What to expect for your money in the best-value road bike sector, plus your guide to the best bikes for under £500, under £750 and under £1,000
Looking for a cheap bike for under the cycle to work scheme threshold of £1000? The good news is that there’s a lot of choice out there, starting from £260.
You don’t have to spend a small fortune to get a good road bike – in fact there are many cheaper options that can serve as a perfect introduction to cycling, and upgrades along the way can ensure the same bike keeps you smiling for years.
Looking for something else? Check out:
- The best road bikes under £2000
- The best road bikes under £1500
- The best women’s road bikes
- Cycling Weekly Bike of the Year
Our pick of the best cheap road bikes under £1000 for 2017
We’ve outlined exactly what you can expect to get for your money at each of the crucial price points further down this page – but first here’s a look at some of the best entry level bikes we’ve ridden and rated…
B’Twin Triban 540 road bike – £650
Top of the list is the B’Twin Triban 540 – sitting in prime position because it scooped the prize for value Bike of the Year for 2017. The Bike of the Year awards went to models that impressed us the most, after hundreds of test rides over the course of the year.
B’Twin took the same prize in 2016, and things got even better in 2017, with the Triban 540 offering Shimano 105 shifting for only £650.
Considering the bargain basement price, we were expecting a bargain basement frame and wheels too, but what you get is nothing of the sort.
Don’t be put off by not having a carbon frame, as the aluminium Triban frame offers impressive performance and comfort, and the Mavic Aksium wheels are more often seen on bikes costing twice as much.
B’Twin Triban 500 Flat Bar road bike – £260
Read the review: B’Twin Triban 500 Flat Bar road bike
B’Twin have 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.
Carrera Crossfire 2 hybrid road bike – £272
Read more: Carrera Crossfire 2
If you’re after a solid commuting bike that’s capable of handling both road and bridleways then the Carrera Crossfire 2 is for you.
What’s more it’s got good components and pannier and mudguard mounts, making the perfect all weather weapon.
B’Twin Triban 520 road bike – £399
Read more: B’Twin Triban 520 road bike
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 it’s versatility. Whether it’s long distance or short commutes, the Triban will devour it all.
Specialized Dolce women’s road bike – £575
Read more: Specialized Dolce Women’s Road Bike review
The Dolce is an entry level women’s road bike frame that comes dressed in spec from Shimano Claris to Shimano Tiagra, depending upon your budget. The £575 Claris version really impressed us, considering its wallet friendly price tag.
The frameset is high quality and fun to ride, with a relaxed geometry and Zertz inserts to dampen out road buzz.
Liv Avail 1 road bike – £524.99
The Liv Avail, from Giant’s women’s specific brand, manages to balance responsiveness and compliance as well as being both predictable and reliable.
It delivers great all round performance and good value for money.
Scott Speedster road bike – £445
An entry level sportive machine that is nippy thanks to its stiff frame and efficient Shimano drive chain.
Plus, a 32t sprocket on the cassette helps when wrestling with particular nasty ascents.
Specialized Allez road bike – £525
The Specialized Allez is the perfect entry-level road bike for those looking to increase their miles.
In particular, the Allez has an excellent frame, which is both comfortable and stiff.
While we haven’t reviewed the 2017 model of this bike, Specialized has updated the bike so that it comes with a carbon fork. Something we were frustrated to find lacking on the model we reviewed.
Planet X RT-58 Alloy road bike – £849.99
Read more: Planet X RT-58 Alloy SRAM Rival 11 road bike
Planet X is able to spec this bike with some incredible components for this price point, including a SRAM Rival groups and Vision 35mm rims.
The aluminium frame impressed us, though it’s not the most comfortable of options out there.
B’Twin Ultra 700 AF 105 – £599
Read more: B’Twin Ultra 700 AF 105 road bike
This race orientated, smart looking aluminium frame proved to be incredibly fun to ride and even comes with a UCI approved sticker (in case you’re feeling super ambitious).
The groupset (aside from the chainset) is Shimano 105, an impressive accolade at this price point.
Raleigh Criterium Sport Road Bike – £800
Read more: Raleigh Criterium Sport road bike review
A quality double butted alloy frame (that means the thickness of the material varies to offer stiffness and compliance in all the right places whilst keeping the overall package light) is fitted with Shimano Tiagra shifting.
This bike features a relatively upright geometry, reducing pressure on the neck. The cables are internally routed, and there are mounts for mudguards front and rear whilst tyres up to 28mm can be accommodated.
Ribble 7005 Sportive road bike – £629
Read more: Ribble 7005 Sportive road bike
The 7005 Sportive bike from Ribble is their entry level option that provides a fun and lively ride. Shopping with Ribble means you can build your bike virtually with the spec of your choice.
Prices start from £629 but if you want higher end components you can increase the overall cost by choosing your ideal preferences.
Looking for carbon? Check out the Ribble Evo-Pro Carbon for £999.
Cube Axial WLS Race Ladies Road Bike – £999
A super light aluminium frame with Shimano 105 components, we were impressed with the value on offer here as well as the stiff but lively ride.
A wide ratio cassette provides lots of options on the hills, and the bike even comes fitted with colour matched Mavic Aksium Elite – a pretty decent pair of hoops at this price point.
Pinnacle Dolomite road bike – £800
Read more: Pinnacle Dolomite 5 road bike review
The Pinnacle Dolomite frame is a do-it-all aluminium affair with Shimano hydraulic disc brakes fitted across the range. The frame comes specced with groupsets from Shimano Claris (Pinnacle Dolomite 2 for £650) to the Dolomite 5 with Shimano 105.
