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Buying your first road bike

Buying your first road bike can land you in a seemingly-impenetrable maze of options. You have dozens of brands, with multiple bikes for each brand and then dozens of options on components for each one. The important thing is to keep it simple. Here is our 5-step guide to buying your first road bike:

Decide your budget

There is no point in spending 6 months lusting after bikes that you can’t afford. If you don’t know what your budget should be, we recommend making it as high as possible – it will pay off with every pedal stroke. Think also what you might use it for. If you intend to take it away on trips there may be occasions where you have to leave it briefly unattended or it may pick up more knocks and scratches. This might lead you to buy a slightly cheaper bike than you otherwise would.

Decide your brand

Bianchi, Boardman, Cannondale, Canyon, Cervelo, Cinelli, Claud Butler, Colnago, Cube, Eddy Merckx, Felt, Focus, Giant, Kona, Kuota, Litespeed, Merida, Pinarello, Ridley, Scott, Specialized, Trek  - That’s just a selection of the bike brands out there, and most of them will say something about the person riding them. When you see a bike you like, start reading online what people say about the brand – do you care what country it comes from? That’s another way to choose. If you see a cyclist with a brand you like, ask them are they happy with it.

But do some research and the chances of you hating your bike after a year will be greatly reduced.


The more expensive the bike and components, the better the ride. Let your budget rule how much you spend and get the best bike you can for it. But pay attention to two things: frames and gearing. Most cyclists ride aluminium or carbon frames. Carbon frames are generally preferred but they are more expensive and break more easily in the event of a crash. In that case you would have to buy another frame and get it fitted to the bike, which can be a big expense. Many bike combine the more reliable aluminium frames with carbon front forks, which is a great option for a first road bike.

Get the highest gearing that you can. A triple refers to three front chainrings whereas a compact is more common, with two front chainrings. The compact is lighter and can offer almost as great a range of gears, with less duplication. The other factor to consider is the cassette on the back wheel, with (usually) ten rings. Get a cassette with the highest large ring that you can, usually a 28-ring, but a 32-ring can be fitted if the rear derailleur (the piece hanging down which the chain is threaded through) is switched for a longer one. Ask the seller if they will do this.

High gears are great for steep climbs, or long climbs, or just those days when you are tired, and will make cycling way more fun.

Test your first road bike

This is the best way to find out if a bike is for you or not. If you fall in love with it instantly then just buy it. If you have doubts about it after riding it, then keep looking. This is, of course, best done by going to a bike shop than through online shopping.

And don’t forget to investigate the Bike to Work Scheme and you can save a lot of money on your bike.