Choosing the Right Road Bike
One of the most exhilarating experiences in life is ramping up to speed on a road bike as you wind across town. These bikes are designed for maximum speed and riding on paved roads. I was given my first road bike as a present when I was about 13 years old and I was able to put some serious miles on that old bike. It was my first bike after giving up my BMX, and having the ability to shift gears to make climbing hills easier was a serious revelation.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve ever owned a road bike or not – if you’re seriously considering purchasing one there are some standard features you should be looking for. Depending upon your budget, there’s a lot of choice available and in this article we highlight some of the major features you might want to consider.
Some Framing Choices
As a general rule, for a road bike it’s always best to choose the lightest model that fits within your budget. Steel-framed bicycles are still quite common, but they’re also generally much heavier than other materials used in bicycle construction. If you’re willing to pay a little extra there are some great options that will reduce the weight of your bike and will also allow you to increase your speed substantially.
Other than steel there are three main choices that are used in bicycle frame construction – aluminum, titanium, and carbon fiber. Aluminum-framed bikes are generally a little less expensive than the titanium or carbon fiber models, so they’re ideal if you’re on a bit of a budget. They still provide you with a lightweight ride – they’re just a little more affordable.
If you have a little bit more money to spend on your bike you may want to give serious consideration to a titanium or carbon fiber frame. Both these materials are extremely strong and very light weight. Typically, you wouldn’t find a titanium or carbon fiber framed bike for less than $500, and you’re probably more likely to be looking in the $1000 plus range.
Brakes and Gears
While they perform different functions, brakes and gears are typically closely related. They’re both normally operated using triggers on your handlebars. The best ones are generally produced by the same manufacturers – Shimano, SRAM, and Campagnolo.
The most common type of braking system on a road bike is the traditional caliper type of brake, although the disc brakes found on mountain bikes are becoming increasing more popular on road bikes as well. This is likely because of their more reliable braking function and ability to stop properly regardless of the conditions.
With respect to the derailleurs normally found on road bikes there’s also a variety of choices. In the past, road bikes traditionally had between 10 and 12 gears, but these days it’s not uncommon for higher-end models to have 30 gears. That type of gear-shifting capability makes your ride a lot more versatile and makes it easier to adjust to the different types of terrain ahead of you.
Shimano 7 Speed
Shimano 11 Speed
Choosing the Right Rims
When you’re considering which road bike is best for you it’s important not to forget about the rims. The rims may have the greatest impact on the quality of your ride of any component on a road bike. Ideally, you’ll want to look for a rim that’s a 700c – this refers to the outside diameter of the tire in millimeters. This size has been determined to be ideal for achieving maximum speed in most cases. You’ll also generally want to look for rims that are at least 25 mm thick, and if you do a lot of long rides you may even want to look for tires that are as much is 28 mm thick.
Choose the Right Bike for Your Road
We’re all individuals with our own particular needs so there really isn’t one right road bike – it depends on what type of riding you do and what your budget is. If you can afford it, it’s a great idea to consider a titanium or carbon fiber frame and you’ll also want to make sure that your brake and gear mechanisms are made by one of the major component manufacturers mentioned in this article. Don’t forget your rims either. It’s always best to do your homework and hopefully this article has summarized things nicely for you – best of luck!