Ten Steps for Buying Your First Road Bike

You’ve made the mental leap to sport the spandex. Congratulations and welcome to the Club!

Before you run out and buy a bike, consider these 10 steps when buying a new road bike:

1. Set a Budget – Few beginner cyclists have the coin or commitment to shop with an unlimited budget and even fewer beginning cyclists will see value in buying “too much bike.”  Instead, Road Bike Mike recommends that you settle on a budget you’re comfortable with ($600 – $1,500 should be plenty for your first bike) and get as much ‘bike’ as you can for the money.  Remember, bikes have specs and specs are easily compared.


2. Add $300 to Your Budget – A lot of good a road bike will do if you don’t have a helmet, pedals (yes, many road bikes do not come with pedals), shoes, clothes, tools, water bottles, etc.  If this extra $300 breaks the budget, revisit Step 1 with this in mind.


3. Determine the Frame Size – You can believe *almost* everything you’ve read and heard regarding bike fit.  Yes, it’s incredibly important to your comfort and enjoyment.  Yes, you should spend time getting the right size frame.  Yes, you should have a professional fine-tune the fit.  No, you should not be paralyzed by this step in the process.  Using Road Bike Mike’s most trusted fit source: Competitive Cyclist’s Fit Calculator will help you identify the appropriate geometry and frame size.  Armed with this information, you can safely buy a bike and ride it out of the box.


4.Research – Spend some time with your local bike shop, on eBay/Craigslist, reading online forums.  This research will help you understand the basics, know what questions to ask the shop/seller/vendor you ultimately buy from, and ultimately help you decide what bike best fits your criteria.  Research is more than just reading.  Ask questions of your roadbike friends.  Ask questions at the local bike store.  Heck, ask us questions!


5. Pull the Trigger – You’ve set your budget, checked it twice, determined the proper frame size and learned all you can about frame materials, bike components, pricing, used options, new options, etc.  Could you be more ready? Maybe.  Is it worth delaying your first ride to get from 95% comfortable to 100%? No.  It’s a bike, not a marriage.  Nothing against marriage, but in this deal, you can easily fix almost anything that doesn’t match your expectations.


6. Assemble the Bike – Since you’ve done your research and learned (from Road Bike Mike and others) that your budget goes further with online retailers and “non-brand name bike” you ended buying a Motobecane, Tommaso or other brand that gets you twice the bike for half the price; you’re now patiently waiting for a bike box to arrive.  If you’re mechanically inclined, the assembly is easy enough to do yourself.  If you’d rather trust the pros, drop it off at the local bike store and have them assemble and tune the bike.


7. Fit the Bike – Formally or informally, set an appointment with your local bike store to help with a preliminary fit.  From seat height to seat setback; stem rise to stem angle your local shop can get you in proper position to begin piling on the miles.


8. Ride – Log your miles.  Enjoy the bike.  After you’ve accumulated the miles and grown accustomed to your bike and the sport in general, move on to step 9.


9. Perfect the Fit of your Bike – After several hundred miles, you’ll be able to identify everything from minor nuisances to major discomforts.  Head back into your local bike store and share your experience.  Slight discomfort in the lower back?  Tell them, it could mean that your reach is too long and that a new stem could alleviate this discomfort.  Elbows feeling strained?  Let ‘em know, perhaps your handlebars need a slight adjustment.


10. Share the Love – Welcome to the Club!  You’ve gone from road bike newbie to road bike groupie.  Spread the love and get a friend, co-worker, sibling, parent, neighbor, etc. involved in the sport.  Share what you’ve learned, share what you love and let’s fill the streets with cyclists.