So, you want to buy a new road bike?

OK, I went to our local bike shop today just to satisfy my curiosity and to be able to orientate myself on a new bike. You can read my reasoning and my personal story on my about page. This is not a guide on how to find the cheapest bike, but more on how I am trying to find a bike that fits me. Not just size wise, also budget wise.

Specialized Roubaix SL4 Sport

Specialized Roubaix Sl4 Roubaix SL4 Sport

Different bike manufacturers

There are a ton of different bike manufacturers out there, Specialized, Giant, Trek, Koga, BianchiAvanti, MongooseCannondale and Merida to name just a few. All these brands are basically all good, you won’t be wasting your money buying any of these brands, so which brand to choose? Well, it boils down to personal preference. As I wrote on my about page, I used to have a Koga bike as a teenager and that brand is still around today ( and they are Dutch), so that could be a choice. Or you can look what your favorite pro rider or pro team uses, or maybe simply choose a brand for its looks. As long as buy a bike that fits you, if you are uncomfortable on your and you are hurting after riding a nice, long trip on your new bike, the fun of it windes down very quickly and it is absolutely not necessary. As I said in the intro I just went to the local bike shop and told the salesperson my story and what I what my plan is with regards to re-enter the cycling scene. I made a conscious choice to go to the local bike shop, you might pay a little more then when you try ordering a bike online, but your local shop can help you with any questions you have, you can try different bikes right there and most importantly they can help you with the fit of your new bike.

In this blog post I limited the choice and look at three different brands as an example. From each of these brands I took 3 models to show what your money can buy you. Again, I am not looking for the cheapest bike, as I explained before, but a a road bike that fits me and that can give some serious fun in the next coming years. The 3 brands are CubeGiant and Specialized.

Road Bike Components

That doesn’t make it easy as pie yet, because the range that each of these manufacturers produces these days is mind blowing.

So the next factor would be the components. Now I have to explain something about the components on a road bike. When you say you have a bike from a certain brand, you are mainly talking about the frame and in most case the wheels. Because the different bicycle manufactures mainly concentrate on the frame, most them also have make the wheels as well, and then  there are manufactures who focus their efforts on manufacturing components like group sets, saddles, wheels. Now is also a good time to tell you that I have also a blog post written explaining the  different  components on a road bike.

Group sets

Shimano 105 GroupsetThe first thing the gentleman in the store explained to me was the difference in group sets. The group set is basically your shifter, sprockets and brakes, the stop & go parts so to speak. Now the big 3 manufacturers when it comes to group sets are Shimano, Campagnolo and Sram. There are all kind of discussions all over the internet on the differences between the different manufacturers, but all the bikes I look at in this blogpost all have Shimano group sets, so that choice is easy for me. Mainly  it is largely also personal preference and since as a beginner you wouldn’t have a personal preference yet, shimano is a good as a choice as any.  I have written a separate blogpost about Shimano group sets to explain how their group sets line up.

Frame

Frame materials

Back in the days when I had still side wheels on my kids bike, the choice material for frames was steel. Then in the quest for speed and weight saving, man came up with the idea of making the frame from aluminium and today the choice material is carbon fibre. At the top end you can also find frames made from titanium, which is said to have a very responsive road feel, but I consider that out of budget for most beginner cyclists. Carbon fibre is very light and very strong, that is why it is a very popular choice, but it is also more expensive than steel or aluminium. That is why you still see a wide range of steel and aluminium frames available for road bikes. Since I am re-entering the cycling game, albeit not a total novice, I do consider the aluminium option as well. Carbon frames do give the rider a smoother ride quality, aluminium frames are somewhat harsher when it comes to vibrations which can tire you out some more, so that is a consideration.

Frame Size

frame tubes on a road bike

frame tubes on a road bike

Next question that comes up then is which frame size. Well, that is where you local bike shop comes in, because there is no clear cut formula for which frame size should fit your body. There are a lot of variables involved in choosing the correct frame size. In short what defines the size of the frame is the seat tube, the top tube and the head tube. Then there is the saddle height and the reach. It is the reach is probably the most important measurement depicting how well you feel at home on your bike. The top tube is the main measurement, since that is what defines your reach. The saddle height is highly adjustable, but the length from the seat post to the head tube is fixed. You can put a different length stem on your bike which is a few centimeters longer, but the range is limited before it starts interfering with the handling of the bike. I have a separate blog post detailing what to look for when it comes to how to fit your bike. It basically boils down to going to your local shop, or multiple shops if you have that luxury, and sit on a couple of different bikes from different brands and initially get a feel for what fits you best. These days, with the wide range of frames sizes available, there is no excuse for not being comfortable on your bike and being able to ride long distances without stepping of completely sore.

Frame Geometry

There is a lot to say about frame geometry, in essence you combine the reach and the drop of the handlebars such that you are in a comfortable position on your bike. I narrowed it down for myself to 2 basic ranges, a sportive range and a race bike range, where the race bike is a more extreme position in which you are more aerodynamic. That requires you to be more flexible in you back and  in order to be able to be in that position on your bike for a prolonged period of time without falling of your bike when you come to a full stop because you can not move anymore. A simple way of determining your flexibility is to check whether you can touch your toes bending over forward with your legs straight. If you are unable to touch toes, the sportive is probably more to your choice of frame. Different manufactures have different descriptions for the types of frames, Giant uses the terms endurance and race or aero race to describe the usage. Cube uses the terms comfort, endurance and race (but also touring, fitness and competition, boils down to the same thing I’d say) as descriptions.

