Guide To Buying Your First Road Bike

You’ve decided to buy your first road bike, amazing. You’ve taken your first step into a much larger world. Buying your first bike can feel a little overwhelming and confusing because the seemingly loads of different types made from different material with different components on them. In this video, we’re going to give you a handy guide and tell you exactly what you need to look out for and what the differences are.


I’m really passionate about cycling, anything that gets more people on bikes and share that passion, the better. That’s why we’ve teamed up with Decathlon they have a really comprehensive range of bikes with loads of different features, and they also offer great value for money. Meaning, this is the ideal place for me to show you everything that you need to look for. I also need to get a new kite surfing kite, as well as I thought, kill two birds with one stone.


First thing you need to establish is how much money you’d like to spend. How much money should you spend? Well, there is no right answer to that question when it comes to buying a road bike but what you can be aware of is that good quality entry-level road bikes typically start around €260 or £250 such as this one here. Then as you spend more money, the frames typically get lighter and stiffer and the components on those frames get lighter and more sophisticated too. For around €600 or £500, you can get yourself a lot of bikes of your money. Typically, something with an alloy frame, some good entry-level components than perhaps even disc brakes. Bikes with this kind of spec are incredibly capable. You could definitely ride up mountains or alps. Perhaps, you can do a few races on a bike with this kind of spec. I know that because they are all things that I did on my first road bike.


I would recommend that you don’t spend all of your money on the bike alone. It is good to budget for all those important accessories such as shoes and pedals and clothing and all that stuff. Now a bit of detail, the first thing that you need to consider when choosing your bike are the components that are fitted to it. The collective term for the brakes and the gears is the groupset. There are different manufacturers of groupset; Campagnolo, SRAM, Microchip, and perhaps the most famous, Shimano. Regardless of the brand, groupsets come in hierarchies or tiers. As you move up the groupset hierarchies, they get more expensive and the components get lighter. You, typically, get more gears, more functionality. They get made from more exotic materials, and the shifting of the gears gets smoother as well. Now, beginner bikes and entry-level road bikes, typically, come with groupsets that are lower down the hierarchy. An excellent example is this.

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This is Shimano Sora which is Shimano’s second-tier groupset and is commonly found on bikes around the £500 price point. Shimano Sora might be lower down the groupset hierarchy, we don’t let that put you off. For a beginner or entry-level bike, it’s absolutely perfect. My first road bike had Shimano Sora on it and I rode it up mountains [unintelligible 00:03:47] all over the place. I even did some races on it. One of the things you should pay attention to is the gear ratios on the groupset. This bike has an 1132 cassette on the back which is what I would recommend for your first road bike. The reason being that this 32 cog at the back of the cassette is really useful for hills. It means that you can ride a higher cadence spinning your legs more and it’ll just make hills that bit easier.


This is in contrast to some bikes which come with a slightly harder cassette, so an 1128, pay attention to that. Also, the chainset. Now, there’s different sizes of chainrings. What I would recommend for your first road bike is a compact chainset. That’s a 5034 like we have here. It’s for the same reason I’d recommend the 32 on the back. It just makes hills that bit easier when you’re a beginner. Put simply, if you’re a beginner to road cycling and you’re wanting gears that can help you get up hills, you want bigger ones on the back and smaller ones on the front. As mentioned, brakes also form part of the groupset. Broadly speaking, there are two two distinct types; rim brakes, or as you can see on this bike, disc brakes. Disc brakes cost a little bit more than rim brakes. If you live in a hilly area or you’re going to be riding in a hilly area, I’d say they’re worth the extra outlay.


This is because they offer substantially more powerful braking that’s more consistent especially in the wet and just better control in general. I do have to stress though that rim brakes are perfectly adequate. They’ve been used to win the Tour de France for the last 100 years and they have the advantage of being slightly lighter than disc brakes too. [music] The material that the frame is made from has a massive impact on the overall ride quality of the bike. The most common materials are aluminum, steel, and carbon fiber. From around 250 to 1,000 pounds, euros, or dollars, most bikes you find will be made from aluminum alloys. This is great because aluminum is a really versatile material. It’s lightweight with good strength to weight, that’s why it’s used in aviation.


