How to Choose A Road Bike That's Right for You

How to Select a Road Bike

Riding a road bike keeps you active and provides you with a unique way of meeting new people and exploring your environment. It’s also a great way to stay fit at any age due to the lack of impact on your muscles and joints. When it comes time to select a road bike, the options can be daunting. Therefore, we’ve created this guide to help you find the bike that’s right for you.

To start, ask yourself these questions:

  • What type of riding are do you enjoy now?
  • What type of riding do you intend to enjoy in the future?

Some of these questions are easier to answer than others, and some will impact the final decision more so than others. For example, even if you’re not a high-level cyclist but are very enthusiastic about riding and have the money to spend, why not go all out and get the bike of your dreams?

How does a road bike differ from other bikes?

Road bikes have:

  • Lightweight frame: road bikes have a relatively light frame when compared to other cycling disciplines.
  • Skinny tires: tires on a road bike are typically 23-28mm, with some endurance orientated tires at 28-32mm.
  • No suspension: Unlike mountain bikes, road bikes typically do not feature suspension. Most surfaces covered on a road bike are flat and smooth, not requiring the extra comfort that suspension provides. If road bike users require additional comfort, it’s normally in the form of wider tires or built-in compliance to the frame and fork.
  • Multiple gears: Road bikes will normally have two cogs on the front crank set and up to 12 gears on the rear cassette. The large span of gears allows riders to cover any kind of profile no matter how steep and make riding easy (or hard) if they choose.

These features make traveling large distances on a road bike easier than on other bikes, faster too!

Types of Road Bikes

There are many types of road bikes available to specifically cater to the terrain and type of riding you do. There are aero bikes for flat roads, lightweight bikes for hills, endurance bikes for long rides, gravel bikes for adventure riding, and recreational bikes that are just for fun or functionality.

Aero Road Bikes

Aero road bikes are built for one thing… speed! They are not overly concerned with weight or comfort. It’s all about cheating the wind and saving watts. Aero road bikes are distinguishable from other roads bike by their large tube profiles, deep section wheels, and component integration.

Tube profiles on aero bikes are generally larger than other road bikes to create a more aerodynamic profile and are shaped to reduce drag. This causes the overall weight of the bike to be greater than other road bikes. Deep rim wheels are another feature of aero road bikes.

Integration on aero road bikes is key. Everything on an aero road bike is hidden out of the wind (cables, brakes, etc). The tube profiles are often even molded to conform to the shape of the wheels.

Thanks to the larger tube profiles, aero road bikes are typically also incredibly stiff, making them the bike of choice for people that race and like to sprint. They come with a narrow wheelbase, short headtube and aggressive geometry.

Our Top Aero Road Bike Recommendations

Endurance Road Bikes

Endurance road bikes are the most popular form of road bike due to relaxed geometry, stable ride, and focus on comfort. They have a longer wheelbase, longer headtube, relaxed geometry, and are equipped with disc brakes. In addition to those qualities, endurance road bikes also have greater clearance for bigger tires, and vibration damping design to smooth out the road.

Endurance road bikes are sometimes called ‘Sportive bikes’, as they are perfectly suited to endurance road riding and Gran Fondos.

When you think endurance, don’t think slow. A manufacturer’s endurance bike is made from the same material as the top of the line lightweight or aero bike and shares similar groupsets and wheelsets. The additional compliance (bike lingo for comfort) is what sets endurance bikes apart from others.

Our Top Endurance Road Bike Recommendations

Lightweight Road Bikes

Lightweight bikes are the bike of choice riders who enjoy tackling elevation. They are agile, high-performing machines that focus on keeping weight down above all else.

They don’t have the aero tube shapes and profile of an aerodynamic bike. Nor do they feature the elongated headtube and wheelbase of an endurance bike. Instead, they have featherlight frames designed to perform up mountains and attack on the way back down.

Although the UCI’s minimum bike weight is 6.8kg, bikes designed for the public do not have to conform to this regulation. Manufacturers are looking to achieve the lowest weight possible, some even falling below 5kg.

Our Top Lightweight Road Bike Recommendations

Gravel Bikes

Gravel bikes fall into a very broad category that allows the rider to access all types of terrain. In order to do this, the bike needs to be durable, comfortable and have sufficient performance features. Adventure or gravel bikes will typically have a higher bottom bracket to provide extra clearance for obstacles. They also feature greater clearance for wider tires—30mm and more. Disc brakes are essential for optimal performance in all weather conditions. A lower gear ratio caters to easier riding or extreme profiles.

Touring bikes are a slightly different category to gravel bikes and not so focused on the performance aspect of riding. Touring bikes are heavier than other road bikes with the emphasis on comfort and longevity. Fenders and rack mount are commonplace, as are easy pedaling gear ratios. Steel is often used for the frame thanks to its durability, plush ride and low cost. A touring bike will often feature a more upright and stable riding position to help with loaded carrying.

Our Top Gravel Bike Recommendations

Recreational or Fitness Bikes

Recreational bikes forgo the bells and whistles of performance road bikes and focus on comfort and practicality. They are best suited to new riders who are looking to be active and easily get from A to B. These bikes will typically have flat bars, wider tires, flat pedals and easy-pedaling gear ratios.

They are a great introduction to cycling or for those who don’t take their cycling too seriously. We’ve covered such bikes in detail with our guide to how flat bar road bikes, hybrids and urban bikes compare.

Our Top Recreational & Fitness Bike Recommendations

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