Road biking is a great way to keep your blood flowing and even helps connect you to new friends.
There’s no debating that fact.
And, it’s never too late to start biking since biking has a low impact on your muscles and joints.
Starting out in the biking world can seem intimidating since there are so many types of bikes and bikers.
And, you don’t know if you fit in with the racers, recreational bikers or somewhere between.
In this piece, we’ll talk about the different types of road bikes and how to buy one.
If you do not have time for the details, here are our top picks for best beginner road bike:
- Best Overall Road Bike: Savadeck Carbon Road Bike
- Best Road Bike for a Beginner Triathlete: Eurobike Road Bike EURXC7000
- Best Beginner Road Bike for Women: Vilano Shadow 3.0 Road Bike
- Best Beginner Road Bike under $1500: Schwinn Fastback AL 105
- Best Beginner Road Bike Under $1000: Tommaso Imola Endurance Bike
- Best Value Beginner Road Bike: Tommaso Sentiero Shimano Claris Gravel Adventure Bike
- Buyer’s Guide
- What is a road bike?
- Types of Road Bikes
- Frame Material
- Bike Components
- Best Beginner Road Bike Product Review
- Best Beginner Road Bike Top Pick
Before we jump into the details of the buyer’s guide, let’s lay down some basic questions.
- What type of riding are you currently doing?
- What type of riding do you want to do?
- How much can you spend on a bike?
- How many years have you been cycling?
- What is your skill leve on the bike?
Once you answer them, you’ll have a clearer idea of what type of bike is best for you.
What is a road bike?
What makes a road bike a road bike and why do people prefer them over other types of bikes?
Road bikes are made with a lighter frame compared to other types of bikes such as mountain or BMX bikes. And, there are different types of frame materials, shapes, and purposes for road bikes, which we’ll discuss later.
If you look at road bikes, they will have skinny tires that generally are 23mm or 25m. These keep the bike’s overall weight low and don’t have the same grip and security as “fat” tires or ones that are 30mm and wider.
Road bikes are ridden on flat and smooth surfaces and therefore don’t need suspension to absorb shocks from bumps in the road. If a road bike does need more comfort, it will have wider tires or inbuilt compliance built into the frame.
Road bikes have multiple gears and consist of two cogs in the front and up to 11 gears in the rear cassette. This gives riders up to 22 gears to play with on the road. This wide range of gear means riders can cover all types of hills and climbs.
All these features make road bikes great because they can travel easily very far distances compared to mountain bikes
Types of Road Bikes
Like mountain bikes, there are many different types to choose from and each type caters to a specific terrain or type of riding you specialize in.
We’ve detailed the types of road bikes below
Aero bikes are built for speed and are concerned with aerodynamics against the wind and saving the rider energy.
You can tell an aero bike is around because they have large tube profiles, deep-section wheels, and component integrations.
The bike’s tube profiles are larger than other road bikes you’ll see. This enlarged tube profile creates an aerodynamic profile and its geometry reduces the drag. This does add more weight to the bike compared to other road bikes.
The deep rim wheels are also another detail that distinguishes aero bikes from other types of road bikes.
The integration of nearly everything such as cables and brakes makes the bike more sleek looking. All in addition to keeping the bike light and reducing drag. The tube profiles are often molded to the shape of the wheels.
The large tube profiles on aero road bikes are very stiff, which makes the bike incredibly responsive to everything you do on the bike. This makes it a top choice for racers.
Typically, aero bikes have aggressive geometry so the riders have a good power transfer and keep them aerodynamic.
Endurance bikes have a longer wheel base, longer headtube, and relaxed geometry compared to an aero road bike.
The focus of endurance bikes is to keep the rider comfortable for long periods. Riders trust that their bikes will respond well to their handling on long rides.
The endurance bikes will have a compact drivetrain set up, which I will explain in a different section.
These bikes do have bigger tires compared to aero bikes, but this gives a more stable ride and can absorb some of the road’s vibrations.
