ROAD BIKE BUYING GUIDE
Why a road bike?
By defintion a road bike is a bike that's intended use is on roads or pavement- for longer commutes and/or faster commuting, even racing.
Skinnier than average 700c tyres, a lightweight alloy or carbon frame, drop down handle bars and a large range of gears are the main features of road bikes.
What types of road bikes are there?
There are multiple features that mark key differences between road bikes.
The frame, the gearing system and the wheels.
Carbon vs. Alloy
Carbon frames- the main pros of carbon are it's light weight as well as the rigidity of the frame, giving it a more efficient power transfer, therefore making it faster. Carbon also provides a subtle improvement in comfort due to it's ability to better absorb vibration and small impacts. This material often, when compared to alloy, lasts longer as it is more durable when it comes to impacts and torque.
Alloy frames- are durable in the fact that they do not rust and are non corrosive. They are also lightweight and strong. Their main pro is the cost- most alloy road bikes cost much less than carbon. However you can have higher levels of alloy frames which may end up being lighter than carbon frames if the alloy is at the higher end compared to a low level carbon frame.
"Race" frames- this frame style is better suited towards more serious riders- the bike has a lower centre of gravity and pushesthe rider further forwards to create better aero dynamics. To do this the bike has a longer top tube and stem, stretching the rider out to flatten the back and reduce drag. This then puts more weight on the front wheel, which in turn is better for cornering- therefore this bike has a more 'aggressive' riding style.
"Recreational" frames- this frame style is better suited for more recreational riding- the rider is in a more upright position, placing less strain on the wrists, hands, shoulders and spine, however this then means the position is less aero dynamic. To do this the bike's top tube is shorter with a slightly angled stem creating a riding position perfect for comfort riding.
Which groupset is best?
A groupset includes the cassette, rear derialleur, chain, crankset, brakes and the gear shifters. The greater the cost the greater the performance of the gearing system, in terms of smooth gear changing, durability and weight.
1. Dura-Ace: top of the range, 11 speed cassette, carbon chain rings and available in electronic Di2 (no cables= minimal maintenance with consistent gear shifting).
2. Ultegra: 11 speed cassette, slightly heavier than Dura-Ace, still with carbon chain rings, also available in electroic Di2.
3. 105: 11 speed, found on mid-range bikes, slightly heavier than Ultegra.
4. Tiagra: 10 speed, shares some technology as 105, found on mid to low range road bikes.
5. Sora: 9 speed, found on low range road bikes.
6. Claris: 8 speed, great for beginners and riders new to road bikes.