Recs for a good road bike for a teenager?

Hi! New here and I’m told this is where to get advice from all the knowledgeable bike people.

Need: recommendation for a road bike for a growing 14 year old boy. He’s 5’10". We can’t afford high end but want quality and something he can grow in to.

We’re in Vancouver but frequent Portland shops… We get overwhelmed trying to make a decision on the spot so would prefer to have things figured out prior to seeing foot in the door. Any advice is greatly appreciated!

Hi! Welcome! I’m from the same side of the river.

When you say road bike, do you mean drop handlebars (curvy, with a low part for when you are riding in a crouch) and generally a racing/touring style, usually with thinner tires? Or is it more about riding around town, to school, with friends, etc? For the latter, hybrid style bikes are between mountain bikes and racing/touring style. They have flat (at least not deeply curved) handlebars with a somewhat upright position, sometimes they have front suspension forks for comfort or moderate trail use, and medium width tires. Anyway, it’s something your son will almost certainly have an opinion about.

Frame size is very important for a bike that’s comfortable to ride, but it’s also slightly complicated because it depends on the style and geometry. Bike shops are good at fitting people to bikes. It helps to go in person, but if you’re calling about a particular size, his inseam measurement will get them in the ball park.

I’m really glad you want to get him a decent bike. They do cost more than typical big-box specials, but they also last much longer, have components that don’t break and can be accurately adjusted, and are overall much more satisfying to ride (roll smoother, don’t squeak and rattle, handle better, feel nicer), and so will get more use. They also have better re-sale value when he outgrows it (very likely at his age). Buying from a shop means you’ll get some help setting it up (saddle height, bar angle, brakes and shifters adjusted, etc).

Enough for now…tell us more about what you’re thinking!

Thanks Alan! I am thinking a hybrid is probably the right choice. I have an older Trek 520 Road bike that he likes (but that’s my baby!) so I’ll have to ask him for preference. Good points about resale and holding value… not to mention I wold prefer my $s go to local bike shops than the big box stores. Thanks again!

Aha, so you know good bikes. :wink:

Hybrid bikes are likely to have sloping top tubes, and that makes them slightly more flexible for rider size (lower stand-over). Proper fit includes much more than simple seat-to-pedal height, but for a growing kid at least it provides a little leeway.

There are lots of good brands. Trek and Specialized are big names, but many, many other brands make quality bikes. While bike shops sell all ranges, price and quality-wise, I haven’t seen any that sell crumby brands. I just web-shopped a little and it looks like there’s a few good choices under $500, but between there and $750 the options expand quickly. That’s about the point where disk brakes appear, too. (Disks are nice, but rim brakes work just fine, too.) That’s still a bit of scratch, so consider used bikes, too. I’ve used and like all these:
Bad Boyz Bikes (SE 15th & 192nd, Vancouver; look him up on Facebook)

Bad Boyz is very small, a truly one-man shop, so call before visiting to see if he has a model and size you might be interested in.

For budgeting, I’ll just mention helmet, lights, and fenders as appropriate. Vancouver has a helmet ordinance. Oh, and a good U-lock, for sure. When you finally get the bike, register it (free!) at and, just in case it gets swiped.

Hi there, you may want to check this buying guide that I found on the internet. I hope that it will determine which bike to purchase for your son.