What to look for in a road bike under £2000?
- Many people are looking for a carbon frame at this price point
- You could also go for an aluminium frame with a high spec finish (groupset and wheels)
- Expect a groupset around Shimano Ultegra rim brake or 105 disc brake.
- The wheels will likely not match the ride of the frame and you may want to leave spare cash to upgrade them
When you walk into a bike shop with two grand in your pocket, you’re justified in expecting to exchange that cash for a bike that will see you dancing up the hills and sprinting for town signs for years to come.
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The majority of riders selecting a bike at this price point are looking for carbon as their chosen frame material, and if you’re buying a pre-built machine you can get one sporting Shimano Ultegra, especially if its a rim brake bike, when you’re shelling out this sort of cash, but if it’s a disc brake variety, it’s often the much respected Shimano 105
However, carbon isn’t the only option – aluminium has its merits – bringing with it a lively ride feel and resilience that will be a comfort for those looking to race crits where robustness might well trump weight concerns.
Looking for something else? Check out:
At the £2000 mark, a road bike’s wheels will often be the key let-down, and are usually the first upgrade we’d suggest. However, there are exceptions to this rule where you’ll find race ready quality there, too.
Here’s our pick of the best road bikes under £2000 for 2020
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Trek Emonda ALR Disc 5 £1650
Gaining a Cycling Weekly Editor’s Choice Award two years on the bounce pretty much sums up how impressed we are with this aluminium bike, and now that it’s come down in price by £100, we’ve fallen in love all over again.
The disc brake-ready frameset is made using Ultralight 300 Series Alpha aluminium to create a great ride quality, as well as a strong structure, and a aesthetic finish that isn’t that dissimilar to carbon, thanks to Treks ‘Invisible Weld Technology’.
The alloy frame is paired with a Emonda SL full carbon fork, which, when combined with the Bontrager Alloy wheels and 25c Bontrager H1 Hard-Case Lite tyres, does a fantastic job at road buzz reduction.
Weighing a lightweight 7.9kg for a size 52cm, the endurance style ride of the Emonda ALR Disc is simply perfect, and outstanding value.
Boardman SLR 9.2 – £2,000
Boardman has its very own wind tunnel, so you can expect that the frame has been well engineered to save watts – the proof is in the aerofoil tube profiles, aero seatpost and dropped seatstays.
The frame itself is made from C10 carbon, Boardman’s highest grade that it says is ultra-high modulus, and despite the aero goodies this is a bike for endurance riding. In terms of geometry, it’s a racey all-day bike – so feels agressive without being uncomfortable.
A full Shimano Ultegra groupset provides the quality shifting, and is a great find at this price point. It has a compact 50/34 chainset that’s coupled to an 11-28 cassette, which doesn’t quite give the range for steep hills that the latest iteration of Ultegra can accommodate – you can go up to 30 teeth with the short cage mech as fitted or 34 for the longer mech.
The alloy wheels – Boardman’s SLR Elite Seven – are a pretty low budget option – though they’ll make for a good all rounder, and are tubeless compatible, you’d want to upgrade to something deeper to enjoy the benefits of the frame’s aero additions. The full build came in at 7.28kg in the size medium tested.
On the road, we found the ride stable without dulling the road feel, and the light weight showed through on the climbs. The aero features came into play on flat sections and descents. The lack of disc brakes represented a challenge in the wet, not helped by the slightly slippy 25mm Vittoria Rubino Pro tyres.
Read more: Our full review of the Boardman SLR 9.2 here
Tifosi Auriga – £1899.99
The Tifosi Auriga has been wind tunnel tested and enjoyed some aero tweaks as well as a spec upgrade last year.
The rear brake caliper has moved from its previous position – behind the BB – to the traditional position at the seatstay wishbone. This means it’s much easier to work on when maintenance jobs are needed – though there is a long length of cable from the top tube to the caliper on the dropped stays.
Though we tested the rim brake option, there is an Ultegra disc brake option – which makes all of this irrelevant – but retails at £2,099.99. There’s also a Shimano 105 version too, which at £1899.99, is certainly with considering.
The frame is constructed from Toray 700 and 800 carbon, which wears an Ultegra groupset and Vision Team 35 Comp wheels. The aluminium braking surface means these aren’t so light at 1850g, but if you upgrade at a later date they’ll make good training hoops.
