Choosing a Road Bike

Choosing a Road Bike

People buy road bikes for several reasons with one of the key selling points being mobility. You can easily use a road bike to breeze through the city from one place to another in a matter of minutes. They are good for exercise, short trips and touring, competitions, and just enjoying a day outside. 

To choose a road bike you need to consider what your main goal for riding is. Then choose a bike that has the attributes that best help you achieve your riding goals. Last, decide how much you are willing to spend. 

If you’re in the market for a new bike, you should also consider your level of commitment to riding before buying an expensive bike. If you have already been riding for a while and are committed, then getting the best bike will help you get the most out of your biking experience.

Road Bikes Attribute to Look for

Road Bike Attributes

A road bike is usually used to ride for fitness and competition. You can go further and faster because your bike is designed as a lightweight vehicle for maximum speed.

When choosing a road bike you want to consider what’s most important for you and what your budget is. 

Things to look for are: 

  • Thin tires
  • Lightweight rims
  • Correct bike frame for your height
  • Light frame 
  • Racing seat 
  • Clip-in pedals 
  • Curved handlebars
  • No suspension
  • Correct gearing for your needs


The better the parts that come on the bike the more likely it will be to perform well and cut weight down. Think about what price you are willing to start at and consider changing out components in the future as you more money in your budget.

Road Bike ComponentsWhat You Need to know


As you look at various bikes, the tires may seem very similar. There are things that might make a difference in weight and durability.   

A tubeless tire may save weight over tubed tires. Although, problems may occur if a tubeless tire isn’t puncture-resistant. So, either make sure the tubeless tire is puncture-resistant or use sealant inside the tire.   

Other riders like to use tubed tires because they feel they handle better when a puncture occurs. They also like that the tubed tire has a comfortable feel when riding. (  

If you combine the tire and rim, a tubed tire is usually going to be lighter than a tubeless tire and rim. So when choosing one or the other, talking to long-time cyclists may help you make an informed decision about what is best for your needs.


Your bike may come with aluminum or carbon fiber rims, or other materials. Check to see what each component on the rim is made of to help you make the best choice.   

Aluminum rims are fairly lightweight and strong. They are more common for a less expensive road bike and can often work very well. To find out more about the differences between aluminum and carbon fiber road bike wheel rims check out this video.   

Carbon fiber rims are usually lighter and perform more competitive than aluminum rims. Carbon fiber tends to be stiffer, so riders can handle their bikes better and start and stop easier. (

If you are undecided about the rims, I would start with aluminum rims if you don’t plan to do much competition. You can always upgrade later and aluminum can give a bit more than carbon fiber before breaking if conditions get rough. 

Frame Size:

A bike store’s main goal may is to sell you a bike. If they don’t have the right size bike for your leg length, they may want to try to sell you a bike anyway. They may say that an inch or two doesn’t matter, but in my opinion getting the right frame size is essential.

You can find out if a bike fits you by straddling your legs over the top tube of the frame and making sure you have about an inch of clearance between you and the bike frame.

The handlebar length is also important because if your arms need to reach too far it will be uncomfortable. If the frame is too small, it may distort how far you need to stretch to reach the handlebars.

So, you can try out sitting on the seat (make sure the seat is at the correct height) and seeing how well the bike fits as your leg length when it is fully extended. If the seat needs to be raised very high, that may also be an indicator that your bike frame is too small.

Tip: If your hips are moving side to side when pedaling then you are probably stretching your legs too far and need to lower the seat.  

Frame Type:

When you enter a bike store, the most common bike frame types will usually be aluminum and carbon fiber. Cheaper bikes will be made of steel and more expensive premium bike are made of titanium.

  • Steel Frames:

Steel has been a common way to make bikes since bikes were first made. These bikes are heavy yet are fairly strong. They bend before braking, so if you in a minor accident, your steel bike will likely dent and not crack.

If you want a bike just for fun on the weekends and aren’t worried about maintenance and how long it will last, then a cheap steel bike might be what you are looking for.

  • Aluminum frame:

Know for being strong and fairly lightweight, aluminum is a good frame type for most cyclists who intend on keeping their bikes for many years. These frames tend to resist corrosion when in moist areas. 

My bike was stored in a moist area out of the rain for about six months. The chain rusted, but the aluminum frame had no signs of rust.

These frames are probably the most common frame type in most bike shops. They perform well for the average person.

If you ride frequently for years it may start to show signs of fatigue and could crack, which might not be able to be repaired. It will also feel less comfortable when riding since it doesn’t absorb bump as well as carbon or titanium. (

  • Carbon Fiber Frame:

Know for being strong and lightweight, cyclists often upgrade their aluminum components for carbon fiber so their bikes will be lighter.

