Are you watching the Tour de France? I’m not a hard-core cyclist, but I love tuning in to this crazy race. And, surprisingly, so does my 4-year-old son. Not that either of us really know what’s going on.

I do know that it will end in Paris on Sunday, July 22, so if you haven’t tuned in yet, you better get on it. You can watch the Tour de France on the official Le Tour de France website or on one of the NBC Sports stations.

The Tour de France coverage, plus a re-airing of last year’s Kona Ironman World Championship over the weekend has me longing for a road bike. I have a mountain bike, and it is great for cross training, but if I ever want to do a triathlon, I have got to get a real road racing bicycle. But I am clueless when it comes to knowing what kind of bike to buy, so I did a little research:

What to Remember When Buying a Road Bike

  • Size: One of the most common mistakes, according to the article How to Buy a Used Road Bike on Livestrong.com, is buying a bike that is the wrong size for your body. Before you buy a bike, go to a cycling store and ask a trained professional to help you find a bike that is the right size for you. Once you know, then you can choose to buy a new or a used road bike.
  • Handlebar Style: According to the article A Beginner’s Guide to Buying a Bike on REI.com, road bikes come with two different handlebar options. Lightweight and aerodynamic drop-bar handlebars allow the rider to go faster, as well as give the cyclist more riding and hand position options, while flat-bar handlebars offer a more upright riding position lessening the strain on hands, wrists and shoulders and giving the rider a better view of what’s up ahead.
  • Test Drive: Test at least three bikes warns an article by ConsumerSearch.com. You need to get a feel for the bike — you’ll be spending a lot of time on it!
  • Frame Material: How to Buy a Road bike on ConsumerSearch.com offers great information on your potential road bike’s frame material, and how it can affect price, weight and the ride. “Aluminum and carbon are among the most popular materials used for road bike frames,” it reads. However, “Most budget road bikes have aluminum frames, which can have a harsh, unforgiving ride.” Carbon fiber is great for racing. Mid-range bikes combine the two: an aluminum frame with a carbon fork. It’s all about what you want to pay. Some high-end bikes are even made from titanium or bamboo!

Are you an experienced cyclist? Leave a comment and let us newbie road cyclists know what else we should be looking for!