Looking for a quality road bike and want to spend less than £500? There are some models out there that will have you smiling for miles

Contrary to what might seem to be the case when you step into your average bike shop, it is possible to get a good road bike for under £500 – indeed we’ve reviewed models from as little as £260.

We won’t lie: spending more is likely to provide you with a bike that will keep you going without the need for upgrades for much longer. However, if you’re new to cycling, or just don’t want to spend a huge chunk of cash on your new set of wheels, then we’re here to help you get the best deal on something cheaper.

The key differance between a bike for under £500 and a more expensive version will be the overall weight, the speed and crispness with which the gears shift between cogs and the urgency with which the brakes react. The frame is likely to lack a little stiffness compared with a top-end model, and the handling might be a bit less sharp.

All of the above sacrificed attributes dwell largely in the realm of ‘performance cycling’ – they make riding a bike a little more fast paced, but they’re far from essential. For £500, you’re well and truly right to expect to purchase a bike that’s more than adequate for commutes, weekend rides, sportives and club runs.

Shop around, and you’ll get a bike that’s light enough and has enough gears to take you over the hills and far away while being more than reliable enough to get you from A to B.

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Trickle-down technology on cheap road bikes under £500

One of the great strengths of the bike trade is ‘trickle down’ technology: the idea that what might be currently found on only premium products will one day be available on even entry-level bikes.

History has proven this idea again and again — relatively low-cost road bikes today include technology that would once have been unthinkable at that price.

Component brands are particularly adept at this – passing innovations down through the road bike groupsets in following seasons. Take Shimano, for example. Whenever the Japanese giant brings out a new version of the Tiagra groupset it tends to bear an uncanny likeness to the older version of the higher-end 105 groupset.

Meanwhile, public demand for carbon-fibre bikes has pushed down aluminium in people’s estimations. This means that some extraordinarily well-engineered and beautifully designed aluminium frames are now on sale at staggeringly low prices.

That all combines to produce a great situation for the canny bike buyer: if you’re not obsessed with composite frames, brand names, or posing, there are a huge number of incredibly able, high-performing bikes available below £500.


Our pick of the best cheap road bikes under £500 for 2017

We’ve outlined exactly what you can expect to get for your money at this crucial price point further down this page – but first here’s a look at some of the best entry-level bikes…

Boardman Road Sport – £500

Boardman Road Sport cheap road bike

Boardman Road Sport

Read the review: Boardman Road Sport

Boardman is a brand well known for creating great-value road bikes. The Road Sport has a triple-butted aluminium frame which means it’s stiff where it needs to be but the material is made lighter where possible. Coupled with an alloy steerer and carbon fork (which also reduces bumps from the road) the overall weight is 9.9kg.

Shifting is provided with a Shimano Claris groupset, and Boardman keeps the cost lower by speccing its own alloy handlebar, stem, seatpin and saddle – which means it can spend more on the frame development.

The tyres are Vittoria Zaffiro 700x25c, a reliable, fairly puncture-resistant option, though we did feel the bike would be improved if the Mavic CXP22N wheels were replaced eventually.

Buy now for £500 from Boardman Bikes

B’Twin Triban 500 Flat Bar road bike – £260

B’Twin Triban 500 Flat Bar road bike

B’Twin Triban 500 Flat Bar road bike

Read the review:  B’Twin Triban 500 Flat Bar road bike and B’Twin 500 SE drop bar road bike review 

If you want a bike that rolls speedily along the tarmac, but the idea of drop bars is off-putting, then a flat bar road bike (much like a hybrid bike) could really suit you.

B’Twin has always provided astounding value drop-bar bikes, so it’s great to see the French retailer continue that with its flat bar bikes.

The frame is stiff and fast, the brakes are good and for the price, it’s frankly astonishing. The overall weight is 10.6kg – the main frame being aluminium, with a steel fork.

Vitus Razor road bike – £449.99

Vitus Razor

Vitus is the in-house brand at Chain Reaction Cycles and we felt this bike had a lot to give an entry-level rider.