In short, endurance bikes are set up like aero bikes (same material and similar groupset and wheel set) but with a focus on comfort.
Lightweight bikes are the top choice for pro cyclists and those who like to climb hills.
The bikes are focused on keeping the weight down while being agile to climb hills at a high-quality performance.
The bikes are made with the lightest materials and are designed to perform their best for climbing hills and coming fast on the way down.
Many racers don’t use these bikes because they don’t conform with the UCI’s minimum bike weight of 6.8 kg.
Gravel or All-road bikes allow riders to ride on nearly every type of terrain.
Bikes in this category are durable, comfortable, and have good features.
Gravel bikes have higher bottom brackets to provide room for avoiding obstacles, and enough clearance for wide tires. These bikes feature disc brakes for reliable performance in all weather conditions
Touring bikes are heavier than gravel bikes so that the bike can withstand long distances and keeps the rider comfortable. Fenders and racks are common and these bikes also have an easy-pedaling gear ratio.
Flat bars or drop bars can be used on this type of bike. And, most riders will pick based on comfort and what works best for their trip.
Recreation or Fitness Bikes
Recreational bikes don’t have all the extra bells and whistles of an aero or endurance bike.
These bikes focus on comfort and practicality and are great for new riders who just need to get from A to B.
Generally, these bikes will have flat handlebars, wide tires, flat pedals, and easy gear ratios.
Road bikes are made from either carbon fiber, aluminum, titanium, steel, or even a combination of any of these materials.
The bike frame material affects the bike’s cost, weight, and how the bike rides on the road. And, how often the bike designers use the material also affects the price.
In the following sections, I’ll briefly describe the different bike materials.
Carbon fiber was used almost exclusively by professional triathletes and cyclists, but now that the price has gone down, more people can afford it.
Carbon fiber is now easier to work with and can be designed into a variety of shapes. Designers create a carbon fiber bike that can be stiff, light, comfortable, and aerodynamic.
And, the stiffness to weight ratio is very good which makes it a top pick for serious cyclists and those wanting to be competitive on their bikes.
Carbon fiber is used for not only the frame but also the wheelset, groupset, stem, and seat post. Of course, you can opt for less carbon on your bike, but the top athletes and those at the professional level will want the most carbon on their bikes.
The disadvantage of a carbon bike is its fragility. It can easily crack or break from the impact of a big crash or even tightening your bolts too tightly. When this happens, you’ll need to replace the broken parts or buy a new bike.
Similar to carbon fiber, aluminum can be used to make a light and stiff bike. And, it’s much easier to work with than carbon fiber, which makes it cheaper.
The material is stiff and has a great power transfer which is great for avid cyclists. However, the stiffness and thickness of the tubes don’t absorb all the road’s vibrations, which can make things uncomfortable.
To remedy this, designers will sometimes put a carbon fork on the bike.
The downside to aluminum is that it wears out over time if the bike isn’t taken care of correctly. However, this is the case for every frame material.
Aluminum is a solid choice for those who want a high-end bike to go fast on without breaking the bank.
Titanium is making a comeback even though it is rarely seen on road bikes.
The material is lightweight and is durable and won’t deteriorate as steel does.
Unlike carbon fiber and aluminum, titanium is a tough material and is hard to work with and mold into different shapes. Due to this nature, titanium bikes are more expensive than carbon fiber bikes.
As said before, titanium is highly durable and can take a crash or two before parts need to be fixed or even replaced. Therefore, this bike is often seen as a lifetime purchase.
On the bike, riders say that it’s comfortable to ride and the bike’s frame can be made into thin tubes so that the weight is kept low.
Before the lighter bike frame materials came along, steel was commonly used for road bikes for both professional and recreational cyclists.
Today, steel bikes are expensive and very labor-intensive to make and have begun to “lose” to brands that make bikes from aluminum or carbon fiber.
Touring and entry-level recreational bikes still use steel for their frame since weight is less important for those cyclists. They want a sturdy machine to support them on their long journey across the country or just across the county.