Our size large model tested weighed in at 7.8kg,
The geometry aims to appeal to a wide range of riders, with a higher stack and shorter reach when compared with a thoroughbred race bike, but as the Spirit Tifosi team’s performance suggests, it can still be raced at elite level.
Though the frame does boast aero tube profiles, we found it offered plenty of compliance to go with the stiffness on offer.
Read more: Our full review of the Tifosi Auriga here
Ribble Endurance SL Disc – £1,799
These days it’s rare not to find aero features in an endurance range, and Ribble is no exception with the nods to watt savings such as kamm-tail tubes, dropped seatstays and an aero seatpost all aboard the comfortable Endurance SL Disc.
The frame itself is built from Toray T800 and T1000 high-grade carbon, and at 1.15kg it’s pretty light for a disc brake model.
You can select your own build specification using Ribble’s Bikebuilder app, and to create a bike which met the price point we went with a Shimano 105 build, Level-1 branded standard stem and aero tops, plus 28mm Conti 4 Seasons tyres.
The Mavic Aksium Disc wheels fitted are reliable, though not the fastest – and at 8.6kg for a size large, it’s not the lightest.
However, the comfortable frame smoothed out bumps in the road, the handling was nimble and predictable and there’s mudguard eyelets which mean you could use this as a winter bike if need be. The geometry is no slump, however, and if you want to you can get into a low and aerodynamic position.
Cannondale CAAD13 Disc 105 – £1,600
CAAD stands for ‘Cannondale Advanced Aluminium Design’ and the CAAD13 is the brand’s showpiece, demonstrating exactly what can be achieved with aluminium.
An ideal crit racing machine, the CAAD13 is renowned for its long and low geometry paired with handling which is second to none.
Slender tubing demonstrated that aerodynamics isn’t necessarily top of the list here, but the SmartForm C1 Premium aluminium alloy put to work allows for the best low weight to high stiffness balance. SmartForm techniques offer smoother butting within the tubes, putting an end to abrupt changes in wall thickness and thus reducing stress whilst optimising weight. Cobined with the BallinTec Carbon SAVE fork, a size 52cm came in at 7.6kg.
At this price point, you get a Shimano 105 hydraulic groupset with a Cannondale 1 crank set, and FSA 52/36 chainrings, perfect for crit racers. The Formular RD 2.0 wheel build and 28mm Vittoria Rubino Pro Bright tyres might want an up grade at some point though.
We rode the somewhat higher spec’ed version, but the slightly more wallet friendly CAAD13 Disc 105 is just as fun to ride.
Giant TCR Advanced 1 road bike – £1899
Nestled within the ‘Competition’ category of Giant’s ranges, the Advanced is at the lower end of the scale but shares the same carbon frame as more expensive Advanced Pro models (albeit with an aluminium steerer instead of a full carbon fork). This model comes with Shimano Ultegra rim brakes, with a Ultegra disc brake version just popping over the threshold at £2,099.
At just 7.76kg, it’s a lightweight machine. The frame is strong, performance grade stuff and the front end is constructed from one single piece, coupled with Giant’s OverDrive steerer this creates a stiffer ride quality and better handling.
Giant uses its Compact Road Design, which features a sloping top tube to allow more riders to find the perfect fit; plus more seat post is exposed which provides greater compliance via more flex.
You get Giant’s own PR-2 wheelset and Giant Gavia AC 1 tubeless tyres, ready and set to roll, a real bonus to anyone wanting minimal home conversion faff.
Our tester found the bike’s balance of handling, compliance and punchy ride quality to be in perfect harmony – awarding the machine a perfect 10/10.
Giant Propel Advanced 1 – £2,099
A smidgin over the £2k price bracket, the Propel Advanced is a legit aero bike from Giant, and though there are models with disc brakes, at this level you get rim stoppers and a standard cockpit.
This version comes with Giant’s AeroSystem Shaping Technology – CFD analysis and wind-tunnel testing have resulted in optimised tube shapes. For an aero frame, especially at this price point, it is also very light at 8.16kg in a size M/L.
