The ideal road bike balances performance and comfort, attributes that are linked directly to its individual drivetrain components: chainset, shifters, derailleurs, chain and cassette. The component manufacturers you should know are Japan's Shimano, Italy's Campagnolo and America's SRAM. In many cases, riders will buy a bike and then upgrade individual components to suit their preferences. When shopping for your next road bike, be aware of these basics:
Before you shop for a road bike, there are a few questions you should consider to be sure the ride you pick is the best model for you.
What style of riding will you do? Will you use the bike just for commuting to work, or are you a long-distance rider and race enthusiast? This makes a difference when choosing between a triple or double compact crankset. Although many serious cyclists look down on road bikes with triple cranksets because they don't shift as precisely as doubles and compacts, triple cranksets tend to make it easier to power up hills.
What size frame do you need? Determining the proper size frame for your new bike is essential for both comfort and efficiency. If you choose a frame that's too big, you'll find it difficult to control, reach the ground, or even reach the shifters and brakes. A frame that's too small will be not only uncomfortable and inefficient to ride, but you also run the risk of injuring your knees. Most road bike manufacturers offer a variety of sizes, so visit your local bike shop to get a feel for what specific measurements you'll need if you're ordering a bike online.
The more extensive use of carbon technology in today's road bikes also means lower production costs, resulting in more affordable but light bikes as the technology trickles down to cheaper models. Modified forks and chainstays are designed to reduce vibration, and longer wheelbases provide a stable ride since they allow sharp turns with ease.
The use of electronic shifting is becoming a popular option on many mid- to high-end bikes, but it adds more than $1,000 to the price. Another trend is hydraulic disc brakes. A number of 2013 models have been introduced with this as a standard feature rather than an option, which also slightly drops the bike's weight and optimizes its aerodynamics.