The downside to steel is, of course, rust. You must take good care of this type of bike and not leave it outside.
Other considerations to keep in mind are the bike’s components.
Arguably the bike’s most important component to consider is its drivetrain. The drivetrain is the engine of the bike and it is hard to replace or upgrade as your cycling skills advance.
Things such as wheels, brakes, handlebars, seat and seat post, and pedals can easily be upgraded or replaced as needed.
A bike’s groupset is a term used to identify the quality of a bike and is often used to compare different bikes.
Shimano and SRAM are the most popular suppliers for drivetrains. And, these suppliers have different quality of drivetrains depending on what level of cyclists you are.
- Entry-level: Shimano Sora or
- General use level: Shimano Tiagra or SRAM Apex
- Mid Range level: Shimano 105 or SRAM Rival
- High-end level: Shimano Ultegra or SRAM Force
- Pro level: Shimano Dura Ace or SRAM Red
Crankset and Gearing
A crankset is the number of chainrings a bike has located by the pedals.
A triple crankset has 3 chainrings and is often used on entry-level road bikes and offers a wide range of gears for cyclists. A triple crankset is often paired with a 9-speed cassette.
A double or compact crankset has 2 chainrings and is often used on mid-range and higher level bikes. A double crankset has a lower range of gears. And, it is often paired with a 10 or 11-speed cassette.
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Best Beginner Road Bike Product Review
1. Best Overall Road Bike
Savadeck Carbon Road Bike
The Savadeck Carbon Road bike, WindWar 5.0 is a lightweight and stiff road bike coming in at just 9.8kg (21.6lb). It’s ideally used for those who are avid racers and bikers who want to go fast. And, be competitive in their races.
The design team wind tunnel tested the bike so that the frame, stays, seat post and even seat tube are aerodynamically shaped.
To keep things smooth and sleek looking, the bike has internal cable routing so that the air just flows right over the bike. This makes it easier for cyclists to pedal through head and cross winds on their bikes.
Additionally, the bike has tapered head tubes which strengthens the bike’s rigidity and stiffness. This helps riders handle their bikes no matter what they’re facing.
The bike has Shimano Speed Control with Shimano 105 700 11 speed drivetrain, which gives riders 22 gears to play with. And the front and rear derailleur works well and lets you shift smoothly and without delay.
When you order it through Amazon, the bike comes mostly assembled which makes it easy to get on the road.
Cyclists who have bought the bike like it because it is light and looks sleek on the road. If the bike is properly fit, cyclists feel like they’re moving with the bike and they don’t have to fight the elements while racing. Those who have bought it through Amazon replace the saddle and pedals with the one used on their previous bike. Or, buy a new one from their local bike store.
I’d recommend this bike to those who are looking to upgrade their bikes and have mastered some handling skills on their current bike.
2. Best Road Bike for a Beginner Triathlete
Eurobike Road Bike EURXC7000
The Eurobike Road Bike EURXC7000 is a good choice for a beginner triathlete and a good beginner road bike in general.
The bike is made from aluminum and is light and cheaper than a carbon fiber bike.
The components on the bike make it a beginner bike since it only has 8 gears in the back and two chainrings in the front. This gives riders a total of 16 gears to play with.
This is adequate for beginner triathletes since it gives you enough gears to ride through most terrains. And, the drivetrain will support you as you build up your confidence and handling skills on the bike. At some point, you’ll need a better bike to match your skills, but this is a solid choice.
People who have bought the bike like it and feel it was a great choice for beginners. All agree that the bike is lightweight and the shifting was relatively smooth compared to their commuter bikes. And, the bike was more than acceptable to use for the first few seasons of triathlons.
I highly recommend this bike to those who consider themselves beginner triathletes. The bike rides smoothly and is easy to adjust.
