The best budget road bikes benefit from trickle-down tech from much more expensive models. Although many of the best road bikes are increasingly unaffordable for the average rider, bike makers typically offer budget road bikes that have many of the same modern features as their top-tier models.
They might have a heavier frame that’s usually aluminium alloy rather than carbon fibre, but their geometry and handling may not be that different from more expensive models. They will have lower spec road bike groupsets with fewer gears, but you can expect good shifting performance nevertheless.
Likewise, the wheels will be lower priced than the best road bike wheels, but you can expect them to be robust and serviceable and you’ll usually get quality tyres.
Buying your first bike can be daunting from a technical standpoint, so if you’re not sure what you’re looking for then we’ve included a handy guide at the bottom to take you through all you need to know before jumping in. But first, here is our pick of the best budget road bikes.
Best budget road bikes
USA: Best road bikes around $1,000
Usually known for its more pricey bikes, it’s a surprise to us all that Trek has managed to make a lower priced road bike with this type of spec. It offers great value for money, considering the inclusion of the brand’s IsoSpeed decoupler technology, which builds compliance into the carbon fork to absorb vibrations from the road and make for a more comfortable ride.
The Shimano Claris R2000 8-speed groupset, despite not being quite top of the range, offers a smooth shifting experience and is easy to maintain and fettle. Providing the stopping power are alloy dual-pivot rim brakes, while the Bontrager tubeless-ready wheels roll on 28mm wide Bontrager R1 Hard-Case tyres.
Finally, with eight sizes to choose from, plus two colour options, it should be plenty easy to find the right Domane for you without breaking the bank.
Head to our roundup of Trek road bikes if you want to know a bit more about the whole range.
Pretty much everything on the Giant Contend 1, other than the groupset and brakes, comes from Giant. That’s no bad thing though, as it’s all good quality stuff. You get a decent set of wheels and 28mm tyres from Giant, along with a D Fuse alloy seatpost, which Giant says increases comfort by allowing greater flex in desired directions, without sacrificing stiffness in others.
The frame is made from ALUXX-Grade aluminium, with Giant’s iconic compact frame design and a full carbon OverDrive fork. The groupset is Shimano’s Sora R3000, and you get an almost complete package of components – the only non-Shimano substitute is the Tektro TK-B177 rim brakes but these are good performers nevertheless, so it’s not a huge loss.
It also has mounts for mudguards and a rack, extending its usefulness into the winter months or for commuting/touring. Our only criticism is that it’s arguably a little bit dull, compared to some other bikes listed here.
While some people are still asking the question, ‘can women ride men’s bikes?’, Liv Cycling just goes ahead and creates high-performing bikes for women’s specific needs. Designed by women, engineered by women, and tested by women, using women-only body dimensions data, it’s fair to say that many women will find the Liv Avail AR 4 an incredibly comfortable road bike on a budget.
Liv’s own ALUXX-Grade aluminium frame is a lot more compliant and comfortable than most would expect, while the Advanced-Grade carbon composite fork reduces the overall weight and keeps the front end of the bike light and snippy.
In terms of spec, the Avail AR 4 matches what many of the other bikes in this list have to offer, with Shimano Claris gearing, mechanical Tektro disc brakes, and tubeless-ready wheels.
If you were inspired by the antics of riders such as Julian Alaphilippe or Peter Sagan when watching the Tour de France, you might be lusting after a Specialized bike. Luckily, its entry-level Allez isn’t as far removed from the S-Works Tarmac SL7 as you might expect.
Even at this price, Specialized still specs a full carbon fork and the E5 alloy frame has butted tubes to save weight, dropped seat stays and internal cable routing. It comes with a set of quality Specialized components and has a Shimano Claris R2000 groupset.
A choice of three paint options plus mounts for mudguards and a rack finish off a tidy, good-value package.
The range of Specialized road bikes can be a bit confusing, but we’ve got a guide to help you navigate it.
If you’re in the market for a low-priced mile-munching road bike with endurance geometry, and compliance built into the frame, look no further because you’ve found it.
