Tips for Buying My 1st Road Bike

  • Home
  • Tips for Buying My 1st Road Bike
14 replies [Last post]
Anonymous's picture

Hi, I just joined the club and signed up for the C-SIG. The only problem is that I do not currently own a road bike! I have a Trek hybrid, but would like to buy a road bike within the next few weeks that I can use for the C-SIG series. I would like to buy a bike that is not too expensive, but that will meet my needs for the next few years. I am planning to do alot of biking this year and would love to eventually progress to the B-SIG (I'm not sure what to expect at this point). It seems that there's alot to consider before purchasing a bike. If any of you could provide some basic information or point me in the direction of an online article that covers the basics, I would really appreciate it!!

Thanks very much.

Kind Regards,
Barbara Gillespie

Anonymous's picture
Steve (not verified)

Fit is the most important thing. You need to go to a shop that you trust and get them to fit you properly on the bike. Other then that, just ride.

Anonymous's picture
John (not verified)

There are so many choices. So, I can only give one opinion.

As Steve said, find a good shop – there are many – and get a goof fit. And ride! Ride lots.

I would buy a medium-end bike, something that will take you right into the B SIG and further. My minimum would be a 105 Shimano group (your gears, shifters, brakes, etc.). Do some googling on Trek, Specialized, Cannondale. See what the stores have. I bet there are some 2006 bikes just waiting to be sold to make room for new ones. Look on-line, see what you may get on-line. It is good research. Go to, Colorado Cyclist, check prices, specs … then buy at a local bike shop, an lbs. This way you will always have a mechanic and store with which you have a relationship.

Get a bike that will take you over the next couple or few years without becoming an anchor for you. You may spend a bit more than you want, but it will pay off. Cycling tends to be self-enhancing. If you ride a C12 for a few months, you become a C14. It just happens. You get better. There does come a point where training commitment is required to progress, but you will always preserve at least some of your fitness by simply riding. And a good bike makes it a pleasure to ride.

And remember to have extra $$ for pedals (you will want to go clipless, if you have not already), shoes, bottles/cages, chammy shorts, cyclometer, tools, tubes, pumps, etc.

Good luck,

Anonymous's picture
John Miller (not verified)

Maybe relating my first road bike experience could prove instructive. I also came to it from a hybrid:

-I spent as much as I could at the time; for me that was a blood-from-a-stone layaway $1000;

-I went unabashedly bang for the buck -- for the same $1000 I could have picked from 3 different bikes, but the aluminum Giant I bought was the only one with head-to-toe Shimano 105. A weaker dollar today means you find more mix-and-match within models;

-I got SPD pedals -- double-sided so I didn't have to think about clipping in so much and a very walkable MTB shoe;

-Didn't know it at the time, but I should have budgeted, however modestly, for wheels. At the low-to-medium end, stock wheels will invariably go out of true. Neuvation and Bontrager are two inexpensive aftermarket brands with which I've had mostly good experience;

-I outgrew my triple chainring after a season. In fact I grew to hate it as a cross-chaining, dirt-catching wretch that adds almost a pound of dead weight to your bike. Don't get one. I think a 53/39 with a 25 or 27 in the back is fine for regional terrain. Assuming a proper fit and relatively normal physiology, you'll get stronger faster not having the bailout option.

Hope this is helpful.

John M.

Anonymous's picture
[email protected] (not verified)

"""I spent as much as I could at the time""

Agree, but maybe $1-1.5K

"" the aluminum Giant.""

Reluctantly agree. Would love to see more/better steel options in the $1-1.5K range. Fixable after a minor ding. Aluminum can't be straightened. Carbon can't be trusted.

""SPD pedals double-sided ... and a very walkable MTB shoe.""

Very agree.

""Low-to-medium end, stock wheels will invariably go out of true.""

Disagree. Low/mid-end may be heavier but are likely made of more basic, serviceable components that are easier to true and maintain once you learn how.

