Jun 15, 2022 Canyon.com
Jun 15, 2022 Canyon.com

Best road bike for beginners – what to look out for?

When searching for a suitable road bike as a beginner, the diverse range of bike types, components, gear ratios, and geometries can be a challenge to navigate.

Best road bike for beginners – what to look out for? Tips for anyone starting out with road cycling

What makes a good beginner's road bike?

Making the move from a mountain bike, city bike, or hybrid/touring bike to a road bike presents an entirely new riding experience. It's a sensation that's more direct, lighter, and, most notably, faster. However, it also requires your body to adjust to the bike's narrower tyres and more stretched-out riding position. As a result, you'll be able to reach higher speeds and enjoy a fast ride. But be prepared for the road bike to challenge your muscles, back, wrists, forearms, and neck in ways that you may not have experienced before. Overall, the transition to a road bike is an exciting and rewarding journey that's sure to push your limits and take your cycling skills to new heights.

That is why your entry-level road bike should be geared towards comfort. Regular road cycling automatically improves your riding skills and average speed. You’ll find the following features on comfortable road bikes:

  • Longer wheelbase for increased stability
  • Easier gears (compact crankset with chainrings of 50/34 teeth, cassette with a 32-tooth sprocket)
  • Slightly wider tyres (28 to 32 millimetres)
  • Geometry that fits your needs

Road bike types: Which category suits you best?

Do you value aerodynamics? Do you prefer to go on a long ride once a week or short daily rides? Before buying a road bike as a beginner, you should consider what kind of rides you want to use it for. This will help you determine which category your bike belongs to.

These categories are suitable for beginners:

Endurance Bikes

This type of bike is especially suitable for beginners. Endurance road bikes offer ample comfort for long distances. They have a relatively upright riding position, wider, lightly treaded tyres for pavement and hardpack, and reliable disc brakes for any weather.

Canyon Endurance Bikes

Designed for long distances

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All-round Road Bikes

An all-round road bike is perfect for racing and climbing. They resemble Aero bikes, but have lighter wheels and frames. The focus is on agility, direct handling, and a featherweight setup, in addition to aerodynamics.

Canyon Ultimate Bikes

The pinnacle of Canyon's lightweight expertise. Classic road racing performance in our lightest lineup ever.

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Aero Bikes

Aero bikes are designed for perfect aerodynamics. They usually have longer geometry, which enables an aerodynamically optimised riding position, and feature additional aero elements such as aerodynamic tube shapes, all aimed at minimising air resistance. This type of road bike is suitable for ambitious beginners who want to push their physical limits or participate in races.

Canyon Aeroad Bikes

The fastest bike - ridden by the most explosive pros in the peloton. Any questions?

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Gravel Bikes

Gravel bikes are particularly popular due to their high durability, comfortable riding position, and unparalleled versatility. With a gravel bike, you can tackle both gravel and paved roads, as well as gravel paths. These bikes are suitable for various terrains and are considered the perfect all-road bikes.

Canyon Gravel Bikes

For racing, adventures or simple commuting, gravel bikes effortlessly cover road bike distances off-road.

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Cyclocross Bikes

A cyclocross bike will help you explore off-road terrain or compete in high-intensity cross races. Equipped with treaded tyres and a suitable gear ratio, you are prepared for mud, sand, and forest paths. The frame geometry allows for precise handling and shouldering of the bike when you get to stair sets or steep, unrideable ground.

Canyon Cyclocross Bikes

Our 4-time cyclocross champion

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Gear ratios for smooth pedalling

If you're new to road cycling, you don't necessarily need electronic shifting. A mechanical groupset from Shimano or SRAM will suffice for beginners. The most important factor is the gear ratio range. A compact crankset with 50 teeth on the larger chainring and 34 teeth on the smaller one is ideal for starters. An 11/30 cassette with 11 teeth on the smallest sprocket and 30 teeth on the largest one will provide flexibility. You'll be able to find an appropriate gear ratio for flat or hilly terrain. If you frequently ride steep or long climbs, an 11/32 or 11/34 cassette would be beneficial.

