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Road Bikes

Entry Level Road Bikes
Price Range – $699 – $749

You can get up and running (er, pedaling) on a basic road bike. In this price range, you’ll likely find an aluminum frame with a carbon fiber fork (the part holding your front wheel). Aluminum is a great material, because it’s stiff, light, and fairly inexpensive. The carbon fork will absorb minor bumps from the road as they travel to your handlebars, making it a touch more comfortable. Wheels will be extremely entry level, and your components (shifters, brakes, derailleurs, etc.) will be very basic, but enough to get you going.

Steel framed bikes are a good alternative to aluminum. Many think of steel as heavy and clunky, like an old 70’s Schwinn. Steel is actually softer than aluminum, creating a more forgiving ride on rough roads. Modern engineering allows steel to be as light as aluminum, and at a similar price point, it’s a great choice. As they say, Steel is Real!

If you’re shopping in this price range, the best thing to do is choose a good brand. Focus on a quality frame, this will give you the best ride quality. Entry level components will be comparable across brands, and can be upgraded over time, but a low quality frame will make for unpleasant riding from the start.

Recommendations:

Trek 1.1 Entry Level Road Bike
Trek 1.1
Jamis Ventura Sport Road Bike Entry Level Road Bike Ride To Cure Crohns and Colitis
Jamis Ventura Sport

Mid-Entry Level Upgrade
Price Range – $750 – $999

Investing a few hundred more in your bike will make a difference. Although the frame and fork will be the same or similar, you will get an upgrade across the board on components and wheels, and for less of a price increase than upgrading these individually. Wheels are a bit lighter, and roll along on better quality bearings. Components also have a bit of an upgrade, to Shimano’s Sora or Tiagra group levels. Although these are still considered entry level, they will be slightly more reliable. You will feel a smoother rolling ride quality, and be able to shift with a bit more ease.

Just like your first crush, a bike that seems right on paper might not be the one that fuels your fire. While you should definitely get a bike that is the appropriate size, a reliable brand, and within your budget, sometimes you also have to get something that excites you. Maybe it’s your favorite color, or you love the way it accelerates, or something else special about it. Will you want to ride this bike all the time? Will you think about it when you’re away? Will you regret it if you’re not united? Maybe fate brought you together. Ride what you love.

You’ll also see gearing options. Front chainrings (the gears by your pedals) come three ways: Triple, Double, and Compact Double. With front gearing, the smaller the number of teeth, the easier the gear. This is opposite for the rear cassette (gears on your rear wheel), where the larger number of teeth are easier. A Triple has a wide range of gears, and the easiest possible gear ratio of all the options. A Double will have a harder gear range, be lighter and more aerodynamic than a triple, and a favorite for riders who like to pound hard and go fast. A Compact is a great compromise- it’s a double with smaller chainrings, providing a versatile range of gears (Hello, Bear Mountain). More about road bike gearing.

Recommendations:

Specialized Allez Sport Compact will be a great bike for GYGIG
Specialized Allez Sport Compact
Trek 1.2 road bike
Trek 1.2

Mid-Level Aluminum
Price Range – $1249 – $1899

Some of the best values in bikes are in this range, where bike manufacturers are able to focus on frame engineering and solid components, without charging carbon fiber prices. A noticeable difference is the shape and thicknesses of the frame tubes. Many brands use “hydroforming”, so instead of straight, round tubes, high pressure fluid forms different shapes and thicknesses. This results in a stiff, lightweight frame with good performance ride quality. Engineering and manufacturing has advanced, and aluminum ride quality can be very impressive!

When bikes are described as “stiff”, they aren’t referring to the harshness of a ride, so don’t worry, stiffness is generally a good thing. Every bike frame flexes just a little bit. Not enough to be dangerous, and not enough for you to even notice. A bike that has more stiffness will take the energy that you are putting into the bike, and convert it into forward motion, rather than losing it in the “flex” of the frame. So, a stiff frame is actually more efficient, as you travel further with the same amount of energy.

In this level, you’ll begin to get serious about wheels and components. A focus on performance will provide wheels that are even lighter and more aerodynamic. Better wheels may involve lighter, stronger materials, a better engineered rim profile, aerodynamic spokes, and high-quality bearings, all contributing to a bike that rolls smoothly with less effort from you. Components will again be upgraded to the 105 groupset, which is truly a quality workhorse group. These components will be a great mix of dependability, performance, weight, and price. Investing in a bike from this range is a popular choice for a first bike- it’s affordable and won’t leave you wishing for a major upgrade in a year.

Recommendations:

Trek 2.1 Aluminum Road BikeTrek 2.1 Bianchi Impulso 105 Road Bike - Ride To Cure Crohns and ColitisBianchi Impulso 105

Lower Priced Carbon Fiber Frames:
Price Range: $1899 – $29
99
You don’t have to be a hard-core racer to be deserving of a carbon bike, you just have to enjoy it! We discussed earlier that carbon helps absorb minor bumps from the road, and a full carbon frame will not only do that, but it will be a lot lighter weight. The nature of carbon fiber allows it to be formed into almost any shape, with control over weight, stiffness, and aerodynamics, often resulting in the best performing frames possible.

Because of these options and engineering, you’ll find differences between different brands and models. Some are more comfortable and solid feeling underneath you, while some will be more stiff and responsive, for a more “racy” feeling. This is personal preference, you should go with whatever feels best to you!

For a long time, bike companies have focused on making bikes lighter and lighter. However, aerodynamics will often benefit you more than the lightest bike possible, especially on flat or moderately hilly courses. Generally, an aerodynamic frame will have a “teardrop” profile to its tubes, using more material and therefore being heavier. However, the energy required by the rider to drive more weight, compared to the aerodynamic properties that allow the bike to cut through wind, is often to the rider’s benefit.

Components will likely be Ultegra, a performance groupset. The shifting will be smoother, crisper, and the parts will be lightweight and durable. Wheels will also be much more performance oriented, with additional emphasis on aerodynamics, lightweight, and high-quality bearings. Just like frames, wheels at this level will vary in ride quality. Some will be stiffer, some more comfortable, some more aerodynamic, some more lightweight. Any combination of these will benefit you as you accelerate, climb hills, and ride long distances.

Recommendations:

Cervelo RS comfortable stiff carbon road bike recommended
Cervelo RS

Trek Madone 3.1

High End Carbon Frames:
Price Range: $3000 +
These are definitely performance oriented speed machines, but again, if you love to go fast and love the responsiveness and aerodynamics of a high end road bike, consider this investment. With the highest end carbon bikes, you’re getting everything mentioned in the previous section, but even better! The carbon gets lighter weight, components are the top of the line Dura Ace groupset, and wheels are designed for ultimate speed. The more you’re able to invest in your bike, the more options you have available. Lighter frames, race wheels, exotic materials, and even custom geometries and paint jobs are available.

Wheels are so important, that often times riders will spend as much on a wheelset as they will on the rest of the bike. Carbon race wheels can even exceed $2500 for the set! While we don’t expect you to go out and buy top-end wheels, it is an indication of the amount of influence they have on ride quality. Why? Because while both your bike and wheels move forward, your wheels have an extra force on them, caused by rotation. Taking a bit of weight off the bike will help you a bit, but a lighter wheelset will help you a lot, because of the extra pull. Because of this, wheels are some of the most valued components, and often time the first thing to be upgraded. View an in depth explanation of wheels.

Recommendations:

Specialized Allez Sport Compact will be a great bike for GYGIG
Cervelo S5
Scott Addict R1