Tips for buying your first road bike
The Tour de France has come and gone for another year. And, as is the case every summer, the greatest race on earth has won the cult of road cycling thousands of new disciples, many of whom are now chomping at the bit to have a go themselves, on a bike of their own. When making that first foray into the road bike market, though, wading through the hundreds of different options can be a daunting prospect. But fear not, lycra-warrior! Here are a few pearls of wisdom to lean on when picking out that all-important first bike:
Just like the car engine, bike ‘engines’ come in many different sizes. The drivetrain is the core around which your cycling experience will depend. It consists of the two large rings at the bottom bracket, the all-important chain, and the collection of cogs of varying sizes at the rear hub, known as the ‘cassette’. As a new cyclist, you may struggle to turn some of the bigger gears when pushing the 53-tooth chainring that comes as standard with many new bikes. And frankly, unless you plan on regularly descending at 100km/h, there’s no need to have a gear as big as 53-11 on your bike. It’s well worth opting for a smaller set of chainrings, known as a compact chainset, with a 50-tooth big ring. It’ll give you an easier set of gears, ideal for newcomers to the sport. That said, even the pros will fit compact rings to their bike for mountain stages, so there’s certainly no shame in you doing the same. Check out these chainrings that all come in a compact option:
If you’ve never ridden a road bike before, you may find the position slightly different from what you’re used to. Typically, roadies have their saddle higher and handlebars lower than their cousins in other disciplines, to cut a more aerodynamic shape as they zoom along at speed. This can take some getting used to, so it’s important to have a comfy saddle atop your steed to help ease the transition. Here are a couple of gel-filled and heavily padded seats that will help keep the growing pains to a minimum:
Among the first hurdles any rookie roadie has to clear is the challenge of coming to a graceful stop without toppling over in heap. Having to worry about unclipping your shoes from the pedals to put your foot down at a junction is far from ideal when getting used to your shiny new road bike. Whilst specialist cycling shoes and clipless pedals are a more efficient combo, there’s nothing wrong with leaving your trainers on and putting a set of flats on your cranks. You’ll spend less time in a panic about crashing and, most importantly, more time enjoying your riding.
Having a bike that feels sublime may kick-start a love affair with one of the most rewarding sports out there. You only get one first bike, so make it count!
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