Around here the sport of road cycling is growing faster than ever. However you’ve caught the cycling bug, be it being finally convinced by friends, inspired by the watching professionals on TV, or just want to try a fun way to get some exercise. We find it amazing to see more and more people coming into the sport and looking to purchase their first bicycle.
Looking to enter a brand new sport can be daunting and may find you wondering where to begin. With all the selection of road bikes it may prove difficult to find the correct bike for you. A variety of important questions you should answer to help to select the bicycle that’s best for you.
Type of Riding
The first thing to decide when looking to get into the sport of cycling is the type of riding that you plan to be doing. There are many different styles of bikes each suited for a slightly different style of riding.
Are you looking to ride exclusively on the road, or might you want to mix it up a little and explore some off road/gravel riding options as well, if so how much. Many bikes can be set up for both. Perhaps you are looking to work your way up to long distance riding or are you looking to ride hard and fast. By answering these questions one can significantly narrow down the options in their search for a new bike.
Sizing Yourself Up
The next and likely most important step is to determine the correct size of bicycle for you. Even the highest end bicycle that is the incorrect size will perform far worse than a more basic bicycle that is of the right size and correct setup - very quickly will the discomforts and inefficiencies associated with the wrong size of bicycle overshadow the difference in quality.
One can quickly obtain an estimate of their size of bicycle with the by inputting basic measurements such as their height and inseam into one of the many online calculators. This is a great start, but we recommend a more comprehensive measurement that assessing the entire proportions of the body, including height, inseam, arm length, torso length, and foot size, each required to dial in the perfect fit.
We strongly recommend that all riders receive a proper bike fit for any new bicycle. Doing so will yield significant improvements to your overall comfort and efficiency when riding. Both of which will enable you to want to spend even more time outside on the bike.
The next step is determining the type of frame geometry that is right for you. – That is the dimensions of the frame that contribute to your position when riding. Typically road frames are available in either Endurance or Traditional geometries.
Traditional or racing oriented frames are designed with speed and efficiency in mind. Low stack heights and long reach profile contribute to a more racing oriented position where the rider sits lower and more stretched out, a position best for going fast and cutting through the wind.
Endurance bikes on the other hand, are designed to place riders in a more relaxed, less aggressive riding position. Found on these bikes are softer angles, higher stacks, and shorter reaches all designed to promote stability and comfort.
The two most popular frame materials are aluminum and carbon. Most road bike frames are made out of different levels of Carbon fibre. Carbon frames are lighter, and typically provide a better quality ride. Due to its material carbon frames and stiffer and more responsive, while also more comfortable due to the way the material better dampens vibration.
Nowadays Carbon is more affordable than ever, but still comes at a premium when compared to aluminum. Aluminum frames are only slightly heavier than an entry-level carbon frame and due to the differences in cost it may be possible to find a lighter overall bike for the same cost with an aluminum frame by putting the cost savings towards higher end components.
Bicycle frame and built with parts made by third party manufacturers who create groupset offerings which include the parts needed to make the bike function. Typically included in groupsets are the shifter and brakes, crankset, front and rear derailleurs, cassette, chain, and bottom bracket.
The most common groupset manufacturers include Shimano and Sram who offer 6 and 4 different levels of road groupsets respectively. Starting at the most entry level the Shimano range includes Claris, Sora, Tiagra, 105, Ultegra, and Dura – Ace. Sram’s offerings include Apex, Rival, Force, and Red.
For more info regarding groupset level take a look here: https://www.racersportif.com/blogs/bike-essentials/shimano-groupset-overview
Most groupsets are available with either disc or rim brakes, however unfortunately most frames are only compatible with one of the options. Whichever you select, know that you will be held to your decision unless your entire bicycle is replaced.
Further details on the disc vs. rim can be found here: https://www.racersportif.com/blogs/bike-essentials/disc-vs-rim-brakes