How To Buy a New Road Bike
If you’re thinking about getting into road cycling or are looking to take your current riding to the next level with a newer or upgraded bike, there are some key things you should consider. Buying a road bike is an investment; let us take some of that stress away by getting you in the know so you can shop with confidence.
First of all, give some serious thought to what kind of riding you are interested in doing. Are you looking to commute or get around the city? Are you considering weekend rides for fun? Are you adding road cycling to an already rigorous fitness program? Maybe you’re thinking of doing some touring. Since there are several types of road bikes to suit varying riding objectives, answering these questions will help point you in the right direction.
Of course, another chief consideration is price. There are a few key variables that affect price, namely, the materials that the frame, fork, and components are made out of, the precision of the engineering of all those parts, and the specialization of any of these parts will affect how much they cost.
To be sure, low price doesn’t equal low quality. A lower priced road bike is still an engineering marvel designed to deliver speed, efficiency, and durability to the rider. Higher end road bikes carry bigger price tags because their frames and components are lighter and able to withstand the tough demands of those who ride harder, need flawless performance, and push their components to their very limits.
Sure, there are plenty of poor-quality bikes on the market, but Performance has access to the greatest brands in cycling and we choose the brands we carry very carefully based on high quality and expert engineering.
So now let’s get you spun up on some of the different materials and components so you can start searching for that bike that’s just right for you.
Things to consider with frame and fork materials include weight, durability, density, and stiffness. Denser materials absorb road vibration for a smoother ride. Stiffer frames don’t flex as much when you’re pedaling, so the energy from your pedal stroke goes directly to the back wheel (power transfer). More flexible frames, while not as efficient, are more comfortable.
Hi-Tensile Steel frame and fork sets are used on more entry-level bikes for the more casual user. Its chief advantages are durability and price. Steel frames carry more weight and have more flex, so for performance oriented cyclists this could be considered a disadvantage. However, hi-tensile steel offers plenty of durability, comfort, and performance for riders who want a smooth, consistent ride.
Chromoly is a steel alloy that has very similar characteristics to hi-tensile steel. The main differences are that chromoly is lighter and stronger than hi-tensile steel, but is a bit more expensive. Lower price is still considered an advantage of chromoly. Riders can expect plenty of comfort, durability and performance, while weight and flex may still be considered a disadvantage by those who are looking for better power transfer.
Aluminum is the most common road bike frame material. It is a favorite among bike makers because it can be made quite light and strong. The price range of aluminum bikes is generally considered middle of the road. Aluminum bikes are well suited for avid cyclists who are looking for performance, light weight, durability, power transfer, etc. Riders who are interested in getting into racing, doing community rides, long weekend rides, touring, and the like, would match perfectly with aluminum. On the other hand, aluminum bikes are also completely appropriate for beginning road riders or casual riders, but increased stiffness and price could be considered a disadvantage by some. Be aware that there are several grades of aluminum cycling tubing that affect weight, strength, and stiffness.
Carbon Fiber is a fiber/resin compound and is the very latest in frame and fork tubing technology. Its chief advantage is that it is much lighter than any other frame material, and it is also very dense and stiff absorbing road vibration and providing excellent performance to serious riders. If you’re an avid enthusiast, competitive, or professional rider who needs the ultimate in light weight and performance, carbon is the material for you.
While there are single-speed road bikes (sometimes preferred by urban riders), most current road bikes are outfitted with two front chain rings and with a rear cassette ranging from 9-11 speeds. Components such as brakes, levers, shifters, wheels, hubs, derailleurs, handlebars, cranks, stems, wheels, seat posts, saddles, and pedals all follow the same general rules for material and cost as frames. Steel components are uncommon. As a rule, components are aluminum alloy and sport bigger price tags as they get lighter, incorporate more carbon fiber, and offer increased precision, responsiveness, and performance under extreme pressures.
Get the bike that fits! Sizing is very important. Be sure to take a look at sizing charts when shopping online, and remember that any shop worth its salt will have qualified reps ready to size you properly.
Buy the bike that gets you excited! Too often we hear of customers falling in love with cycling and then outgrowing their new bike within a year or so. When shopping, be sure to look into the future a bit and choose a bike that will take you through a few stages of growth in the sport. You want your investment to serve you for years to come, and so do we.
Go Clipless! If you’ve never tried it, but are interested in getting into cycling for fitness and performance, consider clipless pedals over flat pedals (cycling shoes snap into clipless pedals to make you one with the bike). Every cyclist goes through the awkward transition to clipless pedals, but 100% sing their praises once they realize what a difference it makes in the experience.
Now that you’re a newly minted expert on road bike shopping, you’re all set to have a great time shopping for the perfect bike. And don’t forget, we are always happy to answer your questions and hear your thoughts and comments—so hit us up anytime via phone or email, or get up with us on Facebook…we’ll be there!