Got a cycle to work voucher burning a hole in your pocket? Or just want to keep the spend under a grand? We've got some excellent bikes for you to choose from
Shopping for a road 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.
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.
Looking for something else? Check out:
- The best cheap road bikes under £500
- The best road bikes under £1500
- The best road bikes under £2000
- The best women’s road bikes
Choosing the best bike 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?
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…
Best road bikes under £1,000
Ribble R872 – from £999
A favourite at Cycling Weekly, Ribble’s R872 made into our 2018 Editor’s Choice awards, which rounded up the very best equipment introduced for 2019. 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, the R872 still comes with a tapered head tube, press-fit bottom bracket and chainstays we called ‘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 £1199 – you can use Ribble’s bike builder to select a more affordable groupset if you want to reduce the cost.
Read more: Ribble R872 review
Buy now: Ribble R872 from £999
Cube Axial WS Pro Disc 2019 road bike – £849
A super light aluminium frame, which at this price point comes with a Shimano Sora groupset and TRP Spyre disc brakes.
When we put this one to the test, we were impressed with the value on offer here as well as the stiff but lively ride.
Cube has used oversized tubing to create stiffness, and the frame is constructed from 6061 T6 Superlite aluminium.
The fork blades are carbon, and coupled with slender seatstays, you get a fairly compliant ride that lends itself to long endurance rides whilst still keeping the geometry fairly racey.
A wide ratio cassette (11-34) and compact chainset (50-34) provides lots of options on the hills, and the bike even comes fitted with colour matched CUBE RA 0.8 Aero Disc wheels which offer a deeper profile and are shod with Conti Ultra Sport tyres.
Read more: Cube Axial WLS Race Ladies Road Bike review
See now at Tredz for £849
Boardman SLR 8.9 Carbon – £1000
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 if Shimano Tiagra, with Tektro rim brakes, and Boardman’s own tubeless ready wheels.
B’twin Ultra 920 AF – £999 (was £1199)
Selected as one of our Editor’s Choice models for 2018, the B’Twin Ultra 920 AF is currently reduced to £999. Bearing in mind we called it ‘one of the best value road bikes on the market’ at the RRP of £1199, it’s clearly a bit of a steal.
For under a round £1k, you’ll enjoy a Shimano Ultegra groupset with fast acting direct mount brakes and semi-deep Mavic Cosmic Elite wheels. The frame is constructed from butted aluminium – which means the tube thickness varies to save weight or boost stiffness where required.
It’s not all just about value, either, we loved the way this bike handled and rode. It’s an endurance machine, with a tall head tube, though the curved top tube makes it look pretty racey. At 8.38kg, it’s not the lightest, but you do get plenty of gears – a compact 50/34 with 11-28 cassette – to help you out.
Read more: B’twin Ultra 920 AF road bike review
Buy now at Decathlon for £999
Specialized Allez E5 Elite – £1050
The long standing Specialized Allez model was tweaked for 2018, and the changes run through into the 2019 version. The new 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 agressive ride.
The frame, as always in the Allez range, is aluminum but the 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.
The build features Shimano 105 shifters and mechs, Axis 1.0 brakes, Praxis Alba 2D chainset and DT R460 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.
Read more: Specialized Allez Elite review
Buy now at Evans Cycles for £1050
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? mbr: Hardtail of the Year 2016: £500-£1,000 (video)
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