Shimano's Tiagra is the most affordable road bike groupset available. Shimano 105 is slightly more advanced and is frequently installed on entry-level road bikes. It is lighter and more precise than Tiagra, making it an attractive option for beginners who train regularly and undertake longer weekend rides. SRAM has two counterparts: Apex and Rival. They provide the option of using either one or two chainrings. The cassette is designed for flexible gear ratios on the single chainring.

Brakes: Disc brakes are the best choice for road bikes

A look at the professional peloton and our own bike equipment shows that hydraulic disc brakes are the new standard. Compared to rim brakes, they offer better braking performance and can be more precisely controlled. Beginners can benefit from the reliable technology on their road bikes. Disc brakes are particularly advantageous in wet conditions.

Do I need clipless pedals as a beginner road cyclist?

Clipless pedals provide a secure connection between your cycling shoes and the pedals. They're widely used among dedicated cyclists because they offer a more efficient and smooth power transfer than other pedal systems. With clipless pedals, you can push down on the pedals and pull them up, resulting in a more fluid pedal stroke. Additionally, your feet remain in the optimal position throughout the ride, providing a more comfortable and efficient cycling experience.

If you're a beginner road cyclist who enjoys long rides, clipless pedals can be beneficial. However, they're less essential for casual cycling. There are various pedal systems available, and you'll need to attach the corresponding cleats to your cycling shoes. Make sure to practice clipping in and out, starting with a low resistance setting on the pedal.

Choosing the right saddle to avoid seat problems

The bicycle saddle is a crucial point of contact between you and your bike, alongside the handlebars and pedals. Canyon's road bikes feature saddles that are popular among many road cyclists, thanks to their cutouts and unisex ergonomics that provide maximum comfort. Choosing the right saddle width can help you avoid problems and enjoy a more comfortable ride.

Frame material: Carbon or Aluminium?

Beginner cyclists often encounter the topic of material when purchasing a road bike. Aluminium is cheaper than carbon, but slightly heavier. Carbon can be shaped into any form, which makes it particularly suitable for aero road bikes. In addition, carbon is more rigid than aluminium with the same thickness, resulting in better power transfer during cycling. However, for beginners who are not competing at a high level, an aluminium frame is perfectly suitable to start with.

Geometry: Finding the optimal frame height and geometry

For beginner road cyclists, finding the right frame size and geometry is crucial. When considering frame geometry you can refer to the “stack-to-reach ratio”. The stack is the vertical distance between the centre of the bottom bracket and the top of the head tube, while the reach is the horizontal distance between the centre of the bottom bracket and the top of the head tube. Getting the stack-to-reach ratio right ensures a comfortable and efficient riding position.

A lower ratio results in a more aerodynamic and stretched-out riding position, while ratios above 1.55 indicate an upright riding position that's gentler on your neck and back. Professional bike fitting experts can help you find the optimal frame height and geometry based on your body proportions and riding needs. However, as a beginner, you may not necessarily require a fitting. Trying out different road bikes and taking note of the geometry that feels comfortable for you can be a good starting point. If you're new to road cycling, a more upright riding position may be more suitable for a more comfortable experience.

What frame size fits my body?

Finding the right frame size for your bike is a quick process. You will need your height and inseam measurement. If you purchase your bike from Canyon, you only need to provide these two details. Our Perfect Positioning System will recommend the appropriate frame size and seat adjustment for you.

Wheels: Do high-quality models make a difference?

The quality of the wheel set on a bike can greatly affect the weight, stiffness, aerodynamics, and overall cycling experience. For this reason, it's important for entry-level road bikes to be equipped with high-quality wheels. Typically, aero racers will choose ultra-lightweight, high-profile rims to complete their setup, while endurance bikes tend to have durable aluminium wheels that can accommodate wider tyres suitable for riding on fine gravel tracks.

