Searching for the very best bike under £1000 can be an exciting but bewildering process. Being bang on the cycle to work scheme voucher limit, there’s an awful lot of choice available – nearly every manufacturer offers a model at this highly competitive price point.
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The luxury of choice means that deciding on the best model can be difficult – but it’s well worth investing some time into the decision so that you can roll away safe in the knowledge that you’ve selected the ideal companion.
What to look for in a bike under £1000:
- At this price point you can just about pick up a carbon frame if you go with a value retailer – such as those that sell direct only (like Ribble)
- Don’t overlook aluminium frames with great spec, a lot can be done with alloy to keep the weight low, such as triple butting (where tubing is varied to three different widths to save weight where possible)
- The groupset will often be Shimano Tiagra, but shop around a bit and you could find a dream boat with Shimano 105, which is considered the entry level race option
- The bike will likely come with entry level wheels, so look to upgrade these when you can as it’ll make a big difference
- If you want to commute, look for mudguard and pannier rack mounts
Looking for something else? Check out:
- The best cheap road bikes
- The best fitness hybrid bikes
- The best road bikes under £1500
- The best road bikes under £2000
- The best women’s road bikes
Best road bikes under £1,000
There’s more explanation on what to look for below, but first, here’s our pick of the best…
With each product is a ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Best Deal’ link. If you click on this then we may receive a small amount of money from the retailer when you purchase the item. This doesn’t affect the amount you pay.
Giant Contend SL1 £999
A big favourite of ours at Cycling Weekly, so much so that it made our 2019 Editor’s Choice round up of the very best equipment on the market. Coming with a fresh frame and full carbon fork, we loved the Giant Contend SL1 for it’s superb handling and exceptional value for money.
Designed as an endurance style bike the Contend SL1, has a higher front end and shorter reach than the same size traditional race bike, making it a very comfortable and idea for long rides in the saddle.
Exceptionally fun to ride, the Contend SL 1 has the ability to maintain it’s predictable handing at high speeds, remaining steady and controlled, although it is slightly portly when compared to some of it’s peers weighing around the 10kg mark. But with all but the chainset Shimano 105, and finished with highly rated in-house Giant components it’s a great sub £1k bike.
Read more: Giant Contend SL 1 review
VanRysel RR 900 AF £849.99
Verging on faultless, the VanRysel RR 900 AF is another firm favourite of ours at Cycling Weekly, and another 2019 Editor’s Choice model.
Nailing a ride quality that both beginners and experienced riders will appreciate, the aluminum frame of the VanRysel RR 900 AF comes with a relatively tall head tube, great for comfort and all day in the saddle. The carbon fork does feature a aluminum steerer, which although probably adds a little to the weight, the ride is by no means worse for it.
The real standout feature for the VanRysel RR 900 AF is the complete Shimano 105 groupset and Mavic wheelsystem. For the £850 swing tag, it’s way above expectations, leaves you with enough money to upgrade the tyres and still have change in your back pocket.
Read more: VanRysel RR 900 AF
Ribble R872, Black Shimano Tiagra, from £999
It’s been around for a couple of years now, but the Ribble R872 is still up there with the best of them. Excellent value for money, great handling and a good balance of stiffness and weight were all pulled out as star attributes.
A carbon frame, whose geometry is designed to offer a comfortable fit for all-day rides, and is a rare find in this price bracket. We called the tapered head tube, press-fit bottom bracket and chainstays all ‘rock solid’, whilst the skinny 27.2 seatpost ensures road buzz is kept at bay.
Our review model was specced with Shimano 105, and weighed just 8.17kg, but came in at £1299 – you can use Ribble’s bike builder to select a more affordable groupset to reduce the cost to £999.
Read more: Ribble R872 review
Buy now: Ribble R872 from £999
Boardman SLR 8.9 Carbon – £1100
This is the newest version of the Boardman Team Carbon – a bike which has won our hearts multiple times during its long standing reign as the £1k bike within the Boardman stable. Much of the frame remains the same, the key change being the addition of more aerodynamic tube profiles, something we certainly won’t argue with.