With a butted aluminium alloy frame and carbon fork it came in at 9.93kg when we checked the size 54. There’s a Shimano Claris groupset and a compact 50/34 chainset alongside an 11-28 cassette – which is a little closer-ratio than others included here but offers plenty of choice.

The geometry is much racier than many other options at this price point, so it’s one to consider if you’re looking to take your riding to a competitive level, or just like to ride fast.

Read the full review of the Vitus Razor here

B’Twin Triban 520 road bike – £399

B'Twin Triban 520 road bike cheap road bike

B’Twin Triban 520 road bike

Read more: B’Twin Triban 520 road bike  and B’Twin Triban 520 flat bar road bike review

This bike sets out what a decent entry level road bike should be. It’s got a quality frame with a lifetime warranty.

This is matched by its versatility. Whether it’s long distance or short commutes, the Triban will devour it all.

It’s capable of taking tyres up to 32c (though the bike comes with 25c Hutchinson Equinox 2 rubber) if you want more cushioning for bumpy roads, and comes with  Shimano Sora shifters for a triple chainset and a wide-range cassette on the back – this means there’s lots of gears to help out when the road goes up.

The brakes are Shimano and we felt they could have been a little better – but at this price you’re getting a pretty good deal.

The frame is aluminium with a carbon fork and aluminium steerer, with a weight of 9.9kg overall.

There’s a women’s specific version with components – handlebars and saddle – better suited to a female frame which will save women replacing these to find comfort.

Specialized Dolce women’s road bike – £525

Specialized Dolce Women's Road Bike cheap road bike

Specialized Dolce women’s road bike

Read more: Specialized Dolce Women’s Road Bike review 

The Dolce is an entry-level women’s road bike frame designed to provide comfort with the inclusion of the brand’s ‘Zertz inserts’ in the carbon fork, which dampen out road buzz.

It’s a smidge over the £500 mark, but as closeout 2017 stock begins to sell through there are a few sale deals around, and the weight comes in at 9.5kg.

The Shimano Claris shifting is  reliable and the 11-32 rear cassette plus compact chainset provides plenty of gears to to drop into when required.

13 Intuition Lambda Women’s Road Bike – £500

13 Intuition Lambda Womens Road Bike

13 Intuition Lambda women’s road bike

Coming from the in-house brand at Halfords, the retailer is able to use its buying power to create a bargain in the Intuition Lambda.

For bang on £500, you get a lightweight triple butted aluminium frame, carbon fork and a Shimano Tiagra groupset – which is one up from the Claris seen elsewhere.

The brakes come from TRP, and the wheels are the brand’s own deep-section build. The tyres are puncture-resistant Vittoria Zaffiro Pro folding in 23c – a pretty narrow option that will feel fast, though we are big fans of the 25c versions when it comes to cornering confidence and extra comfort.

There’s plenty of gearing with a compact chainset and 12-28 cassette and the overall weight is 10kg.

Buy now for £500 at Halfords

Raleigh Criterium road bike – £500

Raleigh Criterium road bike

Raleigh Criterium road bike

Anyone with a bit of a memory on them might recognise this as the bike Jeremy Corbyn said he was lusting over in 2016.

And with good reason. The Criterium comes in at £500 (though you’ll find models reduced to about £450 at time of writing), with a double-butted aluminium frame and carbon fork.

The geometry is ‘endurance race’, so should feel speedy without being full-on, head-down agressive.

You get Shimano Claris shifting paired with a compact chainset and 11-32 cassette, plus Tektro brakes and 26c Kenda Kontender tyres, which will cope well with rutted roads and day to day commuting duties.

Merlin Performance PR7 Road Bike – £450

 

Merlin Performance PR7 Road Bike

Merlin Performance PR7 road bike

Firstly – please check your size before you get too excited – currently this bike is only available in a 50cm, 53cm or 59cm frame size: the most common (56cm) is out of stock. However, that’s bound to change when new models come in, and the sale price is from £349.99, down from the RRP of £450.

