Best Road Bikes Reviewed: Our Top Recommendations For Any Budget
If your cycling needs involve roads and streets, then one of the best road bikes on the market today is an investment that makes sense. The only problem is that when you start to shop for these bikes, you find everyone recommending these professional models that cost between $5,000-$10,000. If you had that much to spend, you’d either: A) buy a car; B) go on vacation; or C) do both. Right?
Thankfully there are a number of high quality road bikes that do fit into your budget. You’ll be able to find the features you need, the craftsmanship you want, and a comfortable ride that will take you to your next destination.
Best Road Bikes Under $500
|Tommaso Imola Compact Aluminum Road Bike|| 4.5 || $$$$
|Giordano Libero 1.6 Men's Road Bike|| 4.1 || $$$
|Schwinn Phocus 1600 Men's Road Bike|| 4.3 || $$$
|BAVEL Ultra Light Aluminum 21 Speed Road Bike|| 4.4 || $$
|Kent GZR700 Road Bike|| 4.6 || $$
|Schwinn Men's Axios 700c Drop Bar Road Bicycle|| 4.3 || $$
|Kingttu XC760 Road Bike|| 4.3 || $$$
|Merax 21 Speed 700c Aluminum Road Bike|| 4.5 || $$
|Alton Corsa R-14D 700c Deep-Dish Rim Road Bike|| 4.5 || $$$$
|Vilano Forza 3.0 Aluminum Carbon Shimano Sora Road Bike|| 3.9 || $$$$
Best Road Bikes Under $1000
|Tommaso Illimitate Adventure Disc Road Bike|| 5.0 || $$$$$
|Diamondback Bicycles Airen Complete Disc Brake Road Bike|| 5.0 || $$$$$
|Diamondback Bicycles Century 1 Road Bike|| 4.4 || $$$$$
|Tommaso Monza Lightweight Aluminum Road Bike|| 5.0 || $$$$$
|Head Accel XR 700c Road Bike|| 4.5 || $$$$$
|BEIOU Carbon Comfortable Bicycles Road Bike|| 5.0 || $$$$$
|Tommaso Vento TT Italian Racing Bike|| 5.0 || $$$$$
|Framed Minnesota 2.0 Fat Bike|| 4.8 || $$$$
|Nashbar 105 Road Bike|| 5.0 || $$$$$
|Mongoose Argus Sport 26-inch Fat Tire Bike|| 5.0 || $$$$$
Just because a road bike can fit within your budget doesn’t mean you should actually buy that bike. There are some quality features available in the entry-level categories of road bikes today. Use these top-rated models that we’ve picked out for you above, and the best road bike reviews that appear further down on this page to match up your needs to what each bike can provide and you’ll have a much better shopping experience.
What Is a Road Bike and Why Do I Need One?
A road bike is a bicycle that is used on paved roads only. Although some may be able to handle racing tracks or rough terrain, the standard road bike is not meant to wander into off-road areas. These budget-friendly bikes usually have no suspension, narrow tires and wheels, and a curl handlebar so that you can still be in a racing position when pedaling.
Most of the bikes that you’ll find in this category are intended for those who want to go faster and further than they could on a different style of bike. Although most road bikes do not have rack attachment points for commuting, you’ll find that some models are “foldies,” or can break down into a day pack or a messenger bag for you.
You’ll then notice that road bikes do have some subtle differences in their frame design. Each small difference can provide big changes to the overall ride. There are three primary frame differences that you can find in this category.
- Performance frames. These road bikes have a stiff frame, light wheels, and typically use high-end materials and parts. In return, riders are more stretched out, receive better aerodynamics while riding, and may be able to achieve higher consistent speeds.
- Recreational frames. This is your standard road bike frame. It’s stiff, but still somewhat flexible. The riding position on this frame is more upright, but not as upright as someone on a mountain or hybrid bike would be. It’s responsive, comfortable, and is intended for those who ride 100 miles or less per week.
- Flat bar frames. This type of road bike is in-between a standard road bike and a hybrid bike. It incorporates more of an upright riding position, gives you the opportunity to drop down with a handle curl, and gives you great flexibility on a budget.
Performance bikes will always cost more than recreational bikes. The best deals tend to be with the flat bar frames, however, because it will take many riders out of a natural racing position. Each has its own advantages, so it’s all about your personal riding preferences.
Here’s a pro tip: Sometimes you have to purchase a cheap road bike. There’s no getting around your budgetary needs. It is wise to purchase the highest quality of bicycle you can now because it will be cheaper than trying to upgrade an entry-level road bike later on.
What are the Features of the Best Road Bikes Under Your Budget?
Most affordable road bikes are going to come with an aluminum frame. The cheapest bikes in this category may have a heavy steel frame. The best option is to combine an aluminum frame with a carbon fiber fork, but that pushes the price of the bicycle upward.
Aluminum frames do provide a fairly smooth frame. Adding the carbon fork helps to reduce the amount of vibration felt in the bike, since most road bikes do not come with a suspension. This gives you an overall better ride.
Then let’s discuss gearing. Most affordable road bikes are going to have a double crankset. This means pairing a 10-speed cassette with two chain rings so that you have a total of 20 gears. Compact cranksets have smaller chain rings, so you have better lower gears. The best option is the triple crankset, paired with a 9-speed cassette, to give you a total of 27 gears to use for your ride.
Beginners are going to want a 27-gear bike. If you’re familiar with cycling or have no hills in your region, a double crankset could save you some cash.
