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Beginners Buyers Guide for a Road Bike – Part 1

For those of us that enjoy a jaunt out on the old two-wheeler, whether hoping to smash out a new personal best of simply find an enjoyable way to take in the fresh air, it couldn’t be a better time to get into cycling. Advancements in technology and availability of materials has made purchasing a quality road bike for less than £1000 a very real prospect. For a type of bike that was once renowned for its almost painfully high prices this is a great turnaround. So maybe your thinking of buying one but just aren’t sure where to start? It can be difficult to do so, it’s definitely worth doing your research, after all, there are plenty of factors that can make or break your riding experience. Let’s have a look at a few of these so you’ll know what kind of things to look out for when you purchase, or perhaps decide to modify your first road bike.

Frames

Your frame is an important feature. This is the body of the bike and therefore the majority of the cost will go towards this. Your frame will usually come on one of four materials, steel, aluminium, titanium and carbon fibre. Each has their own range of characteristics though often it depends on the designer does with the material. Here are some basic tips on what each might entail.

Aluminium – This is perhaps the most common metal used for beginners’ frames, though that doesn’t mean it should be discounted as a poorer material. It’s used because not only is it affordable but it’s both light and solid. Higher quality aluminium frames will boast butted tubes, these have differing wall sizes which make the frame better able to handle stress as well as lower the weight.

Steel – Steel is heavier than aluminium and was the standard for most road bikes up until around the 80s. Steel is perhaps not the best material to start out with, however in the hands of the right designer it can create a very comfortable ride. You’re more likely to find these on touring models where a weight penalty is less of an issue.

Titanium – Titanium shows off all the durability of steel with the lightweight of aluminium. It also has an excellent resistance when it comes to corrosion meaning it’ll really last. The only issue is that it’s rather difficult to work with which unfortunately results in prices much higher prices than the previous two metals.

Carbon Fibre – Easily the most desired option for a bicycle frame of this type, carbon fibre is an ultra-light weight material that, though it still is expensive, has become far more affordable as of late. You can get a bike with this frame for around as low as £800. That being said it is worth noting that the material doesn’t simply come in one form, it can be manufactured in different ways in order to provide whatever properties the designer may desire. A cheaper frame may reflect this. It’s worth noting too that it could be worth buying a bike for the same price with a different frame, often is the case that the features will usually be better.