Why should you buy a road bike?
When it comes to speed, style and efficiency, a road bike is hard to beat. The sleek contoured lines of a road bicycle frame, adorned with quality parts and components, is a work of art - yet one that can bring a thrill like no other!
This road bike buying guide will explore the many options and types of road bike you can purchase - saddle up and get ready to find your next dream bike!
Beginner road bike buying advice
If you're looking at a road bike suitable for a beginner, then the chances are you're a new to the world of skinny tyres and drop handlebars; so what should you consider when buying your first road bike?
We think there are three key points to consider:
- Frame material - Beginner road bike frames are normally aluminium or steel. Aluminium is a light, strong and affordable material for bike frame manufacture. Steel is more of a 'heritage' option, but provides a very robust and comfortable frame.
- Transmission (gears) - The transmission on a starter road bike will likely be "8, 9 or 10 speed" - which refers to the number of cogs on the cassette at the back. Most road bikes will then have a double or triple chainset on the front - providing between 2x8 (16) and 3x10 (30) gear options in total. The more gears your bike has, the more chance you have of being in the "perfect gear"; though the highest gear and lowest gear are often similar, regardless of how many "speeds" your gear set-up is.
- Wheelset - On a beginner road bike, you will probably find shallow section, high spoke count wheels. This is to provide the rider with confidence, and ensure the wheels are durable and reliable in all conditions.
For more information on buying your first road bike, read our dedicated 'Beginner's guide to buying a road bike'
Intermediate level road bike buying advice
So you've ridden your first few sportives, and you've booked your first cycling holiday... it's time for an upgrade! Intermediate road bikes strike that delicate balance between affordability and performance; designed to provide you with a fast and fun ride!
Here are the key stand-out points about 'Intermediate' road bikes:
- Frame material - You're now into the price range of carbon fibre; this is a fantastic modern composite material, which provides a great mix of stiffness (aiding power transfer), comfort and light weight.
- Transmission - With the upgrade in price, you'll see an upgrade in gearing. Expect 11 speed transmission on an intermediate road bike; likely in the form of Shimano 105 or Ultegra, SRAM Rival or Force, or Campagnolo Potenza.
- Wheels - As you spend more on your wheelset, you will see the benefits in terms of performance. Better wheel bearings, lighter spokes and rims, and deeper profile rims, will all translate into lower rolling resistance and better aerodynamics.
- Disc brakes - Disc brakes come into the equation more frequently with intermediate level road bikes. Read the section in this road bike guide, for more advice on the advantages of disc brake road bikes.
Advanced level road bike buying advice
It's time for the big guns. You want to race, you want to be the fastest you possibly can be - you want a dream machine. Those sound like the attributes of an 'Advanced' level road bike.
- Frame material - Carbon fibre frames are the most popular frame material for advanced level road bikes; they offer high levels of stiffness, and the lightest weight possible.
- Transmission - Electronic gearing is now the most popular on advanced level road bikes. The likes of Shimano Di2, SRAM eTAP and Campagnolo EPS, provide you with the perfect gear shift every time.
- Wheelset - Advanced road bikes are all about marginal gains, so expect to find carbon fibre wheels, often with deep section rims; providing aerodynamic and weight advantages.
What materials are road bikes made from?
As highlighted above, road bikes come in a wide variety of frame materials. From aluminium to carbon fibre - they all have their advantages:
Carbon fibre framed road bikes - Carbon fibre is used in top of the range road bikes, because it provides a superb balance of stiffness and light weight. Because it doesn't come in pre-shaped tubes, it can also be moulded into exotic and aerodynamic shapes; making it ideal for high performance bikes.
Steel framed road bikes - Steel is still a popular and traditional material to use for bicycle frame manufacture. Steel frames are renowned for their comfort, strength and durability.
Aluminium framed road bikes - This is the most common material for bike frame manufacture, and it provides a very respectable balance of comfort, performance and reliability. Aluminium bikes are stiff, lightweight and strong.
What kind of riding can I do on a road bike?
Road bikes can be used for a wide variety of pursuits and activities.
On a 'drop-bar' road bike, you could be either road racing or on your daily commute; they are highly versatile machines. We have a great range of Road Bikes at Wiggle.
It is worth also noting that for specific pursuits, such as time trials and triathlons, particularly aerodynamic road bikes have been created. We have a great range of Time Trial bikes at Wiggle.