Guide to Buying a Road Bike in Indianapolis

Fuji Supreme 2.3

This is a simple, straightforward guide to buying a road bike for the Indianapolis area. We'll take the mystery out of frame materials and components. The first thing you need to do is determine exactly what type of road bike you want. Here are your options:

  • Racing bike: Racing bikes should be light and fast. In addition to being used for racing, they are ideal for people who just like to ride fast. This is the most popular type of road bike.
  • Triathlon or time trial bike: Time trial bikes are strictly for timed, solo racing. Time trial bikes should be light, but they put an even greater premium on aerodynamics. Therefore they tend to sacrifice a little weight for less aerodynamic drag. If you watched the final time trial of the 2013 Tour de France, you may remember that Chris Froome changed bikes during the stage. Where the route was relatively flat, he used a time trial bike. Where it was hilly, he used a racing bike because it was a bit lighter, making it easier to get up hills.
  • Touring bikes: Touring bikes are built to carry your gear when you travel by bike. They are made so you can add racks on the rear and front, and attach bags called panniers (pronounced "pan ears") to hold all your stuff. You can easily take along a tent, sleeping bag, a backpacking stove and some extra clothes and travel across the United States, or just take a weekend tour down to Brown County State Park.
  • Cyclocross bike: Cyclocross racing is a rather odd sport. Riders race laps around a course that typically includes paved roads, off-road trails, steep hills and short section where the racers must dismount and carry their bikes. Cyclocross bikes need to be light, but they also must be strong enough to withstand the off-road riding.

No matter what type of bicycle you are looking for, the main drivers of performance and cost are the frame material and the level of the components (derailleurs, brakes, etc.). The hierarchy of components is shown in the tables on our Parts page. Let's take a look at some the common frame materials:

  • High tensile steel
  • Chrome molybdenum steel (better known as "Chromoly")
  • Aluminum
  • Titanium
  • Carbon fiber

Many years ago, nearly all road bikes were made of steel. Today, it is less common than aluminum. Steel includes a wide variety of alloys. Reynolds 531 was the material of choice for high end bikes for many years after its introduction in 1935. Today, the top end steel for bicycle frames is Reynolds 953, introduced in 2005. 

Aluminum is about one third the weight of steel, but it cannot withstand as much defection as steel without failing. When manufacturers started using aluminum, they needed to make the diameter of the tubes larger, which makes it stiffer. If you ride on rough roads, you may find an aluminum bike a bit too stiff. Roads in Indiana are not as smooth as those in the southern United States. That's not a knock on the people who build our roads - The problem is that our weather includes a lot of freeze and thaw cycles during the winter, and that wreaks havoc on our road system.

Titanium is about half the weight of steel with about the same strength. It has been around for a while, but has never been widely used for bicycle frames because of its expense. It does a good job of damping out road shock. Custom titanium bicycles have been constructed in Brownsburg  for many years by Roark Custom Titanium Bicycles. The late Robin Williams had one. In an issue of VeloNews magazine, it had the headline "Mork on a Roark".

Carbon fiber is now the material of choice for high end road bike frames. It is strong and light, and less expensive than titanium. Carbon fiber is an especially good material for bicycle forks. Because of that, bicycles priced at levels a little below those with full carbon frames will usually have carbon forks.

Racing Bikes

Here are a few options on racing bikes:

  • Fuji Sportif 2.5 - This is an entry level bike that retails for $610. It has an aluminum frame and aluminum fork.
  • Fuji Sportif 2.3 - By moving up to the $720 Sportif 2.3 you get upgraded components, 16 speeds instead of 14, a carbon fork, and the main triangle of the frame is double-butted tubing.
  • Fuji Sportif 2.1 - The $830 Sportif 2.1 has upgraded components and 18 speeds.
  • Fuji Roubaix 1.5 - Retailing at $1049, it has Tiagra components and 20 speeds
  • Fuji Supreme 2.3 - Retails at $1899 and offers a full carbon frame with Shimano 105 components

Triathlon Bikes

Fuji Aloha 1.1

Triathlon bikes are designed to be aerodynamic for time trials when you cannot draft. They sacrifice a bit in weight for better streamlining.  Features of note on the Fuji Aloha include:

  • Aero handlebars to keep the rider in a more aerodynamic position
  • Aerodynamic down tube
  • Cutout in the down tube to allow the rear wheel to be moved forward

Touring Bikes


Fuji Touring Bike

Touring bikes are designed to allow you to carry your camping gear or other possessions over a variety of surfaces and up steep hills. Features you will find on touring bikes include:

  • Braze-ons that allow you to attach racks onto the front and rear.
  • Long wheelbase to allow panniers (bags you attach to the racks) on the rear rack without interfering with your pedaling.
  • Low gears and a triple chainring so you can climb up steep hills with extra weight
  • Strong brakes - You will also be going down steep hills with extra weight
  • Wider tires so you can ride on gravel roads

Cyclocross Bikes

 Fuji Cross 1.5 Disc

Cyclocross bikes are somewhat like touring bikes, since they also need strong brakes and wide tires for varied terrain. Since they are for racing, they only have a double chainring in front and their gears aren't quite as low.