3. Best Beginner Road Bike for Women
Vilano Shadow 3.0 Road Bike
The Vilano Shadow 3.0 Road bike is suited for any woman who wants to commute, train and race, or go on rides with her local bike club.
The Vilano Shadow 3.0 has been upgraded with Shimano STI integrated shifters, integrated headset, and internal cable routing.
The bike’s drivetrain is made from Shimano Tourney with 7 gears in the back and two chainrings, which offers a total of 14 gears to play with. This is perfect and makes the bike versatile. Riders will be able to use all 14 gears.
The STI shifters give riders very precise and controllable braking and shifting in one unit. This makes things easier on the bike and gives riders one less thing to worry about.
The bike has disc brakes that are the most reliable and have the same stopping power no matter what the conditions are.
All the integrated components enable the bike to be used in races and have a “chance” against other bikes that might have better components or a lighter frame.
This frame is made from 6061 Double Butted Aluminum Aero Frame, which is light and can be molded into different shapes to accommodate women’s body shapes.
Cyclists who have bought the bike like it because it is lightweight and durable. The ride is smooth and it’s a good bike for the price. And, the bike has STI shifters which are found on more “advanced” bikes. Not to mention the bike also has disc brakes. Most riders will keep this bike as a commuter since it has a limited gear range for racing.
4. Best Beginner Road Bike under $1500
Schwinn Fastback AL 105
The Schwinn Fastback AL 105 lets riders go faster and further than they imagined. And, on a “classic” road bike company, Schwinn.
The Fastback Performance road bike gives you a smoother and lighter ride as you build up your endurance.
The bike’s frame and fork are made from Platinum hydroformed aluminum road frame and Schwinn carbon fork with aluminum semi-tapered steerer. This gives the bike its lightweightness and carbon forks absorb some of the vibrations the bike picks up.
The bike has a Full Shimano 105 22-speed drivetrain with a two chainring crank and Shimano 205 STI shifters and an 11-speed cassette by Shimano.
The combination of these components gives you a lot of room to play on the bike and the STI shifters are very responsive and precise.
Biker’s who have bought this bike like it because it’s a great bike for the price and it’s hard to find a bike that comes close in comparison. The components are great and the bike rides smoothly. The drivetrain is set up for racers and those who are looking to upgrade from their first racing bikes.
I’d recommend this bike to those who need a new bike and one whose components will match their skill level.
5. Best Beginner Road Bike Under $1000
Tommaso Imola Endurance Bike
This bike is not an entry-level bike but it’s not out of budget either. This is great for those who are getting their feet wet in the sport or those who are returning from a long break on the bike.
This bike gives performance and has high-quality Shimano components and groupsets that give riders a smooth ride. And, plenty of gears to choose from.
The bike has STI shifters that mimic Shimano 105. The rear cassette has 12 gears in the back and a two chainring crankset. This gives riders 24 gears to play with and that’s more than enough for beginners. But, beginners can grow with the bike and can learn how to use all the gears correctly.
The shift cables are put under the top tube of the bike which gives the bike a nice clean and sleek touch to it.
The bike has rim brakes that are adequate for the price point and can be reliable if you are conscious about what conditions you’re riding in.
Riders who have bought the bike like it because it can be their “forever” racing bike. They can use it in their beginning years and as they learn more bike skills the bike is still suitable for them.
I recommend this bike to those who are going to race and will race for years to come.
6. Best Value Beginner Road Bike
Tommaso Sentiero Shimano Claris Gravel Adventure Bike
The Tommaso Sentiero Claris Gravel Adventure bike gives you the best value for your money.
The bike is durable and reliable to get riders through anything. And, the bike is suitable for most types of biking. It can be used as a commuter bike, beginner racing, endurance, and touring/adventure bike.
It’s your “forever” bike and most don’t regret buying it.
The frame is made from aluminum, which is stiff and light and not too expensive. Coupled with the aluminum frame it has SST Steel fork the bike becomes durable. But, the steel won’t absorb all the vibrations that a carbon fork would.
