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.
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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 trickle down technology continues to work it’s magic, this is becoming less and less 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 2020
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 2020 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 2019 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.
Van Rysel Ultra CF 2020 road bike £1299
Review Score 9/10
The Van Rysel Ultra CF is a firm favourite with us in the CW office, proving that it is possible to have comfort and performance for an affordable price, earning it a spot in the 2019 Editors Choice Awards. The carbon frame and fork and Shimano 150 groupset is a great package, and weighing in at just over eight kilos, makes it an ideal option for anyone looking to start racing or focusing on cycling goals.
This Van Rysel Ultra CF bike is women’s specific, but there is a cross over of sorts with the men’s RR 900 CF Carbon, with the RR 900AF version also winning us over. The women’s fit comes up slightly shorter and more upright than the men’s and has women’s specific finishing kit, comprising of shallower and narrower handle bars and a women’s specific saddle. Other than than, the boxy aero frameset and remains consistent across both versions.
We were really impressed with the bike’s performance over a rather tasty test ground of the Yorkshire Dales, not skipping a beat despite the demanding terrain. The only improvement would be to have a disc brake option in the range.
Giant TCR Advanced 3 2020 r0ad bike – £1399
Review score: 10/10
Making our Editor’s Choice awards in 2018 Giant’s TCR Advanced is still a great bike for 2020. We selected the £1899 Shimano Ultrgra build, but the Advanced 1 shares an identical frame, with a Shimano Tiagra groupset and Giant S-R2 wheelset.
A bike built 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 do miss out on Shimano 105 with matching hydraulic disc brakes and a Giant PR-2 wheelset, so might be worth investing in £99 over our sub £1.5k budget for the TCR Advanced 2 version for £1,599.
Ribble CGR AL £1,399
Review score 9/10
The incredibly versatile Ribble CGR AL had a massive revamp in 2019, and we’re pleased to see that the 2020 version remains the same. The do-it-all bike is available in multiple builds levels with the Enthusiast Build with Shimano 105, Mavic Askium wheelset and Schwalbe G-One 40c tyres complete with mudguards ideal for British riding whatever the weather.
Capable of hitting tarmac or the trails, the aluminium framed bike delivers an agile and comfortable, but robust enough to deal with off road life.
It’s a great bike for the price and is pretty close to the one bike for all occasions. With the Ribble bike build there’s even the option to spec it slightly cheaper with Shimano Tiagra, which still give’s you disc brakes, albeit mechanical, for £999. Alternatively, for £1,999 you could opt for the electric version.
Cannondale Supersix Evo Tiagra £1499.99
At just a penny under the £1500 price limit, the Cannondale Supersix Evo Tiagra gives you exactly the same carbon frameset as those further up the pecking order, but just with the lower spec’ed 10 speed Shimano Tiagra.
The Cannondale Supersix Evo is a real gem, and remains on many riders wish list as a bike that delivers the best handling out there. It’s down to a mixture of the geometry and carbon layup, where Cannondale has added stiffness for performance and eased off in certain areas to allow for a little compliance.
There are compromises with the Tiagra version, in terms of it being 10 speed and the breaking isn’t ideal, especially in the wet, but with the heart of any bike being it’s frameset, it’s a great option to grow in to and upgrade along the way.
Canyon Endurace AL Disc 7.0 road bike – £1399
Review score: 10/10
We reviewed this model a while back, and while there has been some design tweaks, it fundamentally remains the same great bike for great value.
The Endurace AL comes with an aluminum frame and carbon fork and seat post combo. The alloy frame does help keep the overall package price down, 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.
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.
Sticking with the much revered Shimano 105 groupset and hydraulic disc brakes, the 2020 version gains DT Swiss E 1850 wheels, 28mm Continental Grand Prix SL tyres and a Selle Italia X3 saddle.
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.