Road bikes: A Beginners Guide To Choosing the Right Bicycle
Road bikes are great for exercise and entertainment, but finding the right one for you can seem like a challenge. These bikes are designed to help you travel quickly down smooth pavement, either for racing or for pleasure. They feature light weight frames, small tires, and aerodynamic designs to maximize speed and enjoyment. If you have been looking for one of these in your life, consider some of the information below.
Road Bike Cycling: Frame Choice
Most race road bikes out nowadays are made of either aluminum, carbon fibre or steel frames, or a composite. There are benefits to each material to consider, and there is a wide ranging disagreement between both professionals and amateurs as to which is the best.
Aluminum is lighter weight, so in theory helps when climbing hills. It is also more forgiving on the road, softening any rough roads you may go across. Carbon fiber goes one step further in the dampening effect, more on that in a moment. The steel frames may be heavier and rougher to ride on, but they are also more durable. You will get more riding time from your investment in steel frames and the bike shops I have discussed this with have said that provided you treat scratches to the paint, a good frame will last years, perhaps much longer than even aluminum. The underpainting treatment on the steel frames is actually very good and although you will still get scratches, the risk of corrosion is pretty small.
The biggest advantage of steel is the transmission of power. Aluminum flexes a little, carbon bikes flex a lot, and that absorbs the power you put down into the pedals. And if you rock the bike as I do going up hills you will know that the frame really takes some punishment.
That said, top end carbon bicycles are pretty darn stiff, but that will set you back a small fortune and unless you are rolling in cash, probably not the thing for the person just starting out.
To know which one will work for you, test out a couple from a local bike shop just to see what you like. There are even some online stores (Evans in the UK springs to mind) who will let you buy, try out the bike for 30 days, and then return it to them if it doesn't work out. Read their T&C's carefully though.
Road Bike Cycling: Style
You need to pick the style of your bike based on the kind of rider you are. If you are just starting to get into cycling road bikes, you may look for an inexpensive starter bike to learn on, but don't go lower than about £600 (uk) or $1000. Why not?
I have a mountain bike that I bought to get by on just while I was saving up for my road bike. It cost me £250. However, things went a bit wrong financially, and I have been left with that mountain bike now for about 18 months, so it has become my main training bike, and it's great for resistance training. The aluminium frame mountain bike frame is great, but the rest of the components are shocking. And so far I have had problems with the disc brakes, rear V-brake, crank, the fork is supposedly suspension, but only has a spring system, no compression, and now have 4 broken teeth on the rear cassette. In short, if the frame is good then they have to make cutbacks someplace! If I were planning on keeping this bicycle for any length of time then I would need to spend another £3-400 bringing it up to scratch.
However, if you can only afford bottom shelf then it's best to at least get started and save immediately. From there you can move up to race bikes that have more aggressive riding components. Do no invest in any serious racing bikes until you know you are a well experienced cyclist. Otherwise, you may crash the bike or damage it while riding, thereby harming your investment.
How to Choose A Bicycle Frame
Have you thought about winter cycling? Many people opt to buy a stationary bike to compliment their regular road bike sessions for the winter so that they can stay in the dry. Of course, you also have to be aware that it's not as simple as popping down the store and buying any old exercise bike. There is a difference between an exercise bike and a spinning bike, most notably in how it feels to ride, and opinion is split; but also there are significant cost factors.
Lastly, do consider what shoes you are going to wear when you are out on a road bike. Just normal trainers are fine when you start, but once you get into the swing of things, buying proper clipless road cycling shoes is a must to transfer power efficiently into forward motion.
Road Bike Cycling: Brand
While the brand of the bike may not be as significant as the performance, there are some companies that are known for producing better bikes than others. The best rated road bikes on the market today are from places like Trek, Scott, Schwinn, Canondale, and Cervelo. These companies have been trusted for years in the cycling community, and they could have a model in their line that is perfect for you.
Road Bike Cycling: Pedals
A lot of people think that choice of pedals is a secondary concern, but actually it's really important. Pedals transmit power. Most models will come with standard platform pedals, but there are some designs that will allow you to clip clipless road cycling shoes into them so your foot follows the full rotation of the pedals. This will give you better control over the bike and will actually help you work out better as well. These pedals are usually only seen as default on select models, but you may be able to buy aftermarket ones for whatever bike you have. Watch the prices in online stores to see if the bike comes with or without pedals included.
Road Bike Cycling: Saddle
If you don't like the seat that comes with the bike, you can always swap it out with one from another bike. The main thing you have to worry about is the frame and mechanical components of the bike. You can buy a more comfortable seat affordably and still have the performance you want.
If you are a bloke then you really need a saddle with a groove cut down the middle of the saddle. Basically your testes need to be cooler than the rest of the body to do what they are meant to do (I will avoid to much science here) which is why, as it were, they hang low. There is medical evidence to suggest that serious cyclists are rendered sterile and even impotent by the constant head and pressure in your nether regions.
Post height is also a factor. As you get more confident you may find that you need a high saddle, and if like me you prefer a smaller frame size the post that comes by default might not be long enough.
Road bikes are fast, fun, and full of surprises, which may be why so many people enjoy riding them. No matter what age you are or what your riding goals may be, rest assured that you will have a good time on a road bike all your own. Do some research into the specific model of bike you want to get, and then start enjoying it.
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