Since there is a wealth of knowledge on RBR, this sticky should help the beginners.

This FAQ will evolve over time, so if there is a thread that should belong in this FAQ, please notify a moderator of this forum.

1. Basic Rules of the Forum:
  • Ask Questions. There are mostly no dumb questions. The dumb questions are the ones you wanted to ask, but didn't, then screwed something up.
  • Be respectful. No one was born a pro-cyclist or a pro-cyclist's mechanic.
  • Don't respond with things such as "Search Noob", etc. That's why this is the Beginner's Corner

2. Rules of "The Rules":
The Rules are meant to be "Tongue-in-Cheek" humor and still contain lots of great information. That being said:
  • Be respectful when quoting from The Rules.
  • Do not quote Rule #5, HTFU. People who quote Rule #5 will have their post deleted, even if it contains useful information.

3. FAQ
  1. General Bike Information: Sheldon Brown-Bicycle Technical Information contains lots of great information for a beginner, or even the seasoned cyclist to read. This site is often quoted in RBR

    Lennard Zinn is also another often quoted source of information on RBR, both his Velonews articles as well as his books.

  2. When asking for general recommendations, please include the following information help others help you, such as:
    • Max budget (including currency, which also signifies which country you would live in)
    • Height, weight, gender, etc
    • Type of Riding

  3. Type of Bikes & Geometry:
    • Racing: These days it's your basic road bike.
    • Relaxed/Endurance: Yes, it's a race bike. They were developed for the grueling cobblestones of the Paris-Roubaix. Endurance geometry bikes differ from race bikes as the are tweaked for additional comfort over a road bike: taller headtube, slacker fork angle which leads to a more upright position (though it can be tailored in the fitting session); additional modifications to the frame for increased vertical compliance, ie: curved seat stays, longer, shaped chainstays, etc. Some offer strategically placed elastomer inserts. They tend to come with 25mm tires as standard for increased tire volume to cushion. As a result, they may be "less responsive" to your inputs. Relaxed/Endurance tend to cost slightly more.
    • Cyclocross: It looks like a beefed up road bike, with tweaks for larger tires (30mm to 40mm range) and brakes suitable for mud clearance. There are cyclocross racings where roadies & MTB'ers come together and race on a "obstacle" course, with barriers, steps, varying terrain, etc. This is also where racers heckle other racers (all in good fun), as well as other bad behaviors that is the norm for cyclocross. Cyclocross Forum FAQ thread
    • Gravel: Relatively new class of bikes, somewhat an evolution of the cyclocross bike for "Gravel Grinders". Cyclocross vs gravel bikes. To further confuse, Bike Radar's discussion
    • Time Trial: Bikes designed to be as aerodynamic as possible, for a Time Trial race.
    • Hybrid: A Hybrid replaces the drop bar for a flat bar type. They tend to use MTB-like trigger shifters. They tend to have larger volume tires (in the 35mm range). There is heavy emphasis on comfort. Some have cheap suspension fork like a Hardtail MTB.
    • Compact vs Traditional: From the aforementioned Sheldon Brown site
      Traditional "road" frames have been built with level top tubes since the early 1900s. The influence of mountain and BMX bike design has led to the increasing popularity of frames with sloping top tubes, higher at the front.
      "Compact" road frames have sloping top tubes, and are intended to be used with a long seatpost. Compact frames are a little bit lighter than traditional ones, but this is partially offset by the weight of the longer seatpost. Some riders believe these frames are stiffer.

      When lines extending forward from the down tube and top tube intersect directly above the front axle, as is usual with a road frame, weight loading only tensions, does not the down tube and compresses the top tube, imposing no bending loads on them. When the intersection is behind the axle, he frame is better at resisting braking loads. When the intersection is ahead of the axle, the bending loads on these tubes require the front end of the frame to be of stronger construction.

      Manufacturers like compact frames because they are more versatile in terms of fit. Usually 3 or 4 sizes are enough to fit 98% of customers. This saves a lot of money for a manufacturer who doesn't need to deal with so many different sizes.

  4. Drivetrain:
    • 3 Major brands: Shimano, Campagnolo & newer to the party, SRAM. There are other brands also, but these are the major "brand-categories"
    • Cranks
    • Shifters
      • What is Shimano STI? Shimano Total Integration. Some people call it brifters, but it is shifting and braking in a single assembly. Older STI and older low-end models may have a stiff thumb shifter instead of the paddle in the video. Technically, they are still STI shifters. See video link for operation:
      • What is SRAM Double Tap? SRAM uses a single lever do to the shifting. See video link:
      • Campagnolo came shortly after Shimano introduced STI. Campy uses both a thumb shifter (like the original STI) and a paddle shifter (which Shimano later incorporates into their design).
    • Cassettes & Derailleurs
      • I struggle at long and/or steep hills
      • Chains
        • what's this replaceable link I hear of? Prior to this, you had no choice but use a chain breaker to install and remove a chain. The replaceable link, comes in many flavors, including Wippermann, KMC & SRAM.
          Video link:
        • Chain length sizing
        • How to tell if chain is worn?
          See: Chain Maintenance then scroll down to "Measuring Chain Wear" (or search within your browser window).
          What about the chain wear tool that companies like Park Tool sells? If you're not careful, and it is easy to be not careful, you can get a "false negative". If you have one, use it gently. If it indicates you need a new chain, see above on how to actually measure it.

  5. Wheels & Tires: The Wheels & Tires Forum has a great FAQ.
    • Width vs Rolling Resistance: One of the newer trends, which came with a lot of resistance, pun intended is going with a 25mm tire vs 23mm. See this thread back in 2011.
    • Tire Pressures: The Michelin guide below is a commonly referenced chart, as a starting guide to pressures. Also see Sheldon Brown website on tires. Keep in mind, because less weight is over the front tires, you can decrease the pressure compared to the rear, for greater comfort as well as traction.
      Michelin Tire Pressure Chart.jpg

  6. Basic Supplies
    • What to carry on the bike
    • What to have at home

  7. Clothing
    • jerseys, bibs, etc
    • Chamois Crème

  8. Nutrition
    • Food
    • Drinks
    • Pre-Ride
    • Post-Ride

  9. Basic Training Terms
    • Cadence
    • Power

  10. Common Riding issues

  11. More subjects to come