""I outgrew my triple chainring after a season. In fact I grew to hate it as a cross-chaining, dirt-catching wretch that adds almost a pound of dead weight to your bike. Don't get one. I think a 53/39 with a 25 or 27 in the back is fine for regional terrain. Assuming a proper fit and relatively normal physiology, you'll get stronger faster not having the bailout option.""

Very disagree. One pound is nothing. You want two things from your gearing -- range to maintain cadence over a steep inclines/declines and nuance to comfortably trim your pace witin groups. Hard to achieve with a double unless you're very strong. A triple will preserve your knees, ego and sanity.

Once you get past a single gear, it's all polemic.

Anonymous's picture
Joe S. (not verified)

1. Agree that you should get a 105-equipped bike. Lower level components will feel fine today, but you will regret it next season. And it's much cheaper to get the components as part of the bike than to upgrade down the road.

2. If you are relatively tall for a woman, some bike shop employees may steer you to a men's frame. Unless you have a torso/leg ratio that is greater than average for a woman, you will find a better fit on a women's frame.

3. Budget - if you are buying a mid-range bike, keep in mind that you can spend nearly as much, and over time, more, on all the other stuff (pedals, shoes, computer, pump, floor pump, mini-tool, light, tubes, and of course, clothing). Don't let that put you off though - it's a great investment in your health, not to mention lots of fun.

Anonymous's picture
Carol Wood (not verified)
Some ideas


Are you just starting out as a cyclist, or have you been riding for awhile?

Your choices for a new bike are many, perhaps too many. If you are looking for a bike you can ride for years, you would be well-served to find out first what kind of rider you are and what kind of routes you want to do.

Without knowing anything about you, I would suggest that you ride your hybrid a while longer, maybe borrow a road bike if you can, or buy a cheap used one (that fits properly). Or buy a relatively inexpensive road bike to get you through the first year or two, rather than spending a lot on a high-end or custom model before you're sure what you want.

You'll get to meet a lot of people through the SIG and see a lot of bikes, and you'll be wanting all of them. You only need one--the right one. But getting a better idea of what is out there will help you make the right choice--how much you want to spend, aggressive vs. relaxed frame style, weight, gearing.

If you simply must buy a bike right away, I recommend looking into Terry Bicycles, a New York, woman-owned business. They make good quality bikes, designed for women's physiques, that in my opinion are an excellent value. (I own the Terry Isis, which used to be a titanium frame but is now different.) Their sales reps are friendly and knowledgeable, and may be able to help you figure out what's right for you.

If you are 5'4"" or under, you should consider getting a bike with 650 c wheels. That's what I ride, and I could tell you more about the differences.

As for gearing, I strongly differ from John's view about triple chain rings. Unless you are an aggressive and very fit cyclist, there will be times when you need a small gear--when you're tired, having a bad day, a muscle cramp, or are trying a more challenging route than you're used to. The thing about the third ring is: you probably won't need it often, but when you do, you'll be exceedingly glad it's there.

A friend talked me into buying a double chain ring with my first road bike. I had it switched to a triple in the first month. And this advice comes from someone who now mostly rides a fixed gear. It's a matter of function, not pride.

Check out the page on Bicycle Habitat's Web site about bike fit. ( It's important that you know something about fit so you can ask the right questions. In my experience, people often end up with bikes that are too big--even people who have been riding a long time. That can lead to discomfort and even injury over the long run. The bike needs to fit like a glove because you two will be very close!

Good luck!


Anonymous's picture
Paul (not verified)
Keep what you have

I like hybrids and would suggest you keep what you have until you really feel you need a new bike. For many people, they'll accomplish the same thing whether they have a hybrid or a road bike. Sure, with a hyrbid you won't be able to assume the SuperCool™ aerodynamic look that you can achieve when in the drops on a road bike, but maybe you don't want to.