The bike has a 3×8 Shimano Claris groupset which is ideal for a variety of terrains ranging from flatland to the rocky and hilly. The gears offer riders a wide range of to play with and is suitable for all levels of riders.
The tires that come with the bike are wider and more rugged-looking than “classic” road bike tires. But they can be ridden on anything.
The bike was made for comfort for those who like to go on longer rides or tour with their bikes. The bike has a compact geometry and handlebars which optimizes the bike’s power and comfort.
Riders who have bought the bike like it because it’s very comfortable to ride and most who have bought the bike have kept it for years. Some have even taken the bike on cross providence, country or cross-continental trips.
I’d recommend this bike to anyone who wants a “forever” bike that will be reliable and can last for a long time.
Best Beginner Road Bike Top Pick
After reviewing all those bikes, our top pick is the Tommaso Sentiero Claris Gravel Adventure Bike.
It packs a lot of mid to high-end components onto a bike that won’t necessarily break the bank. And, since the components are better than an entry-level bike, it can be kept for years.
And, might become your “go-to” bike when your other bikes are at the shop.
1. What other accessories are needed for biking?
When you decide to buy a bike, other accessories that are needed right away and others that you’ll need at some point, but not immediately.
It’s highly recommended to buy a helmet for your bike when you decide to take up biking. This will protect your head from impacts when you crash or fall off your bike. Ask your local store, what type of helmet is best for you.
If you’re commuting on your bike you’ll need a good lock for your bike. It’s best to get a U-lock with a key. Those are really hard to break through and on rare occasions will it be stolen.
Another must for commuters is bike lights, a reflective vest, and warm weather gear for winter bike commuting.
Down the line, you’ll need to have your own repair kit to carry with you at all times and eventually cleaning tools.
2. Where can I ride?
You can ride anywhere that is bike-friendly and any road that has enough room for bikes to ride next to cars.
If you’re looking for a social bike group, you can Google local bike groups or check out your local bike store. You can ask about cycling and racing teams as well as social bike groups.
Bike stores might also have maps of your city that indicate all the bike lanes and trails.
3. Do I need a high-end bike to ride with others?
This depends on what type of riding you’ll regularly do.
For example, if you’re commuting to and from work, you’ll want a bike that can withstand the different weather conditions. And, you wouldn’t mind if it gets a bump every now and then.
Social bike groups are generally very inclusive and it doesn’t matter what type of bike you show up with.
For riding groups that crank out the miles, you’ll want a nicer bike that can keep up with everyone else.
Figure out what type of rider you are, and you’ll be able to narrow down what type of bike is most suited for you.
And, you can have more than one type of bike if you do multiple types of riding.
4. What Clothes do I need?
To get started, you’ll just need a comfortable set of clothes that you like biking and sweating in.
Be sure that if you wear a long skirt or loose pants that you have a way to bind them so that they don’t get stuck in the chain.
For more “advanced” riders who have performance bikes, you’ll want to look into buying cycling shorts or bibs and a couple jerseys that will keep you aerodynamic.
For shoes, any shoe will do as a commuter or recreational rider.
For those who want to race, consider either pedals with cages on them or clipless pedals. This will have a better power transfer and you’ll go fast on the bike.
5. Where can I buy a bike?
You can buy a bike anywhere!
People are always trying to sell old bikes or accessories so you can often find a good deal online or at a garage sale.
Local bike shops are also a good choice since they can offer advice, help you find the right size, and answer any questions.
For those who have bought a few bikes already, Amazon is an ok option too. For the products listed below, they’re all available on Amazon.
Rebecca Friedberg graduated university with a degree in Classical languages (Greek/Latin) in 2017. She has traveled solo extensively and wrote two “How to” books with HowExpert and is published on Amazon.
Her other interests include triathlons, swimming, running, and cycling. She has been able to use her interests to help her find writing gigs through Upwork.
She currently writes for TriGearLab and Freshbikescycling as a ghost writer, which she enjoys.