Bike Buyer's Guide: Road Bikes

Purchasing a new bike can a daunting process. We have the tips and advice to get you rolling.

BMC Granfondo GF02

BMC Granfondo GF02     Photo: Inga Hendrickson

If you’ll be riding exclusively on pavement and you’re taking up cycling for fitness or with an eye to eventually racing, a road bike is the right option. The light weight, more aerodynamic position, and skinny tires are optimal for the fast speeds and group riding you’ll encounter on the road.

  • Expect to spend $1,000 or more. You can get cheaper bikes, but they tend to be poor quality and won’t last as long as more expensive models.

  • Though many road bikes are race-oriented rigs that put a rider into deep, aggressive positions, for beginners (and even just recreational riders) comfort-performance bikes like the Specialized Roubaix SL4 or the Trek Domane may be better options. These rides have taller head tubes for a more comfortable, upright position, longer wheelbases for stable handling, and flex points built into the frames to smooth rough roads.

  • Make sure you’re getting a bike with components from any of the three major parts manufacturers, Shimano, Campagnolo, or SRAM, as these are better engineered and more durable than the department store brands. Then again, don’t obsess too much between these three manufacturers: Everyone has their personal preferences, but parts from all three work just fine.

  • Forget really skinny tires. Fatter tires may be slightly slower, but they provide more confident handling and are much easier on the back and joints. An increasing number of comfort performance bikes are being spec’d with wider tires, including the highly versatile BMC GF02. If the model you’re looking at is spec’d with 23mm tires or narrower, ask if the bike will accommodate larger diameters (up to 28mm preferably) and see if the shop will trade out for a bigger size.

  • If you live somewhere hilly or you’re new to cycling, consider a bike with either compact gearing (50/34 chain rings) or a triple crankset up front. These drivetrains will give you lower gearing options for easier climbing when the grades get steep.

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