Here, you get a racy-looking aluminum frame with a carbon fork and alloy steerer. The wheels are Mavic’s CXP22 with 25c tyres ideal for comfortable riding on the road.

The chainset comes from FSA, with 34/50 compact chainrings and an 11-30 cassette controlled by Shimano Claris shifting.

Handlebar, seatpin and saddle all come from Merlin and the weight is 10.4kg.



What to consider when buying a sub £500 road bike

Geometry

The first question to ask yourself is, what do I want the bike for? This is important because the geometries of road bike frames fall broadly into two categories: racing and sportive bikes

Racing bikes have lower handlebars and are generally lower, encouraging the rider to adopt an aggressive position. Professionals are often seen riding with a flat back in an aggressive and aerodynamic position, but for the vast majority of us this isn’t sustainable for long periods. It takes a while to develop the core strength and flexibility to ride in such an aggressive position.

Some bikes feature more relaxed geometry and are known as sportive or endurance bikes. The handlebars are higher and closer to you, as the top tube is shorter. This means you can sit more upright in a more relaxed position. For the majority of riders and people new to cycling, this is a more comfortable option.

Frame and fork material

One key area to consider is frame and fork material, as this has a significant impact on the way the bike rides. Most entry-level road bikes come with an aluminium alloy frame, and if your budget allows it is worth looking for a model with a carbon fork.

>>> The best cheap road bikes up to £1000

The basic rule is the more carbon the better; this is because this high-tech aerospace material is light, strong, and also offers beneficial ride characteristics such as vibration dampening.

Groupset

The next thing to pay attention to is the groupset. For those new to cycling, the groupset is a collective term for the gears, levers, brakes and chainset. Road bikes will typically have groupsets from the manufactures Shimano, SRAM or Campagnolo, but other makes exist. Each have various ranges of price, quality, weight and performance.

For more information on the different groupsets and their hierarchy  see our complete buyer’s guide to road bike groupsets.

What to expect on a bike under £500

• A total weight of around 10kg
• A modern aluminium frame
• Shimano Claris or Shimano Sora gears, although some brands fit MicroShift components at this price
• Sturdy wheels
• Unbranded dual-caliper brakes or Tektro products on higher-quality bikes
• Own-brand bars, stem and saddle
• Steel fork at low end; carbon fork nearer £500

If you find a bike in a sale, or under a special offer, it may have a specification higher than what is described here.

  • Chris Buckley

    Fuji Roubaix 1.1 2016 – been at sale price of £975 so long it should be considered standard price point.

    Lots of Ultegra on it. Nice frame.

  • James Watling

    Just a quick note, the BTwin 500 SE is currently down at £299 online.

  • Florin-Catalin Grec

    Is Giant Defy 5 (2015) better than Scott speedster 50 (2015) and Verenti 2015? Thanks

  • Florin-Catalin Grec

    What about Giant Defy 5 (there are on sale now for 300 pounds)? Is it better than Verenti? or Scott Speedster 50 ’15? Thanks

  • TechniColourCoatedKlingon

    Triban 500, 500SE & 520 included but no 540???? I have a 540 and its a great bike!

    try and find a **NEW** bike that comes with Mavic Aksium One wheels, Carbon Forks, & a 105 groupset for £600 – Compared to the 540, a lot of Specialized or Cannondale bikes that are priced £200-300 higher only come with Sora’s & if youre lucky then maybe a Tiagra groupset,

  • Roland Lawrence

    I have the Boardman bike and have to say its been a dream. Im a commuter not a racer and its done me proud. Comfortable ride and easy gearing. I like the shape and the price was good too. I bought my girlfriend the b’twin bike for christmas and have to say that is also a very nice ride too.

  • J1

    They can’t feature every bike that fits into each category, there’s too many to list and they do feature a lot of British based manufacturer’s on their pages, but maybe they didn’t think some of them were good enough to feature on some of the lists.
    You would get people complaining if they didn’t feature the big bike brands too, so you can’t please everyone as you can’t feature everything.

