How to Buy a Road Bike

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How to Buy a Road Bike

In simple terms, the road bike is specifically used for riding on tarmac roads. There is some ambiguity between the definition of road and racing bikes, although this guide will look at bikes designed exclusively for use on roads which are available for the general UK cyclist. Buying a road bike is a simple process due to the high supply and demand for them; however there are some aspects to consider before making a purchase. One of these considerations is where to buy from. eBay has plenty of road bikes accessible within its online marketplace, both new and second-hand, that cater for the UK market.

Characteristics of a Road Bike

As they are predominantly will be used on paved surfaces, road bikes are designed to suit these conditions.

The tyres of a road bike are on the narrow side. The pressure of the tyres is high as to provide minimum contact with the surface, thus reducing strain on the bike and rolling resistance.

To allow for a freer and more relaxed ride, a road bike is constructed as lightly as possible. Generally, the more expensive a bike model will cost the lighter in weight it will be too.

The design of the bike, especially in relation to the handlebars, is so the rider can bend forward easier and reduce wind resistance.

Most road bikes have a multiple gears which help with different surfaces and different inclines. Typically, there will be between 16 and 27 possible gear combinations for a cyclist to choose from.

Buying Considerations for Road Bikes

A few simple but often forgotten concerns when coming to buy road bicycles are often the most obvious, especially when it comes to setting a price.

-  For example, how often will the bike be used? If only being sporadically, paying over the odds for a high quality model may not be needed.

-  How far will the bike journeys be every time it is used? If cycling long distances then it will be worth paying extra for a bike with more durable tyres and a stronger frame to sustain the extended use.

-  How professional will the bike need to be? If only using it for recreational use or a short trip to work, then paying extra for a top of the range titanium frame and immense suspension will not be necessary.

-  How fit are you and how intense will the workouts be? If using the road bike for rigorously, sprinting for example, then look into which bikes are suited for more excessive use.

-  What surfaces will the bike be used on? Think of the route the bike will be used on and whether the roads go up or down hills often along it. Some road bikes can deal with inclines better than others in terms of their weight and gear capabilities.

Sizing of Road Bikes – The wrong size bike can ruin the whole experience of cycling so it is crucial to buy the right one. Note the height and inseam measurements of who will be using the bike.

The size of the wheel rims (that is basically the circumference of the wheel) can be a useful way of determining which road bike to purchase. Some listings on eBay will display a wheel rim size so the following table can help with selecting a model:

Wheel Rim Size (inches)

What size of user they will suit


Children 28 to 38 inches tall


Children 38 to 48 inches tall


Children 48 to 60 inches tall


Adults with a 30 to 34 inch inseam


Adults with a 34 inch plus inseam

Frames of Road Bikes – Titanium, aluminium and carbon are generally the three materials in which the frame of a road bike is made out of. Traditional steel frames have been edged out of the contemporary bike market. Each of them has their own characteristics which can benefit a bike yet it may ultimately simply come down the individual quality and cost to determine which model is the best. For example, a top of the range carbon frame may allow for the bike to travel faster, yet substandard carbon may be heavier and cause it to go slower.

Aluminium is perhaps the most common material a frame is built from for general cyclists and is on average the cheapest. Carbon and titanium bikes are more advanced, being light but also very strong. They can be on the expensive side so only consider these if necessary for yourcycling needs.

The size of the frame is something to look into also; getting a perfect fitting bike can make a ride so much more enjoyable and let the rider concentrate fully on their technique. Below is a table showing what size frame a potential buyer should be looking at in relation to their height.

Height of Cyclist (inches)

Size of Bike Frame to Buy (inches)

Below 5’4

Below 20

5’4 – 5’7


5’6 – 5’9


5’8 – 5’11


5’10 – 6’1


6’0 – 6’3


Above 6’3

Above 25

Flat-Bar Road Bikes – Road bikes will come with the traditional mountain-bike style flat handlebars that allow the cyclist’s hands to remain only in one position. For the general user this is usually okay and perfectly acceptable position to ride with. Newer flat-road handlebars provide a more upright position which can increase the speed of a ride.

Women’s Road Bikes

The market also provides bikes for women as well as men and although they don’t vary too much, there are a few changes that differentiate between the two. Female bikes are sized down to suit the smaller and lighter frame of a woman. Seats are generally more cushioned as to fit a women’s pelvis and on some more advanced models the compression is lighter. There are also the obvious design and colour differences that can distinguish a female road bike.

Buying a Road Bike on eBay

Although this guide has looked at what size of a road bike may suit a certain rider, it always best to try out the model to make sure it feels right. The style of a rider may suit a certain bike regardless of what the size guide says. Ask store attendants their opinions and shop around in order to get the best deal.

If buying on eBay then follow these guidelines to ensure a quick, easy and safe purchase:

Begin the search. To begin the search type in “road bikes” or “road bicycles” into the search bar at the top of the page. This will bring up all the bikes that have been listed by sellers. Some road bikes may be categorized as ‘Town Bikes’ due to their urban use.

Narrow the search. To bring down the results then use the menu bar on the left hand side. Decide between which gender and age group the bike is for, which brand the bike should be, the maximum price you are prepared to pay and also what condition it should be in. It is also possible to choose between the frame size and wheel rim size; use the information in this guide to assist in this.

Check out the seller. Check out who the bike is coming from. The feedback rating is a good indication of the seller’s legitimacy. They might have good positive feedback for buying items themselves but this could be the first item they are selling. If so then proceed with caution.

Read the item description. Carefully go through the details of the bike that the seller has listed. Is there anything missing that should have been listed in the first place? Does the seller seem to know what they are on about? If something seems dubious then ask the seller a question or consider other options.

Check the photos. Photos should really show the bike from all angles, this will mean the seller is not trying to slyly hide any deficiencies. Check closely at the pictures for things such as scratches, rust or dents. 


Remember that different parts of a bike such as the wheels, pedals, seats and gears can all be replaced if needed. This means if you like some parts of a bike but not others they can always be changed. Look on eBay for any additional parts you may need.

Don’t be scared to spend a fair amount though if going to use the bike a lot. There are foldable road bikes available aswell which can be of great assistance for storage purposes and can make life a lot easier on the daily commute if using public transport.

For all the more complicated jargon about road bikes then it is possible to research further online. Check out reviews from other cyclists who have used the bike before to get a first-hand review of their capabilities or negative factors. Set a budget according to how often and how professionally the bike will be used and shop around online to try and get the best deal which more than likely will be found on eBay.

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