Which is the best road bike for you?
Find out how to choose the right road bike for you and what to consider when buying one.
Road cycling is pure passion: exhausting, beautiful, inspiring and emotional. More and more people are discovering this sport for themselves. Whether it's an after work ride, a road race, a long-distance ride, or taking on some alpine passes, everything is possible with a road bike. Due to the constant development of bicycles, there are now more types of road bikes available than ever before.
What type of road cyclist are you?
When considering buying a road bike, it's important to think carefully about what you want from your bicycle. After all, it's a significant investment and you want to make sure that the bike meets your requirements. By answering the following questions, you can make the process of selecting a road bike much easier.
What do you plan to use the road bike for?
- Would you rather ride in flat or hilly to mountainous terrain?
- Do you only want to ride on paved roads or venture on to gravel roads occasionally?
How about your ambitions when it comes to road cycling?
- the casual type, who enjoys solo or group rides in the countryside?
- the competitive type, who wants to train regularly and participate in races?
Regardless of what level you are at: road bikes are available today for every type of rider and almost every budget. The price differences mainly arise from the various frame materials - carbon or aluminium - and the components used.
Road bike buyer’s guide: How to find the bike that suits you best
If you already have an idea of whether you want to use your bike for racing or leisurely rides, you're already on the right track towards making a buying decision. Now, let's dive into the details: we'll answer some of the most important questions to consider when buying a road bike. What types of road bikes are available? How do you determine the correct frame size? Should you choose a carbon or aluminium frame? Which shifting and brake systems are recommended?
Whether you're looking for a reliable entry-level road bike or a top-of-the-line model with advanced technology, once you find the bike that suits your needs, you'll be able to enjoy carefree rides without any obstacles.
Which road bike is best for you?
Depending on your intended use, the following types of bicycles are available to choose from:
- Aero road bikes with maximum aerodynamics for time trial competitions
- Endurance road bikes with comfortable long-distance geometry
- Race bikes to shave off seconds when it really matters
- Cyclocross bikes for off-road excursions and races
- Triathlon-Bikes optimised in the wind tunnel and with adjustable cockpit.
Tip: If you enjoy riding on both paved roads and gravel paths, a gravel bike could be the perfect companion for you. To help you make an informed decision, check out our blog post on gravel vs. road bike.
What is the right road bike size for you?
In order to fully enjoy your ride, it's important to have a road bike that fits your body measurements. By getting a good riding position on the bike, you'll have better control and also promote joint and back health. To determine the right frame size, you need to consider your body height and inseam length. Once you have the frame height, you can fine-tune your riding position by adjusting the saddle and handlebar height, among other factors.
Tip:In our guide, we'll walk you through how to adjust your riding position on the road bike correctly. If you want to optimise it to the fullest, you can get a professional bike fitting done. The expert will conduct an exact measurement on the bike and recommend a selection of components that fit your riding style. They can adjust the saddle position, crank length, and angles of the handlebar and shift levers to the millimetre to make your bike spot on for you.
Do women necessarily need a women's road bike?
Female cyclists have a different body anatomy than male cyclists, which means they are typically smaller and lighter, and ride in a different style. As a result, some bike manufacturers produce specialised road bikes for women that feature a lower frame height compared to men's bikes. However, it's important to note that the most important factor is finding a bike that fits your body type, regardless of whether it's a women's, men's, or unisex bike. To ensure the right fit for the female anatomy, you can always choose accessories such as a narrower handlebar or a women's saddle.
Carbon frame or aluminium frame?
Whether to choose a carbon or aluminium frame is one of the fundamental questions when buying a road bike. Carbon has revolutionised the construction of bike frames in terms of weight, riding comfort, and the range of possible frame shapes. However, aluminium remains a popular option, especially for beginners. We will present both frame types to you in comparison.
Aluminium has been a popular frame material for road bikes for a long time due to its high stability and stiffness with low weight. It allows for optimal power transfer with high bottom bracket stiffness.
However, compared to carbon frames, aluminium frames are slightly heavier and offer less comfort. Some manufacturers now combine the aluminium frame with a carbon fork, handlebar, or seat post to enhance the performance.
Today, aluminium frames are commonly used in entry-level and mid-range road bikes, providing an impressive performance at an affordable price.
