Do you enjoy the great outdoors? Or, are you like most of us and feel guilty that you don’t get out quite enough?
In either case, finding fun outdoor activities is a must, and something that a lot of people are discovering is that cycling is fun, challenging, and great for fitness and boosting energy. If you’re starting to break into cycling, you might be thinking about getting your own shiny, fancy road bike.
It can be a great investment that leads to tons of fun and better health, but buying a road bike is not a simple task. There’s a lot to know, and if you’re truly new to this form of cycling, then there are a few things you’re going to want to know first.
The Posture Is Different
The first thing you really need to know about a road bike is that it is designed for a completely different type of cycling. Kids’ bikes and mountain bikes are designed for an upright posture. Road bikes are different. The bike pushes your posture forward (into what is often called an athletic posture), and the feeling is very different.
This posture is supposed to make you more aerodynamic, and it helps you generate more power as you pedal.
What matters most for someone who is new to road bikes is that this posture is going to force you to relearn how to ride a bike — to an extent. If you’ve never used a road bike before, try it out and practice before committing to any purchases.
The Tires Are Narrow
Road bikes have narrow wheels and tires on purpose. The thinner tires compress less, which means they create less friction and enable you to go faster. But, reducing friction in this way comes with consequences.
The first consequence is that thinner tires are also harder to balance. While you’re changing your posture and struggling with that balance, you get an extra challenge from the thinner tires.
The other consequence is that the thinner tires are a lot less durable. They really are designed for roads (bike paths and sidewalks are also fine). They can’t offroad at all. The wheels bend more easily than mountain bike wheels, and smaller amounts of damage can ruin thin tires.
There Is No Suspension
Mountain bikes have a suspension system that helps to absorb impacts and make the ride more comfortable. After all, mountain trails can be rough.
Road bikes are designed specifically for the relatively smooth surface of a paved road. Since suspensions have weight, road bike designers long ago came to the consensus that they are completely unnecessary, so it’s tough to find a road bike with a suspension system.
If you’re not used to it, the extra jolts in the ride can make things uncomfortable at first.
They Are Advanced Machines
The most intimidating aspect of buying a road bike for the first time is navigating all of the options. You can choose different designs, styles, materials, features, and price ranges, and each choice comes with consequences.
To get the right bike for you, you can dedicate the next six months to studying everything about road bikes. Or, you can get some help. Every bike shop in the country has someone working there who absolutely loves riding. They want to help you find the right bike, so let them help.
While you’re letting them help, remember that sorting through your options is going to take time and patience. Don’t rush into anything. Try out different styles and designs. When you can really feel the difference from one bike to the next, then you can pick your favorite — as long as it’s inside of your budget.