aggressive fits – meaning that they’ll focus less on comfort and more on speed and performance, making them more suitable for more experienced or athletic riders.
- Aero Road Bikes
Aero road bikes share the same type of shape and form as the all-round racing bikes, but the aero road racing bike focuses on maintaining the lowest weight in return for efficient riding and speed. If you’re planning on cycling on flat roads, then this type of bike is a great choice for you. However – bear in mind that most of the all-round racing bikes have enough aero-benefits to be suitable for a novice rider. Aero road bikes are among the most expensive road bikes to purchase, so if you have a small budget, you should probably consider one of the other types.
- Endurance Road Bikes
The endurance bike is a bike that is created for the average road cyclist. Most endurance bikes feature a relaxed, comfortable seating position and fit for a more compliant ride, lower gearing for easier climbing and steering made to suit the average rider. There is, however, a scale in regard to how “racy” endurance bikes are with some of the brands and designs weighted more towards racing and performance and others to weekend riding.
What is your road bike budget?
The second biggest factor to consider when purchasing a road bike is how much are you able to spend? There are a range of price points when it comes to road bikes, with the premium aero bikes mentioned above being considerably more expensive than an all-rounder or an endurance bike. You will tend to find that a higher budget will give you a better performing bike in the technical sense – more aerodynamic, higher durability, lighter weight, but naturally the overall performance will depend on your cycling skills, too.
Some of the elements that will impact the total cost of your bike include:
- The bike frame material
Your budget will decide which materials you opt for when selecting a road bike to purchase. A modest priced bike will normally feature an aluminium or steel frame, whereas in the more expensive range you will tend to find carbon fibre or titanium frames. While cost is important to consider, also keep in mind the reviews of the brand of bike you’re purchasing, as a well-engineered steel frame could outperform a poorly constructed carbon fibre one, despite the costs.
- Which bike brake types you choose
Brake types are a hotly contested topic within the road cycling world, with the biggest brands shunning rim brakes and instead focusing on creating better disc brake technology. Rim brakes tend to be lighter and provide you with a lighter bike overall, but disc brakes offer you increase control when it comes to things like braking in wet weather, allow you to have wider tyres and you’ll probably find that most of the popular and respected brands you want to purchase from only have disc brakes installed on them.
- Road Bike wheels and tyres
The next feature to consider when it comes to budget and performance of a road bike are the wheels and tyres. While most people won’t be able to see the difference between wheels on different models, when you’re shopping for a new road bike you should keep an eye out on a few factors, namely rim width (most new models tend to have a rim width of 19mm) and wheelset weight which can impact how responsive the bike feels while you’re riding it. Most road wheel sets over 1600g are considered “heavy” but you can often find 2000g wheelsets on many beginner-friendly road bikes.
- Required Road Bike Accessories
Don’t forget that if you’re an absolute beginner to road cycling, you’ll need to include money in your budget for things like pedals which typically aren’t included with road bikes. Other accessories that you should set aside money for include shoes, a helmet, cycling clothing, bottles, tyre repair kits and the list can continue to grow. Always bare this in mind before you start deciding on your bike budget.
Insuring Your Road Bike
As you may have realised by now, purchasing your first road bike can be quite the investment. It’s always recommended that you find a flexible road bike insurance policy that covers you; whether that’s for weekend racing or for commuting to work daily, as you need to protect yourself and your bike.
Find out how Assetsure can protect you and get a quote to insure your bike today.