Watt saving details include Giant SpeedControl aero mini-V type calipers which sit flush with the fork blades and seatstays whilst the gear cables enter the top tube behind the stem. However, there are long runs of exposed cable down to each brake noodle, which might lose a few watts.
The rest of the components are also Giant’s own, including the deep P-A2 wheels which are fitted with Gavia tyres, both of which we liked.
Getting down to riding, we found we snatched Strava PRs all over the place on this bike, and though it’s fast, there’s enough compliance that the ride wasn’t harsh.
In terms of value, you’re getting a lot of R+D here, plus quality upgrade wheels for a pretty friendly price tag.
Specialized Allez Sprint Comp Disc – £1899
The longstanding Specialized Allez is a hugely popular entry level road bike, but the Allez Sprint is a very different beast.
With a significantly more agressive geometry, the Allez Sprint is an aluminium crit racer’s dream.
Its party trick is the D’Aluisio Smartweld Sprint Technology, which reinforces the welds and thus the stiffness, without adding much a hefty weight penalty.
The Tarmac SL6 full carbon fork further reduces the weight, and adds a bit of front end comfort – our size 52 came in at 8.28kg.
At this price point, you get a part Shimano 105, with hydraulic disc brakes, part Praxis Zayante (crankset). The wheels are DT R470 Disc, shod with 26c Turbo Pro tyres which should be grippy in the bends.
Other bikes under £2000 we’ve tested
Of course, over the years we’ve tested plenty more bikes in this price bracket, many of which will have seen only slight alterations for the new season.
Click on the links for full reviews of models around the £2000 price point that are still available on the market:
- KTM Revelator 4000 road bike review
- Merlin Nitro Aero road bike review
- Canyon Endurance CF SL Disc 7.0 review
- Specialized Tarmac SL4 Elite
- Giant Defy Advanced 2
Bikes under £2000: frame material
The vast majority of £2000 road bikes will come with a carbon frame.
Carbon is light, compliant – and it’s perfectly achievable to pitch for one at this price point. However, if you’re after resilience – for example you expect to be racing the bike in criterium races and want to know it can take a battering, you might want to look towards the high-specced aluminum market.
You might find some titanium and steel at this point – both good options if you’re seeking springy comfort and perhaps a ‘bike for life’.
At this magical £2000 price point, many of the bikes you’ll be looking at will share almost exact replicas frames with those you see the pros riding – with lower end wheels and groupsets. This means that, in theory at least, you could be buying a ride experience not a million miles away from a bike of double the cost.
However this doesn’t mean that all bikes of this price point are built to be racy. If you’re after a bike that will be great to ride all day over rough British road surfaces then it’ll be worth checking out the geometry chart and looking for a bike with a taller head tube and shorter top tube for a more relaxed and comfortable fit.
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Bikes under £2000: groupset
Trickle down technology means you can easily get a Shimano Ultegra rim equipped bike for under £2000 now.
However, if your looking for disc braking, it will more than likely be Shimano 105, this should by no means be overlooked, as it’s a highly rated option, and in many cases worth taking a slight weight penalty in order to gain superb speed moderation and stopping power.
With the apparently unstoppable march towards electronic components it would also be worthwhile checking that the bike you buy has internal cable routing, in order to gracefully accommodate electronic upgrades at a later stage.
While the shifters, derailleurs and chainset are probably the most important parts of any groupset, it’s worth looking at the full spec to see if you’re getting full bang for your buck. While a lower end chain or cassette shouldn’t have too much of a negative effect, many manufacturers will hit a price point by fitting budget brakes which won’t match up when it comes to braking modulation. See if you can find a bike with brakes that match the rest of the groupset.
Bikes under £2000: wheels
The wheels are often the weakest part of a lot of new bikes, wherever they sit in the market, and the story’s no different for plenty of £2000 road bikes. While the frame might be at a World Tour level, the supplied wheels are most likely to be better suited to duties as sturdy training wheels.
This could well be one of the first places to look when it comes to upgrading your bike further down the line. A lighter or more aerodynamic pair of wheels will really help you make the most of a great frame.
Warranty on bikes under £2000
Hopefully you won’t need it, but particularly with carbon frames it can be worth having one eye on what sort of warranty the manufacturer can offer. The standard warranty is around two to three years, although some manufacturers such as Specialized and Canyon go as far as offering lifetime warranties on frames.