When looking for a new bike there are a few important factors to consider before you take one home. The road bike industry is quite daunting due to the variety of specific riding styles that bike manufacturers accommodate so lets consider three main topics to discuss with your local bike shop while choosing your next bike.
1) Type of Riding: You need to identify your main riding locations/settings.
– Competition: Do you race often? enjoy competing with others during club rides and looking for the greatest technical advantage? If so then you will want the most aggressive frame geometry with high end compenentry.
– Long Centurions / Endurance: Are you looking for a road comfort bike? Need something that will be suitable for longer endurance rides? If so then look for slacker frame specific geometry and components that will suit longer duration rides such as compact cranksets, long reach brakes for greater tire clearance and larger volume tires (25c+)
– Dirt/Touring road riding: Do you enjoy quieter side roads that don’t always provide the smoothest surface conditions? There are a few options for rough road riders….the tripple R!! Bikes in this category will be very similar to the ones above except we can add cyclocross bikes into this category as well. Large volume road tires installed on cross bikes are quite fun!
– Urban Paths: Do you ride in the city most of the time? Often taking cycling paths that are off the road?
– Pure Leisure: Does your gluteus maximus require the most attention when riding a bike? Looking for a more relaxed and upright position?
2) Price……This is always a factor and rightly so it should be!! Once you determine your type of riding you will be given a line of bikes that fall into your riding category. Each model will have the same geometry and riding setup. The only changes you will see between models in each bike line is frame material and componentry which influences the overall price. For this, give yourself a range and then persuade the significant other to let you jump up to the next price bracket 🙂
3) Frame Size……Road Frames are commonly measured and spec’d with a number in centimeters on the seat tube which indicates the distance between the center of the bottom bracket to the top of the seat tube. Make sure you discuss which bike size is appropriate for you! You will have your bike for a long time so make sure the bike matches your body……the body wont be happy if it has to accommodate an inappropriate bike. There are some fantastic bike fitting protocols offered through certain bike stores which should also be a required process when buying a bike.
Three variables in determining bike size:
– Rider height: This will give you a range of sizes to start with (i.e 54-56cm frame)
– Inseam Length: Some people have much longer inseams measurements compared to others. You want to always consider Inseam length and Reach. During a bike fit you want to obtain a seat height and fore-aft position which creates a 30 degree angle with your extended leg at the bottom of the pedal stroke.
– Reach/Torso length: Does the bike size allow you to ride with a 90 degree angle between your hip/shoulder/wrist? There are a few adjustments that can be made to help achieve this. Stem angle and length as well the handlebar angle (increasing or decreasing distance to grips)
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