This is what sets aluminium frames apart from carbon frames:
- + Increased stability and stiffness
- + Budget-friendly performance
- - Slightly heavier
- - Less comfortable
A carbon frame is incredibly lightweight, yet rigid and comfortable all at once. The flowing contours without any weld seams give carbon frames a sleek and high-quality appearance – and that’s exactly what you'll get.
One of the most remarkable things about carbon frames is their ability to be customised for specific uses. Carbon fibres are woven into mats, layered, and bonded together using the layup technique to create a frame that's stronger in high-stress areas. What's more, the orientation of the carbon fibres can be adjusted to make them either stiff or flexible, depending on the application. High stiffness is particularly important in the bottom bracket area to maximise power transfer and in the steering to ensure stability and control at high speeds.
The production of carbon frames is more complex, which results in higher costs. However, in many respects, they are technically superior to aluminium frames. Additionally, investing in a carbon frame pays off due to the material's durability. Some believe that a carbon frame needs to be treated delicately because damage cannot be repaired. However, this assumption is no longer true. If the frame is damaged, for example in a crash, repairs are often easily possible today.
Carbon frames are mainly used in mid-range and high-end road bikes today.
These are the characteristics that distinguish a carbon frame compared to an aluminium frame:
- + Extremely lightweight
- + Comfortable and stiff
- +High-end appearance
- - Higher initial cost
Canyon Endurance Bikes
What are the best bike components for you?
Shimano, SRAM, and Campagnolo are the three main providers of gear groupsets for road bikes. Each of these manufacturers offers a range of groupsets, from entry-level to professional grade, to suit different budgets.
Hobby cyclists looking for the best value for their money when it comes to bike components should consider going one step below the top-of-the-line option from their preferred manufacturer. For instance, Shimano's Ultegra groupset is often considered a sweet spot for its excellent price-performance ratio. Bicycles usually come with a complete groupset. But budget bikes may have a mix of components like cassette, chain, chainrings, shifters, derailleurs, and brakes to keep costs down.
When it comes to equipping your road bike with shifters, you have the choice between mechanical or electronic. Mechanical shifting is the classic, reliable, affordable, and lightweight option. However, electronic shifting is becoming more common in the high-end segment. Electronic shifters allow for comfortable gear changes at the touch of a button, with the shifting signal transmitted to the derailleur and front derailleur either via cable or wirelessly. With electronic gear shifters, you can change gears faster and more precisely than with mechanical ones.
While entry-level groupsets may still have a 10-sprocket cassette, higher-end groupsets now typically come with an 11 or 12-sprocket cassette as standard. This shift has resulted in the triple crankset being largely replaced by double or single drivetrains.
For an overview of the best road bike components from Shimano, SRAM, and Campagnolo, check out our road bike buyer’s guide. If you want to dive deeper into road bike gear components, take a look at our road bike groupset guide.
Choosing the best wheels for your road bike
The performance of a racing bike is largely influenced by the wheelset, in addition to the frame. Opting for lighter wheels helps to accelerate more effectively, while stiffer wheels allow for optimal conversion of pedal power into forward momentum. They also provide greater safety when navigating sharp corners at high speeds and respond to steering input with exceptional precision. Time trial or triathlon bikes use wheels with nearly perfect aerodynamics that have been optimized in a wind tunnel.
Rim brakes or disc brakes?
The pros and cons of rim brakes and disc brakes have been a topic of debate for years. Rim brakes are the classic, tried-and-tested option for road bikes, but the trend for new road bikes has moved towards disc brakes due to their superior braking performance. This is especially important in wet weather conditions: while rim brakes may not function optimally in rain or mud, disc brakes provide greater control and a short stopping distance in all weather conditions. The braking force can be precisely controlled with minimal hand strength. Additionally, as discs can dissipate heat well, they are less likely to overheat. In contrast, constant braking with rim brakes can lead to extreme heat and burst tubes.
Although disc brakes are heavier than rim brakes and require more maintenance, most road cyclists are willing to accept this for the numerous advantages they offer.
You can find more details on this topic in the guide "Rim brakes vs. disc brakes for road bikes"
What is the best road bike for long-distance cycling?
