Choosing A New Bike

Part III of a series
By Scott Bernstein updated 2024-02-13

This article is Part III of our series (Part I, Intro to Bike Frame Materials and Part II, Gravel Bikes: Design and Variations are here) pertaining to multi-surface drop bar bikes, including road, allroad, gravel, and bike packing bikes. In the first part we reviewed the four major frame materials that manufacturers use to produce frames. We looked at the mechanical properties of carbon fiber composite, aluminum, steel, and titanium and how these characteristics affect frame design and construction. In the second part we reviewed aspects of frame design and geometry pertaining to drop-bar bikes, and how bikes that look the same may in fact handle quite differently. In this final part of the series we are going to look closer at how parameters like stack, reach, wheelbase, and trail can help you predict how particular bike will handle and use this information to help make purchasing decisions. We'll also look at some of the various component choices and other aspects (tire clearance, number and placement of frame mounts, etc….) that might affect which bike is best for you. Lastly, I'll have some suggestions on when to consider purchasing from a smaller frame builder or custom builder.

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Narrow road sign at night

Above: Alone in the dark on an early morning ride in upper Westchester County. This sign is indicating the road conditions ahead…also apropos to buying a new bike. Slow down, and take your time. Determine exactly what your requirements are and narrow the choices to the kind of bike that will best suit those needs that is also within your budget.

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