So you have decided to get into road riding – awesome. You go onto the internet and type in “Entry Level Road Bike” and are given a mere 545,000 results – whoa – leaving you wondering where to begin. I am here to give you some simple yet tried and true guidelines to get into your first road bike.
First off, the green elephant in the room is money. The internet will tell you that you can get an entry level road bike for under $500. Well I’m here to tell you that maybe you can spend under $500 but you don’t want to, that is unless you want to have a once a week visit to your local bike shop getting it repaired. So what is the base line dollar amount for a reliable, durable bike? Well the answer is, how much do you weigh? Huh? Yes, you read correctly, how much you weigh will determine the minimal amount you can spend on a road bike. The components on a bike are where a significant amount of the cost will be found. The higher the component the better it will perform under torque (the power you put out on a pedal stroke which gets higher with weight). Additionally you only want to get Shimano level components, they cost a bit more up front but will give you the reliability and durability you will want as you start to ride. For a person over 150 lbs. they should be looking at least a Shimano Tiagra level component bike. Under 150 lbs. a person can get by with Shimano Sora level components. With these simplified build parameters count on spending at least $850 for a Sora level bike and around $950 for a Tiagra level bike. If you shop a year out or two year out models you can lower that amount but if you get a current year count on spending at least that amount. Many current Sora/Tiagra level bikes could be more depending if you want things like disc brakes.
All the bikes at this price point will be aluminum frames with carbon forks (make sure the bike you are looking at has a carbon fork). A full carbon bike will add $1000 onto your budget and you won’t be able to get Sora level components. If you are a type ‘A’ personality you might want to consider a carbon frame as an option as it will allow your performance level to get higher faster. Next you will want to go to some local bike shops and test ride a few of the bikes to find the right size and the right feel. Some bikes are built for comfort and distance, while others have race geometry for speed. You won’t know what you prefer until you actually get out and compare the ride qualities between them.
Once you have shopped around and have narrowed down your search to at least 4 or 5 models go back to the internet and start searching bike reviews. Every reputable bike brand will have published reviews on all their baseline models. After you have aligned price, ride, fit, and review you will be ready to pick a bike and go ride!