During a recent training session, I was asked by a newbie what she should look for when buying her first road bike. Her question brought me back six years to when I purchased my Cannondale R600, my trusty aluminum road bike with Shimano 105 components. § To answer that question, and several others regarding the purchase of a new bike, I turned to Jacob English, owner of Mountain Road Cycles, in Chagrin Falls and Chardon.
STACY RHEA: When buying your first road bike, what should the new rider keep in mind?
JACOB ENGLISH: When looking for a new bike, it is important to ask yourself the following questions:
What type of riding will I be doing?
Who will I be riding with and what styles of bikes are they riding?
Do I have any specific goals?
Do you have any injuries or positioning requirements?
These questions lay the groundwork for a sales associate to help you make the best choices. Don’t be overwhelmed by the amount of brands and styles to choose from. In general you and the sales associate will be able to narrow it down to two or three styles that fit your needs and budget.
Once you have narrowed down your choices, have the bike(s) fitted to you and go for a test ride. Although you may not understand the subtle differences between bikes, you will be able to tell what feels better, and what you like about each bike. Be prepared to purchase basic accessories that will enhance your riding experience (i.e. bike shorts, cycling tops, gloves and road shoes).
SR: What about components? Shifters? Crankset? What’s should a new rider be looking for in the components?
JE: For someone just getting into road cycling Shimano’s entry-level groups, Sora and Tiagra, offer shifting integrated into the brake levers and a wide range of gears.
If you are concerned about weight and performance take a step up to Shimano 105. The biggest difference you will notice with the 105s is in the shifters and crankset. Performance and durability are significantly better at this level.
For enthusiasts, Shimano Ultegra and Dura-Ace, SRAM Force and Red, and any Campagnolo components offer immaculate shifting, a big weight savings and precise adjustments.
It is also important to discuss the actual gearing choices. A triple-chainring crankset offers the widest range of gearing. A compact offers almost the same range but with better shifting performance. A traditional double-crankset is going to give you gears on the higher end for speed.
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