Thanks in part to Lance Armstrong, road biking has become an increasingly popular sport in the United States. It is a specialized sport, because the design and intent of the bike limit you to paved roads. While road bikes are not as versatile as mountain bikes, they do allow you to travel much longer distances at much faster speeds, especially if you are riding with a peloton, or group of cyclists. (The camaraderie, by the way, is one of the best things about the sports.)
This activity is for you . . . if you are looking for a high-aerobic activity. You will also like it if you enjoy exercising with other people. It is also an excellent option for people with knee problems.
This activity is not for you . . . if you are looking for a bike versatile enough to ride on a trail or around the neighborhood. And, like mountain biking, it won’t be a good match if you are bothered by transporting and maintaining bikes. And if you want a low-impact activity, road biking isn’t for you.
Getting started: If possible, visit several bike dealers and become familiar with different brands, services, and prices (you can save hundreds if you buy in the off-season during fall and winter). A dealer will size you to make sure you buy a bike that is a good fit (there may be a small fee for a professional sizing). Although bikes are now available in all kinds of stores, as a rule, I recommend you don’t buy a bike at the same store where you buy groceries or toilet paper. Stick with bike shops.
To get connected with a local riding group, ask your local bike shop or your friends, neighbors, and coworkers.
Start-up cost: $200-$10,000+, depending on quality of equipment
Continuing cost: There is little continuing cost unless you are an aggressive rider and are pushing the bike to its limit. You will need to service the bike regularly. I recommend you learn to do this yourself, and it will only cost about $20 a year. If you have it done professionally, it will cost you $25-$75 for each service, which may be one to four times a year, depending on how much you ride.