It’s also very resistant to corrosion and it can be manufactured at a much lower cost than carbon fiber, meaning, the bikes can be made more affordable. [music] Above 1,000 euros, dollars, or pounds, you start to see entry-level carbon fiber bikes such as this Van Rysel EDR 105 or [unintelligible 00:06:32] as they say in France, which is where we are right now. Anyway, carbon fiber is typically lighter and stiffer than aluminum and steel making for better ride quality. Carbon fiber is a great material for making bikes. If your budget doesn’t stretch to full carbon fiber, don’t worry. My first road bike was aluminum but a good feature to look for is an aluminum bike with a carbon fiber fork. This reduces a bit of weight. It makes the fork much stiffer and it also reduces road vibration and buzz through the handlebars. [music] Choosing a reputable brand is advisable, as that way, you’ll know the frame has been properly designed and tested and will also have a solid warranty. Other little details on the frame that are worth looking out for are tire clearance.

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The more, the better, I would say, as this gives you greater versatility. You can put some wider tires on if you want to stray off-road and have a little adventure. Mounting points are useful as well as these allow you to attach things like mudguards, pannier racks and a whole host of other accessories. A final detail on the frame is the bottom bracket. This is the bearings where the chainset is. Any bike that has outboard bearings in a threaded bottom bracket, gets bonus marks in my book because these tend to require less maintenance and last longer. [music] I’m now going to tell you about wheels. They a key component on any bike. Entry-level bikes tend to come with entry-level wheels. This is because it’s the most popular component that cyclists upgrade on their bikes further down the line when they get more into the sport.


Typically, swap them for something that’s lighter, stiffer, and perhaps more aerodynamic. With these improved performance areas on the wheel, comes increased cost. That’s why to keep the price down on entry-level bikes, will come with a more basic wheel. When assessing the wheels that your bike comes with, what I’d suggest you look for is a really high spoke count as this helps make the wheel stronger and more robust. I’d also suggest you look at the rim width. You ideally want rims that are going to suit wider tires better. A slightly wider rim width such as 25-millimeter tires or 28-millimeter tires. Wider tires can offer a bit more comfort, a bit more grip and they also have slightly lower rolling resistance, meaning that you can go the same speed for slightly less effort. [music] I’m now going to give you some other quickfire information that you need to know when buying your first road bike. Road bike saddles are designed to be used with padded shorts, which means it’s normal for them to feel uncomfortable without padded shorts.

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Also, saddle comfort is very personal. It’s normal for riders to often swap something out that better suits their preference. Most road bikes don’t come with pedals, although some low-end bikes do come with flat pedals. However, if you’re going to be doing longer rides or sportives, we’d recommend you upgrade some clipless pedals and shoes as these will allow you to push down and pull up with the pedal stroke making you a bit more efficient. You can also get women-specific bikes. These tend to have the same frame but have different contact points on them to account for the anatomical differences between the sexes. You’ll get a specific women’s saddle, slightly shorter stem, narrower bars, and slightly shorter crank. This isn’t necessarily essential, we suggest you go for whatever is most comfortable for you.



You may be interested in gravel or mixed-surface bikes. These are essentially road bikes with a few modifications to make more versatile. So you have increased tire clearance, bigger-volume tires, which are much more capable off-road. Easier gears, you can see the massive sprocket on the cassette here, and disc brakes. This means that you’ve essentially got a drop-bar road bike that’s going to be much faster on the road than a mountain bike, but also capable of going on gravel or bridleways. Something you wouldn’t want to do on a standard road bike. This versatility means they’re ideal for mixed surfaces. People that want to go on adventures, perhaps do some bike-packing, or maybe you’re just a commuter who doesn’t want to stick to rows.


dAlso, you can swap out the knobbly tires for some skinny slick road ones, and you’ve essentially got a road bike. I’m a big fan of this breed of a bicycle, and entry-level gravel bikes can be found for around £500 or €600. The [unintelligible 00:11:16] brilliant. I managed to find my new kite, but also a load of other stuff that I totally forgot that I needed. Anyway, if you’ve enjoyed this video, have found it informative, then please give us a like and a follow. Now you’ve decided on the bike that you want. You’re probably going to need to know how to determine the size you need. Fortunately, we’ve got videos on that and a load of other really useful beginner content. I’m going to go home now play with my toys. [00:11:51] [END OF AUDIO]

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