    Anyway, there’s a strong British presence here; Kinesis, Boardman, Hoy, Dawes, Tifosi, Vitus, Ribble and Radial.

  • J1

    Get a new club!

  • J1

    Rose are another example of that.

  • reippuert

    some of the items on the lists are frameset only!

  • István Fedor

    Veloce components are typically for sub1000 euro (750 GBP) alloy bikes. For 1000 GBP, you can even get a crabon GTR with 11spd athena. at least here 🙂

    Best value bikes IMHO those, which offer the best frame with reliable components. I’d pick a better frame with lesser components, rather a harsher-less refined frame with better components.

    Would stay away from heavy-no name hub wheelsets though, as well as square tapered BB-s and no brand calipers.

    would pick the most comfortable handlebar and a skinny 27.2mm seatpost, the seat will be replaced anyway, so that’s not a concern of mine: 🙂

    would stay away from triples on a road bike, keep that for tourers-randonneurs. In a roadie, I’d opt for 50-36 chainset with a 12-25t cassette, albeit, the 10speed 12-25 cassettes do not have 18t cog, which can be annoying when cruising ät flats..

  • Gogrilla Mincefriend

    They do seem to ignore a lot of bikes. I purchased a Mekk Poggio 1.5, full Carbon Frame and Fork, Sora group set all around with internal cable routing and Shimano r500 wheel set for a ridiculous £649 a year and a half ago from Rutland Cycling. The bike weighs 8.6kg stock. I quickly upgraded to Shimano 105 groupset just for bling value and this bike has now covered over 6k miles with absolutely no problems at all, I have not even had to retrue the wheels. Some people in the bike club I am in take the piss out of the Mekk branding whilst sitting astride their Cubes, Giants and Specialized but the laughing doe s stop when I can outmatch them turn for turn.

  • wadi

    I bought Rose Pro 2000 for 805£ with full shimano 105, Mavic Aksium wheels and weight 7.9 kg /ionized black/, bumpy ride I eliminated with Bioflex sport saddle for another 24£ and even my friends on flashy carbonfibre bikes for almost 2000£ said WOW. One do not need big money for good bike

  • kjb

    Having done my homework and just bought a Cube peloton SL, I can’t figure out why it’s not on your list. At £999 and fitted with a combination of shimano ultegra and 105 components, 6061 ally frame, carbon forks,internal cabling, MAVIC Aksium Wheels, MAVIC Aksion tyres
    and 8.75 kg
    It seems to me you need to revise your list

  • Bob

    Yes got one at incredible value a year ago

  • Tommaso Gazzoni

    I bought a CANYON road bike for less than €1000: alu 6061 frame, Shimano 105 and Mavic Aksium wheels. Unbeatable value for money , the power of online Business to Consumer approach.

  • kamoteQ

    Depending on where one lives, I would replace the crankset with a ‘big’ 46 chainring, either double or triple. I’m assuming those buying it are not going into competition.

  • Namothy

    I got the 2014 Genesis Volant 20 for £599 in September. Surprised its successor the Volant 30 isn’t on the list for under £1000.

  • Jack

    This misses out the amazing value Felt z95 – Less than £400 for a bike with Sora and a carbon fork. Can’t be beat.

  • Kathryn White

    At the beginning of the summer I bought a Dolan Prefissio bike, my second road bike. It cost me £630 (approx.) and came with many features that the article above doesn’t acknowledge. It has a full Shimano Sora groupset, with shimano shifters and wheels, Deda bars and stem, and a Selle saddle. Much better value than the bikes you’re suggesting. I think it pays to avoid the major bike brands when buying a cost-effective bike. Just as a suggestion: maybe the magazine could feature more of these smaller, and importantly British, companies rather than pointing out yet another Trek or Specialized.

  • Gary Purcell

    Shouldn’t that be “public” in the third paragraph? Or am I missing something?