The ultimate guide for picking a road bike

by Anze Cerin on Sep 19, 2022

Approved cycling BMC road bike Timemachine Road 01 One

approved cycling Timemachine One
Custom Built BMC TimeMachine 2022 Road 01 ONE

"When it comes to finding the ideal road bike, it's essential to prioritize your own happiness and comfort on the bike. The right road bike for you will depend on your personal preferences and needs, and it can take some time to find the perfect match."

Anze Cerin CEO of Approved

Are you thinking of getting a road bike? If so, this guide is for you!
In it we'll discuss the different factors to consider when choosing a road bike, from frame size to gear ratio. So whether you're a beginner or an experienced cyclist, read on for some helpful tips on how to pick the perfect road bike for you.

How to pick a road bike

Cycling is a great sport for those who want to get into it, but how do you know which bike will be the best? It can seem like there are an endless number of options available. The most important thing when choosing your first road bike is how the bike looks, right? Well yes and no. We do recommend buying a bike that appeals to you but first thing to consider is what kind of road bike regarding to what position will suit you the most.

These categories are:

AERO ROAD BIKES: Are usually stiff but to most of cyclists they appeal the most because of their looks and higher wheel depth.?

LIGHWEIGHT ROAD BIKES: Are usually more comfrotable but still stiff yet they compromise stifness for lower weight so when you apply a lot of power they tend to bend.

ENDURANCE ROAD BIKES: Have higher front end position since you spend more time on it and the position should be as comfortable as possible. They also have different features on the bike to better absorb constant bumps from the road.

Regrading material you have a couple of options:

Carbon fiber frames are the most common over cycling industry. The best thing about carbon fiber is you can design it the way you like. Make it stronger where the frame needs strenght nad lighten it up where it can use extra flex for a more comfortable ride and lower weight.

Steel frames are usually strong, heavy and comfortable.

Aluminium frames are in short a lighter than steel frames but also not as durable.

Titanium frames are the most expensive of the three and more corrosion resistant and also lighter.

approved cycling road bike materials
Most common used materials for bike frames in cycling industry.

How to find the perfect position on your bike

Put bike fitting on your to do list. You will go through which saddle suits you the most, your stem lenght, right bike size…pretty much the right bike fitter should be able to tell you a lot of informations which will help you choose the bike you want to buy. If you do not have that option and you haven't rode a bike before. Than the best option is to look through a bike companys size chart. If you are in between the sizes it matters a lot if you have longer or shorter legs compared to your body and also to that bikes geometry. If you fit in the “regular” category which means your legs and upper body are in proportions than we would recommend going for a bigger frame size if you want an endurance position and going for a smaller size if you like a racing position on your bike.

approved cycling road bike wheels
Tubeless, clinchers or tubulars? Deep section wheels? Carbon or aluminium?

How to choose the correct pair of wheels?

There is a lot that goes into choosing the right pair of road bike wheels. Here are a couple of facts we need to consider:

How much do we weight
Wheels are a crucial part of your ride, and if you are a heavier build then it's best to get wheels that are durable and can withstand your weight. Light wheels are great but if they are not safe for you or they will bend under your power you will not like the ride with those wheels.

Where are we going to ride
If you live in the dolomites or somewhere with a lot of climbs we would recommend buying a shallower wheel depth. On the contrary the less climbs you have a deeper wheel will suit you better. Deeper wheels are a bit heavier but they can help you maintain speed better once you get to higher speeds.

Approved cycling mangart Pinarello Dogma F12
Custom painted Dogma F12 DB

Which tire size are we going to use
We have come from running 18mm tires just a couple of decades ago to now pro riders running a 30mm tires as a standard.
Wider tires give you:

  • more comfort
  • better grip
  • they are also faster

This is especially true for tubeless tire system which has now fully came across from mountain bikes.

What is my frame tire clearance
Unfortunately not all tire widths can fit into every frame. For 2023 some companies have already gone to 30mm standard and some still have bike s that only allow 25mm width. Keep this in mind when you are buying a new bike. Our recomendation would be to buy a bike that has at least 28mm width possibility and 30mm is even better.