A carbon fiber frame is a goal for many biking enthusiasts. Although, spending over a $1000 on a bike is not something many cyclists are sure of doing when first getting a bike.   

  • Titanium Frame:

Know for being a very strong metal and yet lightweight. Cyclists who ride a lot or in rough conditions may like titanium because it is easier to fix than aluminum or carbon fiber. 

A titanium frame is for those who want a premium product and have the cash to spend. Costing from $1000 – $4000, a titanium road bike can handle road vibrations well like a carbon fiber bike and weighs about the same as a carbon fiber road bike too.

Seat Type

When riding long distances, cyclists need a saddle that will be comfortable enough to sit in for hours at a time. Many road bike saddles have cutout center areas that help with comfort and circulation. There are many options available, so trying out a seat may be your best option.

Light Weight 

 If you are trying to reduce weight, you might go for a seat with little to no cushion.

You can find very light saddles made of carbon fiber. These may not have cushioning, but they are light, flexible, and help absorb road vibrations well.

It’s important to learn which seat you feel most comfortable with.  


If you are looking for comfort you’ll want to get a saddle that has cushioning. These saddles help you decrease pressure on your sit bones so you can feel more comfortable during your ride.

There are many types and styles to choose from. Each person is shaped a little differently. Check out the seat width and shape and compare it to the one you have now. 

Most people can appreciate a saddle that has enough cushion to provide all-day comfort. Decide what level of support you need to get a saddle that’s best for you.


If you are trying to get a competitive edge, using a good clip-in system should help you go faster. The standard pedals that your bike comes with may not be clip-in type so you’ll need to decide if you want to spend the money on shoes and new clip-in pedals. 

Clip-In Pedal

Clip-in pedal can have their pros and cons, so be sure to figure out if clip-in pedals are what you want or need. This article ( can help you decide on how you may want to place your feet on your pedals and which pedals would be best for you. 

Flat Peg Pedal

Sometimes pedals with pegs can work just as well on a road bike and some come with a clip-on one side and pegs on the other so you can switch between the two when you want to.   

If you plan on racing and being competitive, peg pedals may not be the best unless you’re on a mountain bike, but if you need comfort and flexibility then pegs pedals are a great option for road bikes. 

Handle Bars

handlebars and sitting position

The handlebars you have on your road bike are very similar to other handlebars that you’ll see on all road bikes. The material and size may be different. You may want to get a wider handlebar or one that reaches further forward so that your riding at the best angle for your body. 

In a neutral position, your back should be about 45 degrees from your seat and a 90 degrees angle from your arms.  Your back should be relatively straight and your arms should have a bit of a bend. Your hand would normally rest at the end of the handlebars where the brake levers are. 

If you are riding comfortably for long distances this is usually an indication that your back is fairly straight and your arms are fairly relaxed when holding the handlebars. This usually means your seat and handlebars are in the right position.

If something doesn’t feel right, decide if changing the seat height, the handlebar stem, or if changing the handlebars for a different one might be necessary. 

You can take a photo or video of yourself on your bike to get an idea of how you look as you ride naturally. You might see something you can’t identify from the seated position that you need to change to help you reach the best angle for your back and arms. 

Handlebar Stem

If you want to change the handlebar stem, check to see which are compatible with your bike and measure how much loner or short the stem needs to be. Some stems are adjustable and others will need to be specially ordered for your bike. 

You might also want to get other accessories to make you more arrow dynamic when riding such as handlebar rests. These can also help you find a comfortable more wind-resistant riding position. 

If getting a handlebar rests, consider getting them first and see how they feel on your current bike and then changing the stem or handlebars after if needed. 

Handle Bar Change

If you’re ready to change your handlebars, it’s a good idea to go into a bike shop and look at different varieties and try them out. In the end, the measurement for length and width is what will help you feel the most comfortable, so get the handlebars that match your specification as close as possible. 

Once you find the right bars you should be comfortable when riding in a neutral position without handing to hunch your back or overextend your arms.


Most road bikes don’t have any suspension at all. They are made to go fast and suspension would only add unneeded weight to the bike. For most road bikes on the market today you won’t find any options for suspension, but that is starting to change as new innovations in suspension start to come out. 

Today, you can find some road bikes with suspension, if you are willing to pay a premium. This means more weight but with the added advantage of handling the road with a much smoother ride. A smoother ride can help make for better performance and faster times.

