how to choose a road bike

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Last Updated on October 5, 2020

Congratulations on deciding to buy a new road bike. But be warned that buying a road bike is no mean task. It can be tough especially if this is your first road bike.

Do you opt for the more expensive aluminum bike frame of a carbon bike? How about the frame’s feel? And what wheelset, finishing kit, or group set should you aim for?

There is certainly no shortage of component setups and technical terms to learn, which can make choosing the best road bike a daunting task. Also, there are too many options’ in the market with different price points.

Luckily, we are here to guide you through every step of the way. We have done all the research for you and we tell you how to choose a road bike. 

Read on to learn more.


What types of road bikes are there?

There are many types of road bikes and so you need to ensure you choose a bike that will perfectly fit your needs. Here are some of the common types:

Bike for road racing

This type of bike is good for paved roads. They are meant for speed and often have a carbon frame or aluminum frame. 

Off-Roading Bikes

If you want a bike to ride in unpaved surfaces, your best bet is to go with mountain bikes. Their tire’s widths are more than 1.75 inches with speed up to 27. Also, you want a bike with toe clips for resting your feet on the pedals. Usually, mountain bikes for off-roading feature a dense foam saddle or seat that is stitched to ensure you don’t slip as you ride.


Hybrid bikes are excellent all-purpose cycles. They let you sit comfortably in an upright position compared to mountain bikes. Also, they sport lightweight frames that make them great for riding on pavement and can handle being ridden on gravel and dirt road quite well.

Comfort Cruiser

These bikes feature the same sporty appearance as mountain bikes. However, it allows you to sit uprightly for far greater comfort. 

Bikes for Hanging out

BMX bikes are more appealing to teenagers and older kids. They sport higher handler bars compared to mountain bikes and have smaller-looking frames.

What are the Must-have Gears?

A good road bike should have certain features as a bare minimum. The following are some of the things you want to watch out for:

  • Bike Safety: The bike must have safety lights to enable you to be easily seen by other motorists while you are on the road. Have a pump on hand to maintain tire pressure.
  • Personal Protection: Your elbows and knees need to be protected with pads. You also need a face helmet to protect your head in case of an accident. 
  • Food and Water: Your bike needs to have a place for carrying water bottles to keep you hydrated while you are riding. You may also want to get a basket or bag to carry food and clothing among other things.
  • Accessories: Keep your hands warm by using gloves and your head cool with hats. Keep dirt, dust, and sun out by using goggles and sunglasses.
  • Storage: When not riding, you need to keep your bike stored on hooks or hands. When in public places, you need to ensure that it is locked up.

Frame material

Frames for bikes are usually made from a wide range of materials. Aluminum, fiber, steel, and carbon are the ones that are quite common. But there’s also a combination of a number of materials. 

Carbon Fiber

Carbon fiber is moldable into a shape of any kind. This makes it easy for manufacturers to experiment frame shapes and tube profiles to create a stiff, comfortable, or aerodynamic bike. 


This is a strong metal used for making stiff and light bikes. Also, it requires less labor to work with, and so is a cheaper pick, unlike carbon fiber. An aluminum frame can be an inexpensive option especially for those looking for performance but don’t have any cash to splash.


Titanium is comparatively lightweight, non-corrosive, and a highly durable material just like steel. Unlike aluminum and carbon fiber that is easily moldable, titanium is much more difficult to work with. Therefore, it is an expensive choice.

Steel Frame

Steel was the number one frame material before aluminum and carbon fibers took center stage. However, modern premium steel tends to be very expensive. 


Besides your legs, the drivetrain is the engine of your bike. Do not buy a costly frame and opt for cheap components. It sounds dumb. Below are some of the main drivetrain/ components for road bikes:

  • Campagnolo: Record, Super Record, Athena, Chorus
  • SRAM: Rival, Apex, Red, Force
  • Shimano: 105, Tiagra, Dura-Ace, Ultegra

The drivetrain you choose is down to your preference although the majority of prebuilt cycles on the shop will have a drivetrain already chosen. In case you don’t like the drivetrain on your bike, you can ask the seller to swap it for you and then pay the difference in price.

Bike Size

Bike frames are measured in centimeters that represent the seat tube length. Each manufacturer tends to have different frame descriptions and sizes. Therefore a medium for one brand may be small for another. 

When choosing your bike size, it is advisable to check with the manufacturer and model of the bike to be sure. If you are comparing between models and brands, you will want to use the Reach and Stack.

Bike sizing is often a tricky affair, which is why you need to consult your shop to help you in case you aren’t sure. But note that the single most important element when it comes to purchasing a road bike is finding the right size.


The price of a road bike will range from $300 o even $10,000 or more especially if you want an elite performance bike.

More expensive road bikes are usually (although not always) lower in weight, better shift quality, and has increased stiffness. They are also more likely to be durable and comfortable.

Also, as the price rises, so does the fork and materials of the frame of your bike.


Buying a road bike might appear simpler than it is. You need to do your research to understand the different types of road bikes that are available, frame materials, drivetrain, bike size, and must-have gears.

More importantly, you need to understand the reason why you are purchasing a bike in the first place. Sticking to the above points when selecting a road bike is sure to help you find a bike that fits your needs.

Harold Whitford

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About the Author

My name is Harold Whitford, a husband, father, and avid cyclist with a Bachelor’s degree in Sports Management from the University of Delaware. Having been in the industry for more than 15 years, I have a number of the road race and national time trial championships in my bag.

  • My brother has been thinking about getting a better bike, so that they can be more effective. He would really like to buy one from a professional that can get him a lot of exercise. Thanks for explaining how road racing bikes are meant for speed while hybrid biles are best for all-purposes, and most surfaces.

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