How to Buy a Suitable Road Bike

If you want to take up road biking and want a bike you can use without requiring upgrades later, $1000 is a good price range to shop for a new bicycle.


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    Consider the purpose of your bike. If you plan to use the bike for camping or commuting, a touring bike to carry your belongings will better suit your purpose.
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    Realize the primary price determinant in choosing a bike is the type of the frame and the quality of the components.
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    Decide whether you're more focused on comfort or performance. Some people will tell you that "Steel frames offer a more comfortable ride. Aluminum weighs less, and is more efficient, but is less comfortable. Carbon fiber offers the best in comfort and performance, but is out of the $1000 price range." The quality of a frame varies drastically, so the above is not always true. Frame geometry and design are also important.
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    Pay attention to wheels. Not only do they have a considerable impact on the ride feel of the bike, they are also a significant portion of the weight equation. Not only do they weigh as much or more than the frame, they account for rotating weight, which has a much larger effect on the ease of acceleration than the fixed mass of the frame. If you can find a bike with light, strong wheels, it will be a great bonus. Ask your bike shop what kinds they recommend.
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    Learn the different component types. At $1,000 your best hope is to get most or all Shimano Tiagra components. Shop around to compare specs, but components are only one aspect of a road bike.
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    Find two or three bikes in your price range. Ride each bike to determine which fits you best. Bear in mind that if you have never ridden a proper road bike before they will all feel uncomfortable at first, so get some advice on fit from someone with a bit of experience.
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    Keep in mind that there will be very little difference in the actual geometry of the frames, and that all new bikes, whether they are $100 or $10,000 will shift smoothly. So what you want to pay attention to as you test ride the bikes are the ride 'feel', and the fit/setup of the bike.
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    Your local bike shop will fit the bike to your body and riding style by getting you to, A. Stand over the frame, and B. ride the bike (possibly in a trainer) and adjusting the seat (height, forward / back), and handlebars (height, stem length). Keep in mind that there are several variables in the fit of the bike. The distance from the seat to the pedals is directly related to your leg length, and they will adjust that distance by raising or lowering the seat. The distance forward to the handlebars, and the height of the handlebars is not so easily adjustable, and is set first by the size and geometry of the frame, along with the stem. Get the position about right with the frame size, and fine-tune the fit by swapping out stems.
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    Avoid getting obsessed with finding the perfect bike. You will have to make trade offs. Even though bikes in the $1000 price range are very good, you won't get the best of everything. If you think you won't be completely satisfied with the bike you'll get for $1000, consider buying one with a nicer frame, but lower spec components; they will be easy to upgrade one by one as you get the money.


  • If you are willing to spend some time, these sites can yield some great deals, but do your research before-hand. Go to a bike shop, figure out what sized bike you need, figure out which bikes you are interested in, and then start to hunt.
  • If you buy a used bike, be willing to spend $100 to take it into your local bike shop to adjust the fit for you and have the bike tuned up.
  • You can often buy a used two-year old version of the exact bike you want from eBay or Craigslist for less than half the price of a new bike.
  • Long distance rides/ triathlons are nicer with aero bars. Make sure you practice with them before going for a big ride!


  • Ebay is a great place to buy bikes, but beware fraudulent sellers. if they don't accept paypal, don't send them money. Especially beware if the offer seems too good to be true. Look for listings with in-focus pictures of the entire bike, the crank, derailers, and the brakes.
  • Buy a bike that fits. Don't be tempted by a great deal on a bike that isn't a perfect fit. A great-fitting bike will age like an old friend. The great components and materials on that ill-fitting bargain won't do you any good when you're feeling sore on your umpteenth long ride.
  • Many bicycle manufacturers offer a lifetime warranty on the bicycle frame, but if you read closely, you will find that the warranty only applies to the original owner. It is NOT transferable. So if you purchase a used bike, and there is a frame problem, you will be out of luck.

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Categories: Bicycles