Road Bikes

Learning Curve

Aug 1, 2005
Outside Magazine

IN THE STORE Stop counting grams. Fit and feel are far more important. Once you get below 17 pounds, going lighter can easily cost $1,000 per pound. Know your materials. Titanium: light, indestructible, supersmooth, expensive. Aluminum: light and extremely rigid—efficient but also a bit harsh. Steel: heavier than the others but also very comfortable; shorter lifespan. Carbon fiber: the lightest and often the stiffest; easily manipulated to provide various ride characteristics; extensive lifespan, so long as you don't ding it.

IN THE FIELD Learn some basic maintenance. Knowing how to adjust brakes and derailleurs can save you a lot of cash and trouble. That said, don't try to fix something unless you've got the tools and know-how—modern components are fussy. Clean and lube the drivetrain, especially after a wet ride. Dirt grinds down chains and gears and gunks up moving parts.

IN THE FUTURE After almost two decades as a fringe material, carbon fiber has trickled down to your local shop. Look for it to get cheaper and become as common in components as it is in frames.

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