Handlebars: Drop bars or aerobars?

You will usually find classic drop bars on entry-level road bikes. They come in various sizes and shapes to fit different models and budgets. For example, more performance-oriented road bikes tend to feature aerodynamic drop bars. Drop bars can be gripped in various positions, both on the top and bottom, which can ease the pressure on your wrists on long rides.

Aerobars on the other hand are suitable for long-distance riding and time trial competitions and are widely used in triathlons. They allow for an aerodynamically advantageous position and enable you to go faster with the same amount of effort. However, using aerobars requires practice and they’re only suitable for low-traffic routes. Most beginners opt for classic drop bars and may later add an aerobar attachment.

Must-have gear for beginner cyclists

If you're just starting out with cycling, it's important to know that a road bike alone won't suffice. Along with the bike, there are a few essential pieces of equipment you'll need such as a helmet, cycling shorts, a jersey, and cycling shoes. You should also consider a pair of cycling glasses to protect your eyes from wind and insects, a saddlebag to store a spare tube, and a multi-tool for quick fixes. A bike computer is an option for tech-savvy beginners.


When purchasing a road bike helmet, it's important to consider more than just design and aerodynamics. Ventilation and sizing are crucial factors to keep in mind. Additionally, some helmets feature MIPS technology, which helps absorb dangerous rotational movements during impact.

Cycling shorts

Cycling can be uncomfortable without a properly fitting pair of cycling shorts – also called bibshorts. It's essential to have good padding that covers the contact point with the saddle completely. When trying on shorts, make sure they fit snugly while standing. This ensures a perfect fit when sitting on the saddle.

Cycling jersey

For cyclists, it's important to have a functional jersey made of moisture-wicking materials. Back pockets come in handy for storing snacks or small items. With a wide variety of colours and designs available, you can easily find a jersey that fits your personal style and inspires you to feel confident and look your best while cycling.

Additional cycling clothing

Once your passion for road cycling is ignited, it's worth considering some additional clothing items to complement your essential gear. To protect yourself against strong gusts of wind, a windproof gilet is a useful option, and a rain jacket can be a lifesaver in wet weather. Meanwhile, arm and leg warmers are a practical choice for transitioning between different temperatures, as they can be easily stowed away if necessary.

Cycling glasses

When cycling, it's important to wear glasses that provide adequate protection. Cycling glasses serve several purposes, including protecting your eyes from UV radiation, wind, insects, dust, and debris. If you go on a fast-paced road bike ride without the proper eyewear, you may experience discomfort such as dry or watery eyes. Modern cycling glasses with a wider fit can be especially beneficial in protecting your eyes from the wind.

Saddlebag with puncture repair kit

Sooner or later, you will get a flat tyre while cycling on a road bike. It's a good idea to equip your bike with a saddlebag to carry small snacks, tools, a spare tube, and a puncture repair kit.

Lights and reflectors

If you only ride your entry-level road bike during the day, you don’t need to worry if you forget your front and rear lights at home. However, if you cycle in the early morning or at dusk lights are essential. If you want to increase your visibility during the day, you should consider buying special LED daytime lights. These are often brighter and have a wider beam angle to help cyclists be seen in bright daylight conditions.

Cycling Clothing

Cycling Clothing

We have the perfect outfit for you, from functional cycling clothing to casual shirts.
Cycling Gear

Cycling Gear

With our selection of accessories, including mudguards, lighting, and bike bags, you'll be prepared for any situation.

Checklist: What do I need to consider when buying a road bike?

In summary, our checklist includes the questions you need to answer when buying an entry-level road bike:

  • What kind of rider am I and which road bike category fits my needs?
  • What gears do I need?
  • The frame: carbon or aluminium?
  • Clipless pedals or flat pedals?
  • Which geometry suits me?
  • Do I have the essential cycling clothing?
  • What frame size do I need?

Our FAQ in the Canyon Service Centre answers further questions that may be of interest to you.

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