At bang on £1k, you’ll be enjoying much of the technology afforded to the 9 series bikes, but at a manageable price point, largely thanks to toned down spec.
The frame is constructed from Boardman’s C7 Carbon, as is the fork. The bottom bracket is oversized for stiffness, whilst dropped seat stays make for comfort. There’s space for mudguard mounts, and tyres up to 28mm.
The spec is Shimano Tiagra, with Tektro rim brakes, and Boardman’s own tubeless ready wheels.
Buy now: Boardman SLR 8.9 2020 at Halfords
Specialized Allez – £649
The long standing Specialized Allez model was tweaked for 2018, and the changes run through into the 2021 version. The Allez has had its geometry tweaked to a ‘wide range’ approach, which means it’s slightly more relaxed than previous models. However, you can adjust it by moving all the spacers above the stem to create a more aggressive ride.
The frame, as always in the Allez range, is aluminium but the all-carbon fork is light at just 350g. The seatstays have also been dropped – this means they meet the seat tube much lower down – creating a more comfortable ride and there’s internal cable routing.
The build features Shimano Claris shifters, chainset and mechs. But the weak Tektro brakes and heavy Axis Sport wheels let it down a bit. The gearing provides a compact chainset (50/34) with wide (11-32) ratio cassette which gives you plenty of options, although we found the jumps between ratios a bit large.
Read more: Specialized Allez review
More road bikes under £1,000
Let us know if we’ve missed any bikes, and check back for regular updates to the lists.
Thought about trying MTB? mbr: Hardtail of the Year 2019: £500-£1,000 (video)
Choosing the best bike under £1000 for you
With so much choice available, your first step is to eliminate options that don’t fit into your dream bike criteria.
One of the greatest differentiating factors between road bikes is the geometry. If you’re looking for relaxed rides, perhaps planning endurance adventures or just don’t want to put extra strain on your lower back then you probably want a bike with a relaxed geometry – these are often called endurance or sportive bikes.
If you think there’s a chance you’ll be disappearing down gravel paths or venturing into parks, then you’ll want an even more relaxed stance and wide tyres along with disc brakes. These requirements take you into the gravel road or adventure bike category.
If however you think you might be looking at dipping a toe into racing – triathlon, road races – or want to hit a high average speed on your next sportive then a bike with a more aggressive geometry, or even an aero bike, will be on your shopping list.
Disc brakes have become increasingly popular over the last few years. These very slightly increase the weight of the bike, but offer far superior stopping power, especially in the wet. However, they’re out of the question if you plan on entering crit or road races run under the rule of British Cycling as they’re currently not permitted.
Finally, women may want to look at female specific bikes. It’s not essential that you do so, but women’s bikes will come with narrower handlebars, a women’s saddle and will be available in smaller size ranges. Bikes on the smaller end of the scale usually have shorter cranks too.
Having these components adjusted will generally make riding more enjoyable, and buying a ready built female specific bike does save you money spent buying these components after market. However, there’s nothing stopping you buying a unisex frame and changing the handlebars and saddle yourself, so unisex models shouldn’t be discounted.
Invest in the frame, or components, when spending under £1000?
This incredibly busy price point tends to contain two clearly distinct approaches. Some brands invest heavily in frame development, and spec the bike with ‘ok’ components, whilst others cover a cheaper frame dressed in higher end accessories.
The former provides you with a frame you can steadily upgrade as you go, but in the mean time you’ll be stuck with slightly clunkier shifting and squishier brakes. The latter means that if you develop as a cyclist and want something a bit higher end, you’re going to need to buy a whole new bike.
There is no right or wrong answer. However, if you’re at the start of what you hope to be a flourishing cycling career, plan to become more and more expert, AND have a bit of mechanical know how, a higher end frame with lower spec components will last you longer.
To help inspire you, here’s a look at some of the best sub £1k bikes we’ve tested…
What to expect: bikes between £500 and £750
Once you go over £500, two 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 Tiagra 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