The Fuji Sportif 2.3 gives you plenty of spare change to spend on other road cycling essentials, yet it delivers a surprisingly comfortable all-day ride. It’s built with a high front end, which will put the rider in a fairly relaxed and upright position, ideal for long hours in the saddle. Meanwhile Fuji’s ‘Wave’ seat stays have a curve built into them, which adds some flex into the alloy frame to absorb some of the road chatter and smooth out the ride.
The frame offers internal cable routing for a tidier look, mounts for a rear rack and fenders, and comes with a choice of either a Shimano Claris groupset, or a microSHIFT R8 group instead.
Marin Bikes makes some adaptable budget bikes, with the Gestalt 2 offering WTB Exposure Comp 32mm tyres and the option to fit wider tyres up to 35mm, giving the flexibility to head off road for some light gravel riding.
It’s equipped with 10-speed Shimano Tiagra gearing, with a 1:1 lowest gear to help you get up the steepest roads, while stopping power comes from Tektro mechanical disc brakes. There are mudguard and rack mounts, making the Gestalt 2 a versatile all-season/all-surface option. If the Gestalt 2 blows the budget, the Gestalt 1 or the base model Gestalt lower the spec but come in less expensive.
The Diamondback Haanjo 2 may appear to be a better fit for our guide to the best budget gravel bikes, and it certainly comes with gravel capabilities, but first and foremost it’s designed to be a do-it-all bike that can perform all the main functions needed without the need to own a quiver. If you’re short on storage space and need something affordable that can be used for road riding, commuting, touring and recreational off-road stints, the Haanjo is the one.
The aluminium frame is paired with a steel fork, which admittedly does put it at the heavier end of the spectrum. However, with plenty of mounting options including on the fork, you can set it up however you wish to, and switch things up whenever you need to take the Haanjo for a different kind of ride.
Driven by a Shimano Claris 2×8-speed drivetrain and controlled with Tektro Lyra mechanical disc brakes, the Haanjo 2 comes stock with plush 40mm Vee Rubber Speedster tyres for a super comfortable ride and reduced rolling resistance when fully inflated.
UK: Best road bikes around £1,000
At face value, the Cannondale Synapse Disc Sora might seem a little expensive in this company, but Cannondale is providing a high-quality platform that is capable of growing with you as a rider. The bike is built around a tidy SmartForm C2 alloy frame and full carbon fork, both of which have Cannondale’s SAVE (Synapse Active Vibration Elimination) technology built in to increase comfort.
The disc brakes are cable-actuated, but the frame has internal cable routing, through both the frame and fork. The Shimano Sora groupset borrows technology from Shimano’s previous top-end drivetrain generations, making for a high performing workhorse-like groupset. Likewise, the Vittoria Zaffiro tyres aren’t the best road bike tyres on the market, but they are from a recognisable, well-regarded brand, and handily come in a 28mm size for extra grip and comfort.
Head to our guide to Cannondale road bikes to see where the Synapse sits in the range.
German brand Cube isn’t the most well-known maker of road bikes but the company is known for its progressive designs – often bucking the trend for ‘boring black bikes’. Weighing in a touch above 10kg is impressive for a budget bike that has disc brakes, as is the fact that the Cube Attain comes with a full carbon fork, internal cable routing and nicely colour-matched finishing kit, meaning it looks more expensive than it is.
The durability of Shimano’s Sora groupset makes for good value at this price; it all functions perfectly well, offering a slick shifting experience. Cube does a cheaper Attain model, however this Pro version offers some significant upgrades that make the extra cash easily justifiable.
It’s pretty rare to see Shimano 105 R7000 on a budget bike, but that’s exactly what the Triban RC 520 Disc offers. And it’s not just a pricey groupset at the expense of everything else either – you get a modern styled frame with dropped seat stays for extra comfort and heaps of tyre clearance (slick tyres up to 36mm will fit).
It’s also got mounts for racks and mudguards, the wheels can be converted to tubeless, and Decathlon offers a lifetime warranty on the frame, stem and handlebars.