So would you buy a suspension system that you could add to your road bike if they sold them? All I can say is that I really like the suspension on my mountain bike and wouldn’t enjoy my experience as much if I didn’t have it. 

Road Bike Gearing

If you are riding your road bike and you notice that the gears you have just aren’t quite right for the type of riding that you do the most then you may want to change your gear set. 

Most road bikes will have the gearing that you need for going up hills, downhills, and on level ground, but you might want to change things up if you are focused on one type of riding most of the time. This video below give you some ideas of when you might want to change your gear set for a specific purpose. 

What to Look for When Buying a New Road Bike

Getting a road bike should be simple enough, but we all know that it can be very difficult to choose the right brand. It’s not hard to see why. After all, the market is flooded with a massive variety of bikes, each with unique features of its own.

So, how do you navigate through all this? Well, here are some important considerations to make when buying a road bike.

Frame Material

Different road bikes are designed with different frame materials. However, steel, aluminum, and carbon fiber are the most commonly used. There are a few bikes that come with a titanium frame too. 

Once you decide to get one, let your budget be your guide. The frame needs to fit you well, so don’t be afraid to order one if they don’t have the right size. A light frame ensures the bike will go faster, but if your just beginning that may not be the most important thing. Makes sure to get the best quality for the price.


Some bikes might not come with pedals. Although this may seem odd, it’s a good thing. Pedals are essential in the smooth operation of any road bike. Most road bike cyclists like clip-in pedals, however, you don’t necessarily need them at the beginning.

Pedals can be replaced easily, so if you want to spend less at first, you can always upgrade later. 

Different pedal clip-in systems are compatible with different types of shoes. Make sure to choose a clip system that works with the shoes you want to get or vise versa. If you’re not sure which is the right pedal system for you, talk to your local bike shop for some advice.


Wheels play three important roles in the operation of any bike. First, they will determine the overall weight. Light and narrow wheels, often found on many road bikes tend to be nimble and rigid. The wheels also determine how the bike accelerates through different terrains.

Finally, wheels may also affect the aerodynamic profile of the bike. This means that they determine wind resistance and handling. A good rule would be to buy a bike that features premium wheels. Wheels can have a big effect on your riding comfort and handling of your bike. 

However, road bike wheels can be upgraded. So, if you need to buy something cheap at first you can still get something that works very well. 

Brake Levers and Gear Shifters

Until recently, brake levers and gear shifters were separate and located on different parts of the bike. However, modern-day road bikes have fully integrated brakes and gear shifters. A good bike should be able to offer smooth gear shifting and reliable braking systems.

However, it’s not easy to tell which bikes offer better brakes or better gears by just looking at them. So, you may want to test ride the bike before you buy it. Ask the bike shop owner about the different levels of braking/shifting systems and how smooth and easy to handle they are.

You can always read up on some reviews online to get the best idea of performance.  rely on the reviews of other users.

Frame Geometry

The best road bikes may look similar at first glance, but they’re not. There are several subtle differences in the frame design. The frame geometry often determines the purpose of the bike. For instance, recreational bikes tend to have a more relaxed frame geometry.

The riding position on road bikes is often leaning over the handlebars when going downhill. Your road bike may have many aerodynamic features that help cut down on wind resistance.

High-performance road bikes are light and aerodynamic. Just make sure the frame is the best fit for your body as well, otherwise, the aerodynamics won’t matter that much. 


It’s important to pick out a bike that feels comfortable and easy to ride. While manufacturers have done well to enhance bike comfort and handling, there are certainly some brands that are better than others.

Road bikes with high-quality components, adjustable parts, and responsive frames are often smoother and easier to ride.

However, sometimes comfort is subjective. A bike that feels comfortable for you may not be the same for another person. So, test riding different bikes could give you a wealth of information. Don’t be afraid to ask to test drive at least 2-3 road bikes and see which one fits you best.

Final Thoughts

There are many road bikes on the market right now. While each bike is unique, there are a few brands that stand tall above the others.

In the video below you can find information on the following road bikes and why these are ones to look out for if your in the market for 5 top-performing bikes in the year 2021

Which road bike is your favorite? All of these bikes are great in different ways and if you are in the market to spend $2000 – $10,000 then it worth it to try a couple to see what works best for you. 

If your budget is a bit smaller, you can learn about the attribute that these bikes have and consider which features are the most important on a new bike you will be purchasing in the future.

If you’re looking for something affordable with excellent features, then you should be able to find many road bikes around a $1000 or less with some great components and good designs. 

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I enjoy many types of outdoor activities including running, hiking, and walking. I was a former elementary school teacher for 17 years and now enjoy writing and sharing my love of the outdoors.

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