Buying a Road Bike for Beginners.
There are tonnes of different bikes out on the market at the moment, it can be quite daunting to know what to look for in your first bike, especially if you have little or no knowledge about biking.
Type of Bike.
The first thing would be to decide what you actually want out of the bike. Tourers, road racing bikes, hybrids, sportives, mountain bikes – argh! I will try to make this as basic and simple as possible.
Tourers – heavier in weight that road bikes, they are built for carrying more and have better comfort and stability than a road bike.
Road Racing Bikes – lighter in weight and built for speed.
Hybrid Bikes – A cross between a road bike and a mountain bike. They have flat handle bars for a more upright position and the tyres are both suitable for roads and bike trails.
Sportive Bikes – Not as aerodynamic as a road bike, they have a more upright riding position making longer rides more comfortable.
Mountain Bikes – Used for off the road biking – thinker tyres with plenty of tread for all those bumpy trails. You can use them on the road if you wish, but are a hindrance.
Once you have decided what type of bike you need, have a think about your budget. Bikes can be expensive – although it may be tempting to get a cheaper bike, you do get what you pay for. I would not recommend paying less than £500 on a bike. My Specialized Dolce Equipped cost me £670, and is pretty much an entry level woman’s road bike.
Reaching into brands and reading reviews can be a great help. You cannot go far wrong with the main brands, such as Specialized, Giant, Trek, Focus and Cannondale. I scowled the websites of these brands, then read reviews of any bike that took my fancy.
Aluminium frames are the cheapest, and what I would recommend for new riders. Although Carbon is lighter, it is far more expensive and not as strong. Carbon frames are more likely to take damage in a crash or collision, and the extra cost is not worth the few seconds it will take off your time, unless you are into hardcore racing.
Okay, here is the part which will probably go over the head of most beginners. The is basically the gears, front chain rings, rear cassettes etc. There are three main companies to pick from are Shimano, SRAM and Campagnolo. It’s the group set that can make the major difference in price on a bike. Most manufacturers produce a frame with different group sets, from basic up to expert. Shimano is the best for a budget.
What you need depends on whether you will be tackling those big hills, or sticking to mainly flat roads. A Triple Crank has most gears, a Double Crank set has less rations than a triple and a Compact Crank Set is kind of a half way house between the two.
Clip in pedals are obviously the most popular for road cyclists, but for beginners – nope. Unless you are willing to find yourself toppling over at a junction – you need to avoid these until you are more experienced. Cages are another option, but also require practice. My bike came with caged pedals, and I couldn’t think of anything more scary than having my feet strapped onto the pedals while very trying to make my way, very rigidly (trying to look cool) around my neighbourhood. I initially rode with the cages upside down, then sawed them off with a hack saw after the bottoms of the cages caught the road around corners! There are easier ways to change your pedals – only I did not have a pedal wrench at the time. A flat set of pedals cost me £4 from Tesco. You defiantly need to have your feet free while getting used to the bike! This is a mistake a made – not asking about the pedals that came with my bike. I am sure if I had asked this before hand, they could have very quickly and easily changed them for me. You live, you learn, you share, I guess.
After researching this information, I had an idea in my head what type of bike I wanted, what I wanted to do with it and the price I was willing to pay. The best thing to do is walk into a bike shop and speak to somebody there – they are able to advice you what is best, let you sit on the bikes to get a feel for them, make sure you get the right fit and answer any questions you may have.
Buying a bike can be very expensive, so you want to make sure you are getting a good quality bike that fits your needs and will last you a long time. There is not only the bike to think of, but clothing, safety equipment and the cost of maintenance. All these topics will be covered in future posts.