Wheels for clincher tires
Are run with tubes inside. This are usually easier to install and fix if you have a flat tire. They are also least safe when you get the puncture, heaviest and cheapest.

Wheels for tubeless tires
Are similar to clincher wheels since every clincher wheel can now be transformed into tubeless ready wheel. There are a couple of big benefits to running tubeless tires. First is when you get a small puncture usually the sealant that you are running inside the tires will fill in that hole. When it doesnt you can easily just put in a new tube. Second you can run lower tire pressure which will help you get a better grip, comfortable ride and in a lot of cases also a faster ride. It doesnt make sense right?! How can we ride faster if we have less pressure in our tires. Well it is because of the bumbs on the road or uneven surfaces. If you have a hard tire you will bounce from the road and you will loose speed, when the tire has less pressure you are glued to the road and faster since you are also not loosing any traction.

Wheels for tubular tires
Are the lightest and safest if you have a puncture. But they take the most amount of time too change if you need to replace the tire.

Pirelli P-Zero SLR TLR tires with PCW Wake 6560 wheels

How to choose road bike pedals

You have a couple of systems to choose from but we will divide them into two groups. Wahoo Speedplay and the rest. Before we tested the Speedplay pedals we never thought we will be so impressed with them. They have one huge benefit compared to the rest of the industry. They have easily adjusted float position. Which helped us a lot with the knee problems during cycling. We especially noticed that when we tried to switch to our previous system. After one ride we switched back to Wahoo Speedplays. Some of the downfalls of Wahoo Speedplay pedals. They are expensive, cleats are heavy and when you get them dirty it will be hard to clip in. Saying all of this we still cannot imagine ridding our bikes with a different set of pedals. They are simply superior to what we feel a road bike pedals should be compared to the rest of the market. But if you do not have any knee issues or you are a complete beginner you can try out the Look system or Shimano SPD system. They are both really similar and have a cheaper entry point compared to Wahoo Speedplay system.

Approved cycling Speedplay pedals
Ease of use. Lightweight. Easy adjustments.

How to choose road bike saddle

Unfortunatelly this part will probablly need some trial and error. But once you find the right bike saddle stick to it. Curentlly the popular saddles are a bit shorter and wider. The width of the saddles is also really important in the front of the saddle especially if your thighs are bulkier we would not recommend going for a saddle that is too wide in the front. If you are buying the saddle online and you cannot test ride it. Use a piece of paper and sit on it, underneath simply put a wet cloth, not soaking but just enough for the moisture too transfer to the paper. Then measure the center of each bone and add 2 cm and you get the right width of your saddle. You can also choose a saddle with a cut out in the center of the saddle which lightens the pressure on the perineal area. Also don't be afraid to pick a bike saddle that looks hard on first sight. Some of those saddles are the most comfortable on the market. We are using Berk saddles which don't have any padding and they are the best we tried for longer rides. The magic sauce comes from the flex of the saddle surface. It absorbs bumps from the road and gives you the support you need on longer rides.

approved cycling berk lupina saddle
Berk Lupina saddle

How to choose the correct gear ratio for a road bike

For beginners just go for the lighter possible ratio 50-34 teeth in the front and 11-32; 11-34 now even 11-36 sprocket in the back is possible. There is no reason to buy a harder gear ratio. Once you start riding more you will see if you need to upgrade to a harder gear ratio. Untill that point there is no need. We know cyclist that ride a lot and are still using 50-34 and 11-32 gear ratio. This means you can still pedal even at 60+ km/h.

approved cycling ceramicspeed gear ratio
Dura-Ace 12 speed paired with custom 3D titan printed CeramicSpeed OSPW

How much should a road bike weight

It depends on what is the purpose of the bike. If you have a travel endurance road bike those will weight a lot more than a race purpose road bike. For an entry level standard road bike weight should be around 9kg. High end lightweight climbers bikes weight just bellow 7kg and aero road race bikes from 7,4 to around 8kg.

How much does a road bike cost

A new entry level road bike will cost you somewhere from 1000,00€ a mid range road bikes go for around 3000,00€ and higher end bikes start at around 8000,00€.

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