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Road Bike Buying Guide

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Road Bike Buying Guide
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Road Bike Buying Guide

Cycling now ranks as the fourth most popular physical activity in Australia. In fact, Aussies buy more new bicycles every year than they do new cars. Road cycling in Australia got a significant boost in 2011 when Cadel Evans became the first Australian to win the Tour de France, and with local councils now providing better infrastructure for cyclists, more and more Australians are taking to the roads with their bikes. For those cyclists training for competitions like triathlons and road races, the choice of road bike is an important one. Afterall, a bike used for commuting to and from work is very different from a road bike used in competition.

Before buying a road bike, a buyer needs to consider his or her style of cycling. For racing, a bike needs to lighweight and the handlebars low enough to allow the cyclist to assume the most aerodynamic posture possible. When kitting out a bike, the rider needs to consider the myriad cycling accessories available. New and used road bikes, replacement parts, and accessories are available from local cycling shops, but the best road bike deals are on eBay.

Types of Road Bikes

When shopping for a road bike, the buyer must keep in mind what he or she plans to use the bike for. There are different types of road bikes and each type of bike is better suited to particular styles of cycling. The following table describes the different types of road bikes available.

Road Bike Type

Description

Road Race

Rider assumes an aggressive posture by grasping the lower part of the curved drop-bar handlebars, which reduces wind resistance; has a triangle frame for strength and durability

Road Touring

Similar to a road racing bike; the rider grasps the top of the drop-bar handlebars and assumes a more relaxed posture

Road Fitness

Straight handlebars keep the rider in an almost seated vertical position

Triathlon/Time Trial

Designed for competing in triathlons and time trials where speed is critical; rider is in a prone position; special aerodynamic helmet may be worn

Regardless of the type of road bike, the rider needs to make sure that he or she fits the bike. The bike may need to be adjusted to accommodate the rider's height. A rider who is too short for his or her bike or too tall, could suffer back pain and riding performance may also be affected.

Parts of a Road Bike

All bikes require regular maintenance to ensure optimal performance. Therefore, the cyclists may need to source a variety of bicycle parts to make repairs, upgrade the bicycle, and replace worn out components. The sections below details the different parts of a road bike, including the wheels, the bicycle frame, handlebars, gears, and pedals.

Wheels

The typical road bike wheel has a narrow, high-pressure tyre. The narrow wheel ensures the bike can travel faster because the wheel offers less resistance when in contact with the road. Because the wheel is so narrow, the rider can feel every bump and stone. However, this sensitivity gives the rider a better feel for the surface of the road.

Frames

Road bikers rate the frames they use according to overall weight. The lighter the frame, the less work the rider has to put into getting himself and the bike up a steep incline. The price of the frame is tied to weight. Therefore, lightweight frames are more expensive. Some of the more common materials used in entry-level road bike frame construction include steel and aluminium. Bikes used in competition are made from lightweight carbon fibre. It is the most expensive of all the materials used in bike frames.

Handlebars

The configuration of the handlebars vary according to the type of road bike and the style of cycling. Road racer bikes use the drop-bar configuration, while a triathlon bike utilises the more straight-line handlebars, which allow the rider to maintain a low prone position for better aerodynamics. Fitness road bikes have a shorter straight handlebar configuration to keep the rider sitting upright.

Gears

The gearing system likewise varies according to the style of cycling. Racing or riding along flat straightaways does not require the use of a low gear because there are no steep hills to climb. Most road bikes have two to three chain rings as part of the front pedal assembly, with eight to nine gears on the rear wheel assembly. This affords the road bike a possible 16 to 27 gear combinations, which is enough for any cyclist's needs.

Pedals

Entry-level road bikes usually come equipped with the standard platform road bike pedals that include toe clips. Competition bikes often have clipless pedals. This type of pedal allows the rider to secure his or her cleated shoes into the bike pedals. The major advantage here is that the rider can pedal through the full rotation. This entails pulling up on the pedal while going through the upstroke and pushing down on the downstroke for better overall power.

Road Bike Accessories

In addition to the essentials, a cyclist can buy various accessories to put on the road bike. These items are geared towards improving the cycling experience. Popular road bike accessories range from computers to basic air pumps and tool bags, and no road cyclist should be without a water bottle.

Cycle Computer

Mounted on a bicycle, a cycle computer calculates and displays data collected about the ride and the rider. This device is usually attached to the handlebar, allowing for easier viewing. Generally, the cycle computer displays the current speed, the maximum speed, how long the trip has taken, total kilometres travelled, and the current time. Some of the more sophisticated devices display the altitude, the inclination, the rider's heart rate, the amount of power the rider is putting out, the ambient temperature, and a wide variety of other data.

Frame Pump

Frame pumps are necessary for inflating tyres that have been patched. If a tyre suffers a puncture, the rider can patch the tyre using a patch kit and then inflate the tyre using a pump. This emergency patch buys time until the cyclist is in a position to replace the entire tyre. Frame pumps typically fasten to the bicycle frame.

Tool Bag

A small tool bag contains the tools necessary to make repairs while out on the road and is usually connected to the frame of the bike, behind the seat. The tool bag contains essential tools like small spanners, patch kits, Allen keys, and a variety of other tools necessary to make emergency repairs.

Water Bottle and Cage

Most road bikes have water bottles attached to the frame of the bike by way of a metal or plastic cage. This cage secures the water bottle to the frame while riding, but allows for easy access, even while speeding along.

How to Find Road Bikes on eBay

The search for a road bike on eBay begins on the homepage, with the buyer entering a search query into the search bar. A search query is simply a string of keywords that describe what you are looking for. Examples of good search queries include 'carbon fibre road bike' or 'black road bike'. The key to an effective search it to use words that describe the item. You should include the brand, colour, frame material, and condition (new or used) in the search query. Read eBay’s Search Tips page for more advice on searching for road bikes or other products using keywords.

Entering a search query prompts the site's search engine to display relevant listings on the results page. As you look through product listings for bikes, parts, or other accessories, remember to note the condition of the items, the cost, and other specifications, such as colour and size. Finally, always check the seller’s feedback rating before committing to a purchase.

Conclusion

When looking for a road bike, the most important consideration is the type of road bike. Some bikes are suited more for speed while others for leisure. The rider should also factor in his or her height to ensure that the rider fits the bike. If the rider know how to adjust a bike for height, he or she can adjust the bike, or if the rider does not know how, a service technician at a cycle shop can make the necessary adjustments. A bike that is too heavy is not suitable for road racing, while a road bike with a carbon fibre frame and clipless pedals is likely too expensive for commuting to work or leisurely weekend rides.

A cyclist should also consider what accessories he or she might need. Popular road bike accessories include cycle computers, tool kits, and tube pumps. Cyclists often turn to eBay to find the best deals on new and used road bikes and a variety of road bike-related accessories.

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