Here’s a pro tip: If you’re concerned about cost and the weight of a bike, then consider purchasing a heavier frame for your road bike and then investing into a wheel upgrade. The best bicycle wheels are very lightweight and responsive, giving your bike more responsiveness and an overall decreased weight. You can often find great wheels and an average bike will give you a premium riding experience.
Many sites will recommend road bikes that are under $1,500… but then you’ll find most of the models they recommend are between $1,000-$1,500. How is that really saving you any money?
The reality of this category is that if you want a premium riding experience, you’ll likely need to spend around $500. At this level, you’ll find some entry-level models from top cycling makers like Trek, Merida, and Cannondale and the service and support that comes with one of the world’s top brands.
If you’re just looking for a road bike to tool around your neighborhood as a workout or a way to spend some time with the family, then a bike in the $100-$300 range will accomplish that very nicely.
Here’s Our Reviews:
For road bikes under $500: You’re looking for a stable bike with good balance and power. It will be somewhat heavy, so look for options that will decrease the overall weight, like alloy wheels, for the best experience.
This hand-crafted bicycle features an aluminum frame, high profile quick release rims, and a 16-speed drive train that gives you the right amount of speed. The weight is just a tad heavy at 27 pounds, but overall the riding experience is still a good one. You’ll be able to achieve a top speed and then maintain it on the flats. It won’t win any time trials for you, but it will make riding safe and easy.
Schwinn *Beginner’s Bicycle
This bike will surprise a lot of people. With its price, the frame still supports a carbon fiber road fork that gives you a very forgiving ride. The design of the bike also rises up to meet your form, giving you a superior balance when you’re at a top speed. Caliper brakes are features on this design, so you have an incredible level of stopping power. A Suntour crank gives you the needed gear range, supporting the Kinesis frame that even high-end brands use. Definitely a solid investment choice here.
Featuring downhand welding on the frame and disc braking, the first glimpse of this bike seemed less than positive. As we dug deeper, we discovered that the crank set is manufactured in Taiwan and the Shimano components are on the low end of quality. It’s an aluminum frame and fork without a suspension as well. Then we took it out on a hill and everything changed. If you need a climbing bike, then you need this bike. Period. It’s relatively slow with its gearing in other regards, but for climbing work, you won’t find anything better.
Kent *Beginner’s Bike
This is a pretty straightforward road bike. It comes with a 21-speed configuration, a steel frame, and alloy caliper brakes. It isn’t going to take your breath away with its speed, but some strong legs can still get you pushing 15-20mph on a good day. If you’re transitioning to a road bike or you’re purchasing your first full-sized bicycle today, then take advantage of the comfortable seating and positioning it provides. The shifting is a little awkward, but otherwise there’s a lot to love about this particular bike.
With the deep-dish rim and premier stability, this is the road bike to choose if you want to get a taste of what racing is all about. The weight is spot-on at just 25 pounds, which is rare for a 700c bike at this price point. Shimano components are featured throughout the bike and you’ve got color options available to you as well. The ride is smooth, the feel is balanced, and you’re going to love what it can do. It’s an awesome bike that comes at an even better price.
For road bikes under $1,000: This is the entry-level price point for a professional bike. Look for carbon fiber frames over aluminum, gearing that reflects your style, and positioning that allows you to dominate the power stroke.
Diamondback Bicycles *Beginner’s Bike
This adventurous bike design gives you the best of everything. The frame is balanced well, giving you the slight angle you need for a strong rhythm. Reach down to the handle curl for more power or enjoy a leisurely ride with the upright positioning. Assembly is a bit of a chore since you need to put together the brakes, but otherwise it is a pretty standard experience. Shimano components and an aluminum frame create a comfortable ride and there are attachment points for additional features.
This compact racing frame features an aluminum frame with a carbon fiber fork that effectively reduces road vibration. Shifting is accurate and smooth and lever placement effectively minimizes hand movement. It features the TC-40 wheelset, which offered bladed spokes and a 40mm rim, for steady acceleration and good speed maintenance. The only real disappointment from this bike were the pedals – they could definitely use an upgrade.
It’s the frame options that are available with this bike that drew our attention. Like most road bikes in this category, it features a Promax clamp, quick-release wheels, and a Shimano drivetrain. Brand specific wheelsets and a KMC chain are also part of the package. Yet you also have a 49-59cm series of options for the carbon fork for this bike. You’ll need to take some time to adjust the brakes on this bike when it is first assembled, but then it will perform like a champ.
BEIOU *Beginner’s Bike
This bike features a very forgiving carbon fiber unibody. This makes it an extremely lightweight bike that offers an LTWOO rear switch 20s speed control system. Despite the racing build, it still accommodates tires as wide as 28mm and features a clip brake for easy maneuverability. Multiple sizes are also available outside the 700c if you need to make a few changes. Overall, this is easily one of the best bikes we had the opportunity to look at for the entire site. It’s definitely worth a look today.
When you think of a road bike, you’re often thinking of a street racer. That’s all well and good if you live in an urban setting. Some rural cycling enthusiasts need to navigate gravel roads and other off-road situations as part of their transportation needs. That’s why we’re including this 26-inch fat tire bike into this category. It gives you the opportunity to ride in winter, handle changing terrain, and it comes with SLX and hydro disc brakes for a great price. If you want a high end bike without that kind of price tag, this is the bike to purchase.
The best road bikes under your budget will help you enjoy cycling on a daily basis. Hop onto your saddle, enjoy a nice ride, and this will be an investment that you’ll enjoy on a regular basis.