If you have not read my earlier post, it would be a good idea to read that first. This research is purely from my budget and requirement perspective and may not suit anyone else looking for a (road) bike. Please do look for more information according to your budget and needs, available over various cycling channels etc.
Buying A New (Road) Bike: OK, Here I was looking to buy a new bike (likely a road bike), having completed self-set target of 5000 Kms on an entry level hybrid bike with minimum of 5 centuries. For a while I thought I would postpone buying a new one but could not hold excitement of riding a road bike longer and finally bought one. I will try to explain why I ended up buying what I bought.
Before I go ahead, let me explain 3 major categories of bikes widely available.
MTB: These are essentially mountain bikes meant for completely off-road and mountain experiences, would have wide tires, disc brakes, relatively heavier with flat handlebars. These are widely available (because its cheap) in the market and you would see many people using it. But it’s not meant for riding on flat tarmac roads, it’s made completely for off road experiences, and good ones among this category are not cheaper either. These are essentially SUVs among bikes!
Road: Road bikes are very sleek, very thin high-pressure tires, drop handlebars, meant for riding on flat tarmac surfaces and meant for high speeds. You can ride this on Indian roads, but tires used on performance road bikes sometimes go crazy on Indian roads and would be prone to punctures etc. Good road bikes from foreign brands are costly affair and starts from 40K. These are essentially Sports Cars among bikes!
Hybrid: Hybrid bikes are the ones which are kind of in between Road and MTB. These are good for someone starting on biking, commuting small distances, can be taken for a flat road as well as off road experiences. There are very good hybrid bikes available in 20-30K price segment but some of decathlon models are available as low as 11K. These are essentially hatchbacks category of cars most of use for commuting!
Endurance & Gravel Road Bikes: These are subcategory of road bikes with focus on endurance or gravel. Endurance bikes are made for longer comfortable rides with a better comfortable geometry than a performance road bikes. It may have slightly wider tires for more comfort on longer rides. Gravel is a subcategory of Road bikes which you can take off roads on a gravel surface. These bikes would offer more options than a road bike but would compromise on weight and performance. Not that these do not preform like a road bike but if you want to participate in a race it’s better not to use these categories. These are the sports cars with occasional off roading capabilities!
Before buying a road bike you need to decide on few things.
- How much money you want to spend? Yes, this is the most important factor.
- What do you need it for?
- For casual morning rides.
- For participating in tight time bound events will be racing.
- For endurance / multiday rides which are day long or even more.
- You will be riding your bike on?
- Flat tarmac surface.
- Gravel surfaces.
- Flat Mountain roads (uphill & downhill roads).
- Flat / Mountain off road surface. All the stunts you may have seen.
My Requirement was that I am interested in long rides, wanted to take my bike for multi day tours, slightly off-road tours etc. A Gravel Bike would give you all the options. It’s a Road Bike, you can put on pannier racks in front / back add multiple bottles mounts etc. Just do a search in Instagram with #triban520 and see the pics what a gravel bike can offer. Performance biking / participating in tight time bound events was out of scope for me.
These are the factors which are going to decide what you may look for in terms of individual components of your bike.
Geometry: As I explained earlier performance road bikes have aggressive geometry which are meant to reduce drag while riding and make you posture more aerodynamic for speed. Endurance geometry will have better sitting posture for comfort and would compromise slightly on speed because of that. I opted for endurance geometry.
Frame Material: Most of the reasonably priced bikes use Aluminum frame with carbon fork. If you want to spend more carbon is the option, if you are looking for cheaper, you would have to go for steel frame material. Difference is in price and final weight of your bike. I opted for Aluminum frame with carbon fork.
Wheels & Tires: Wider the tire, comfortable the ride will be, lower the pressure you would have to maintain, and it will be less prone to punctures. This will result in bike weight getting heavier, and speed getting slower compared to thinner tires. Thinner tires on the other hand will have high pressure requirement and will be prone to punctures on Indian roads but will have better speeds and will weigh less. There are ways to overcome puncture issues, like changing tires, using liners, checking pressure regularly etc.
Brakes: On flat tarmac roads V-Brakes are good enough. Disc brakes will offer you better control specially in hilly area. MTBs come with disc brakes probably because of wider tires and for better control in off road areas.
Groupset: This is the most important part of any bike and it can change price of your bike like anything. It refers to any electronic or mechanical that are involved in braking, changing gears and running the drivetrain. This means shifters, brake levers, front and rear derailleurs, front and rear brake calipers crankset, bottom bracket, chain and cassette. This must be used in combination as parts of one groupset may or may not be compatible with another groupset. One of the most popular brands for groupsets is Shimano and you would find it on road bikes of almost all the brand (Firefox, Trek, Scott, Merida etc.).
Shimano Road Bike Groupset Range: There are many possible combinations, but because of my budget range and availability of bikes in Indian markets, I started to compare 4 of Shimano groupsets.
|Front Gear||2 Speed||2 Speed||2 Speed||2 Speed|
|Rear Gear||8 Speed||9 Speed||10 Speed||11 Speed|
* All the bikes I checked in market had 11-32 cassette, there are other options available like 11-28 or 11-34 range also. It’s up to the manufacturer which cassette they have used in the bike.
Gear Range: As you go up from Claris to 105, what changes is the gear range, specially at higher speeds. There are other factors also like use of different materials, lesser weights etc., but what I noticed was the smoothness with which it will allow you to shift from one gear to another at higher speed. Like in a Claris you have 3 gears (with a difference of 2 teeth) in the range of 11-15 but in 105, its 5 gears just one tooth apart. Power difference at lower gears you will be pushing your bike with at higher speeds gets smoother as you go up from Claris to 105. Price gradually increases significantly (almost 10-12K for every upgrade) as well as you move from Claris to 105.
Weight: Finally coming to the weight of the bike which I also was fascinated with when I decided to road bike. Each gram of weight matters when you are going for a race, but as I do not have any intention of going to a race or tight time bound events, I felt it was ok to get a better groupset compared to 1kg less weight of bike.
Decision: I ended up buying Triban RC 520. Deciding factors behind it are as below.
- My budget was anywhere between 50-80K.
- My requirement was casual morning / endurance / multiday touring etc.
- I wanted to take my bike to be ready for off road surface also (changing tires can achieve that).
- I wanted disc brakes as well to be future ready and for hilly area in case I wanted to take it.
- I have been looking for a Shimano 105 11 speed groupset.
- I did not have to spend in changing tires or adding liners.
- RC520 has the capacity to take you to a perfect bike packing tour.
- Triban 520 had some compromises in cassette / chain / bottom bracket which are not 105.
- It was solid 1kg heavier than other bikes I had been considering.
The fact that I was getting a Shimano 105 with semi hydraulic disc brakes at the price tag I bought, helped me to overcome cons I listed above. I have done 2 weeks and 400 kms till now on the bike and I do not have any complains.