Tyres up to 8mm can be fitted and there are eyelets for a pannier rack or mudguards.
Tifosi CK7 Gran Fondo Veloce Touring Bike – £999
Designed with touring in mind, this Campagnolo Veloce equipped bike features a relaxed geometry and full mudguards, making it an ideal winter cruiser as well.
Fast when you ask it to be, and sneaking in just under a grand – a great bike for someone looking to make the most of the £1k in their wallet.
Trickle down technology on road bikes
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 £1,000.
What do you get when you spend more on a road bike?
Not sure how much you want to spend on your new road bike? Here’s a look at what your money actually buys you at each price point…
What to expect: cheap road bikes for less than £500
While £500 might seem a lot of money for a road bike to non-cyclists, to more — ahem — ‘fussy’ and experienced riders it also seems far too little to buy anything with potential. Both trains of thought are utterly wrong — for less than £500 you can buy some fully-fledged drop-bar bicycles that are perfectly able to cope with everything from winter training, to commuting, to even sportive riding. In fact, brands such as B’Twin, Merlin, Calibre, Sensa and even some bigger names have great options from as little as £300.
Some bikes in this bracket have flat bars, and could be described of as hybrid bikes. However, if you’re looking for a speedy commuter or a bike that will be fast on the road whilst still handling some roughter surfaces, a hybrid bike might be right up your street.
What to look for in a cheap road bike under £500…
- A total weight of around 10kg
- A modern aluminium frame
- Shimano Claris or 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
What to expect: bikes between £500 and £750
As we head past the £500 point, two significant things happen. First, the big household name brands such as Giant, Specialized, Trek, Scott and Cannondale enter the market with their entry-level aluminium road bikes, which normally offer slightly less exotic groupsets and components, but tend to feature very well-engineered frames. The second thing is that smaller specialist brands, such as Ribble, Verenti or Planet X, begin to offer very capable all-year bikes or winter training bikes, sometimes made of steel with excellent ride qualities. These machines may not have all the luxuries and speed of top-end models but do provide enough ride comfort and performance to satisfy even hardened, experienced road riders.
What to look for in road bikes between £500 and £750…
- A total weight of 9-10kg
- An aluminium frame with some design niceties such as internal cable routing, or even a mass-produced steel frame
- On big brand models expect Shimano Claris (on bikes circa £500), Sora (c. £650) and Tiagra (c. £750) components; with specialist value brands expect anything up to Shimano 105 or SRAM Apex parts
- Possibly Shimano groupset brakes, or more likely Tektro calipers
- Own-brand wheels or Alex rims on aluminium hubs
- Own brand bar, stem and saddle
- Carbon fork
What to expect: bikes from £750 to £1,000
As we head towards the magic £1,000 mark, all bets are off. The dedicated bargain hunter can find almost any product in this price range, including carbon-fibre frames. Be careful with carbon bikes sub-£1k, though — there are some good composite frames available, but there are also some shockers. Conversely, aluminium bikes at this price can be extraordinarily good, and may also come fitted with mid to upper-range gears and brakes. There is also a growing trend among manufacturers to fit mechanical disc brakes at this price point, too.
We’d recommend you really do your homework and read our tests. It’s not a case of general product quality — at this area of the market most bikes are very decent. However, there is the matter of specialisation. By the £1,000 point manufacturers have started to tailor their bikes to fulfill certain specific abilities. So whether you want an all-day comfort machine, or a speedy rocketship, almost any requirements can be filled. Just make sure you know what you want and pick wisely.
What to look for in a road bike between £750 and £1,000…
- A total weight of 9kg or possibly less
- A degree of model specialisation for particular ride criteria
- A top-quality aluminium frame with details such as internal cable routing, general tube manipulation, specific elements designed for comfort, strengthened bottom bracket for power delivery, tapered head tube for better handling
- Possibly even low-end carbon-fibre frame from specialist value brands (but be discerning when it comes to value carbon!)
- Mainly Shimano Tiagra or 105 components, although the occasional piece of super-plush Shimano Ultegra also appears. SRAM Apex or Rival, and even Campagnolo Veloce have also been spotted below £1,000
- Matching groupset caliper brakes or mechanical disc brakes
- Lighter, own-brand wheels or respected third-party wheelsets
- Mainly own-brand bar, stem and saddle — occasionally a third-party saddle
- Carbon fork
More road bikes under £1,000
>>> Mango Bikes Point R – £759.99
>>> Dawes Clubman – £849.99
>>> Merida Scultura 903 – £849.99
>>> Vitus Venon – £879.99
>>> KTM Strada 1000 CD – £929.99
>>> Tifosi CK7 Gran Fondo Campagnolo Veloce – £999.99
>>> Verenti Insight 0.4 – £950
>>> Giant Revolt 1 – £999
>>> Kinesis Racelight T2 – £999.99
>>> Radial Revere 1.1 Apex – £999.99
>>> Planet X London Road – £999.99
>>> Trek Madone 2.1 – £1000
>>> Pinnacle Dolomite 5 – £1000
>>> Marin Gesalt 2 – £1000
Let us know if we’ve missed any bikes, and check back for regular updates to the lists.
Thought about trying MTB?
One to keep an eye on…
It’s presently just over the ‘bikes under £1000’ threshold, but this is a great value machine.