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
- Cycling Weekly Bike of the Year
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
Boardman Team Carbon – £1000
Boardman’s Team Carbon has remained at the £1000 price point since its creation. The C7 carbon frame’s geometry is based on that of the SLR Endurance bike at the top of the range tree, the stack being just 10mm taller for a slightly more relaxed ride.
The carbon frame is complemented by a full carbon fork, but the groupset is lower end than you’d find elsewhere – with Shimano Tiagra shifting and Tektro R540 brakes. A compact (50/34) chainset and wide ratio 12-28 cassette should provide all the gears you need on the hills. The wheels are Mavic CXP-Elite wheels, and when testing we felt these didn’t let the frame down but could do with an update at a later date.
The total weight is 8.56kg for a size small, and we felt the quality of the frame meant it performed well, feeling light on the climbs and offering a good level of power transfer whilst still being comfortable.
Read more: Boardman Team Carbon review
Buy it at Boardman for £1000 here.
Pinnacle Dolomite 4 road bike – £990
Created by the in-house brand at Evans Cycles, the Pinnacle Dolomite has been designed and specced with British roads – and British weather – well and truly at front of mind.
At the heart of the bike is a smooth-welded aluminum frame, that’s been built to be disc specific, and houses internal cable routing. There’s clearance for 28mm tyres if you’re using mudguards, and you can go up to 32mm without.
The geometry is fairly relaxed, and this is a bike for endurance rides, with comfort catered for thanks to a sloping top tube that leaves room for plenty of exposure and therefore flex at the seat tube. The wheelbase is long which makes for increased stability.
When it comes to the spec, Shimano RS-404 hydraulic shifters and calipers are paired with 160mm rotors mounted on relatively low-rent Alex rims, and the drivetrain is Shimano Tiagra. On test, our size medium came in at 10.4kg.
Full review coming soon.
Specialized Allez E5 Elite – £999
The most recent iteration of the long standing Specialized Allez model sees the 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, though Tektro Axis 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.
Full review coming soon – first ride look at the Specialized Allez Elite here.
Ribble R872 road bike – from £999
The handy thing about Ribble is that you’re able to use their bike builder to choose the spec which best matches your needs and wallet.
The Ribble R872 is the brand’s ‘signature carbon road bike’. It’s created around a sportive riding geometry, but the newest model has been made stiffer thanks to the use of an improved carbon layup.
Features of note include an oversized bottom bracket and chainstays, promising greater power transfer, whilst a 27.2mm seat pin is wider than normal and thus offers more flex and comfort at the rear end. Carbon drop outs keep the weight low and it’s Di2 and EPS compatible in case you decide to upgrade to electronic shifting one day.
The lowest price you can get a built bike for is £999 – but you can tweak the spec to spend more if you decide it’s worth it.
Bianchi Via Nirone 7 – £829
The Bianchi Via Nirone 7 can’t really be described as an ordinary “entry-level” bike, yet it falls within that price category.
For starters, the frame has been ridden at Paris-Roubaix, and it features loads of the same top tech as the higher end Bianchi endurance bikes have. We found the frame to be seriously comfortable, ironing out the roads and that curved top tube makes it look speedy.
The aluminum frame is hydroformed and triple butted, and comes with a carbon fork that features kevlar inserts at the chainstays and seatstays, which reduce road buzz.
The groupset is Shimano Sora, with Reparto Corse brakes and the wheels are Alex Rims with Vittoria Zaffiro Slicks. All of these components suffice, but we did feel that with this option you’re very much paying for a quality frame and might want to upgrade bits as you go.
Read more: Bianchi Via Nirone 7 review
B’Twin Triban 540 road bike – £650
Read more: B’Twin Triban 540 road bike
Sitting at a significantly lower price point than most if the Cycling Weekly 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.
Planet X RT-58 Alloy road bike – £849.99
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 carries an endurance geometry, with a fairly short reach and tall stack. However, we felt that it wasn’t the most comfortable or compliant of bikes. This is no bad thing – it just means it’s a bit more suited to your local chaingang session than it is to all-day adventures.
We tested a size large, that tipped the scales at 8.8kg – and coming from Planet X, you can choose the best components for you, speccing everything from crank length to handlebar width.
Read more: Planet X RT-58 Alloy SRAM Rival 11 road bike
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.
Cube has used oversized tubing to create stiffness on the double-butted frame – with less dense material used where possible to keep the weight down – ours came in at 8.71kg.
The fork is 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 (11-32) and compact chainset 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.
Read more: Cube Axial WLS Race Ladies Road Bike review
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.
A CK Columbus double-butted 7005 alloy is teamed with a Tifosi carbon fork and we enjoyed the Campagnolo Veloce groupset, including the brakes which impressed us, even in the wet.
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.
The size large we tested came in at 10kg, but for a bike that’s designed with winter cruising or touring in mind, the extra heft doesn’t need to be off-putting.
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