Do you love to go on long rides? Three-digit mileage is not unusual for you? You don't only ride in sunny weather and long ascents are not seen as obstacles, but as challenges? Then you can confidently call yourself an endurance road cyclist. Your bike should be tailored to the specific requirements of such rides so that you can still sit comfortably in the saddle after many hours.
On an endurance road bike, you'll be much more comfortable than on a race-category road bike. That's why endurance road bikes are the first choice of professionals and established randonneurs when it comes to demanding road conditions. They are used, for example, during long distance cycling events and often adverse weather conditions.
Endurance road bikes can actually fit into both the race and all-road categories. If an endurance bike has a stem without spacers, it can offer a more performance-oriented riding position. Additionally, an endurance bike with wide tyres and disc brakes can handle short sections on unpaved roads without any issues.
What makes endurance geometry different from other types of road bikes?
The geometry of an endurance road bike is designed primarily for long, relaxed rides. This is because being comfortable on the bike is essential for being able to perform at your best for many hours. For most amateur road cyclists, an endurance road bike is the ideal solution.
These are the important features that distinguish the geometry of an endurance bike:
- Shorter top tube: Allows for a more upright riding position.
- Sloping top tube: Increases riding comfort.
- Longer seatpost: Provides more flex and comfort
- Longer head tube: Brings the handlebars closer to the rider.
- Longer wheelbase: Offers greater stability and a more secure feeling when riding, as compared to race or aero bikes.
The special geometry allows for an efficient yet comfortable riding position. You can easily go on long rides without stressing your neck, shoulders, and back. With the saddle placed centrally over the bottom bracket, optimal power transfer is possible. The steering and seat angles are also optimised for the best possible smoothness and power transmission.
What is the best frame material for endurance road bikes?
Endurance road bikes are available in all price ranges. Entry-level models in the endurance road bike category are often made with aluminium frames. In the higher price range, carbon frames are popular because the material and unique frame geometry provide compliance and flex where it's needed. For you, this means the best possible comfort despite an extremely stiff and lightweight frame.
The current frames have the clearance to fit up to 35mm wide tyres, which provides additional comfort. Wider tyres are particularly advantageous on rough roads as they are less likely to experience defects compared to 25mm or 23mm tyres. Furthermore, it has been proven that 28mm to 30mm wide tyres are just as good as narrow tyres in terms of rolling resistance and manoeuvrability.
Most new bike models come with the option of tubeless tyres, which offer air tightness without the need for an additional tube and are less prone to punctures.
A longer wheelbase and a longer head tube provide more stability during rides and a more upright riding position. Endurance road bikes typically come with added comfort features, like shock-absorbing padded handlebar tape or an extra-comfortable seat post. The added comfort results in a slightly higher weight compared to race bikes.
Tip: Do you want to conquer challenging mountain passes on your rides? Then your endurance road bike should have a suitably small gear ratio. For example, with a compact crankset, this could be a cassette with 32 or 34 teeth. As the weather can change quickly over long distances, disc brakes are recommended. This will provide you with optimal braking control whether you're riding on dry or wet roads.
These are the most important features of an endurance road bike:
- + Frame geometry designed to offer optimal comfort
- + Longer wheelbase provides high stability
- + Anatomically designed for hours of relaxed riding
- + Handles unpaved roads and hardpack with ease
- - Heavier than a race bike
- - Slightly less agile than a race bike
What else do you need to get started with road cycling?
If you are just starting out in road cycling, having a reliable set of cycling equipment is crucial. This set should include:
- Padded cycling shorts
- Functional baselayer with good breathability
- Jersey with pockets for food and more
- Water bottle and bottle cage
- Road cycling shoes for optimal power transfer
- Cycling socks
- Cycling computer
For riders who often explore new routes, it's best to have a bike computer with GPS navigation. If you like riding with others, you can easily connect with other cyclists in your area through cycling groups or popular cycling websites.
Are you a data nerd and want to go the extra mile? Then a power meter is essential. It helps monitor your progress and aim for optimal performance when it matters most on race day.
Mudguards can come in handy if you plan on training with your road bike throughout the year. They'll help keep you clean and dry during unpleasant weather conditions.
If you're planning on embarking on multi-day journeys, it's worth outfitting your bike with a saddle bagsaddle bag.
Get inspired with our latest news and tips on road cycling!
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