How to get the most bike for your money for less than £750
There are almost too many road bikes under £750 to choose from, and especially if you’re new to the sport and are looking at this sort of price for your first road bike then it can be difficult to know where to start.
So here’s our guide to how to get the most bike for your money, what you should look for in the frame, groupset, and finishing kit, and our pick of some of the best road bikes under £750.
At the £750 price point the vast majority of bikes are going to come with an aluminium frame and a carbon-fibre fork. There may be a few carbon frames available for this amount of money, but they’re unlikely to be up to much and will be easier to damage in a crash.
The most important thing to look at is the frame’s geometry. To put it simple there are two different types of geometry to choose between based on the sort of riding that you’re doing and you’re riding style.
If you’re doing lots of fast riding, getting low and aerodynamic, and maybe even want to try your hand at a bit of racing in the future, then you should look for a bike with a more racy or sporty geometry. This means that it will have a longer top tube and shorter head tube, giving you a low and stretched out position to help you cut through the wind.
The other option is to go for a frame with a more relaxed geometry, meaning a bike with a shorter top tube and a taller head tube. This will mean that you will ride in a more upright position, which will be more comfortable on longer rides as it will put less stress on your arms, neck and lower back to maintain the position. However, the downside is that it is less aerodynamic.
Another thing that you should look out for is that the frame and fork has good clearance for tyres. Quite often, road bikes around £750 will have slightly older designs from a few years ago when 23mm wide tyres were the norm. However, for reasons we’ll explain below, 25mm or even 28mm tyres are now favoured by most road riders, so make sure that the frame will be able to cater for these.
Finally make sure that the frame comes with a decent warranty. Seen among the high prices of the rest of the bike market, £750 might look like a lot of money, but it is still a very considered purchase for most people, so you want to make sure that you will be properly covered if something goes wrong.
With the vast majority of £750 road bikes coming with an aluminium frame, the main thing that will separate bikes around this price will be the groupset.
Shimano Sora is the lowest grade groupset of the four, meaning that it is only 9-speed (i.e. it has nine sprockets on the cassette) and will also have slightly more sluggish shifting. For road bikes under £750 you can find bikes with higher quality groupsets than Sora.
Shimano Tiagra is the next step up in the Shimano hierarchy, with 10-speed shifting and an aesthetic that is much closer to that of the more expensive option. This groupset used to be looked down upon by many road riders, but has been updated recently and now offers very good performance with smooth shifting. This is the groupset that you will find on most road bikes under £750.
Watch: buyer’s guide to road bike groupsets
On some bikes from direct sales and less fashionable brands, you can find SRAM Rival or even Shimano 105. Both of these groupsets are 11-speed, meaning that it should be easier to upgrade to higher grade groupsets in the future, and offer very impressive shifting and powerful braking.
One thing to keep an eye on if you’re buying a road bike under £750 is manufacturers mixing and matching components, i.e. mixing Shimano 105 derailleurs with a non-grade Shimano RS500 chainset and TRP brakes. This will be done to help retailers hit a price point.
Ideally you would hope for a complete groupset, but if not then at least make sure to take a look at what the front and rear derailleurs are as they will have the greatest impact on the shifting performance.
Finally, pay attention to the gearing that the bike comes with. If you’re new to the sport then you will want a wide range of gears to help you over steep hills. The temptation might be to go for a bike with a triple chainset, however this will not give you a significantly wider range of gears than a compact chainset (50/34t) and the extra chainring will make it harder to find the optimum gear when riding.
Instead look for a bike that comes with an 11-32t cassette and a long range rear derailleur, as this will mean that you should always have an extra “granny gear” to call on when the road really ramps up.
Other than the groupset , the main thing to look at are the wheels and tyres. On a road bike under £750 you’re unlikely to get anything special with regards to wheels, just make sure that they are nice and robust with a high spoke count to make sure that they stand up to the demands of daily riding over rough roads.
More importantly take a look at the tyres. The current trend is for wider tyres, with 25mm or even 28mm tyres offering better comfort and grip, and even lower rolling resistance than the narrower 23mm tyres that have traditionally been favoured by road riders, so make sure that your bike comes equipped with wider rubber so you don’t have to upgrade in future.
Aside from the wheels and tyres, road bikes under £750 will generally come with stock aluminium handlebars and stems which will only need your attention to make sure that the handlebars are the right width (approximately as wide as your shoulders) and the stem is the right length and set at the correct height.
Finally the saddle can be a bit of a shot in the dark. If you’ve already got a bike with a comfy saddle, then most bike shops will change the saddle of your new bike to one of your choice at no extra cost. However if you’re not sure, then we’d suggest just seeing how you get on with the saddle that comes with the bike and only upgrade if you find it uncomfortable further down the line.
Our pick of the best road bikes under £750
B’Twin Ultra 700 AF 105
Pound for pound the B’Twin Ultra 700 AF 105 is hard to beat. The high quality aluminium frame manages to be comfortable while still offering a fast and exciting ride, and would be well at home in a race situation. And at the same time you get a complete Shimano 105 groupset for faultless shifting and braking performance.
Raleigh Criterium Sport
Going for the slightly lower grade bur still high performing Shimano Tiagra groupset has allowed Raleigh to produce a very good aluminium frame that is one of the best that you can pick up without straying over £750. There is also a 32t sprocket at the back and wide 25mm Schwalbe Lugano tyres that offer impressive grip and comfort.
The Specialized Allez has been the entry-level road bike for years, and although it is now beginning to show its age with the low spec components and narrow tyres, it is still an excellent bike. The handling is excellent and the Allez and absolute blast to ride, and most importantly the bright orange colour scheme is much more exciting than that of most other bikes around this price.
Giant Defy 3
The Giant Defy is the aluminium version of the company’s endurance frame that has tasted success in Paris-Roubaix in the past, offering a comfortable ride that is just the ticket if you’re after something that will help you through long days in the saddle. The only downside is the own-brand wheelset, although this is more than balanced out by the lifetime frame warranty.
Boardman Performance Comp
At first glance it’s pretty hard to spot that the Boardman Performance Comp costs less than £700 with its silver platinum finish. The ride is also an absolute joy to behold with sharp handling and decent power transfer. Fit a 32t cassette and some better tyres and it would be hard to fault.
Ribble 7005 Sportive
Price: from £529.95
Taking Ribble’s legendary 7005 frames and giving it a slightly more relaxed geometry, the Ribble 7005 Sportive is an excellent choice for a good quality first sportive bike. Ribble also gives you the option to pick and choose the components you want, with a Shimano 105 build coming in only a little over £750
Forme Longcliffe 3.0
If you’re after a completely bombproof bike that is able to cope with the most British of British conditions, the Forme Longcliffe 3.0 is the bikes to go for, with an aluminium frame that is conceived and designed in Derbyshire, wide tyres, and an even wider range of gearing.
Should I spend more?
The temptation when buying a new bike at any price is to add an extra 10-20% onto the top of your budget, which, when you’re budget is £750 and that big four figures isn’t too far away, can be very tempting.
Certainly you would be able to get a slightly better bike for £1,000, but if you’re buying a bike through the Cycle To Work scheme, then it’s really worth keeping that extra £250 back in reserve to spend on clothing and accessories.
How we score
10 – Superb, best in its class and we couldn’t fault it
9 – Excellent, a slight change and it would be perfect
8 – Brilliant, we’d happily buy it
7 – Solid, but there’s better out there
6 – Pretty good, but not quite hitting the mark
5 – OK. Not much wrong with it, but nothing special
4 – A few niggles let this down
3 – Disappointing
2 – Poor, approach with caution
1 – Terrible, do not buy this product