How much should I spend when buying a road bike?

Cycling is one of the best sports you can do to improve your overall health. But for all the positive benefits that come with cycling, getting all the kit to begin with can be expensive. Take a look at our article “What do I need to get started cycling?” for a list of the recommended clothing and equipment. For those that decide to get started road cycling, one of the most common questions that people ask is “How much should I spend on my first road bike?”

So how much should I spend on my bike?

Possibly a bit more than you think.

If you’re buying a new road bike, the experts at British Cycling recommend spending at least £500 on an entry level bike to get something that is light enough, comfortable enough and reliable enough to enjoy your riding experience.

A quick browse around cycling forums would support this point of view, with suggestions that buying low-cost road bikes can reduce your ride quality and enjoyment, and can also be a false economy once you consider the increased cost of maintenance and replacement parts for cheaper bikes.

But if £500 seems a bit of steep price tag to begin your journey as a road cyclist, you don’t need to worry – help is at hand, in the form of Cyclescheme.

Cyclescheme is a program that can help you save money on a new bike. It includes a large network of over 2000 bike shops in the UK, where you can save up to 40% on the cost of a new bike, and the payments will come out of your salary.

If you decide you want to look at the range of new entry level bikes that are available, it’s worth checking out Ribble Cycles and Leisure Lakes Bikes that have bikes that are suitable for everyone.

If you’re a deal seeker, it is possible to buy a high-quality second-hand road bikes from sites like eBay and Gumtree, but take care. Don’t trust any listings where they are using stock images – you want to see real images of the bike you’re buying. You should also ask if they have a receipt or confirmation of their original purchase, and if the seller is local, ask if you can take the bike for a test ride.

Whether you’re buying new or deciding to go second hand – cost isn’t the only thing you need to take into account when you’re buying a road bike.

Do I need a race bike? Or an endurance bike? Or a gravel bike?

If your reaction to this question is one of confusion, you’re not on your own. There are a lot of different options available to you – racing road bikes, endurance road bikes, hybrid bikes, gravel bikes…

To make things easier, the majority of road bikes fall into one of two categories: race bikes, or endurance bikes (sometimes called sportive bikes).

The big difference is in the ‘geometry’ of the bike, which influences how you’re positioned on the bike and the way in which it handles.

Race bikes are designed for speed and built for riders who want to ride as fast as possible. Their geometry often put you in a more forward-leaning position so that you can become more aerodynamic.

Endurance bikes are designed for comfort and endurance, with a more upright riding position. Their geometry allows you to sit in a more relaxed position, for longer periods of time.

So which type of road bike is best for you will largely depend on what you want to use it for.

If you’re looking for a bike to race with, then a racing bike is your best bet. But if you’re more interested in longer rides or simply want a more comfortable ride, then an endurance bike might be the better option.

How much should I spend when buying a road bike

What is the right size of bike?

One of the most important things to consider when buying a road bike is the size of the frame.

It’s important to get the correct size bike, because if the frame is too large or too small, it can affect your safety, comfort and performance while cycling.

If your bike frame is too small, you may limit your range of movement and feel ‘hunched up’. This may not sound like a big issue, but even on a relatively short ride, your body goes through a lot of repetitive motion. If your bike is too small for you, it could possibly lead to muscle strain and injury.

If you choose a frame that is too big, you may struggle to control your bike properly.

What kind of road bike frame is best?

You may also need to consider frame materials, depending on how seriously you’re going to take your road riding.

You’ve got a lot of options available to you when it comes to deciding what frame material is best for your new road bike. But to keep things as simple as possible, you will commonly have a choice between a carbon frame, and an aluminium frame.

Carbon frames are typically lighter than aluminium frames, and as such, are often considered to be faster. But they can also be more expensive. Carbon frames are also more susceptible to crash damage or accidental damage.

Aluminium frames are typically more affordable, and they’re also more durable. They’re not as light as carbon frames, but they offer a good balance of weight, lateral stiffness, and comfort. 

If you’re looking for an affordable entry-level road bike, then an aluminium frame is often the best choice.

What about my choice of wheels?

If you thought that all bike wheels were the same, you’ll be surprised at the wide range of debate and options about which wheels and tyres are best for cycling.

Some of the questions you might see online, hear amongst your cycling friends, or even be asked at your local bike shop, include:

  • Do you want shallow section wheels, or deep section wheels?
  • Are you after rigid tyres or folding tyres?
  • Do you want your tyres to be tubeless?

Relax, and don’t worry.

If you’re just starting out on your cycling journey, your choice here really isn’t going to make too much difference to your cycling experience.

A lot of professional cyclists use deep section wheels as they are more aerodynamic and can help them achieve greater speeds – especially on flat terrain. But we’re really talking about marginal gains here. If you’re just starting out, lightweight shallow section wheels will be the better (and more affordable) option.

Your choice of tyres is also a matter of personal preference.

There are two types of tyres: rigid and folding. Rigid tyres have a steel wire that attaches the tyre to the wheel, while folding tyres use Kevlar which is more durable and flexible than wire. This new development in tyre technology means that modern folding tyres are both lighter and easier to carry than their rigid counterparts – but often more expensive!

Tubeless tyres are also a relatively new development in cycling. Tubeless tyres are significantly more resistant to punctures than traditional tyres as there is no inner tube inside. Many riders also believe that tubeless tyres offer a smoother ride as there is less rolling resistance.

Ultimately, when choosing your wheels and tyres, you need to balance price with performance – but ultimately, it’s all about personal preference!

Where is the best place to buy a road bike?

If you want to take advantage of the discounts available via Cyclescheme, you’re best off taking a look at the approved bike shops that are in their list of approved retailers.

Or if you already have friends who are into cycling, ask them which local bike shop they would recommend. There is a lot to be said for going into a physical shop and viewing the range of road bikes that are available.

There are also many great online stores such as Ribble Cycles, and Leisure Lakes Bikes that have a wide range of bikes to suit all preferences.

Have you got any more questions about buying your first road bike? Get in touch and let us know how we can help!

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