Weekend Racers, Fixes, Commuters…
Road Bikes have evolved dramatically over the last decade or so, you can now buy a specialist bike for every possible end use… at the center of this evolution is the humble single speed, though they have been modernized or redesigned for specific disciplines the road bikes for sale today are still based on the same trusted design – pedal power is perfect in its simplicity.
We list what to look for when choosing your new bike along with a few tips on buying cheap road bikes… specifically bikes you plan to use for commuting, weekend fun rides or not too serious racing.
How To Choose Good, Cheap Road Bikes ?
While it is perfectly okay to be lusting after a full carbon fiber frame, don’t totally discount aluminum or steel, in some cases, an aluminum frame with high-grade components and wheels will be the better bike – when compared to an entry level carbon bike.
Most of the best deals you find when buying road bikes will be the aluminum frame, for the simple reason that they are cheap to produce, strong, long lasting and light weight.
One issue they do have is they transfer every bump and vibration from the road – longer rides can lead to numb hands, gel gloves can only do so much… if you are buying an aluminum framed road bike and expect to be putting in a lot of miles… it may be worth paying a little more for a bike with carbon forks – carbon forks absorb road vibration better than aluminum.
Steel is another material that absorbs vibration really well but a quality steel bike will not fall into the cheap road bike price bracket, steel frames are often found on custom bikes, it is also quite popular with bikes specifically designed for touring.
Three manufacturers dominate the market: Shimano from Japan, Campagnolo from Italy, and SRAM, a U.S company.
The most common components you will find on the bikes for sale online are SRAM and Shimano – both make great gear.
When accessing a list of Shimano components the order from entry-level to top-end is…
With SRAM groupsets it is…
The more you are prepared to pay the better the performance you receive – but for the average road bike any of the listed components will work fine – if you were to ride the full range of Shimano components, you would notice gear changes getting smoother as you move up the pecking order.
Road bikes will ship with either a triple, double or compact crankset, the crankset or chain-rings are the gears located by the pedals.
Double and compact cranksets both have 2 chainrings up front and are paired with a 10-speed cassette in the back for a total of 20 gears. A compact crankset has smaller chainrings with fewer teeth than a double, giving it a lower range of gears.
A compact crankset is becoming more common they offer a similar range of gears as a triple but weigh less.
If you are not yet fit or if your normal ride involves steep climbs, a triple or compact crankset is best. Strong cyclists or flat road cyclists would be okay with a double.
For the recreational or fitness riders wheel design is not critical – a lighter wheel will roll faster with less effort but this is only a concern for the ultra-competitive cyclists, they totally geek out over the ultimate wheel selection.
Tire selection is far more relevant to recreational riders rather than light rims and expensive wheelsets. Tire width will determine how much air the tire holds and the riding comfort – narrow tires give less comfort but have less rolling resistance – they go faster with less effort.
The basic cheap road bike will often be sold with platform pedals and toe cage fitted… higher quality bikes are sold without pedals – this is not a cost-cutting measure, the bike supplier is assuming you already have your preferred type of pedals and matching cycling shoes.
If you don’t use clipless pedals as yet it – a new bike could be the ideal time to try them – they certainly help you to pedal more efficiently.
Shifters and Brake Levers…
With Shimano models, the brake lever doubles as one of the gear shifters. With SRAM, the gear shifter is a smaller lever tucked in behind the brake lever.
A bike that fits…
Even if you buy your bike online there nothing to stop you taking the bike to a bike shop to be assembled and fitted correctly. It is important to adjust a new bike to fit you.
Saddle height and fore or aft position can be easily adjusted at home, If you are not confident with DIY then it may be best to leave the height of the handlebars, as this will need the correct spacers to be fitted to the steering tube. Stems can be changed to a range of lengths in small increments to get the right reach… If you are going to ride your bike a lot it is well worth the time and small expense to get a shop to fit it to suit your reach and leg length.