How to Buy a Road Bicycle

How to Buy a Road Bicycle
Buying a road bicycle can be intimidating for the novice, but road biking is an excellent recreational activity or serious sport, so knowing what to expect can improve your experience. The bicycles sold at a local bike shop are of a much higher quality than those sold at large discount stores and usually come with services such as a free tune-up or two in the first year. The steps below will prepare you to buy a road bicycle from your local shop with confidence.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Bike shop
  • Money
Step 1
Decide on your price range. Road bicycles will range from $400 to well over $5,000. People often are shocked with how quickly the prices go up, so give thought to your price range. It will be a good idea to look at a few bikes outside of that range (on either end) so you can learn the differences in the levels offered.
Step 2
Consider what kind of riding you'll be doing. If you will only be doing strict road-riding and training, then a pure road bike will suit you. However, if you plan on commuting, racing triathlons or racing cyclocross, you'll need to keep this in mind. For example if you'll be commuting, you might want a bike that allows for the attachment of a rear rack. And if you'll be racing cyclocross, a cyclocross bike with a set of road tires makes an excellent road bike.
Step 3
Test ride a few bikes. Test riding bikes is the most important step. If a store does not allow test rides, go to another store. Even if you like the first bike you test, it is a good idea to try a few more to compare. Tell the employee at the bike shop if anything feels strange, what you like about the bike and what you don't like so they can help guide you.
Step 4
Think about frame material. For serious riders, the type of frame material (steel, aluminum, carbon and titanium, which is rare today) is very important. Steel is sturdy and smooth but can rust; aluminum is light but a little touchy; carbon is light, solid and absorbs the bumps and unevenness of the road but is more expensive. You can learn how these different materials affect your ride by test riding multiple bikes.
Step 5
Verify the fit. The fit is what will make the bike comfortable for long periods of time. The bike shop should help the bike fit you. They can do this by changing the handlebars if they're too wide or narrow and raising or lowering them. They can adjust the saddle height and position as far as how far the seat is to the handlebars. This, of course, is all done after verifying that you are purchasing the correct-sized bicycle for your height.

Tips & Warnings

Women might want to ask about Women Specific Design (WSD) when buying a road bicycle, as they're more tailored to woman's anatomy and carried by all the major bicycle manufacturers.
It is always a good idea to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle. Bring one with you to test ride or ask the shop if they have loaners.

Article Written By Frances Hall

Frances Hall is a librarian and writing and women's and gender studies instructor. Hall has written for Her Active Life and Queercents and has been blogging since 2004. Hall holds a Master of Arts in library science from Dominican University and a Master of Arts in English/literature with a focus on feminist writing pedagogy, as well as a graduate certificate in women's and gender studies.

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