BIKETART FEATURE: BUYING YOUR NEXT ROAD BIKE
There’s an array of brands, shapes, sizes, colours and builds of bike out there for you to buy. What looks the shiniest might not necessarily mean durability, practicality and comfortability. We like to advise our customers not to the most expensive bike, but rather to the bike that is actually going to serve them their purpose. Sportive riding, commuting and racing are all different aspects of riding a bicycle. Buying from a bike shop like Biketart is a good decision because of the quality of after care you receive. Below is a list of things to look out for and pointers for those looking to buy the right bike for them, whether it’s your first bike or an upgrade.
Decide on a price bracket – Obviously this will be dictated by the components you want on the bike, but generally you should have some sort of budget in mind.
£500-1000 Sportive riders, beginners and audax – There’s a good range here and you should be expecting a Steel or Aluminium frame with Shimano Sora or Tiagra components. These bikes are perfect for sportives and usually have a forgiving geometry (a long top tube and raised handlebars for endurance hours in the saddle). The Groupset will usually be a triple which is perfect for big hills and recreational riding, with more forgiving gear ratios.The wheels will be of good quality and will usually come with something priced similarly to Shimano R500’s (£70-100). The Steel or Aluminium frame will be forgiving and durable and will definitely last for seasons to come. A perfect beginners bike. Above is the sort of bike you can expect, a Cube Peleton Pro.
£1000-1500 – Sportive riders, Weekend Racers and Cycling Training camps –This range of bikes will begin to delve into carbon territory. At a fairly low price you can crack the Carbon market and get a decent frame with exciting components. This bike is suited to racing but can be used as a dynamic sportive bike, something which is perfect for those looking for a new 2nd bike. Here you get Shimano 105 gearing and usually a compact or standard chainset with slightly harder gear ratios. There’s more of a race geometry but the components and saddle are still kitted out towards long hours on the bike. On this Orbea model you can upgrade to £300 vision clincher wheels which is certainly pushing towards a racing set-up. An ideal selection for pedals would be either Shimano SPD-SL or Look Keo’s for responsive racing and sportive riding.
£2000+ – Racers at Regional and National Level, hill climbing and training camps – With this sort of range you will get exactly what you pay for. This Genesis Zero Team edition is a perfect example of an over £2000 spend. At £4,499 you get a pro-level road bike used by the Madison Genesis Pro team and Shimano Dura-Ace Gearing with the option of a compact chainset. The fit on this bike is certainly race adapted and comes with Carbon wheels which could be swapped out for deep section wheels in racing or criteriums. To perfect your craft you could add Look Keo Blade racing pedals for a fast performance. At this level, you are usually paying for the weight. Bikes over £2000 will start weighing below 8kg and will be suited to racing up hill. Nice details that are also included are internal cable routing.
With the few examples above, hopefully you should start formulating an idea of the bracket you fit into. Other things to assess are:
How fit you are : As a general rule, most beginners will struggle with a standard or compact chainset so are better suited to a triple, particularly on the hills. If you’re used to a triple, there’s no need to change unless you need a challenge on a new bike for racing.
Aesthetics : Does it match your kit? Is it expensive enough? To some people, these are key questions. Anyhow, you need to do a smart comparison and just give a check to see if you can get the same specs on a different bike for a better price. It’s common sense.
Don’t buy off eBay unless you have experience: Buying a good, cheap bike off eBay is fine, but when it comes to aftercare, you can’t send the bike back to the sender for a service. If there’s something wrong with a Di2 system or the frame is cracked, you may not be able to repair that yourself and can spend thousands of pounds on a warranty claim which is void or hours of time in the shed trying to fix a groupset. Do your research and ask your local bike shop’s opinion before committing.
Where to buy the bike: As a bike shop, we would say buy it at a bike shop. It’s not because we’re biased, it’s because it works, from personal experience. You get to see the bike in person, you may also get discounts and free servicing after some miles on the road. Most bike shops will do a discounted bike fit which is incredibly useful in dialling in your position, especially on Time Trial bikes.
Hopefully the bracketing above will help you decipher the sort of frame you’re looking for. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the groupsets – a bike which excels in a criterium will often cause even the fittest of riders to struggle on proper mountains because of the high ratios which make it difficult to maintain a comfortable cadence. Assess what you personally are going to be using your bike for and the decide personally or with the help of a bike shop what ratios will suit you (and therefore a triple, compact or standard).