A Guide to Buying a Road bike, Clothing and Accessories
This article offers a general overview for Atfal, Khuddam and Ansar on what to look for and avoid when buying a firsthand road bike, clothing and accessories.
Name: Arslan Bhatti
Rider Type: Commutes, sportive. Sprinter.
Bike: Cube Attempt 105 2010
Avg. week 80 miles
Buying a Road Bike
There are so many things to look for in a good road bike, from frame material, to the range of gears. The most important thing for most people is value. In my opinion, to buy a decent brand new road bike that will last many years, you’ll have to spend at least £400. Why? The more you spend the better quality of bicycle you’ll get, the less trouble you’ll get with your bike in the future. Therefore, buy once, buy right. A more in-depth price list can be found at the end of the article.
Avoid buying road bikes at shops such as Tesco, Asda, Argos and Amazon. Firstly, there is a reason why those bikes are sold so cheaply; they use cheap components. Secondly, these stores generally have little knowledge about bicycles in general. Therefore, look to buy in stores such as Halfords, Evans, or your local bike shop (LBS). You can buy bikes online from sites such as chainreactioncycles.com or wiggle.com. But try before you buy.
By trying the bike out, you’ll be able to figure out what size bike frame you need, what height you’d like the saddle and the handlebars and if you enjoy the feel of the bike.
There’s a vast amount of clothing that goes with cycling. Most are as fashionable as they are functional. Again, the more you spend, the better the clothing, the longer it’ll last and the more comfortable your ride will be.
In England, we have a wide range of weather, which requires a wide range of clothing. Depending on the type of riding you do, you’ll need to get clothing and helps you in wet, cold, windy and hot weather.
There are three points in which you, the rider, come in contact with the bike.
1. The handlebars – Gloves with padding in the right places will allow for a comfortable ride.
3. The pedals – A sturdy, durable, yet comfortable shoe will last numerous long rides in all conditions.
3. The saddle – Padding is essential when riding. Make sure you buy men’s shorts/tights as they’re specially designed to prevent discomfort.
Take special care when buying these items as they’re the most important items of clothing.
Buying clothing online is fine; just as long as you know do a bit of homework. Personally, I only buy items with excellent reviews. Make sure you buy the right size using online size guides. Generally there are racing fit sizes (very tight) and mountain bike fit sizes (normal). A size guide can be found on most websites.
Make sure you buy shorts and jersey’s that wick moisture away from your skin. A well ventilated helmet will keep your head cool and good gloves to stop hands getting sweaty. Make sure to wear sunglasses to prevent you having to squint when riding with the sun in front of you. Glasses with interchangeable lenses can be used in all weather conditions.
Base layers will make a cold ride into a comfortable ride along with leg and arm warmers. Overshoes and thick gloves are a plus. A buff or baklava can be worn on very cold days but I tend to have to take them off as I warm up. Finally a suitable windproof jacket is the icing on the cake.
A friend of mine has recently bought waterproof cycling shoes. This is a pricey, yet perfect solution to wet feet. A cheaper solution are waterproof overshoes but they a notorious for letting water in after an hour. Your last option is waterproof socks. A waterproof jacket is essential, but make sure it’s breathable. You can get waterproof Lycra tights but they’re very expensive, waterproof or shower proof over trousers are a cheap alternative. I personally don’t mind getting wet from the waist down, so I cycle in shorts when it rains.
There’s an almost endless list of accessories you can get to improve your ride. From items that improve your bike, to items that keep you safe. On my commute I take a pump, a mini tool pack (inc. Allen keys, chain breaker etc.) bike lights, reflectors, a bell, bottle holders with bottles, a good bike lock (I keep at work) and my cycling ruck sack. On my bike I have a saddle bag and a top tube bag to hold my phone, wallet and battery pack (for longer rides).
Upgrades to bike:
Clip less pedals improve performance by up to about 40%
Good tyres can prevent punctures and/or reduce the weight of the bike and improve your ride.
Good wheels can improve the aerodynamics and weight of the bike.
Mudguards prevent you getting wet as well as other riders behind you in the rain.
Brakes and brake pads can improve braking power. The faster you can stop, the faster you can travel safely.
Keeping your bicycle clean and tuned up is essential for a comfortable, safe ride.
Cleaning chemicals, such as Muc-Off, will help scrub off dirt from the drive train with the right tools. Special tools can be used to true your wheels allowing them to spin with minimal lateral and radial movement. Appropriate lubricant must be applied to your chain to prevent it rusting.
Other specialist tools are required to change certain components on your bikes such as pedals or bottom brackets.
A GPS device such as a Garmin or a mobile phone app such as Strava can record your rides and map them for future reference. They can calculate your progress through taking your distance travelled, height climbed and your speed. A bicycle computer can also do this. Finally heart rate monitors are a great way of improving your performance and pacing yourself during those longer rides.