How to choose a road bike?

How on earth do you go about choosing a road bike?

A little background: I’ve been training for about 3-4 years, and race triathlon. I mostly train on my TT bike, but for a variety of reasons am thinking it’s time to buy a nice road bike. I love in a rural area and really don’t have access to demoing nice bikes.

I can get my head wrapped around a lot of the selection points - i know I want something I could eventually road/crit race on. I know I want disc brakes. I know I want electronic shifting. But that describes like 100 different bikes. Once you get that far, how the hell do you pick between this, that, and the other thing?

I can’t help because I don’t really keep tabs on what’s on offer… to others help you though, you should probably elaborate on your reasons for wanting a road bike, and your budget.

I guess general riding- groups rides, chasing KOMs, etc - with the ability to race something other than tt’s

Budget is pretty flexible, let’s say 4-7k.

Go to a fitter that has a fit bike. Figure out what geometry you need. Have him give you a couple options in your price range that can be set up correctly. Test ride a couple of them. But the one you like.

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I like this suggestion a lot: most people buy a bike and then a fitter has to work around a frame that perhaps does not fit properly or sports a geometry that isn’t ideal for the rider.

Under normal circumstances, I’d recommend people to aim for something more relaxed — too many people want to ride something racy, disregarding reality. Fortunately, there are many bikes on offer that square the circle in different ways. You have racier endurance bikes like the BMC Roadmachine or more relaxed race bikes (Trek bikes with H2 geometries). The other thing to consider is whether you want to optimize for speed. There are interesting options like the Open UP, the 3T Exploro or similar, which are road bikes that allow you to fit everything, from 25 mm to proper mountain bike tires.

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I third the advice to go to a fitter and get some geometry figures first.

But I also suggest browsing https://theradavist.com/beautiful-bicycles/ for some inspiration. The recent (and historical) ENVE Builder posts and Chris King Open House posts in particular are a good way to get exposed to a bunch of brands quickly.

Last year when I was browsing for bikes the store i was in was suggesting this - you got a fit session and then they could recommend bikes from that and set up the test rig to replicate those bikes. They also set off the cost of the fit against any bike. Not sure what the setup was called (also UK bike shop) but seemed a good idea if you are dropping a sizeable chunk on a bike - which you are.
I’d highly recommend a bunch of test rides though to get some idea - if you have any road riding buddies of a similar size, try their bikes…and for that amount of potential expense you should have stores giving you very good service.

I just picked one I liked the look of. shrug

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The first thing I would do is go to every bike shop in town and ride all their options. Test their vibe and figure out which shop you like the best. As a beginner you’ll need their support with selection and fitting. You’ll learn a lot with shop visits and you might want to do a second round even.

Another factor is whether you have a difficult to fit body shape or if you are squarely in the middle of off the shelf sizes. It’s hard to go wrong with Giant, Specialized, or Trek. You need more experience if you are planning on buying Colnago, Pinarello, some custom titanium, or more exotic bike.

It might be wise to start off with a used bike since you are new to road riding. You can often get a 2-5 year old road bike that sat in the garage for 30-50% of the price of new. If you find a good deal on a used bike you can ride it for a while, learn what you like, hone in on sizing and then sell it and get something better.

This is good advice - buy one that seems ok (you should have a rough idea of size from your TT bike) and find out what you like and what not. It’s hard to predict if you like a twitchy bike or a more stable one, how aggressive you like your road position etc. From what you’ve said, you jyst want to get into road riding more, and racing is probably a bit down the line, so you don’t immediatly need to find the ‘best’ bike out there.

Thanks for all the suggestions folks. I really like the idea of starting w/ a fit, and of borrowing friends bikes for afternoons just to feel how they feel.

I guess I should clarify that I’m not entirely “new” to road riding. I’m a 3.9 w/kg rider and when I do ride road or in groups, I’ve been riding an asylum cross bike w/ road tires on it. I live about 2 hrs from the nearest high end bike shops, so I’m hoping to come up with some decision tree that gets me a little further down the line of figuring out what bike is “right for me” without needing to schlep down there a dozen times.

Yo @leocbuc…long response sorry: Beware when you barrow friends bikes or test ride bikes from shops. While not necessarily a “bad” idea you just need to understand tires and pressures will make two identical bikes feel like two different bikes. Ideally, when you test ride you’d want the same tires, pressure, wheels and saddle. That’s not always possible but, keep it in the back of your head and always question what exactly you are feeling and why is it feeling this way.

I’m in the market for an all around race bike and can only tell you what I’m considering:

-Size and geometry: Most bikes have nearly identical geometry so, sizing is easy between manufacturers. It’s mostly stack and reach now for sizing for me…I’ve been doing this forever so any “54” will give me a top of saddle to center of BB distance I need, back of saddle to hood distance I need with a saddle setback of 5cm which is where I like it. The saddle will be mid rail and the stem will probably have a little a 5-10mm spacer under it to give me the bar height I have been used to and familiar with.

-Component group: For me SRAM AXS has some really interesting gearing with their 12 speed range. A 48/35 up front with a 10-33 in back really has me excited for climbing gearing and the 48-10 is close enough for max sprinting I won’t lose anything there. Also, I know I want power and have been using Quark for years so, the integrated Quark PM with SRAM is a no brainer. Shimano can factory install PM’s so not a negative for Shimano and the gearing range with their 11 speed has gotten wider each year. I think they are at a 52/36 with an 11-30 if you want in the back. Lastly, the group will be hydraulic simply because it’s better than mechanical disc (IMO/E).

-Wheels: All I know is I want 50mm or deeper and disc. The wider internal rim the better. 50mm means carbon as aluminum isn’t doable much over like 30mm.

-Front end: I want the cockpit as integrated as possible just to be clean and aero. Carbon bars are not needed but, they have a nice feel. More importantly I hope to get 40 or 38cm wide bars.

-Frame: What I don’t really care about is if it’s termed aero or climbing. The difference might be measurable but, it’s not noticeable. Especially for hobbyist like us I really think it’s something marketing has latched onto making novices feel like they really really would be better of with a climbing bike v aero…What I do want are seat stays that are lower (pretty much every bike on the market for 2021). I had a 2016 Scott Foil years ago that had these stays and I swear it was the most comfortable bike in part due to this. The front end has to be nimble/quick front end and stable rear triangle.

-other: buy from a shop with good mechanics and helpful staff. Warranties are a great piece of mind and the relationship with the shop usually pays off one way or another over time. If that means it’s a Trek, C-dale, Specialized, Scott, Orbea, BMC, Merida, Bianchi, Giant etc…I really don’t think you can go wrong. All have bikes I’d ride.

In the current climate, it’s not about a choosing a bike you like. It’s about choosing a bike that’s actually in stock.

Good luck with that.