Buying Guide: Cheap Road Bikes for Beginners

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If you are looking at road bikes and you aren’t sure what kind you should buy, there are numerous factors that should have an impact on your decision. With bikes being so widely used and used for so many years, there are so many options to pick from that it is important to be able to narrow down your options.

See Our #1 Road Bike Pick at Amazon

In order to be able to narrow down your options, we have come up with a road bike buying guide and our top 10 bike recommendations. Keep reading for our guide and product recommendations.

Our Beginner Road Bikes Ratings At-A-Glance

road bike ratings

Rated: Top 10 Best Cheap Road Bikes for the Money (2017)

our rating is based on value and quality, and our selections represent our picks for the top road bikes under $500 - $1000 (price stated on product page at Amazon is the valid price)
MODELOUR RATING
Tommaso Imola Compact Aluminum Road Bike
Tommaso Imola Compact Aluminum Road Bike
9.3 Stars (9.3 / 10)
Giordano Libero 1.6 Men's Road Bike-700c
Giordano Libero 1.6 Men's Road Bike-700c
8.3 Stars (8.3 / 10)
Merax 608XC 21 Speed 700C Aluminum Road Bike
Merax 608XC 21 Speed 700C Aluminum Road Bike
9.7 Stars (9.7 / 10)
Merax 21 Speed 700C Aluminum Road Bike
Merax 21 Speed 700C Aluminum Road Bike
8.9 Stars (8.9 / 10)
Vilano Diverse 2.0 Performance Hybrid Bike 24 Speed Shimano Road Bike 700c
Vilano Diverse 2.0 Performance Hybrid Bike 24 Speed Shimano Road Bike 700c
8.7 Stars (8.7 / 10)
Vilano Shadow 2.0 Road Bike - Shimano STI Integrated Shifters
Vilano Shadow 2.0 Road Bike - Shimano STI Integrated Shifters
8.9 Stars (8.9 / 10)
Tommaso Tiempo Compact Road Bike w/ Carbon Fork
Tommaso Tiempo Compact Road Bike w/ Carbon Fork
9.9 Stars (9.9 / 10)
Tommaso Sterrata Adventure Road Bike w/ Mechanical Disc Brakes
Tommaso Sterrata Adventure Road Bike w/ Mechanical Disc Brakes
8.9 Stars (8.9 / 10)
Tommaso Monza Aluminum Tiagra Road Bike with Carbon Fork
Tommaso Monza Aluminum Tiagra Road Bike with Carbon Fork
9.5 Stars (9.5 / 10)
Ridley Fenix Alloy 105 FE701BM Bike with Safety Reflectors
Ridley Fenix Alloy 105 FE701BM Bike with Safety Reflectors
9.9 Stars (9.9 / 10)

This guide contains all of the things that you should be on the lookout for as far as components go as well as various reasons as to why you might prefer certain components compared to others.

Tires

The one thing that people tend to overlook on a bike is just how important tires are. Road bikes are generally used on paved roads and therefore they don’t have nearly as thick of tread on them compared to that of an off road bike. Keeping that in mind, the size of a tire is also extremely important. If you are just buying your bike stock, you are going to want to make sure that the tires are suitable for your body size. Getting tires that are too small for your body will slow you down when you are biking, while getting too big of a size can make it difficult for you to be able to travel at fast speeds and get on and off of your bike. You will find that manufacturers will include size specifications in their bike descriptions and this is what you will want to look for so that you can be sure you are getting tires and a frame that are of the right size for your body.

Functions

One of the main things that sells a bike for some people is the amount of features that are incorporated into its design. You should be on the lookout for components that help out your biking, but you should also be on the lookout for accessories that come along with your bike as well. Sometimes companies will offer things like free backpacks or free products with your purchase of a bike, all of these things just help to sweeten the deal for you. Here is a list of some of the main components and the things that you should look for so that you get good quality:

Brakes:

Bikes have several different types of brakes and if you don’t know anything about brakes, you could lose out on a good deal.

V-Brake:

The most common type of brake that you will find in a road bike is called a V brake. This type of brake uses two arms which are located on either side of your handlebars. When you press these bars, a brake cable also pulls which causes a piece of padding to rub against the wheel of your bike causing you to slow down. The next type that you will come across in your search is a bike that has disk brakes.

Disk Brakes:

A disk brake is the more sought after, more expensive type of brake for road bikes on the market. You will find that a metal rotor is attached to the rim, rather than to the hub to slow you down. This metal rotor allows you to be able to brake with control rather than having to fully rely on your brake pads. There are two types of disc brakes available in the marketplace. The first type: mechanical disk brakes allow you to be able to use a normal brake lever that is attached to a caliper by a cable in order to stop your bike. The other type that is available is hydraulic disk brakes. These types of brakes use a lever, but the lever is connected to a piston or calipers with a hose that contains fluid. The fluid allows the brakes to be more powerful. Although you will need to change the brake fluid for your bike on occasion, the extra power in your brakes is quite noticeable.

