If you’re ready to start cycling, here you’ll find a guide to shopping for your first road bike, along with recommendations on the top road bikes for beginners.
Before You Start Shopping
If you already know that heart-healthy cycling develops your balance, improves your decision making skills, you might just be ready to reap these benefits immediately.
But, there’s a few things to consider before heading to your local bike shop.
Your budget. Sticker shock alert. A quality entry-level road bike starts at $1,000 while racing bikes start at $2,500 to $4,000.
You’ll find more information below on why road bikes are so expensive.
Your cycling goals. Different bikes serve different purposes so it’s helpful to know what type of riding you aim to do.
Will you cycle for cross-training or to stay in shape? Racing? Commuting?
Where will you ride? Dirt trails? Paved roads? Hilly areas?
What’s your preferred bike riding position? Would you rather sit upright or in a streamlined racing position?
How long to you expect your rides to be? Will you be out for 30 minutes? Or 4 hours?
The Top Road Bikes for Beginners: Types of Road Bikes
At first glance, road bikes look similar but there’s a few types of bikes available, depending on your cycling goals.
Racing bike: A road bike built for speed and performance and built with lightweight materials.
Fitness bike: This bike can be less expensive than a racing bike. It’s a balance between weight and durability with a comfortable riding position.
Commuting bike: If you’re riding to work, you’ll need a bike that can carry gear.
Cyclocross bike: Cyclocross is a bike race that features road, sand, grass, and lots of mud so the bikes used for cyclocross racing is part road cycling and part mountain biking. This bike has tires with more tread to power through a wide variety of surfaces.
Women-specific bike: These bikes have a shorter frame geometry, a narrower handlebar, and brake levers suited for smaller hands.
The Top Road Bikes for Beginners: A Quick Overview of Main Bike Parts
Cassette: A grouping of metal discs with teeth known as the bike gears that make pedaling easier or harder and where the bike chain rests and moves.
Chain: Transfers your pedal power to the wheels for forward momentum
Chainrings: The front metal disc with teeth where the bike chain rests and moves.
Clipless pedals: A pedal, together with bike shoes, that locks the rider to the bike.
Crank: Connects clipless pedals to chainrings.
Derailleur: Front and rear, which moves the chain on the cassette from one ring to another.
Fork: Holds the front wheel.
Handlebar: Supports your upper body and for proper bike handling.
Hub: The bike wheel center.
Rim: Bike tires fit into the rim which is supported by spokes.
Saddle: The bike seat that supports your weight.
Seatpost: Connects the saddle to the frame and adjusts in height.
Spokes: The wires that connect the center of the wheel to the rim.
Stem: Connects the handlebar to the steerer tube.
What Makes Road Bikes So Expensive?
The choice of material and components directly affects a bike’s price.
In essence, you get what you pay for in a bike.
Less expensive road bikes are typically built from heavier frame materials. The components are also heavier and less likely to withstand heavy, frequent usage.
If you’re thinking of cycling long-term, these components are expensive to replace individually.
Road bike frames are made from aluminum, steel, carbon fiber, or titanium.
Aluminum is an inexpensive, lightweight material for fitness or commuting bikes.
Steel is found on inexpensive to expensive touring, long-distance bikes.
Both carbon fiber and titanium are lightweight and strong. You’ll find these materials on road bikes over $2,000.
Road Bike Components
There are three main companies who sell components: Shimano, SRAM, and Campagnolo.
These components are used in various combinations on a road bike to create different price points.
The Top Road Bikes for Beginners: Picking the Right Size
Bikes, like clothes, are made in different sizes – extra-small, small, medium, and large. You’ll need to test ride a few bikes to find one that feels right.
But finding the right bike size is just the beginning.
Once you’ve bought your bike, ride it for 150 to 200 miles – to get comfortable with your bike – prior to a professional bike fit.
For the most enjoyable and pain-free cycling experience, a two-hour professional bike fit (much like taking an expensive suit to get tailored) tweaks your bike to suit your riding style.
Bike fitters have at least 40 hours of training and will customize the position of the handlebar, brakes, saddle, and pedals to suit you.
Recommended Top Road Bikes for Beginners
Best for new women riders
Specialized Dolce Elite E5, $1,200
Trek Lexa 3, $929
Best for long rides
Cannondale Synapse Carbon 105, $2,199
Fuji Roubaix 1.5, $1,129
featured image: Alexey Lin
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