Also titled, “How to Buy Better Race Results”.
But really, being on the right bike can be the difference in several minutes in your races, the more the longer the race is. There are obviously thousands of bikes out there on the market, and several that aren’t even in production any more. So when you start shopping for a new bike, there are a multitude of things that you will want to consider in order to make sure what you buy is the best thing for your individualized needs.
First thing’s first. Make sure you know what kind of bike fits! Every manufacturer has their own style of geometry, and they’re all different. A good way to know what type of geometry will probably fit you is to know your body type. Most people either have long legs and short torso, or short torso and long legs. And bike manufacturers take that into consideration. Someone with long legs and a short torso is going to most likely fit better on a bike with a lot of stack and a shorter reach while a person with shorter legs and longer torso will be the exact opposite. Also take into consideration the desired drop from the saddle to handlebars. If you want to get your handlebars very low, you should make sure the bike has a low enough stack to be able to do that. Comfort is key, so being on a bike that fits is the most important factor to consider.
Price and budget is the second most important thing to consider with a new bike. once you know what style of geometry you need, most manufacturers have several different versions of the same bike and often range a few thousand dollars from the entry level version to the top of the line pro version. What make these differences? Most of the time, the frame is the same, but the components differ. A bike outfitted with stock wheels, a 105 drive, and aluminum handlebars is going to cost a lot less than a bike with carbon race wheels, electronic Dura Ace drive and carbon handlebars. The key is knowing just how much want to spend, and how much you’re willing to spend, and from there, the number of bikes to choose from can be reduced drastically.
Next in line of importance is functionality. Is the bike going to be used for triathlons or time trials where you will be by yourself in the wind when you race? Then you’ll probably be most interested in an aerodynamic frame or a time trial specific bike. Is the bike going to be used a lot for climbing mountains? Then you may want to put your money towards getting a frame and components that are very light weight. Is the bike going to be used for some comfort leisure riding? Maybe you should look into a comfort endurance road bike. Bikes can come in very different styles, so knowing what the intent of the bike is can be very important. You don’t want to buy a time trial bike to go do road racing or to ride on dirt, and you don’t want to buy a mountain bike if you’re going to be riding only on pavement.
At this point, you’ve probably whittled down the pool of possible bikes to just a few models, so now its time to get into the nitty gritty questions. Is the bike easy to maintain or will you be taking it to a shop for all maintenance? Will parts be available for the bike as long as you own it? Is the bike compatible with aftermarket accessories such as race wheels, cranks, handlebars, brakes, etc.? How does the value stack up against other bikes? Is the color appealing? Does the manufacturer offer a warranty on the bike? These are all important questions that you should know the answer to before purchasing, because if one question has the wrong answer, you may end up hating the bike in the long run.
So next time you are in the market for a new bike, keep these things in mind. Riding the bike should never be a chore, so make sure you love what you buy, and that you will love the bike for years to come. And don’t forget to always, always buy from and support your local bike shops! They are there to make sure you get out the door on the product that is best for you!