Gears:

Depending on the type of road that you intend to bike on, you may want a bike that has a number of gears. If you intend to be able to just ride your bike around on a completely flat surface the whole time you are using it, you may want to look for a single speed bike. Otherwise, having a number of gears incorporated into the design of your bike is going to be important to you. Depending on the bike that you buy, it will range as to the amount of gears that it will have.                   Changing your gears is most important when you are going up or down a hill. Generally speaking a bike will have either one or two derailleurs. The derailleur on the left side will generally be something like 1-3 and the rear will be something like 1-6 or 1-8.

Chain:

The chain of a bike is made out of a bunch of links that are joined by pins in order to create a full loop. Generally, you will find that chains are created out of a steel alloy construction which allows them to be pretty durable. A good quality bike chain can be pretty difficult to be able to tell apart from one that is of a poor quality. The best bike chains will have small bumps in them, which allows the user to be able to have an easier time when they are shifting gears. Another thing that you should look for in your bike chain is that it uses a roller pin design. These types of pins are used to help keep the bike chain oiled up and keep things loose so that you can pedal around with ease. A good thing to do before going out on a shopping trip for a new bike, is to look at some pictures of high quality chains so that you know the exact thing to look for on your future bike.

Hub:

The main thing that you need to know about bike hubs, is that different sizes and different weights will affect both your steering as well as your overall riding quality. If you want a bike that is capable of going fast speeds, decreasing your hub weight is one thing that you can do in order to make it easier to go up hills. Different spoke patterns create varying amounts of stress on a hub. It is always a good idea to make sure that you know the different spoke patterns and that you have an idea as to what this means for your bike. Bikes are laced using a 2, 3 or 4 spoke cross patterns or they are radially laced. A radially laced pattern simply means that the spokes go straight out from the hub to the rim. Any of the other spoke patterns simply refer to the amount of spokes that are crossed while the spoke makes its way from the hub to the rim.

Rims:

There are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to what wheels are the best for your bike. In general, you will find that there are three types of wheels available for a road bike. The first, cheapest type of wheels are shallow section wheels. These wheels are extremely thin compared to the other two wheel types on the market. These are by no means bad wheels as they offer an all-around riding experience and can be taken both on the road and off the road as you please. The next type you will come across are mid-section wheels. This type of wheel has a bit of a groove on the interior of the wheel where the spokes lace through. These wheels are designed to be both aerodynamic and light weight which allows you to be able to travel at some pretty fast speeds when these wheels are on your bike. The last type that you will come across are deep section wheels. These wheels are specifically designed to be used on the road and they offer a very aerodynamic design. This type of wheel is likely going to be a bit heavier than the other two types, as well as more expensive. It is a good idea to make sure that you look up these three types of wheels, so that you are familiar with how they look. This will allow you to be able to make a better purchasing decision when you go to get your bike.

Bell/ other safety measures:

If you are going to be riding your bike in busy areas, one thing that you should probably make sure you take a look at is the safety measures incorporated into the design of your bike. A bell/ horn is one thing that you should take a look at as you will definitely need this in a busy area, just so that people know you are on the road with them. It is a good idea to see how loud this is, especially if you are in a busy area so that you can have more peace of mind when driving down the road. Another thing that you should take a look at, is the amount of reflectors on your bike as well as how visible your bike is when you are riding down the road. If you are going to be riding down the road in the dark whether it be late at night or in the early morning, it is a good idea to consider getting yourself equipment that is of a bright color. This will allow you to be able to be seen more clearly by other people that are on the road.

Shifter:

One thing that could definitely play a factor in your decision making is the quality of the shifter on your bike. Most bikes will generally either have a shifter solely on the right handlebar, or they will have both a left side and a right side shifter located on the handlebars of the unit. You will find two types of shifter available for road bikes. The first type and most common that you will find is a mechanical shifter. This type of shifter works by pulling a cable that attaches to the derailleur and in turn causes the chain to move onto a different cog changing you gears. The other, more expensive type of shifter that you will probably come across is an electronic shifter. This type of shifter sends a signal to a motor which moves the derailleur. The best part about an electronic shifter is that you don’t have to worry about a cable and you have a more precise change in gears.

Warranty:

Since road bikes aren’t cheap, it is always a good idea to make sure that you look at the warranty as well as the return policy on a unit that you are thinking about purchasing. If you don’t want to bother checking out the terms and conditions, it is at least a good idea to see how long the warranty on the unit lasts for, so that you can have some peace of mind. Extended warranties are something that you can consider as well, they will allow you to maintain your confidence in the product for years to come.

To Conclude:     

Hopefully after reading this article you now feel as though you have a better grasp as to what types of things you should look for in a road bike. If you want to make sure that you buy something that is of a good quality, always remember that there is always the option to build a bike of your own. It is always a good idea to set yourself a budget before making a purchasing decision, so that you don’t overspend on a unit and get something with features that you don’t need. Best of luck in your search for a road bike and hope that you land yourself a great bike!

Cycling by Skitterphoto/Pixabay

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