Another interesting spec choice is the TRP HY/RD mechanical actuated hydraulic disc brakes. While most bikes at this price point get rim or mechanical disc brakes, the HY/RD offer a significant improvement in power and control. They do require a little more maintenance and certainly add on some weight but the performance benefit is worth it if you are frequently riding in poor weather conditions.
So what’s the catch? Well, the looks are a little workhorse-like – not bad per se, but just nothing to set your heart fluttering. The externally routed cables also mean you need to be careful with keeping the exposed sections clean and in good condition, to keep everything working smoothly, though this does make for simple maintenance when the time comes.
At the entry-level of its road range sits the Specialized Allez Sport, a lower priced road bike with an aluminium frame, carbon fork, rim brakes, and 9-speed Shimano Sora shifting. If you’re looking to get into road cycling, whether it’s for racing, sportives or just general enjoyment at the weekends, this would make an excellent first road bike.
Forget what you always thought you knew about aluminium road bikes, because Specialized’s Allez Sport, with its FACT carbon fork and plush contact points, does a great job of absorbing road chatter and leaving you feeling comfortable as you munch up the miles.
If we had to complain about anything, we’d prefer to see Shimano brakes over the Tektro ones, which just aren’t as good.
Check out our guide to Specialized road bikes if you want to find out more about the full range of options.
Trek is usually renowned for making bikes that are on the pricier end of the spectrum, so you might be surprised to see one on this list, especially at this price. The Trek Domane AL 3 packs in plenty of value though, with a nicely finished 100 Series Alpha Aluminium frame and Trek’s clever IsoSpeed carbon fork – which swoops forward before the dropout to increase compliance without affecting wheelbase length.
The groupset is Shimano Sora R3000 with Tektro C550 dual-piston mechanical flat mount disc brakes. You get comfortable 32mm tyres and tubeless-ready Bontrager wheels, which is seriously impressive at this price point. There are also eight different size choices, so you can really narrow down the frame size to find the perfect fit.
Trek produce some other options if you suddenly want to expand your budget; head to our guide to Trek road bikes to find out more.
No longer just a sister-brand to Giant, Liv Cycling stands on its own as a women-for-women cycling brand that focuses all its energy on creating bikes that women will love. The Avail 1 is its endurance road bike offering, which is versatile enough for long-distance rides as well as weekend sportives and Sunday club rides.
Rolling along with Shimano’s Sora groupset and Giant S-R3 tubeless-ready wheels, the Avail 1 offers reliable and smooth shifting, with a decent range of gears to tackle most terrains.
The spec is excellent at this price point, making the Liv Avail 1 a choice entry-level road bike for anyone hoping to fall in love with the sport. The only drawback is that there’s no size large available, so tall women will have to look elsewhere.
For your first ever road bike, a Scott Speedster 50 is a cost-effective and good quality machine that will deliver a fun ride to get you hooked on the sport. The 6061 alloy frame and fork feature internal cable routing for a neat and clean aesthetic, and the 7-speed Shimano drivetrain with double chainset offers a decent number of gears to power you through most entry-level road rides and sportives.
Tektro rim brakes offer efficient stopping power and simple maintenance, while the Syncros Race 24 rims are paired with Formula Comp hubs and Schwalbe Lugano 700cx28mm tyres for smooth rolling and puncture resistance.
If you’re willing to spend a little more, you can get Shimano brakes and a full, named groupset, however if you’re on a tight budget and want something simple that will help you get out on the road to hone your skills, this is a great value option.
The Vitus Razor disc is one of the cheapest ways to get on the disc brakes bandwagon for road bikes.
It has a beautifully finished, double-butted aluminium frame and carbon fork with an anthracite paint job. The Vitus wheels are of a good standard and they also look the part with their all-black rims. The 28mm Kenda Kwick Roller tyres aren’t particularly fast-rolling but should provide decent puncture protection, and can easily be upgrade.
The Shimano Claris R2000 groupset is a decent, well-performing kit but the 11-28T cassette could be slightly limiting if you live somewhere very hilly.