How to Choose a Road Bike

Most reviewers discuss road bikes by breaking them down into categories based on price or geometry. The most affordable road bikes cost around Rs. 6000, and they typically have an upright, relaxed geometry that's comfortable for new riders. They usually sport aluminum frames and have cheaper components to keep prices in check. 

Road bikes costing more than Rs. 10,000 are designed for enthusiasts or aspiring racers who are willing to spend more for better performance. At the low end, these bikes have aluminum frames with weight-saving carbon forks, in addition to mid-range components. Once you get closer to Rs. 75,000, it's increasingly easier to find bikes with full-carbon frames, which are lighter and absorb more road vibration than their aluminum counterparts. Bikes in this price range either have an aggressive, race-oriented geometry for aspiring racers or a more upright ride (sometimes called "plush" bikes) for those who participate in endurance road rides or touring.

At the high end, you can spend Rs. 1.5 lac to more than Rs. 10 lac for a serious road bike. These are the lightest and have top-of-the-line components. Carbon frames are standard in this price range, but some pricey road bikes also feature lightweight titanium frames. You can also find high-end time-trial and triathlon road bikes, which are designed to be fast and aerodynamic. 

Experts say that fit should be your most important criterion in selecting a road bicycle; start your search at a bike shop for a proper fitting. Before you go, determine how much you are willing to spend. That will depend on your personal finances and how you intend to use the bike -- road bikes for beginners and general riders cost much less than bikes for competitive cyclists. When you get to the shop, tell the staff you want to see several different bikes in your price range. In addition, keep the following in mind when shopping for a new road bike:

  • Test at least three bikes. Many bikes look good in the store, but you don't want to spend potentially thousands of rupees on a bike that you don't try out first. Experts say you should try out at least three bikes to get the feel for different frames, geometry and components.
  • A road bike's frame material affects price, weight and ride. Aluminum and carbon are among the most popular materials used for road bike frames, although you can get top-end frames made from titanium or bamboo. Most budget road bikes have aluminum frames, but experts say the light weight is often offset by a harsh, unforgiving ride. Carbon fiber is considered very stiff and great for racing. Many good mid-range bikes combine an aluminum frame with a carbon fork and/or seat post to offer a smoother ride and keep costs down.
  • Components are as crucial as brand-name frames. Shimano, Sram and Campagnolo dominate the field in contributing components such as front and rear derailleurs, chains, brakes and pedals. Each company has about six different lines, which is often the reason for varying prices on bikes with similar frames.
  • Feel free to select components, especially the saddle. If you are new to cycling or come from a mountain biking background, the small saddle on a road bike can take some getting used to. A bike shop will let you test out several different saddles (if available) to find the most comfortable fit.
  • Buy online with care. It is possible to get great deals on road bikes online (now even in India), but bear in mind that when shipped, several parts of the bike must be detached, meaning you or a nearby shop will have to assemble it when it arrives. If the size turns out to be wrong for you, you must break it down again to return it
  • Look for older models if you're on a budget. In most cases, the 2009 model will be less expensive than the new 2010 model -- even if few changes were made -- and bike shops will want to get them off their floor. 

Recommended Reading

Encyclopedia of Technical Knowledge of cycling

Oldest Cycling Club

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