“How do you really look for the best cheap bikes? What are the things you need to consider? Read on and find out!”
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Cheap road bikes can be found with different frame materials. Steel is the cheapest frame material, but aluminum offers a lighter frame. Consider your riding goals and habits. If you cruise around the neighborhood, the steel-framed bike may be your most economical choice. If you’re logging long miles, lighter aluminum frames may be better.
The best cheap road bikes include models of Trek, Schwinn, Tomasso, and Raleigh.
Manufacturers cut the price on their bikes by using low-end components and wheels. Others choose mid-range components with steel or heavier frames. Low-end components can be upgraded over time, improving the complete bike. A heavy frame cannot be lightened, but heavy components can be replaced with lighter ones. Always choose the better frame, even if it comes with lesser quality parts.
Check the gears and shifters carefully. Even a low-end road bike should have easily changeable mechanics. If parts look like they are not designed to be removed, look at a different bike. Most low-end bicycles come equipped with Shimano shifters and derailleurs. If the bike you are looking at has these, it can be upgraded later if desired.
WHERE TO BUY
Entry-level road bikes are available in major sporting good chains such as Modell’s, Dick’s and Sports Authority. These chain stores offer cheaper versions than those from the larger bike manufacturers. Most of the time, this price difference is a result of cheaper mechanical parts. Be sure to check your local independent bicycle store as well. Independent dealers tend to offer a wider variety of models and price points. While the price tags may often be $50 to $100 higher, the more personalized service can be worth it if you are new to cycling.
For an aluminum frame entry level road bike, expect to pay $300 to $1200. For a steel-framed road bike, costs can run $160 to $800. The higher ranges of the two are equipped with better parts. Choose the best quality frame you can afford and upgrade the mechanical parts and wheels later.
High-end rims and tires offer smoother spinning and lighter weights. Better components, such as gears and shifters, tend to react quicker and more smoothly than the often chunky feeling of low-end shifters. While not necessary for short commutes, the smoothness can be appreciated on extended or frequent rides.
Compare similar frame materials by looking at components offered. Better and lighter wheelsets will drive the price up faster than gear and shifting parts do. Look at the specifications to compare actual frame weight. Often bikes are marketed with total weight as a comparison.
Most entry-level road bikes come with plastic platform pedals. Not all bikes include pedals.
Bike shorts and gloves make longer rides far more comfortable. Do not forget the helmet.
Better road bikes are measured in centimeters, not inches. If you buy a bike measured by inches, you will not be able to upgrade the frame by much. Choose a bike measured in centimeters and check your tire’s valve stems. Most quality road bikes have tires that use Presta valves, a smaller valve than the common Schraeder valve that you find on your car’s tires and your children’s bikes.
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