There are also special triathlon and time trial bikes or frames, but that is not what I would consider entry level and so I did really look at those frame types.

So, what should the budget be?

Now we have the right context to go to the first round and know what is available. Although I narrowed my choice down to the 3 brands mentioned above, the price range still is very wide, from € 500 to € 5000, so what is in the list?

I limited to 3 models per brand. I do have an extra model added from Cube, the Peleton Pro, this is a model from last year and it is sold at a discount, this model is quite readily available still at the different bikes shops where I checked. Buying a road bike from last years model range is also always an option, especially at the beginning of the season, since manufacturers bring a new modelrange every year and want to get rid of the old models. So always keep your eyes open for these overstock models.

The models I choice range from € 680 to € 2599, see the overview below to see the main differences between these bikes to determine the reasons for the price differences between these bicycles.

Specialized

specialized

specialized

Specialized Allez DSW SL Comp

Specialized Allez DSW SL Comp

ModelAllez DSW SL Comp
Size49 - 61
Geometry
PrizeEUR 1599
FrameAlu
ForkCarbon
Weight
GroupsetShimano 105
BrakesBrake Caliper
Chain rings50/34
Rear cogs11-28
Specialized Roubaix SL4 Sport

Specialized Roubaix SL4 Sport

ModelRoubaix SL4 Sport
Size49 - 61
Geometryendurance
PrizeEUR 1999
FrameCarbon
ForkCarbon
Weight
GroupsetShimano 105
BrakesBrake Caliper
Chain rings50/34
Rear cogs11-32
Specialized Tarmac Elite

Specialized Tarmac Elite

ModelTarmac Elite
Size49 - 61
Geometry
PrizeEUR 2499
FrameCarbon
ForkCarbon
Weight
GroupsetShimano 105
BrakesBrake Caliper
Chain rings52/36
Rear cogs11-28

Cube

Cube

Cube

Cube Peloton Pro 2015

Cube Peloton Pro 2015

ModelPeleton Pro (2015)
Size47 - 64
Geometryendurance
PrizeEUR 679
FrameAlu
ForkCarbon
Weight9.45 kg
GroupsetShimano Sora
BrakesBrake Caliper
Chain rings50/39
Rear cogs11-30
Cube Attain Race

Cube Attain Race

ModelAttain Race
Size50 - 62
Geometrycomfort
PrizeEUR 999
FrameAlu
ForkCarbon
Weight9.35 kg
GroupsetShimano Tiagra
BrakesBrake Caliper
Chain rings50/34
Rear cogs11-34
Cube Attain GTC Pro Disc

Cube Attain GTC Pro Disc

ModelAttain GTC Pro Disc
Size50 - 62
Geometryendurance
PrizeEUR 1799
FrameCarbon
ForkCarbon
Weight9.0 kg
GroupsetShimano 105
BrakesDisc brakes
Chain rings50/34
Rear cogs11-32
Cube Litening C:62

Cube Litening C:62

ModelLitening C:62
Size50 - 62
Geometryrace
PrizeEUR 2599
FrameCarbon
ForkCarbon
Weight7.35 kg
GroupsetShimano Ultegra
BrakesBrake Caliper
Chain rings50/34
Rear cogs11-28

Giant

Giant Bicycles

Giant Bicycles

Giant Defy 1 Disc Blue

Giant Defy 1 Disc Blue

ModelDefy 1 Disc
SizeS, M, ML, L, XL
Geometryendurance
PrizeEUR 1299
FrameAlu
ForkCarbon
Weight9.12 kg
GroupsetShimano 105
BrakesDisc brakes
Chain rings50/34
Rear cogs11-32
Giant TCR Advanced 2

Giant TCR Advanced 2

ModelTCR Advanced 2
SizeXS, S, M, ML, L, XL
Geometryrace
PrizeEUR 1749
FrameCarbon
ForkCarbon
Weight7,8 kg
GroupsetShimano 105
BrakesBrake Caliper
Chain rings50/34
Rear cogs11-28
Giant Propel Advanced 1

Giant Propel Advanced 1

ModelPropel Advance 1
SizeS, M, ML, L, XL
Geometryrace
PrizeEUR 2099
FrameCarbon
ForkCarbon
Weight7,8 kg
GroupsetShimano Ultegra
BrakesBrake Caliper
Chain rings52/36
Rear cogs11-28

There you have it, that is my shortlist.I like the looks of the Specialized Roubaix with its vibration-damping Zertz inserts, but the prize might be a bit high. The Cube Attain looks like a very competitive range, especially the Attain GTC Pro Disc with a carbon frame, Shimano 105 group set and disc brakes. But then there is also the Giant Defy 1 Disc which offers the Shimano 105 group set and disc brakes on an aluminium frame!

Well, I don’t know yet. If you have any comments, maybe you already have on of these bikes and want to share your experience with us or if you have a question about any of these bicycles, please leave a comment below.

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