For a grand drop-bar bikes become reasonably lightweight and reasonably sporty, and this is often the maximum budget for a first road bike since it ties in nicely with the cycle-to-work scheme.
The £1000 category can be a real mixed bag since every manufacturer targets this highly popular price point. However, if you can stretch to £500 more you’ll move well clear of the entry-level category and into trickle-down territory.
Here, you’re often picking up a frame which shares the characteristics of a much more expensive bike, but often with a lower end groupset to bring down the price.
There are great options in both the aluminium and the carbon market, often with the latter you’ll be sacrificing the quality of the components – but as the highly competitive Merlin below shows, that’s not always the case.
Looking for something else? Check out:
- The best road bikes under £500
- The best road bikes under £1000
- The best road bikes under £2000
- The best women’s road bikes
- Cycling Weekly Bike of the Year
The best £1500 bikes for 2019
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.
We have tested plenty of other bikes in this price range, you can see a selection here.
Trek Emonda ALR 4 Disc 2019 Road Bike – £1400
Review score: 10/10
The Trek Emonda AL (aluminium) had a major overhaul for 2019 – and that makeover saw it earn a place in our 2018 Editor’s Choice awards.
The brand claims that its Emonda AL offers ‘lightweight aluminium perfection’ and a combination of careful hydroforming and minimal welds means it both looks and almost rides like carbon – hence our usually aluminium allergic tech editor Symon Lewis took such a shine to it. Trek’s ‘Invisible Weld Technology’ sees tubing increased in surface area, increasing strength and cutting weight.
The Emonda has always been a climber’s bike, and our Shimano 105 equipped size 52cm came in at 7.8kg, whilst a size 56 has a claimed weight of 1131g.
For Shimano 105, you’re looking at the ALR 5 – which is £1750, but for £1400 you can pick up the ALR 4 which promises all the same frame technology but with Shimano Tiagra, flat mount disc brakes and Bontrager Affinity Tubeless Ready Disc wheels.
Giant TCR Advanced 2 2019 r0ad bike – £1499
Review score: 10/10
Another model which made our Editor’s Choice awards in 2018 was Giant’s TCR Advanced. We selected the £1799 Shimano Ultrgra build, but the Advanced 2 shares an identical frame, with a Shimano 105 groupset.
A bike build for racing, the longstanding TCR is a lightweight climber, putting to work the brand’s own Carbon Composite technology which promises low weight paired with ample stiffness. The front end of the TCR is moulded in one single piece too, which cuts the weight further.
As per most of Giant’s bikes, you get its OverDrive steerer, which uses beefed up bearings for greater stiffness (the OverDrive2 comes on the Advanced Pro models and offers even more).
At this price point, you’re getting Shimano 105 with matching hydraulic disc brakes and a Giant PR-2 wheelset.
Merlin Cordite road bike – £1599
Review score: 9/10
Marlin’s Cordite is targeted at sportive and endurance riders. It has a carbon frameset with a sloping top tube and a longish 17.5cm head tube on the 52cm model that we’ve tested, giving you quite an upright riding position.
The frame has the right feel of pedalling efficiency coupled with upper body comfort to work well on longer excursions.
The chassis is predominantly created using mid-modulus 24-tonne carbon-fibre, with 25 per cent high-mod 30-tonne carbon thrown in, a size medium has a claimed frame weight of 990g, with the fork adding another 385g, so it’s competitively light. It’s a frame designed for good power transfer with a wide down tube and chainstays coupled with thinner seatstays to add some extra compliance.
You can use Merlin’s bike builder to adjust your spec, adding and subtracting on the RRP as you go. However, an RRP of £1599 will get you a Shimano Ultegra groupset with Shimano WHRS010 wheels. Swapping for the likes of the Fulcrum Racing Quattro LG hoops we tried the bike with will cost an extra £110.
Canyon Endurace AL Disc 7.0 road bike – £1349
Review score: 10/10
We reviewed this model back in 2017, but little has changed – except a slight reduction in price from £1499 to £1349, which leaves you a little spending money for accessories.
The Endurace AL comes with an aluminum frame, which cuts down on the price, but not necessarily the enjoyment thanks to the use of Canyon’s top spec material which yields a claimed weight of 9kg, in a size medium, with a Shimano 105 groupset and hydraulic disc brakes.
The geometry is labelled ‘sport’ – as the model name would suggest, endurance is the focus, but not at the sacrifice of a nippy ride quality which helped earn it the 10/10 score.
Mavic Aksium Elite wheels are shod with wide 28mm Yksion Elite Guard tyres, and we felt the volume leant extra grip in the corners whilst also helping to guard against the road buzz that can arise from an aluminium frame.
What to consider when buying a sub £1500 road bike
The number one question to ask yourself is ‘what do I want this bike for?’
If you know that long distance sportives and all-day adventures are your thing, then look for a bike with a fairly relaxed geometry – a taller stack and a slightly shorter reach to help you stay on the bike in comfort for all the hours you’d like. If you’re thinking of racing, or simply love a fast and aggressive ride, then look closer to the race bike pedigree with a shorter stack and often a long reach.
If you’re just getting into cycling – then a happy medium is a sensible idea – giving you the opportunity to grow in either direction.
It’s always a very good idea to buy a bike from a reputable retailer, who will allow you to test ride the bike – unless you’re absolutely sure what size you need.
Most bike shops will offer to help you set up your saddle height and overall position. Being set up correctly has a huge impact upon your enjoyment of the ride, and a bike fit can cost upwards of £100 when purchased independently – so it’s a good idea to choose to buy from a shop that offers this.
Many retailers offer you the chance to return a bike after 30 days if it turns out not to be your cup of tea (though not if you’ve discovered this through a write-off inducing crash) – which is a nice-to-have feature to look out for.