Last year there was B Sig rider who rode a hybrid and did fine, so I suspect you may find the same thing. One of the biggest advantages of a road bike is the low rolling resistance afforded by the skinny tires. You may already have such tires on your bike; if you do, great. If you don't, then you may get away with simply keeping them properly inflated or buying a different set of tires at a cost of ~ $30 each.

Anonymous's picture
Robert Shay (not verified)

"Terrific, terrific advice in this thread!!!

If you are riding under 15 mph for now, you may want to take Carol's and Paul's advice and ride what you have, at least for the first few months. See what others are riding and decide when you are ready. You can see pictures of what other C-SIGS are riding in the archives of this website.

A new bike will be expensive - bike plus ""stuff"" approx $1,500 - assuming at least Shimano 105 components."

Anonymous's picture
chris y (not verified)

remember that you get a discount (usually 10%) off at many good local bike shops as listed in the club newsletter... page 19 of the current newletter on line.

Anonymous's picture
John (not verified)


Just start researching and see what is out there. Watch other riders. Talk to the shops. If they are unresponsive, it's will not be better - look elsewhere.

If you are shorter than say, 5'4"", you may want to look at 650 wheels (standard road bikes have 700 wheels), a compact frame and/or a a woman specific design. Woman's bike do not have to be manufactured and sold by women ;-P Just start looking and see what there is.

John Miller says no triple. I, John, Me, recommend a triple. For many reasons. You are just starting and hills may become a pain - literally. It is nice to have a few shifts to ease back into. If you get tired or injured, it's nice to have easy gearing on the way home. I've done 26% climbs - the doubles were walking, even the strong. I've done 6-8% climbs, easy in a double: but when the 6% is for 10-12 miles, it is again nice to have the triple, esp if you just did a big climb and there is another one coming. I did these in 200 and 300 km brevets.

BTW, Shimano makes several groups (gruppos). They are, in ascending order, Sora, Tiagra, 105, Ultegra and Dura Ace at the top. Go 105 or higher.

My first road bike had an Shimano Ultegra triple and my friends, esp the racers, ribbed me about the granny gear - until I started to hang with and then drop them on the hills. Then, during a few stages of the Vuelta a Espana 2003-04(??), several teams, including USPS, had triples. I have not heard “granny gear” since. Even if you have the muscle strength to turn a double on a steep hill, you can only do it so long and the recovery time for muscles is longer than that for the aerobic system. Spinning has quicker a recovery than mashing. Triple. – it allows for easy spinning. It’s like weight lifting; if you can curl 20 pounds 20 reps, you can do 5 pound 40 reps. It is just easier on the muscles. Of course, to maintain a certain speed, you have to have a higher cadence in the smaller gears of a triple – your aerobic system does more work than the muscles – but recovery time is considerably less. Triple!

A Dura Ace triple weighs 7-8 grams, grams more than an Ultegra double.

Anonymous's picture
Steve (not verified)

An alternative to a triple would be to get a compact crank - a 50x34 front coupled with a 12-27 cassette in back would be plenty of gearing for most folks doing local riding.

Anonymous's picture
Hank Schiffman (not verified)
I also like this thread.

If you look at it that you already have a bike and the cost of a new bike will set you back. Then throw in that you are just coming to organized riding and uncertain about your specific needs. Hold your cards and test the waters. Your purchase will then be more focused. Time is not a problem in your equation.

Anonymous's picture
Evan Marks (not verified)
More about bike fit
Anonymous's picture
Barbara Gillespie (not verified)
You Guys are Awesome!

Thanks so much for all of this information! It's a bit overwhelming and I can see that I have alot to learn. As such, I think that I will simplify my life by just using my hybrid for the C-SIG, for the first few weeks at least, and start to talk to people, see what others are riding, figure out my goals, etc., before I buy a new bike.

Although most of you are probably not in the C-SIG, I hope to cross paths with you at one of the club meetings or events!

Thanks very much!

Barbara G.

cycling trips