As I mentioned in this guide on the differences between types of road bikes, the best road bike for beginners is an endurance road bike. They provide the most comfort, and are most versatile in usage options. For example, a beginner time trial athlete still improving their cycling can ride an endurance road bike for training and racing. The differences between types of bikes are minimal and the endurance bikes balance a little bit of everything.
What else do you need to know about beginner road bikes? Sizing, groupsets, and features are a few things that should come to mind. This guide will cover all of that and more. In the end you will be able to pick the perfect road bike for your riding discipline. I’ll also include my list of the top three road bikes for beginners.
Top 3 Road Bikes For Beginners
- Trek Domane AL 3 Disc ($1,379) – The Domane AL 3 Disc comes with disc brakes, as the name implies. It includes Shimano Sora derailleurs and internal cable routing for a clean look. The bike comes in three color options and crank arm lengths of 165-175mm depending on frame size. The bike will easily support a 35mm gravel tire if you want to take your adventure off road.
- Specialized Allez Sport ($1,200) – This bike comes with Shimano Sora derailleurs which will feel like a huge upgrade over the shifting systems on bikes from big box retailers. It is a caliper brake system, which everyone knows disc brakes are better, but the Tour de France has been won on caliper brakes for over 100 years. Don’t get hung up on the caliper vs. disc debate for your beginner bike. Most beginners don’t notice the difference during clean riding conditions anyway.
- Canyon Endurance AL Disc 6.0 ($1,499) – Of the three options this bike is the most equipped coming with the Shimano Tiagra groupset. It also comes with DT Swiss wheels and 28mm Continental tires. This bike is fast right out of the box, but comfortable too. Even though the price tag is a bit higher, the upgrades are worth it making the Canyon Endurance the top road bike for beginners.
What Size Road Bike Do I Need?
Sizing will vary greatly depending on the bike’s frame geometry and the manufacturer’s specifications. Its always best to find the sizing guide on a bike manufacturer’s website to get an idea of what size road bike you need. A quick tip before doing that is to measure your height and inseam. Your height is only one factor in sizing the bike. Your inseam measurement is extremely important. It ensure someone with short leg and a long torso doesn’t end up on a bike that’s too big.
You can also visit your local bike shop. They should have a sizing machine or someone knowledgeable to measure and size you properly. Most bike shop employees will be familiar with the manufacturers sizing guidelines and they can speak to the features offered on each bike too.
When it doubt I always recommend sizing down This doesn’t mean someone that should be riding a 58cm bike should size down to a 52cm, I simply mean if you are between sizes it is always best to size down. Sizing down will make the bike slightly lighter, making it faster and easier to control.
What Groupset Is Best For A Beginner Road Bike?
Beginner road bikes are equipped with Shimano Claris, Sora or Tiagra groupsets. They will get you a bike priced at $1,500 or less. Anything priced higher than $1,500 with one of those groupsets is not a great value. The difference in quality when you jump up to Shimano 105 is substantial. Shifting under any riding condition is easier and smoother at the 105 level, and it only gets better and lighter with Ultegra Di2 and Dura-Ace Di2.
If you think you would enjoy the ride quality of a higher end groupset, but want to stick to the $1,500 maximum price point then used bikes will be the way to go. Just know everything cycles down every 10 year in the cycling industry, roughly. Meaning, a 10 year old bike with Ultegra will be more comparable to a 105 groupset on a new bike.
What Features Should a Beginner Road Bike Have?
When you are new to cycling the biggest obstacle to overcome will be getting comfortable on the saddle. One way to help in that area is to make sure you’re properly sized on your bike. Another option is to wear cycling shorts. A good pair of cycling shorts provides padding in all the right places. If you aren’t looking to invest in a new wardrobe, you can get a pair of Pearl Izumi Escape Quest shorts for less than $50 on Amazon. (Check Current Price on Amazon)
In the sub $1,500 price range it will be hard to find good comfort features. That being said, you should still be able to get a carbon front fork. Carbon fiber absorbs a lot of the minor vibrations of the road. Those vibrations are fatiguing on longer rides, especially for beginner cyclists. The best road bike for beginners still needs to have a carbon fork.